No Detail Too Small, Pippin Hill & Red Pump Kitchen

IMG_8761I recently heard an interesting perspective that altered my thoughts on reviews, star ratings and testimonials. In this knee jerk reactive, social media world we live in, people have the opportunity to praise or harm a business without the owner even being aware of a situation. Such a situation developed the other evening at one of my very favorite restaurants on the Pedestrian mall in Downtown Charlottesville. We had new clients in town and they selected Red Pump Kitchen for their first dinner in Cville. Unfortunately, they had a less than stellar experience there and I was dismayed to hear about it the following morning.  I impulsively jumped on Facebook to express my concern about their experience. We want our clients to love Virginia as much as we do, of course.

Clearly, I intend not to dwell on what went awry, but how rapidly  the efforts were employed to  rectify the situation! After hearing about the note on Yelp and my note on  Facebook, the owners, Dean Andrews and Lynn Easton   aggressively delved  in to the situation, reached out to their team (even though they were out of town at one of their restaurants in Charleston, S.C.) and contacted me on our clients behalf the very same day!   With their reputation for  attention to detail and hands-on service, I received a phone call with a sincere personal apology  and Dean offered the option of inviting our clients to experience the beautiful Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyard for a complimentary Sunday lunch.IMG_8771 As many already know,  Pippin Hill is a favorite with The Knot, Martha Stewart Weddings and Vogue and deserves it’s ranking as one of the premier wedding destinations in the country. Pippin also boasts one of the most picturesque views in Virginia, and a striking approach through an allée of fragrant popcorn white hydrangeas towards the rustically elegant  barn/event hall and tasting room.IMG_8772

Reserved for us on this gorgeous August afternoon was the shaded corner table providing a gentle breeze where we were indulged with refreshing Blanc de Blanc and sparkling Rose. Our server, Colleen, was delightful, attentive and excellent! Matt, the manager checked into make sure everything was perfect…and it was. The cheese board and charcuterie board were artistic, locally sourced and delicious, we loved the Buffalo Sliders and the atmosphere and scenery exquisite as always.

IMG_8764 It couldn’t have been a more delightful afternoon. It also served as  an unexpected opportunity to celebrate my birthday and our clients =) which are both tomorrow.

So as far as those star ratings and reviews,  I came to the conclusion that sometimes second impressions have even more impact then first and we have two new prospective homeowners in Charlottesville who are totally sold on Pippin Hill, will certainly return to Red Pump Kitchen and are excited to be able to experience more of our beautiful area. Many thanks and a Five Star rating to Dean Andrews and Lynn Easton for your amazing attention to detail and welcoming them to our Virgina Wine Country..  IMG_8774Happy Birthday to me…

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!

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
clos_de_trias_winery
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.

 

Another Vineyard in Charlottesville: Vineyard Vines!

Charlottesville_is_for_Whale_LoversEvery day should feel this good.”  The well known slogan of Vineyard Vines was apparent at the grand opening of one their newest nautically themed locations in Charlottesville and it felt really good!  The VV concept is to have their  clothing and accessories conjure an image of “enjoying the finer things in life,  the things people love to do and dream about doing”. Founded in 1998 on Martha’s Vineyard by Shep and Ian Murray, the Connecticut raised brothers left the Manhattan corporate world to make “ties for others so [they] didn’t have to wear them”. Starting their business on an accrued debt of $40,000 , Shep and Ian have managed to turn the small business into a thriving American company with over 28 stores and affiliations with the NFL, NHL, Major League Baseball not to mention colleges and universities. Nautically appointed,  their stores display Vineyard Vines memorabilia, sailing gear and an “all hands on deck” sales counter set below a teak sailing yacht ceiling and the backdrop of a ship’s cabin.

Vineyard_Vines_CharlottesvilleThe two brothers have become icons in the world of “haute-prep” and customers have a tradition of  bringing in their old Vineyard Vines ties to be autographed.  I like to think that Nolan Ross, the fashionably-preppy attired Hamptonite  on the ABC TV series Revenge , shops at one of the original VV stores in New England.  The same signature “fun” atmosphere Ian & Shep have injected into their retail stores  permeated last Thursday evening’s event as popped-collared customers socialized, shopped and in keeping with the “vineyard flair” sipped glasses of Pippin Hill Chardonnay and Merlot while sampling carried trays of hors de oeuvres.  Side note: I’m sure there has been more than one bridal party at Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyard (a premier destination wedding venue near Charlottesville) to don Vineyard Vines accessories.

Pippin_Hill_Vineyard_Vines One could almost smell the salty air of the Vineyard as corn hole toss games played at the entrance, photo ops flashed with Ian & Shep, and a duo performed live summer themed music at the door.

Vineyard_Vines_Cornhole_GameThe successful evening ended as smiling shoppers left with whale embroidered ball caps and  bags of whimsically colored clothing while Shep was noticed generously giving away merchandise to future young customers!  I spoke later with  Deborah Kahn and Hannah Nolan, both who love being a part of the new Vineyard Vines team, plus modeling the latest outfits for the Fall/Winter season.  Their enthusiasm for the management style of the company as well as the quality products made me want to join the team as well.  I’d have the best Christmas gifts to give, like the new ties with holly berries or candy canes or even lobsters with antlers….are you smiling yet?  If not, pop into the store, you will be =)

                        I recommend checking out the Vineyard Vines blog too!

