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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” Bras for a Cause ” Charlottesville Breast Cancer Benefit

bras_for_a_cause_Charlottesville_Breast_Cancer_FundraiserMany of you may have already  attended this benefit in the past, but in case you’ve missed it, let me share  a bit about Bras for a Cause. The fashion show is highlighted by male models (since men can get breast cancer too) cavorting in the specially designed bras. Past themes have been Virginia Tech, University of Virginia, Golf theme, and the Wizard of Oz.  Just as almost everyone has had an encounter with breast cancer, whether  yourself, a family member or a friend, hearing the diagnosis is a life changing event.  The Blue Ridge Chapter of Women’s Council of Realtors ( which has male members also) is hosting the 4th Annual Bras for a Cause event in an effort to provide funds to help Flourish, the positive image boutique at The Emily Couric Cancer Center in Charlottesville, Virginia and raise Breast Cancer awareness in our community.

Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate III Breast Cancer Survivor Bra

Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate III Breast Cancer Survivor Bra

At Flourish, stylish products are made available to those facing Cancer.  Flourish is located on the main floor of the UVA Emily Couric Clinical Cancer Center.  Supported by the UVA Hospital Auxiliary,  funds generated by the boutique help the UVA Cancer Center to provide additional resources for cancer patients. Mastectomy garments, skin care products, wigs and scarves,  clothing and accessories are some of the products available. It’s a great place to buy gifts for someone that you care about including stylish and affordable jewelry, cancer awareness books and other inspirational gift items. With private fitting rooms, a Certified mastectomy fitter can help women while giving them the privacy, respect and concern so needed during this time. It also features Ramona’s Room, offering free wigs, scarves and caps for those who are un- or under-insured.

The Liberty Bra and freedom form Cancer-Angus Arrington BHG Real Estate III

The Liberty Bra and Freedom from Cancer-Angus Arrington BHG Real Estate III

Come out and join in the merriment with our local Realtors (and affiliated real estate folks including mortgage brokers)  hoot and holler at the brave male models showing off their “themed bras”,  not making light of the disease but laughing together as we attack it! Many of our Realtors have or are going through this right now and can use the support. 

Please join us Friday, September 19, 2014 – 7:00 – 10:00 p.m.
Elk’s Lodge, 389 Elk Drive, Charlottesville, VA

Hors D’oeuvres, Cash Bar & Live Auction.
 Tickets now on sale at ‘Flourish’ UVA Emily Couric Cancer Center for $20.00 (or $25.00 at the door). 

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Virginia Winery Music Events Fall 2014

IMG_3735Cool weather is around the corner and Autumn is  always a busy time around the grapevines. Harvest speaks to our soul and smells of burning leaves and pumpkin patches;  cinnamon and juicy fallen apples perfume the air. It draws us out of air-conditioned homes and cars to reconnect with the earth.  I thought it might be nice to share some of the upcoming events ( certainly not all) that might piqué your interest.

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Grace Estate

Music at the Vineyards

Grace Estate Winery is one of our newer wineries with older vineyards and widespread views across western Albemarle County. Located nearer  the White Hall area in Crozet on the Mount Juliet Farm, music this Friday begins at 6 p.m. until 9 p.m. with Hot Twang and catered by Kitchen Catering

September 5th (Friday): 6-9 pm
Abbey Road “Unplugged” The Beatles Tribute Band

Abbey Road “Unplugged” will be performing in our Friday night sunset series, with their acoustic 395348_328889153823381_157852272_nBeatles melodies, Check them out here! Bring a chair, a picnic blanket, or come early and grab a table and enjoy some classic southern style soul food, award-winning wines, and awesome Beatles tunes while the sun sets over the vineyard.

