Trump Estate Winery, Albemarle House and Virginia Wine Chat

IMG_5589 Friday afternoon, one week before Christmas, a pot of stew simmering on the stove and a glass of crimson Cabernet Sauvignon smiling at me next to my laptop. The last thing I need to do is write a blog post. Still haven’t finished shopping or writing Christmas cards, but I can’t help reflecting back over another wonderful year living in the Virginia wine country. If you live here or visit Central Virginia,I encourage you to  pause long enough to appreciate the Blue Ridge mountains, the exquisite neon pink, fuchsia and purple sunsets, the rows of vineyards crossing slopes between country estates and the hospitality of our local wineries. So stop… carve out a little time… and enjoy…

Highlights that stand out over the seasons of 2015 were sensory experiences I will not forget. Thank you to Claude Thibaut, winemaker and friend, who graciously helped us showcase the elegance and entertaining value of our clients home  for sale in Northern Albemarle county. It was a sparkling day in January with crystal blue skies, ridges of mountains in the background and fireplaces warming us as Claude poured flutes of Thibaut-Janisson Extra Brut. The home was a house of celebrations and what better way to exemplify it then offering Thibaut-Janisson bubbly for our agents and guests to enjoy during the tour. And yes, the home sold and there is a new owner;  I hope they are toasting in the New Year with TJ Extra Brut!IMG_5515

The second highlight was a quite grand event- the official ribbon cutting at the Albemarle Estate, 98 pastoral acres and the 23,000 square foot, 45 room mansion.  Strategically purchased by Donald Trump at a fantastically low $6,700,000 price after having already secured the Kluge Estate Winery and portions of the vineyards surrounding the property. Thanks to good friend Mark Norman, President of World Wine Marketing and Kerry Woolard, General Manager of all operations at Trump Estate, I was invited and able to see the opulent interior and manicured Italianate gardens of Albemarle House!IMG_5517

In Trump style (pardon the cliché) guests as well as local dignitaries gathered in front of the manor, newscasters in place poised with microphones as the chop-chop-chop sounds of the highly recognizable  private helicopter landed yards away from our seats. Introductions followed including Eric Trump, Donald’s son who has taken leadership of Trump Estate Winery as President and Kerry Woolard, General Manager. Both have impressive credentials and since taking over the foreclosed property have placed the Trump name significantly on the map in Virginia wine country. 

**Another separate blog post devoted to Albemarle Estate will follow soon, extolling the details and beauty of the property, especially as a remarkable fairy tale wedding venue and luxury B & B.**IMG_5540IMG_5542

The third and final highlight for me was a return trip on December 10th to the fully operational Albemarle Estate for a Virginia Wine Chat event hosted and moderated by well known popular wine expert and blogger, Frank Morgan of Drink What You Like and Jonathan Wheeler, Winemaker for Trump Estate Winery. Jonathan has been with the estate since 2006 and it was interesting hearing his explanations and joining in the conversation as questions came from not only the small group of guests, but also participants via Twitter and Ustream using the hashtag #VAWineChat. Virginia Wine Chat is a virtual participation event for busy wine lovers to gather, share and learn in the comfort of their own home (or wherever they may be at the scheduled moment). Started in 2013 by Frank Morgan after realizing the interest and opportunity for social media oenophiles to meet virtually. Make plans to participate next month if you aren’t already involved.

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Frank Morgan and Jonathan Wheeler-photo courtesy of Mark Norman

Greeted by the Trump management and hospitality team, we were immediately offered our choice of two wines, a Viognier and a Sparkling Reserve. Bubbles trump every time for me-pun intended.

