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!

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

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
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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.

 

A Beautiful Day- Horseback Riding in Virginia Vineyards

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Ashton Beebe of Indian Summer Guide Service in Virginia offers vineyard horseback rides

It’s a Beautiful Day, Sky Falls, You feel Like It’s a Beautiful Day, Don’t Let it Get Away- U2

Crystal skies, frosty winds coursing the rows of dormant grape vines anchored on slopes of the Virginia piedmont….feeling the snowy terroir under hoof… it was a beautiful day.

Whether you’re a horse lover, wine lover or outdoor enthusiast, a ride on horseback through the Virginia vineyards appeals to the romantic in all of us. Don’t believe me? Gentleman, ask your spouse or girlfriend if she would like to venture out on horseback, escorted by a professional guide and finish at the tasting room of one of three spectacular award winning  wineries.  Ladies, ask your husbands, boyfriends, girlfriends or bridesmaids if they would enjoy a private tour like I just described….exactly!  Which is the same reason that I arranged for my sister ( fellow oenophile-fancy name for wino) and I to do just that!

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Cville UnCorked in Saddle

Veritas, King Family, Pollak Vineyards and Glass House Winery all snuggle up to the backdrop of the Blue Ridge Mountains with views that arguably beat Napa Valley hands down.  All three wineries have joined with local cowboy, Ashton Beebe and his Indian Summer Guide Service, to provide a sensory experience that shouldn’t be missed. If you have any apprehensions about riding, no worries here, these horses are accustomed to the terrain and easy as can be with any novice rider.

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Chloe Hodson on Horseback at Veritas

We selected Veritas Winery  for our tour and would have gladly hit all three if time had allowed. Two Socks, Beau and Murphy (Quarter Horse Pintos) were brushed down and ready for our ride. Ashton had requested the lovely Chloe Hodson,  Manager of the Farmhouse and Retreat  at Veritas, to join us for an education about the grape varieties, the terroir and the history of Veritas.  We mounted and set off towards the slopes above Veritas casually chatting, getting accustomed to the gait of the horses.  In a matter of moments, we had established a connection-multiple connections-between the four of us. Chloe immediately tripped to the fact that her boyfriend, Elliott Watkins, assistant winemaker to sister Emily Pelton and originally  from the U.K. , graduated from  Plumpton College in England, for wine making, the same school that my sister is attending for her WSET.  I knew Ashton’s family from years before where we attended church together. Small world!

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Veritas Vineyards in the Snow

The ride was comfortable, horses snorting in conversation with each other, and we continued to ascend the slopes. Should you have any reservations about riding, Ashton will put you at ease and the horses follow each other, easily used to mountain trail rides. I wanted to take pictures with my camera, no easy task when  you’re trying to relax and just take in the moment; but Ashton was riding, reigning single handedly and snapping pictures with his own camera. A nice surprise and we lapsed into just savouring the experience.  At the highest elevation on our ride, Chloe pointed out a slope where future vines would be planted and quite possibly be tended on horseback due to the steepness. It was at this point that I felt like I was in Montana,  in another era, bygone days and away from the hustle of business, cars and crowds.

Sisters
Sisters

 

Veritas_Love
Virginia is for Wine & Horse Lovers

Following our ride, we entered the  tasting room with it’s soaring ceilings and the “cork LOVE” display  playing off the slogan Virginia is for (wine) Lovers. Chloe and Elliott walked us through the extensive line up of wines produced at Veritas. Two wines of special note were first,  Elliott’s baby, a 2013 Rosé, which my sister is taking back to Plumpton College to brag on his winemaking skills. It was fun sampling wine with Ashton and getting the guided tour of the cellar and doing some barrel tastings.  

The other was the Kenmar, made with  Traminette grapes ( a hybrid of Gewurtztraminer and Joannes –Seyve (JS)  from Cornell. Emily’s  Veritas 2005  Kenmar brought national  attention to this young female winemaker as the winner of the Judge’s Choice Competition at the 2007 National Women’s Wine Competition in California.  Chloe explained the history of this wine, named in remembrance of her grandparents, Kenneth and Marjorie who passed away during 2001, the year of their first vintage. Her grandmother enjoyed sweet wines and asked that one be made to her taste, thus the Kenmar was born. As Chloe shared the sweet story about her grandmother, we couldn’t help but get teary eyed along with her. My favorite wine was the Harlequin Reserve Chardonnay 2012, a little oaky, buttery and served later at home with our favorite cedar planked Alaskan salmon. I admit that I do like creamy chardonnays…what’s wrong with that?