Foodtruck service by: Black Jack’s Mobile Soul Food

Beleza_Brasil_Glass_House_WinerySinger Songwriter Event Benefitting The Wildlife Center of Virginia at  Glass House Winery  is coming soon, meet some of the winged raptor ambassadors from the Wildlife Center and listen to the music of  ’2 Wishes’ – Joy Kuhar and Mike D’Antoni and musicians
Genna Mathew,  John Kelly  and Justin Storer. Event begins at 6 p.m. and donations of $10 is suggested but any amount is appreciated.

With so many wonderful wineries in the Charlottesville area, you may want to plan ahead so you don’t miss some of your favorite musicians this Fall.  Sippin into Sunset at Early Mountain Vineyards has managed to secure Beleza Brasil, my favorite duo for Samba style soulful music, for two different dates in September.

Sunsets at Carter Mountain have been playing music every Thursday evening 6-9 p.m. since May 15th and will continue until the end of September. Look for Lockjaw, a band of local dentists who perform together, and The Local Vocals, an acoustic trio, each member with a long history in the Charlottesville area.

starrynightsseptember14On Saturday, September 13th, 2014, 7-11 pm come on out to Veritas for the last of the Starry Nights for 2014 with The Hackensaw Boys - Raucous Bluegrass
Opening: Jim Waive and the Young Divorcees 
Click Here to Make Reservations

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Helpful tip: Bring warm blankets, temps can drop quickly, and seating is harder to come by so bring those camp chairs. Picnics are encouraged but not inside the wineries. I did this once, not cool, they were quite nice about it :-)

EMV Movie Night

A new way of going to the movies, kind of like going to camp or the drive-in, pack up your lawn chair and Early Mountain Vineyards provides a bag of popcorn and it’s cheaper than the theater. Tickets are $6 and you can reserve on-line. The feature will be The Sandlot and    September 25th is usually exquisite weather for kicking back outdoors with a glass of your favorite cool season robust red, perhaps the 2012 Eluvium Cabernet Sauvignon?

 

This should be a good start to fill up your September calendars, look for more venues next week in my Weekend Picks off the Vine post.

 

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Early 2014 Harvest at Trump Winery

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Being first is nothing new to Donald Trump and, in this case, timing is everything.

Known for associating their brand with luxury and the finer things in life, the sound of a popping cork and tiny effervescent bubbles racing to the top are symbolic of this latest of Trump ventures. Trump blew into the Virginia countryside in early October 2011 with a clapping helicopter entrance and media show announcing his arrival onto the Monticello AVA scene and in a flash set in motion the transference of ownership from Kluge Estate to his namesake.

With 95 acres of grapes dedicated to sparkling wines, the 2014 harvest began as  a “crunch to the crush”.  The consumption of Champagne and sparkling wine has been on the rise and Trump Winery was poised to meet that demand. After an unseasonably cool Summer, little rain and hot August days approaching,  the time to pick the Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes for sparkling wines was quickly upon us in the Charlottesville area. Due to their micro-climate, location and a desire to have a more acidic grape desirable for sparkling wines, Trump is one of the earliest vineyards in Virginia to start picking grapes (as early as August 7th).  If we got rain too soon, as was in the original forecast for the 9th and 10th of August, the grapes could become saturated affecting the sugar (brixx) level which is so critical.  Harvesting grapes at night and into the cool morning hours is ideal for a champagne style wine.  Vineyard managers believe that night harvests result in grapes with better sugar levels and  acidity.  It is also easier on the workers who are hand picking without having to labor in the heat of the day.

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On Sunday August 10th, accompanied by my husband and our daughter ( our photographer) we set off for a visit to the Trump Winery tasting room.  The transformation from Kluge Estate was quite apparent with the Trump logo everywhere emblazoned on polo shirts, on chocolate bars looking newly minted in silver and gold and on the black shirted tasting room team attending to the guests.  Even the bathroom fixtures appear gilded!

Business is certainly thriving at Trump and the tasting room filled rapidly, but not before we had quick assistance from lovely Judi Bowers, opening a bottle of the Trump Brut Sparkling Rosé 2009 to taste.  Great choice, Judi!  Armed with our Champagne glasses and an ice bucket we headed outdoors.

