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!

Masked Ball for Shop1

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!

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!

Early_Mountain_Vineyard_Cville_Uncorked_07

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

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.

Grace_Estate_Winery_Entrance_Crozet_Virginia
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

View Menu

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.

 

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 https://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
Barboursville_vineyards_ruins_snow
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.

 

2 Degrees of Separation in the Wine Industry

Bubbles at TastingsMarch 31st was a week set aside for family, friends and wine.

Bill Curtis & Gabrielle Rausse enjoying Thibaut Janisson at Tastings
Bill Curtis & Gabrielle Rausse enjoying Thibaut Janisson at Tastings

I had planned to show my semi ex-patriot sister (living part time between Provence and the U.K.) a bit of our world, more specifically, the New World Virginia wine country. Who says you have to have vines that are hundreds of years old to grow delicious grapes and produce great wines?

That week, we hit Tastings without her (she flew in a day too late), went to Veritas, rode horseback through the vineyards in the snow, bought wine at Feast and Tastings,  met with winemakers Claude Thibaut of Thibaut-Janisson,  Emily Pelton and Elliott Watkins of Veritas, lunched at Early Mountain Vineyards and experienced many fabulous wines.

Unfortunately, one of the  events she would have really enjoyed was the pairings of small courses at Tastings in the historic section of downtown Charlottesville.  Hosted by Bill Curtis  for the Wine Club of Charlottesville, the guests of honor that night were Claude Thibaut and his partner Manuel Janisson, both hailing from the Champagne region and most recently notable in the U.S. for their sparkling wine featured at the first state dinner  for  President Obama. The wines offered that night were sparklings from the Thibaut-Janisson partnership, Fizz, Blanc de Chardonnay Brut, and their latest release and limited production, TJ Xtra Brut, followed by three  Janisson et Fils champagnes: Francois de Rozay, Tradition, Grand Cru and the dessert finale, the Grand Cru Brut Rose. Claude  shared about the TJ Xtra Brut, 100% Chardonnay grapes aged 1/3 in oak as compared to 10% in their Blanc de Chardonnay. Only 100 cases were produced and we were privileged to get early access to this delightful slightly oaky, drier sparkling wine. Manuel discussed his method of Champagne making next and as each wine was poured, guest were given the opportunity to remark. The Janisson et Fils Champagnes were well received and fellow winemaker Gabrielle Rausse quietly sat at the next table enjoying the fare.

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After a wonderful horseback tour of Veritas, we returned to meet Claude in his “Cave” where bottles were being labeled and crated for shipping to a surprise destination (I know but I can’t tell) super cool! The shape of Claude’s bottles are distinctive and we love the new Xtra Brut T-J bottle. It does make storage more difficult as the bottles don’t fit into a typical crate.

Terrie & Claude
Terrie & Claude
T-J in Action
T-J in Action

In the end, we really enjoyed the wines, new friendships, tour of  Veritas and good times in Virginia.  I packed a bottle of the Xtra Brut to open in Texas on the last day we spent with Terrie, symbolic of celebrating great times together! T-J Xtra Brut was recently described by Dave McIntyre of the Washington Post as ” A new can’t miss Virginia sparkler that most people will miss”.   I’m glad we didn’t miss it!

Travelling with TJ
Travelling with TJ

Random: So where are the two degrees of separation? This is my mathematical formula:  I know Claude,  Claude comes from the same town in France and knows Bruno Paillard, champagne maker and his daughter, Marie Caroline Bakke-Paillard (from Claude’s days in California wine making). My sister stays part time and interns with Marie Caroline’s husband, Evan Bakke, at their winery in Le Barroux, Clos de Trias, where they produce 100% biodynamic, organic wines. We had scheduled for her to visit Claude so she could see where he makes his sparkling wines using space at Veritas in Afton, Va. While visiting Veritas, we realized that my sister, Terrie, ( ala Francais, Tehrreee’) is in the same school that the assistant winemaker, Elliott Watkins attended in the U.K., Plumpton College. So, basically, I take Claude, Marie Caroline, Bruno, Evan, Elliott and Terrie (6), divide by  (3) countries US, UK and and France and get 2 degrees of separation. Very random: Oh well, at the least, there are two great winemakers creating wine in the methode-champenoise in Virginia, two sisters that love each other and wine, two winemakers in the same space  using two different methods of winemaking under two completely different labels.

 

Early Mountain Vineyards & The Secret to Hot Mulled Wine

Early Mountain Holiday Open House

Last Saturday turned out to be an unseasonably warm day in Central Virginia,but the Christmas spirit was alive and flourishing at the Early Mountain Vineyards' Holiday Open House. The tree was decked with gilded angels and grapes, beautifully appointed to greet guests.Christmas at Early Mountain Vineyards

Local vendors in the grand were set up for shoppers to purchase gifts and treats while sipping on some Early Mountain wines. Richard Leahy was signing his book, Beyond Jefferson's Vines, and if you're looking for a great gift for a Virginia wine lover, this is perfect.