Chloe Guides the Wine Tasting

Chloe Guides the Wine Tasting

Our tour culminated at the winery, off horseback, (no drinking and riding despite our posed photographs to show off the link to the vineyards).  If you can arrange a horseback tour of the vineyards, try to arrange it during the weekdays when the tasting room is quieter and you can sit by the grand fireplace or really take your time learning about the wines. I cannot recommend this enough and look forward to the soonest opportunity to ride along again. Contact Ashton to arrange your vineyard tour at 434) 531-9679, he DOES answer his phone 🙂

Hanging out at the Veritas Winery
Hanging out at the Veritas Winery

If you want to create the ultimate package, horse back rides, massages courtesy  of Blue Ridge Massage Therapy ,  yoga, cooking classes, spa treatments and staying at the Farmhouse call 540-456-8100 for rates and reservations. Chloe is hands on in this area and can coordinate your visit with various pampering and adventures for your indulgences.

No, You Can't Do This!
No, You Can’t Do This!

 

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The Horses Ride!

5 Reasons to Visit Pollak Winery

DSC02627Seriously, do you need more than one? I certainly don’t! I noticed a video on NBC 29 in Charlottesville about horseback tours of vineyards and I wanted to share this information with all of you horse-wine-outdoor- photographer-romantic types. Check out the video below and the read why you should set aside some time for a visit to Pollak:

Horseback Vineyard Tours at Pollak, King Family & Glass House Wineries

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#1 Reason to visit Pollak Vineyards The Wine! The wines are fabulous and you really need to try some of the award-winners like the 2012 Rose which won a Double Gold Medal .

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#2 It’s harvest time and the scenery couldn’t be more beautiful in Central Virginia – except during peak Fall foliage 🙂 With a Blue Ridge Mountain backdrop and a picture postcard lake just below the winery, Pollak is one of my favorite patios to soak up the views.

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#3 The weather is glorious-ask anyone today and I bet they’re outside, except for me and I’m heading out in a couple of minutes!

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#4 You can horseback ride through vineyards? Awesome! Indian Summer Guide Service offers these tours at Pollak, King Family or Glass House for a real down to earth experience, then stop in and sample a Virginia Viognier. The Pollak 2012 Viognier won Gold, Best of Category at the Atlantic Seaboard International
and Gold in the Monticello Cup!

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#5 Buy Local, Drink Local! See you at the Vineyard!

Too Busy for Virginia Wine? Grace Estate Winery is a Cause to Pause

Grace_Estate_VinesCool breezes, crisp mountain air, Peach trees and Redbuds blooming, Dogwoods lacing the fringe of new Spring growth and we’re too busy to pause in the moment! One of the perks of living in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains is reveling in the natural beauty that surrounds us, unique to each season. We have celebrations and festivals competing for our time. So much to offer but our schedules demand our attention.

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Last weekend, we made an appointment for ourselves…with each other!  Bob and I headed out to take a peek at the most recent winery opening on the Appellation Trail, Grace Estate Winery, neighboring already established Stinson Vineyards and White Hall and just down the road apiece from Mountfair and Glass House wineries. If you judge someone by the company they keep, we have another winner in Western Albemarle County.  Jake Busching, formerly known for bringing attention and awards to Pollak Vineyards, has taken Mount Juliet Farm and Grace Estate to a new height (be sure to check out the silo, speaking of height).  His experience in farming and wine making goes back to Jefferson Vineyards, as well as Keswick and Horton.  The fruit at Mount Juliet will be kept for local use in wine making, thus remaining true to the terroir (still have a hard time saying that word!).

Grace_Estate_Barnery

For years, local Crozet and White Hall residents have driven past the mature vineyards at Mount Juliet Farm and now, we have access to enter the property and admire the vines up close.  White varietals are Viognier, Chardonnay, Petit Manseng, Sauvignon Blanc, and Vidal; red varietals are Merlot, Malbec, Petit Verdot, Tannat, Cabernet Franc, and Cabernet Sauvignon.  Personally, I’m looking forward to Pinot Gris which are planned for the future! All of the wines are made from Grace Estate grapes and Jake plans on keeping it that way.