Appetizers were delicious with my favorite served, mini gluten-free crab cakes! Yummy with the crisp sparkling wine! Strolling through the elegantly appointed rooms accented with tasteful Christmas decorations, we made ourselves at home (oh my gosh!) and settled in to the Library, a combination room including leather tufted sofas, fireplace and billiard table and served by the adjacent bar. Hospitality abounded throughout the evening and we proceeded to the event itself. Note:pinching myself, could get really used to this!IMG_7268

The wines featured were a 2009 Blanc de Blanc, 2009 Sparkling Rose, 2014 Chardonnay  and the pre-release 2014 Meritage. All were very good, the Meritage was a little young and needed more time to develop ( they already know that) but well received. I think we had a consensus that the overall favorite, and by the way, we all asked for a second pour, was the 2009 Blanc de Blanc-effervescent and citrusy with a nice light yeasty influence. IMG_7272

If you haven’t finished shopping like me, check out the “Gift Shop” at Trump Winery for some last minute Christmas or New Years ideas. Hint to my husband, hope he reads the blog…

Cheers to the end of 2015, an excellent vintage in my opinion =)

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Holiday Fun at the Vineyards

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Thibaut Janisson My Favorite Gift

Food, Family, Celebrations, Shopping! It’s the holidays and the pressure is on to entertain, so why not make life easy? Here are some ideas of upcoming events at our local Virginia wineries. Beginning with Black Friday ( I prefer Green Friday if you’re hung up on the sales aspect of the season)  at Grace Estate Winery and enjoy the ambience and views in Western Albemarle from the new tasting room. From November 27th-29th and take advantage of the 20-30% discount on three different wines. unnamed

ENTERTAINMENT 

Tired of leftovers? Take your friends for a nice country drive on  Friday Nov 27th 6-9pm where the Beatles cover band Abbey Road Unplugged will be at Glass House Winery,  and Two Brothers food truck will be servin up their fantastic southwestern style eats, so come hungry, too.  You can still bring a picnic if you like, but the food truck is fantastic, just so you know. No cover, no outside alcohol, no reservations.Buy some delicious gourmet wine infused chocolates while you’re there!  Tastings served throughout (noon-5:30).

 BARREL TASTING

Head to Keswick Vineyards and spend some time getting up close and personal with Keswick Vineyards 2015 vintage with Winemaker Stephen Barnard as you get to experience a barrel tasting of this very promising vintage!

Taste exceptional wines including  Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Chardonnay and Viognier as they develop and mature in the barrel. There will be 8 sessions, Saturday, November 21st, Sunday, November 22nd, Saturday, November 28th, and Sunday, November 29th from 10-1pm and from 2-5pm each day. You will also have the opportunity to purchase “futures” of these wines at a discount during the barrel tastings!

SHOPPING and SANTA

On November 28th and 29th “Deck the Halls” at Early Mountain Vineyards To celebrate the holiday season,  from 11:00am to 5:00pm.  On Saturday, Two Wishes  (if you haven’t heard them you’ve really been missing out!), and on Sunday, The Olivarez Trio with our friend Jeff Cheers, will be providing holiday music throughout the event. Enjoy horse-drawn carriage rides, photos with Santa, cookie decorating and shopping for gifts from a wide variety of local artists and artisans .We went last year, it was lots of fun and ran into friends out with their visiting families. unnamed-3 

COCKTAILS and CANAPES at Pippin Hill Farm  

Celebrate the holiday season on December 9th 6-9 p.m.  with Pippin Hill’s Executive Chef Bill Scatena! Learn to entertain with small festive bites great for your next holiday party! Tickets will also include a cocktail demo that will explain how to mix flavors to create the perfect holiday drink!

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MASKS and BUBBLES!

On New Years Eve Veritas will be hosting their annual Masked Ball, an elegant event featuring wine and hors d’oeuvres followed by a five-course winemaker’s dinner at 8 p.m. in Saddleback Hall. There will be dancing until midnight, when the masks come off and the champagne flows! Breakfast follows at 12:30 a.m. So bring your mask and your dancing shoes to have great food, wine, and fun to bring in the New Year 2016. Tickets are $175/person.

For any of these events, please plan ahead, call now for reservations at the links provided.

Cheers to You and your Families as we ring out 2015 and celebrate the New Year 2016, Clink!

Stinson Vineyards: A Family Favorite

StinsonVineyards_Tailgate_ThursdaysWeather forecast on 4th of July: good chance of rain and upper 80’s, almost didn’t leave the house, who needs another muggy day…change of plans and headed to Western Albemarle county…best decision ever!

