The Legend of the White Doe

Legend has it that in Colonial times, a beautiful white doe was often seen leaping through the forests of the New World.

More than 400 years ago, a small group of English colonists arrived in America on a ship with sails shaped like wings. They were unknowing and unwelcome in this strange new land, and life was difficult. Their governor set sail again to seek help, but by the time he returned the colony had vanished. No women laughing, no babies crying, no hearths or homes. Lost without a trace. The only clue? Cryptic letters carved into a tree: C-R-O-A-T-O-A-N.

To this day, nobody knows what happened in the colony. Some say there were signs of a bloody battle. Others believe more mystical forces were at work. But some storytellers believe there may have been a survivor — a baby girl with hair as light as sunshine. She was the very first child of English descent born on American soil, and her name was Virginia Dare. Soon after the Lost Colony mysteriously disappeared, stories began circulating of a fair-haired young girl being raised within the community of a legendary Native American chief named Manteo, who had been a trusted liaison between the colonists and Native Americans.

Legend has it the girl grew up among the Croatoan, happy and healthy. As a young woman, her beauty and kindness was renowned. She was beloved by all who beheld her, though she remained virtuous, and fell in love with a young warrior in the tribe. But when she resisted the advances of a jealous suitor who practiced dark magic, he transformed her into a white doe, fated to be hunted by men forever. 

The white doe’s beauty and grace was legendary. In vain, hunters tracked her through the forests, until only two men persevered — a hunter and the true love. The young lover’s arrow was charmed, and would restore the doe to her human form. But the hunter’s arrow also found its mark. As the two arrowheads pierced her heart, the white doe changed back into a fair maid, but it was too late. As she fell dying, she whispered her true name. Then she was gone.

And where she fell, the stories tell us, her blood soaked the soil. Lush grapes grew there, the white scuppernong variety cultivated by the locals. The fruit on the vines was forever stained with her blood. And that, the legend says, was how wine in the Americas became red.

Virginia Dare was her name. The White Doe. The first born of English descent in the new world. The woman whose myth became the legend of American wine. And so to this day, when we savor American wines, we toast her: Virginia Dare, an American original.