Reflections in the Silo
The winery, otherwise cleverly referred to as the Barnery is rustic and farmish, flanked by a large silo and now furnished with benches for casual reflection and sipping. The wines we tasted were all quite impressive, Bob really liked the Baril which is French for barrel and is a lighter hued Bordeaux blend  of 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Cabernet Franc and 20% Petit Verdot which belies the complexity and spice fruit flavors. I’m not embarrassed to admit that I still love Chardonnay and the 2011 was creamy with pear over tones  but not oaky.  I think the overall best wine was the 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon and it appeared Jake was pleased with this  result himself. The vintage was excellent and blending 80% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Merlot was a masterful combination especially having been aged for 16 months in French Oak. Buy this!
Looking for something to do? Head west out Garth Road and visit Grace Estate and their lovely neighbor, Stinson Vineyards.
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Grace Estate Winery Mount Juliet Farm 5273 Mount Juliet Farm Crozet, VA 22932 tel & fax: 434-823-5014 web: http://www.graceestatewinery.com

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!

 

Planning something entertaining for family in town this coming weekend? Check out some of the featured events at Virginia wineries. Whether you have friends or family visiting for weddings, graduations or considering moving to our lovely Central Virginia; here are some excellent wineries to consider:

King Family Vineyards & Roseland Polo

Current Match Status: The 2012 season will begin on Sunday, May 27th.

Polo Player

This Sunday! Polo Season kicks off at King Family. This is an extremely well-attended event so you may want to arrive early. Check out King Family’s website for tips to enjoy the afternoon. Best Tip: Bring some form of umbrellas for shade! Polo matches are held every Sunday from Memorial Day weekend through mid-October, weather and field conditions permitting. Matches begin at 1:30 pm and typically last about 1 1/2 hours. Matches may be cancelled depending on field conditions, rain, excessive heat or any number of reasons.

May I recommend the lovely venue listed below- Afton Mountain Vineyard boasts beautiful views and soft breezes due to their location just below the mountain pass. With the large pavilion complete with ceiling fans and now with a bar to purchase wine, bring your picnic basket and head towards the Blue Ridge Mountains in northern Nelson County. Weather forecast says we’re going to be HOT this weekend.Afton_Mountain_Vineyards_Pavillion

Afton After Hours at Afton Mountain Vineyards

Live music from 6:30pm to 8:30pm featuring Eli Cook.
Glass and bottle sales only – no tastings.
Bring a chair, bring a picnic and blanket, and enjoy a beautiful evening in our beautiful vineyard setting! Light picnic fare available in the tasting house. (Inclement weather: music will be held under cover in our Pavilion!)

Glass House Memorial Day Weekend Tailgate Also, if you love tailgates, creativity and a fun crowd, head to Glass House and sharpen up your culinary and artistic flair for a winning wine weekend. YES! There are prizes and everyone wins just by virtue of a great time in the “Tropics of Free Union” This Sunday afternoon starting at 12 p.m. Reservations highly suggested.Glass_House_Winery _Conservatory

  • Prizes Awarded For:
    Best Display of ‘GHW Team Spirit’ (strong focus on GHW & GHW WINES)
    Best Single Pairing Food With a Glass House Winery Wine
    Best Indoor/Deck Spread (table set-up)
    Best Outdoor Spread (car-tailgating set-up – B.Y.O.-grill)
    Judging based on decoration/theme, food, entertainment, and overall spirit.
    Prizes:
    Winery tour for four with barrel tasting, 1 Bottle of GHW Wine,
    1 GHW T-shirt, and 4 GHW etched logo glasses.
    Two tickets to the June 12th “Taste This!” at the Boar’s Head Inn,
    1 Bottle of GHW Wine, 1 GHW T-shirt, and 4 GHW etched logo glasses.
    1 Bottle of GHW Wine, 1 GHW t-shirt, and 4 GHW can koozies.
    1 Bottle of GHW Wine, 1 GHW t-shirt, and 4 GHW can koozies.
    Questions?
    Contact Linda Hahn, Events Director at events@glasshousewinery.comRESERVATIONS SUGGESTED:Email to Events@glasshousewinery.comInclude name, phone number, table size for indoor tailgate (4’x4’ or 4’x8’) or number of cars for outdoor (tent space available behind cars, byo-tent)

2012 Festival of Wines in Wintergreen, VA on May 26 and 27

On Saturday, May 26, Virginia wines will be featured, and on Sunday, May 27, international wines will take center stage. Celebrate the Memorial Day Weekend at Wintergreen Resort on the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Proceeds support the extensive performance and educational activities of Wintergreen Performing Arts.