I hadn’t been back to Stinson Vineyards in quite a while, actually since they were completing their “new” tasting room ( in 2011!) for a wine blending class with Matthieu Finot. Way too long!StinsonVineyards_View

Since we’re real estate agents and sometimes find carving out personal time difficult, we tend towards spontaneity. This spontaneous choice found us on the patio at Stinson, overlooking ripening vineyards and the bucolic valley below the Blue Ridge Mountain skyline. Listening to Charlottesville’s own homegrown New Orleans style jazz band of Chickenhead Blues completed the experience. Recently the musicians have been discovered in New Orleans and a majority of their scheduled gigs are now in Cajun country.

As far as selecting wine, we chose the 2012 Meritage, which would have been perfect on a cooler day or in the evening with a steak, but in accordance with the warmish weather we moved on to the Sauvignon Blanc. I now have a new favorite Virginia wine and since have encountered other wine lovers who feel the same. Father and daughter winemakers, Scott and Rachel Stinson have invested in, not one, but two concrete eggs to ferment wine in and this wine is done in a combination of stainless steel and the concrete egg, achieving  a delicious grapefruity, white peach flavor followed by a mineral finish for a refreshing result. The concrete egg is a whole other storyStinson Vineyards Concrete Egg Fermentation

It’s been on my calendar to make it for their  Tailgate Thursday nights event held weekly until September 3rd, and we’re running out of time to take advantage of the TWO Big Green Eggs and Weber grill. Bring your own meat for grilling, grab a blanket or chairs and picnic in a family, dog friendly venue and kick off the weekend early. No time for grocery shopping? Local meat from The Rock Barn and Free Union Grass Farm can be purchased and thawed by calling ahead.IMG_5413 Now, pick your favorite wine to pair and it’s a cookout. Can’t get too much easier than that.

Starr Hill Has A Heart

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It’s been a bit since I’ve posted but this is the perfect cause to get back in to the swing of blogging. Last time I was at Starr Hill Brewery was when the earthquake hit on August 23rd, 2011 in Louisa while  we were sampling the strongest stoutest brew on tap. The building began to shake and we thought, Wow that was a robust beer!!  The manager thought it was the train that runs directly behind the building, but moments later Tweets were out with the Richter scale reading 5.8.

In August (and starting tonight!) for every pint of beer sold , Starr Hill Brewery will donate  $ ONE DOLLAR $ to our local American Heart Association throughout the rest of the month. This is  a cause literally near and dear to my heart and the financial support  stays local. This is an ongoing program that Starr Hill does benefitting different charities and this month #CheersforCharity is focusing on heart health. Get a little cardio in by raising a glass (or mug) and lower your blood pressure while supporting research that will benefit someone in your life, maybe even you!

Starr_Hill_Tap_RoomSo here we are , four years later in August, and not expecting the earth to shake but would love to see a roar of support for this charity!  I’m looking forward to seeing the changes made in the last year to Starr Hill as well.

Thanks in advance to all who plan to support The American Heart Association in our area.

Hope to see you there…

2015 Early Mountain Oyster Festival or I Want the T-Shirt!

Early_Mountain_Vineyards_WineryWho loves Oysters??

I just did a casual poll in my office, 100% in favor of the rocky little mollusks! Disclaimer: several people were away from their desks or at lunch. Whether or not you’re an oyster lover is a moot point, this years Oyster Festival at Early Mountain Vineyards strikes a nice balance, offering alternatives for those who pass on bivalves. Last year the event was a fixed price for all you can eat oysters, this year is structured a little different and in my opinion, better. All food is priced a la carte and for those with shellfish allergies or are not fans of oysters, there’s always wine!  Raw & steamed oyster, crab cakes, and Barcat chowder will be served in addition to the excellent selection of wine. A limited alternative menu will be available in the Market Place in the winery.  Bonus!  A free souvenir stemless EMV glass and wine tasting are included in the ticket price.

Gotta get the T-Shirt!

