While Utah government officials are confiscating vanity license plates with offending words like MERLOT and CHIANTI, officials at the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles are ready to stamp out special "Virginia First in Wine" plates. All the Virginia Wineries Association has to do is come up with 350 drivers ready to make the switch and plunk down $25 for the special plate.
The Virginia General Assembly passed legislation in 2005 authorizing the plates. However, the DMV has a rule that 350 people must sign up for a new style plate before they will begin to stamp them out. The plates recognize the fact that Jamestown settlers began experimenting with making wine from wild grapes when they arrived in 1607 and a Virginia House of Burgesses bill passed in 1619 required every landowner to plant ten grape vines.
The Virginia Wineries Association is up against a ticking clock to get the 350 applications for plates. The law authorizing the plates expires on June 15. Right now they have about 120 people signed up.