Location: The Evans Center at Wintergreen Resort

Dates: Saturday, May 26, 2012 – Virginia Wines and Sunday, May 27, 2012 – International Wines

Time: Noon-5:30 pm both days

Ticket Price: $20 per day includes souvenir glass; Two-day pass: $35; food will be available for purchase

Phone: (434) 325-8292 or visit: www.wintergreenperformingarts.org

Email: info@wintergreenperformingarts.org

Saturday, May 26 only

Price: $20.00

The 1st Taste of Monticello Wine Trail Festival

Oh, no! A conflict (unless it rains of course!) between spending time in beautiful Nelson County at the Blue Ridge Oyster Festival or heading to our own Charlottesville nTelos Pavillion for the first ever Taste of Monticello Wine Trail Festival. Two totally different experiences and I guess one could attend both but the idea of relaxing and being in the moment as compared to rushing to make both events leads me back to selecting only one. Sunday is the rain-date for the Blue Ridge Oyster Festival in case you want to gamble on rain.

On Saturday April 21st, the Taste of Monticello Wine Trail Wine Festival – Presented by Brown Mercedes-Benz, will take place at the nTelos Wireless Pavilion on Charlottesville’s Downtown Mall from 2-6 p.m. Special early VIP entry from 1pm – 2pm.
Attendees will be able to sample from over 90 wines from 24 Trail members.

For $75 Special VIP packages include parking, early access, exclusive catered lunch provided by C&O Restaurant, opportunity to sample select wines not available to general public and a chance to mingle with wine-makers. For $25 VIP Designated Driver tickets are available.

The wine education classes offered in 30 minute segments by Wine Made Simple look very interesting! Wine Made Simple specializes in unique wines less than $20, wine education classes and special events.  The shop opened last year and is located at the Townside Center on Ivy Road in Charlottesville.  

Reading a Wine Label  – 2:30 

They say you can’t judge a book by its cover, but there’s no better place to start. The graphic designs, photography and illustrations on a wine label are the first thing to catch your eye, but they are the least important. The important stuff is all there on the label and you’ll learn how to discern the information that you will need to make an informed decision and find a wine that suits your palette.

Tasting and Describing Wine – 3:15

You don’t have to be a wine expert in order to taste and evaluate wine properly. We all have out personal tastes, but objective standards for determining the quality and character of wine are helpful. Learn the seven key characteristics of wine, and improve your tasting skills and descriptive vocabulary.

Old World vs. New World Winemaking – 4:00

The “Wine World” can be divided in two important poles: Old World Wines and New World Wines. Tradition and terroir in each style produces very different wines. For instance, New World vineyards are generally in hotter climates and the grapes tend to be riper, more alcoholic and full-bodied.

Pairing Wine with Food – 4:45

 You need not always heed traditional advice, i.e., white wine goes with white meat and vice versa. Wine and food from the same region are meant to be enjoyed together, remember….what grows together, goes together. Discover the general rules that will help you make the best pairings and impress your guests.

The Relevance of Price When Selecting Wine – 5:30

The selling price of a bottle of wine is not necessarily an indication of its quality or of its potential to be enjoyed. Understand the economic and marketing issues that underscore the prices we pay for the wine we drink, and the many sensibly priced and affordable wine options available.

Author Richard Leahy

I think this is really cool! Richard Leahy will be selling and autographing newly published copies of Beyond Jefferson’s Vines, a hardback book with over 200 pages detailing the history of Virginia wine since 1619 but focuses on the last decade, with visits to wineries statewide. I met Richard at the 2011 Wine Bloggers Conference just prior to the book going to print. Hmmm, Mother’s Day Gift idea? Wink!

Proceeds will benefit Jeffersonian Wine Grape Grower’s Society.  Event sponsors: Brown Mercedes-Benz – NewsRadio 1070 WINA – C&O Restaurant – redstar Merchandise – Monticello Wine Trail.

TICKET PRICES:

$29 – Advance  $35 – Day of Event

$75 – VIP $25 – VIP Designated Driver ticket

$10 – Designated Driver ticket

$10 – Ages 13-20 Kids 12 and under FREE

Participating Wineries/Vineyards:

Ankida Ridge Vineyard – A Winery with Vision

Pinot Noir clone 777 on rootstock 101-14

Ah, where to begin?