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If you’ve never visited Early Mountain Vineyards you’re in for a treat, the staff is well trained in making your experience pleasurable and no doubt you’ll want to return. The facility is gorgeous, allow enough time to see how artfully designed this venue is and the blends and contrasts of textures from the pillows on the sofas to the course brick walls and tables to the smooth polished wood tasting bar.Early_Mountain_Vineyard_Cville_Uncorked_03

Come out and enjoy the sounds of Folk rock band, Mercy Creek from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Admission is $12 in advance, $10 for EMV Wine Club Members, and $15 at the door.

Under 21 are admitted free and Early Mountain Vineyards keeps a stock of fun games for the family. Hope to see you there!

Check out more photography by Lumina Boston!unnamed

Everyday is a Good day for Virginia Bubbly

Virginia_Sparkling_WineWhile the Champagne region of France claims the name, other countries including the United States of America are establishing their own reputation using traditional Chardonnay grapes as well as Pinot Noir to make sparkling wine. The average bottle of Champagne contains enough carbon dioxide to potentially produce 49 million bubbles, some say even more. Watching the bubbles shoot upward is quite mesmerizing,  recalling childhood memories of bubble lights on Christmas trees.  This has sparked a new tradition in our family of opening gifts with a chilled bottle of Champagne or a Brut Rosé from Soter in the Willamette Valley of Oregon (very welcome gift from my sister).

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Virginia has now placed itself on the sparkling wine map courtesy of Claude Thibaut and his Thibaut Janisson sparkling wines. Originally from Champagne, Claude has traversed the globe popping coks, perfecting his dosage and selecting only the best grapes and juice for his wines. He brought his expertise in the “methode champenoise” to  Kendall-Jackson, Jordan and Iron Horse wineries in California as well as Champagne Veuve Devaux, Bar sur seine, France and Yarra Bank, Victoria Australia, where his wines were voted “Best of the Best” in the 1995 Australia and New Zealand Wine Guide. He partners with Manuel Janisson of Janisson et Fils, a well know family of Champagne makers in Verzenay, France. Claude originally was enticed to Charlottesville by Patricia Kluge of Kluge Estate Winery and is  now owned and operated by Donald and Eric Trump. I am particularly fond of Claude’s latest T-J Extra Brut!

We were recently gifted with a bottle of Barboursville Cuvee 1814 Brut wine which was excellent. Side note: after pouring the wine there seemed to be very few bubbles and within a short period of time an explosion of bubbles occurred. The wine was well received by all! I look forward to serving it again.

Following traditional holidays like Christmas, New Year’s Eve and Valentine’s Day, Champagne drinking may hit a slump but any time is good for serving sparkling wine. It’s like the slogan, Orange Juice, It’s Not Just for Breakfast Anymore! Watch these three wineries (Trump definitely included) as well as other Virginia wineries for  future vintages!

Silverback Distillery Adds a Different Spirit this Christmas in Nelson County

Silverback_Distillery_Spirit_Lineup I Love Christmas! And as excited as I am about spending the holidays with the ones I love, there’s always the question as to what to give or what to do with our out of town guests. Well here’s a a different type of spirit that makes for a fun “get out of the house”  trip and even get some Christmas gifts or  stock up the bar for New Years Eve.Gorilla Juice

Chest thumping enthusiasm is palpable as wine drinkers and beer lovers “fall off the Brew Ridge Trail” and into the new tasting room of Silverback Distillery in Nelson County. Curiosity tempted us away from apple butter festivals and past some of the wineries and breweries dotting 151 in Nelson. Just a short drive south of 250 and Afton is the newest attraction, opened the end of August by partners in life and business, Christine and Denver Riggleman and close friend and operations manager, Blake Rhodes.

DSC04021  The distillery bears Denver’s nickname of Silverback (gorilla of course) because he had grayed prematurely, lifted weights and is actually quite gentle unless provoked.Silverback Distillery

We arrived shortly before closing and within a small window of time that allowed us to connect with the Silverback himself, Denver, for a quick but thorough tour of the distillery. Proud of not only the design and the process thoughtfully chosen by the couple, we were treated to  a brief chemistry lesson in spirit production. Silverback_Distillery_StillThe  two stills used would make Willy Wonka want to switch to Bourbon,Gin and Vodka. Sleek and sparkling in the sunny room, the contraptions rest above a hidden geothermal system for heating and then shock cooling the spirits to achieve the best flavor possible. Teflon lined fireman’s hoses transfer the mash to the stills. The stills are Denver’s million dollar plus babies, don’t quote me on this but I remember the dollar figures astounded me.DSC04022

The motto which reflects their commitment to safety, fun and the environment is

PRODUCE RESPONSIBLY. DRINK RESPONSIBLY. DISPOSE RESPONSIBLY ™Seriously...