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One of the best decisions ( in my opinion)  made at the tasting room since Trump had taken ownership  was opening up the vista off the larger outdoor patio. Previously the outdoor space had been surrounded by trees and dense natural foliage obscuring the view. Now a picture-postcard, artist-inspiring view draws guests out to rough picnic tables with a pastoral scene of vineyards and a lake in the distance.  Just off the patio and tasting bar is a garden smelling ripe with tomatoes.

Charlottesville_Trump_Winery_View The salmon colored sparkling wine paired beautifully in taste and appearance with our selection of a rustic bacon lettuce tomato sandwich and a Caprese salad of heirloom tomatoes. We savored the experience and our glass of Brut Rose before heading out on the hike across the road through the vineyards. As we  approached  the vines seemed to come alive with the rustling  sounds of  invisible workers  hidden below the vines laughing and singing as they selected the best clusters of grapes to clip. Moving rapidly up the rows and bringing in the bunches of grapes was a pleasure to watch.

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Listen and perhaps the next time you pop open a bottle of sparkling wine from Central Virginia  you may  hear some of the laughter and song in the rising bubbles!

 

We hope you enjoy your next bottle of Trump bubbly as much as we did.

 

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Posted in Albemarle County Wineries, Virginia Wine Country, Weekends in Charlottesville | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Experiencing French Wineries vs Virginia Wineries

Clos du TriasVisions of warm sunny days, leisurely two hour lunches drawn out with conversation, an aproned waiter pouring bubbles into your champagne glass  and soft music beckon us back to the Old Country. If you’re like most wine lovers from the United States, it is a dream to visit the birthplace of  wine making, Europe. France, Italy and Spain are the most sought after destinations, followed by Germany, Portugal and Greece. 

Thomas Jefferson was just so inspired during his travels to France, thus beginning the New World efforts of cultivating grapes to make wine. He started his vines on the slopes of Monticello, his mountain top home, overlooking Charlottesville, Virginia. Richard Leahy has written a wonderful book, Beyond Jefferson’s Vines, about the history of this endeavor and the more recent explosion of vineyards in Virginia. I especially like the praise offered by  John Hagarty, www.Hagarty-on-Wine.com “Richard Leahy has woven a rich tapestry of Virginia’s wineries and winemakers. If Jefferson could peruse this book a satisfied smile would surely grace his countenance because his dream of quality Virginia wine has been fulfilled. This volume will be referenced often for those seeking to better understand the Old Dominion’s wine ascendency. A riveting and rewarding read.”

Recently, I travelled “across the pond”  in the company of my mother, to visit my sister currently living in Provence.  The movie, A Good Year, with Russell Crowe and Marion Cotillard, , is one of my favorite movies and the film location of Bonnieux, Vaucluse, France was just a little southeast of Carpentras, where we made our home base. Maison Trevier,  the delightful maison we  stayed in, is within the walled village of Carpentras, around the corner from a wonderful fromagerie, La Fromagerie du Comtat. Grab a baguette, some home made fig preserves, olives and truffles from the market and you are in heaven.  As I walked into the jardin of Gina Trevier, owner of Maison Trevier,  I could almost hear the music from the soundtrack from  A Good Year :-)

Maison Trevier & Bebe Chat

Maison Trevier & Bebe Chat

Fromagerie Vigier

Fromage

Ah, I drift….so this was the beginning of our visit to the romantic south of France, Chateauneuf du Pape, Avignon, Isle sur la Sorgue, Pernes les Fontaines, Gigondas and Le Barroux. The influence of Rome and Catholicism permeated the terroir, walled villages, monasteries and small churches and olive trees used for olive wood carvings.