It all  started with a dream; a dream that confirmed a vision that became Ankida Ridge – where Heaven and Earth join.  Christine Vrooman had a dream of a serene place to withdraw with her family in the mountains of Virginia.  In her “dream journal”  she described a place that had come to her in her sleep, a piece of land with a little cabin and a fruit tree near a pond.  She sketched it in her journal and forgot about it until she happened on the land near Amherst on Franklin Creek Road.  It was all there,  the cabin, the pond, even the cherry tree!  This was only one of the intimate stories she shared with us on our visit to Ankida Ridge Vineyard., now a part of the new  Jefferson Heritage Trail!

It was my pleasure to be invited by Glass House Winery friends on an outing south to a new and up and coming winery. Our group of wine adventurers( advinturers?)  included ring-leaders Paulette Musselman ( a kindred spirit- wine lover, photographer and knows no strangers) and  Michelle Sanders, chocolatier and owner of Glass House; plus Connie, GH tasting room manager, and friends Nancy and Candace both newcomers to the Charlottesville area.

Nathan_Vrooman

Nathan Vrooman is the winemaker and supervisor of construction of the new winery.  Greeting us warmly, he guided us into the lower level of the winery. Brazilian music softly filled the vat room and the family dogs, Boom-Boom (Boomer)  and Tonka begged for our attention. I think these two along with their adorable and quirky Bella should definitely be on the list for the next Virginia Wine Lovers Readers Choice favorite vineyard dogs.  Pouring us their chilled 2010 Chardonnay, we shared stories taking in the views of sheep grazing and snow dusted mountains.   Tasting note: I really liked the Chardonnay even though it is being overshadowed by the 2010 Pinot Noir. Nathan doesn’t try to take credit but certainly deserves it, especially with the praise that their first vintages are receiving.  Only Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes have been planted on the property. Interestingly, while attending the dinner at Monticello I got to hear first-hand the praises of the 2010 Pinot Noir from Dave McIntyre of the Washington Post  during the 2011 Wine Bloggers Conference .

Here are just a few of the positive comments about Ankida Ridge:

Ankida_Ridge_Pinot_Noir

One of “Virginia’s Top Picks,” … “a new and exciting producer ” — Jancis Robinson, acclaimed international wine writer and critic

Amazing Pinot Noir,”  An insider’s pick… that “wowed the crowd”   — Dave McIntyre, The Washington Post

A faithful Pinot taste ….. The Chardonnay is well-balanced and spicy, and a treat in the style of a white Burgundy” — Jim Raper, The Virginian-Pilot

Christine’s blog is one of my favorite blogs with excellent photography and a true gift for writing. She captures life at the vineyard through heart warming pictures of family, beloved pets, the unravelling of the woods into orchards and vines…and the sheep, the lambs and grandbabies stomping grapes! A must-read for any one longing for the simpler life. Her photo of the mountains seen through a glass of Chardonnay became the cover of the 2011 Virginia Wine Guide and was coveted by Virginia’s First Lady, Maureen McDonnell.

Christine also is committed to organically treating the property and has written in detail of the benefits of Willow tree bark tea, a concoction they make from their own Willow trees. She explained quite scientifically how the tea poured around the roots causes SAR (System Aquired Response) and thus resulting in a more complex intense fruit flavor. It’s working!  Christine mentions a link in her blog about this. You should have tasted the Port they have in barrel, Wow!  I think we all really liked that, just have to wait another year and a half.

For a cool February afternoon with sun peaking in and out casting shadows on dormant vines, it was magical.  The Vroomans treated us all as old friends and I feel we stayed a bit long imposing on their hospitality and delicious wine. A return visit is imperative during the Spring and I can only imagine the Redbud trees and Dogwoods with baby lambs romping below the vineyard.  Visits to the winery are by appointment only so check out their website before you venture out.

Ankida_Ridge_Vineyard

The AdVinturers!

I had to include this picture of Christine’s eyes which I found  captivating and could be described as “veraison”  eyes changing colors from green to violet. Thank You to Christine, Nathan, and of course,  Paulette (for driving and packing the picnic basket)!

Credit to C. Vrooman for the lead picture and Paulette for the ones with her name on them 🙂

Cheers!

Christine_Vrooman