Monkeying AroundI won’t steal their thunder, head to 151 in Nelson and take a tour, there’s an encyclopedia of information about distilling spirits and the bourbon to come at Silverback. You can even  shop for some fun non-alcoholic gift items  for tea-totalers.

Love these Bottles

Hours are:

Monday: 12:30-6
Tuesday: CLOSED
Wednesday & Thursday: 12:30-6
Friday: 12:30-7
Saturday: 11-7
Sunday: 1-6

* Special Note * Closed the same days as ABC stores-early closing on Christmas Eve, Closed Christmas and New Years Day.

Grapes of Rave

…. And now the rave! Heading on down the road I stopped in at Barracks Road shopping center, really not sure if I would be greeted or ignored.
Thinking Crème de la crème might just have the type of pot I was looking for I entered the store and was refreshingly greeted with a bright smile by Nancy Jo Krueger. Though she was helping another person, Nancy Jo offered her assistance and said she would be with me as soon as she was finished with the other customer.

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I was thrilled and not only bought something for myself but bought something for our soon to be born granddaughter.

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Ironically, the type and size of pot was not to be found and Nancy Jo suggested the Ivy Nursery!
I left happy and will gladly come back.

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Grapes of Wrath and Rave

I would like to preface this post by stating the fact that the Ivy Nursery is probably one of my favorite places to shop in Charlottesville. I love to buy gifts there for myself and I love to buy gifts there for people I love. If I had the means, I would furnish my entire home to look like the gift shop at the Ivy Nursery. After having repeated experiences in the local shops in Charlottesville I’ve decided to do a periodic rant/rave post. I think I’ll call it Grapes of Wrath and Rave. Maybe we’ll have a cork rating system! 5 Corks for over the top service. I don’t shop every week, frankly, so it won’t be every week. If I go into a store and someone offers assistance I’ll likely rave about you, but if I go into your shop, and you don’t offer me assistance, not only may I write about it but I will not buy from you. I’m getting a little tired of shopping around this area and literally being ignored in the store. I don’t look funny, I dress normally, and I have money in my pocket. I am ready to buy. But I will not buy from you if you do not offer me help.
I had a few moments to stop in at the Ivy Nursery this afternoon with the full intent of purchasing a quite lovely pot for my succulents. I walked in the nursery, I walked in the greenhouse, I walked into the gift portion of the store and I walked back into the nursery. Not once did anyone greet me, nor did they offer me assistance in searching for something. So, I’m on my way to another store. Thank you and the next time I shop at Ivy Nursery hopefully I’ll buy something. Of course I’ll go back, I can’t help myself…ah, that was the point after all!

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A Taste of Monticello with the Winemakers

A Taste of Monticello

Virginia wine fans, join us for a live tasting with three winemakers on Virginia Wine Chat

There is still plenty of time to order for this weekends special event!
Virginia Wine Chat – 3 Bottles of the finest Monticello wines

Virginia wine fans, join us for the September edition of Virginia Wine Chat, Saturday, September 27 at 7:30pm, presented by DrinkWhatYouLike.com, Virginia Wine Marketing Office, and The Virginia Wine Club:

A live tasting and interview with Emily Pelton (Veritas Vineyard), Matthieu Finot (King Family Vineyard), and Jake Busching (Grace Estates Winery ) moderated by wine writer Frank Morgan. The educational tasting and panel discussion will be streamed live via the Virginia Wine Chat UStream Channel. Participants watch the live panel discussion/tasting via UStream and can ask questions via Twitter by using the #VAWineChat hash tag.

This Wine Package will include one bottle of each of the following:

Veritas 2013 Viognier
King Family 2012 Meritage
Grace Estate Winery 2012 Cabernet Franc

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