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Hot Chili and cornbread, vegetarian bouillabaisse with crostini were available to pair with your wine selection. We had a bowl of each and the veggies in the bouillabaisse were scrumptious and the crostini was buttery and crisp, suffice it to say, I didn't share any of my soup.

Santa made an appearance for the children and music was provided by Greene County Ensemble, Antioch Baptist Church, Uno Baptist Church and Madison Bel Canto. Unfortunately, we arrived just a touch late for the music but seeing the children rolling down the hills and sitting by the outdoor fireplace made for a lovely holiday afternoon.


One of the highlights was Margaret Prior sharing her German friend, Irene's hot mulled wine recipe! There is a secret ingredient and the Cabernet France is priced so well that you could use it for this recipe :)  Thanks for sharing!  

Virginia Wine Lover Magazine Favorite Tasting Room Poll

If you haven’t subscribed to Virginia Wine Lover Magazine, the holidays are a great time to sign up for this publication. It offers wine news, gift ideas, events and information about local wineries to share with your holiday guests.

According to Virginia Wine Lover , the results are in from the  September poll asking readers to vote for their Favorite Virginia Winery Tasting Room.  Some 3,000 responses accounted for the top 25 winners selected from Virginia’s 220 wineries with tasting rooms. Selections were made on the basis of Friendliness of Staff (39%), Attractiveness of Location (37%), Staff’s Knowledge of Wine (19%), Proximity (3%) and Price of Tasting (2%). Several of the wineries that are local to our Charlottesville area made the list.

Cooper Vineyards in Louisa County, midway between C-ville and Richmond, took top honors as favorite tasting room. Perfect! Planning our first trip there this weekend which also coincides with their Holiday Open House ( free tastings Sat. & Sun. 1-5).  Many of you may already be familiar with Cooper Vineyards.They were selected for the Cooper staff friendliness, the architectural design of the tasting room and for their fine wines. Cooper Vineyards recently earned the coveted LEED Platinum certification( the highest standard) for excellence in “Green” building technology. They have one many awards already and their Noche dessert wine is extremely popular.  Made with Norton grapes and infused with chocolate, Noche is a versatile wine. According to Cooper Vineyards, it has hints of black cherry and raspberry complement rich aromas of cocoa with a chocolate ganache finish. Great for sipping, drizzled as a chocolate sauce over ice cream or combined with nutella for a chocolate fondue. This wine is definitely on my shopping list for Thanksgiving. These recipes can be found on their website or on VWL’s site.  

2nd place honors for best tasting room went to Early Mountain Vineyards.  Agreed!  This winery is a very popular spot, augmented with a most hospitable tasting room staff, offering select wines from the Commonwealth and an attention to detail to create a most enjoyable wine tasting experience. Located in southern Madison County, EMV has already established themselves as a TGIF spot and situated conveniently between NoVA and Charlottesville, a premier wine tasting destination. The event facility rivals Pippin Hill for country elegance and an exquisite wedding venue.

Prince Michel nabbed the 4th favorite tasting room for its Madison County location. Prince Michel was chosen as the exclusive winery to produce the official 250thanniversary commemorative wine for this year-long celebration. The  two wines chosen to pay tribute to this historic occasion are Prince  Michel’s award winning Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. Both wines are  made from grapes grown in the Monticello appellation of Virginia.  Embellished with the custom designed commemorative label, these wines  will be available in over 200 locations around the area. They will also  be available April 21 for tasting and purchase at the First Annual  Monticello Wine Festival at the pavilion on Charlottesville’s downtown  mall. Prince Michel also has a tasting room on Carter’s Mountain with beautiful vistas over  Charlottesville extending down to Nelson County.

Barboursville Vineyards,  Glass House Winery,  Keswick Vineyards, Horton Vineyards, Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards and  Pollak Vineyards made the top 20 tasting rooms in Virginia.  Each winery is unique in its own right offering a little something different from the others. Barboursville for its history, longevity, and 5 star restaurant, Palladio, serving award-winning wines like Octagon and Nebbiolo. Glass House lends an atmosphere of the tropics with its glass conservatory and warm welcoming tasting room staff.  Top that off with Michelle Sanders’ gourmet chocolates and you could wrap up Christmas gifts right there.  Keswick Vineyards is a cozy tasting room in the heart of hunt country with a beautiful backdrop of historic plantations. With this many delightful wineries to choose from, it’s no wonder Charlottesville has become such a great weekend destination. I think you’ll need more than a couple of weekends to get a real taste of Thomas Jefferson’s wine country.

As a real estate agent, I’m finding more and more people choosing the Charlottesville area as their home. Parents who have adult children graduating from the University of Virginia are building homes here after becoming acquainted with all Central Virginia has to offer. The wine industry, education, the arts, temperate climate, health care and more are inspiring weekend visitors to purchase second homes within driving distance from New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, D.C. If you’re interested in viewing homes for sale in the area, please call or email to schedule a visit. We’d love to welcome you to Charlottesville!

 

Pairing Oysters and Virginia Wines, A Winning Combination

Great minds drink alike!