11th Century St. Catherine's in Gigondas

11th Century St. Catherine’s in Gigondas

I was accustomed to our lovely tasting rooms at the wineries in Virginia. Many of which supplement the costly production of wine on the east coast by building fabulous event sites for weddings and celebrations.  Not all are like Pippin Hill Farm, Veritas, King Family Vineyards  or Early Mountain Vineyards with their beautifully appointed celebration halls (which are quite gorgeous!)  many are smaller, more intimate and not quite as opulent. Afton Mountain Vineyards has a wonderful outdoor covered space, complete with blankets and space heaters to enjoy the view even when it’s cold. They have a perfect spot with a contemporary arbor for weddings plus one of the coziest tasting rooms. See my post http://cvilleuncorked.com/2011/10/15/afton-mountain-vineyards-revisited/ for more about Afton Mountain.afton-mountain-008

Horton Vineyards

Horton Vineyards

Each winery around the Charlottesville area has it’s own personality. Some are dog friendly like Keswick with it’s Yappy Hours on Sundays but also known for fabulous weddings with a plantation feel that Scarlett O’Hara would have loved.  Some are tropical and create gourmet chocolates like Glass House Winery and seating under the glass conservatory jungle of banana trees. Pollak Vineyards sits below the mountain overlooking a pond and has offered fly fishing lessons in the past. Mountfair  does weddings on a smaller scale and many of the wineries offer live music on weekends. Veritas has their Starry Nights, outdoor fire pits and a bandstand. King Family Vineyards hosts Polo matches and  an annual benefit for breast cancer, the Pink Ribbon Polo Classic coming up on June 20th, 2014. None of this takes away from the fact that Virginia is producing award winning wines that rival the wines of the Old Country. Southern hospitality abounds and you won’t be disappointed in visiting a tasting room in Virginia.

Glass House Winery

Glass House Winery

By contrast, the wineries and tasting rooms we visited in France were small, most do not charge a tasting fee and can limit you to three tastings, unlike Barboursville Winery (with it’s 5 Star Dining at Palladio)  or Horton Vineyards where you taste quite a large selection. Not to be outdone by the ruins at Chateauneuf du Pape, Barboursville has their own ruins of Governor Barbours home, designed by Thomas Jefferson himself. In Chateauneuf,  you can taste in a Cave, a small room under ground where you may taste from several different wineries or in the main tasting room for Chateauneuf du Pape that even sells souvenirs.  The French term for tasting is  “degustation” so look for a sign that includes the term. ‘En vente directe‘ indicates that they have direct sales and “vin a’ emporter” means they sell wine that you can take with you.

Ruins of Chateauneuf du Pape

Ruins of Chateauneuf du Pape

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Ruins at Barboursville Vineyards

In Gigondas, my favorite village of the trip, we visited a more contemporary tasting room with very small bottles in a test tube style presentation, where you may taste many vintages and some world class wines. It was a bit  like stepping up to the counter in a store than tasting at a bar, but they had an amazing selection of wines.

Gigondas Tasting Room

Gigondas Tasting Room

The smallest winery we visited was Clos de Trias in Le Barroux and the winemaker’s home really did remind you of A Good Year, family owned and operated, this winery is one of the few 100% organic, biodynamic wineries in the world. With the family Great Dane, Tauro, sneaking in to watch us barrel taste, it was the best wine tasting on our trip. The wines were excellent and we had a wonderful  tour by Paige Carnwath and my sister, both who’ve bottled, pumped, picked and tasted for the wine maker,  Evan Bakke.

Steel Tanks at Clos de Trias

Steel Tanks at Clos de Trias

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Tasting at Clos de Trias

 

Clos de Trias "Tauro"

Clos de Trias “Tauro”

If you want to taste wine and make an effort to converse about your tasting in France, explore this link  for French wine tasting terms. It’s like the old adage, when in Rome…

Whether you venture out to wineries in France or Virginia, the wine community is a big family, facing the same obstacles of weather, and uniting to support each other. Both countries appreciate wine from bud break or bud burst to the final product, so go, enjoy and savor the experience wherever grapes are grown.

 

Posted in Albemarle County Wineries, Nelson County Wineries, Virginia Wine Country, Wineries Outside Virginia | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment