Formed in 1772, Shenandoah County is located in the northwestern portion of Virginia, between the Allegheny and Massanutten Mountains, in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley. Shenandoah County enjoys abundant natural resources, including prime agricultural soils, productive forests, wildlife and the North Fork of the Shenandoah River.
The county’s first European immigrant settlers, with names like Hite, Bowman, Stover, Miller, Dellinger, and Fink, arrived in the early 1730’s, having relocated from southern Pennsylvania. With its fertile limestone river bottom soils and abundant, cool freshwater from the numerous springs and creeks, these early settlers found Shenandoah County hospitable to the agricultural skills and practices of their German roots.
Farming practices and productivity increased steadily. By the outbreak of the Civil War the Shenandoah Valley become known as “The Granary of the Confederacy”, supplying most of the food for the Confederate soldiers and their horses.
The valley’s agricultural support to the Confederacy was so important the Union ordered General Phillip Sheridan to destroy and dismantle farming operations in the Valley.
Known as “The Burning,” the destruction of crops, livestock and barns in Shenandoah was executed from September to October 1864. During that time Sheridan claimed to have slaughtered thousands of sheep, hogs, and cattle and burned to ashes “2,000 barns filled with wheat, hay, and farming implements [and] over seventy mills filled with flour and wheat.” It took years for the agricultural sector of the Valley to recover.
Today, Shenandoah County is the fifth largest agricultural producer in Virginia, boasting national and state award winning middle and high school agricultural science teachers, active FFA chapters, 4H clubs, and more recently, award-winning wineries.