My husband and I recently had the pleasure of being invited to a mid-week patio dinner party. Hosted by Bill and Joyce Sykes, to christen their new stone patio and inspired by the quadrifecta (a term coined by Bill) of fabulous food, wine, friends and weather. We were accompanied by our camera buff and fellow oenophile friend, Paulette Musselman and joined by the Sykes’ award winning architect Fred Oesch, new friends Henry & Laverne Chandler and Two J’s Smokehouse’s, Joshua and Megan Ball.  The common denominator was a fondness for excellent wine, bubbly, and support of the Wildlife Center of Virginia…oh, yes…and dining al fresco!

The wine that received a startling reaction was  Chatham Vineyards Church Creek Chardonnay causing a simultaneous applause for best choice to kick off the evening. I’ve written about this wine before, having enjoyed it at least four different times at Early Mountain Vineyards. Apparently each of us had experienced this wine separately and unanimously found this Chardonnay to be the exception to most Chardonnays, having been fermented in steel tanks and  resulting in a slightly creamy but crisp refreshing wine. Described as below by Chatham Vineyards:

100% Dijon clone 95/96 Chardonnay fermented and aged in stainless steel. With delicate hints of pear and green melon, crisp acidity and mineral elements, this unoaked Chardonnay, at a sensible 12.5% alcohol, recalls Burgundy more than Napa. This is a pure expression of the varietal and Eastern Shore terroir.

Excellent with oysters, clams, and seafood pairings. (Agreed!!)

The highlight on the menu was the magnum of Janisson & Fils Champagne brought back from a recent trip to France by the Sykes. I believe we all were a little greedy about refills 🙂 We missed Claude Thibaut and wife Pamela Margaux at the party but savored the Thibaut-Janisson sparkling Cuvee’ d’ Etat Blanc de Blanc. Heavenly!

We’ve reached that “delicious” time of year in Virginia for pulling on a warm sweater, early leaf changes, football and fire pits. Why not grill some seafood and toast Autumn with a Virginia wine?

Sip & Shop-Mixing Pleasure with Pleasure

A fashion evening with a recipe for success in any ladies book!  Thursday evening  Early Mountain Vineyards introduced the winery to fashionistas from Northern Virginia all the way down to Central Virginia.  The attraction was an event called Sip and Shop featuring designs from Urban Chic,  Splendalla Personal Shopping services, complementary appetizers from Early Mountain and Thibault-Janisson Blanc de Chardonnay!  Scene stealer: the prosecco poured over wild hibiscus flowers served in champagne flutes, as beautiful as it was delicious!  Capitalizing on the interest of wedding planners, fashion consultants and fashion bloggers, I foresee potential bridal fashion shows here or perhaps even a guys’ night with tuxedos and cigars on the patio accompanied by a robust red or smokey port? Just my thoughts….

Besides the lovely apparel including denim from 7 For All Mankind, Citizens For Humanity and J Brand in addition to the dressier items (a taupe lace overlay dress that I reeeeally wanted) it was just fun shopping and reconnecting with friends. Bonus, meeting other lady bloggers.  I met Dana Holler of Cville Fashion for the second time in a week, (other encounter at Cville SheBlogs ) and her good friend, Jeannine of Small and Chic Home having a good time as well.

Fashion bloggers Dana and Jeannine

Eric Kelley was on site photographing for EMV’s soon to be launched new website. Love to see his photos! Thanks to Peter, Eric, Wendy, Michelle, Heather and Margaret for the attention to everyone’s comfort and enjoyment!

Along that vein, the remaining portion of this post is devoted to photography, the pictures speak for themselves…

Enjoying our Red, White and Blue Flight

Ankida Ridge Featured at Early Mountain Vineyards

Many of you  have already heard the accolades about Ankida Ridge’s Pinot Noir, but for those who aren’t familiar with this East Coast Pinot, today is the day. Recently opened, Madison’s Early Mountain Vineyards (heretofore, EMV) features (in addition to their own wines) select estate wines from around Virginia. From the onset, EMV is committed to excellence and selling Ankida Ridge’s Pinot enhances their wine list. Due to the small scale production at Ankida Ridge, this wine will be sold at EMV, but not available for tastings…except this afternoon.  2-5pm… Christine and Nathan Vrooman will be there to visit with old friends and new as they pour their 2010 Pinot Noir and  2011 Chardonnay (its first public appearance!) It should be a fabulous afternoon!

The Vroomans, owners of Ankida Ridge, planted tightly spaced vines of  Burgundian grapes, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, at an elevation of 1800 ft, amongst the rocks and steep narrow rows of vines. The result according to  Dave McIntyre of The Washington Post picks Ankida Ridge’s 2010 Pinot Noir near the top of his favorite regional wines of 2011!  Esteemed wine writer, Richard Leahy,  posts this review of our Pinot Noir! …  “The new, small, Burgundian-style winery Ankida Ridge high in Amherst County is not only focused and passionate, but has done their homework from the ground up, hiring viticulturist Lucie Morton and paying attention to every detail in the process. The result is the most remarkable pinot noir I’ve had from the Eastern U.S.“….