Vineyard_Vines_BrothersVirginia_is_for_Whale_Lovers

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!

 

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:

Flying Fox Vineyard

Finally getting a chance to sit down and reflect on the winery trips offered at the 2011 Wine Bloggers Conference.

One of the most anticipated events planned by Zephyr Adventures  in conjunction with  The Virginia Wine Board, the Virginia Tourism Corporation and the Charlottesville Albemarle Convention and Visitors Bureau was the side trips to our local wineries.  Adding to the fun and suspense was not knowing our destination until everyone was seated on the bus and the doors had closed!

 The exuberant presence of Maureen Kelley, Director of Economic Development & Tourism for Nelson County was a huge tip off for me! Kneeling on the bus seat facing the rear with a mischeivous twinkle, she reminded me of the kid you wanted to sit with on the way home from school!  Proud of her county and it’s “fruits”, Maureen  brought a crate overflowing with white and yellow peaches from Saunders Brothers Orchard in Nelson County.   Secretly, I had been hoping to get on the bus to Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards because I knew the food was going to be over the top, but after meeting Maureen and tour co-host, Danielle Emerson,  Public Relations Specialist for Virginia Tourism Corporation, I  knew it was going to be a blast! We stopped at Flying Fox, moved on to Cardinal Point and finished with lunch at Afton Mountain Vineyards.

 Flying Fox

First stop after driving out 250 and down 151 towards Wintergreen was the quaint tasting room for Flying Fox!  My husband and I  had previously visited Flying Fox Winery on a stormy summer evening where a local artist was having a wine & cheese party showcasing her work!  I was distracted by pleasant company, wine tasting and art and unfortunately never sat down and wrote about the experience.

 Lynn Davis and husband Rich Evans  named their winery after the running fox weather vane perched on top of the main building at their vineyard.   After a hard day working on the vines and a glass of wine, he looks like he is flying above the vineyard!  Lynn and Rich are personable and devoted to making your visit a memorable one.  Hospitality abounds and you won’t be sorry you popped in on your travels through Nelson County.  I really enjoyed their 2009 Viognier which won a Gold medal at the 2010 Virginia State fair.  The 2010 Rose is excellent chilled on humid Summer day in Virginia and the 2008 Trio was well received by fellow wine bloggers.It is a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot.    I picked up a bottle of the Rose for my daughter in law to enjoy at a later date….and  if  Bed and Breakfasts are your cup of tea, an overnight at Le Bleu Ridge B & B next door is perfect. Stroll over to the tasting room for a glass of wine by the fireplace. 

Answers to Stump The Winos! See 7/19/2011 Post

A. Pollak Vineyard -View towards the Pond and Mountains

B.Glass House Winery-When the Raccoon ate the Pineapple

C.Flying Fox Winery-Quaint Cottage Entrance

D.King Family Vineyard-Polo Pony

E.Mountfair Vineyard-Barrel Room

F.Keswick Vineyards-Cherub Sculpture at Tasting Room

G.Blenheim Vineyards-Sign to Tasting Room

H.Pippin Hill Farm Vineyards-View from the Patio

I.Barboursville Vineyards-Ruins

J.Sweely Estate Winery-Sculpture

K.Afton Mountain Vineyards-Artwork

Just for Fun, How many did You get right?

Wine Blogging at Monticello!

After spending a day at the Omni Hotel on the Charlottesville downtown pedestrian mall ( I write this description for non-locals) we climbed on busses heading up curvy route 53 to Monticello for a dinner reception featuring Virginia wines. Extremely muggy hot weather was not the best conditions to show off our fair city and Blue Ridge Mountains. I still think despite the New Orleans Bayou-thick air, out of state visitors were impressed with the history and beauty of Monticello.  Efforts were made to keep the guests comfortable, hand-held fans printed with “Virginia Is For Lovers” were distributed and outdoor air conditioning was provided at strategic locations, fans with water reservoirs diffusing cool mist on the more aggressive heat relief seekers (Me!).  TJ look-alike mingled with the guests  along with celebrities like the Zonins, owners of Barboursville, just in from Italia! 

The wine makers were sheltered under a vast tent, keeping their bottles in coolers before opening them  for the bloggers. I couldn’t be more proud of our winery owners, wine makers and hosts-cheerfully pouring (more requested) whites  and reds and extolling the quality of their wines. Meanwhile, I shed my heels at Ankida Ridge’s table and walked barefoot in the grass,  meeting other wine bloggers and tasting wine.  As I wandered around, I couldn’t help but wonder what Thomas Jefferson would think about these techy wine lovers traipsing around his home and sharing thoughts regarding an industry that he started centuries ago  in Virginia!  

I was a little despondent about the demise of the 200+ years old White Oak and Poplar trees flanking the west side of Monticello. Noticeably missing, the large tree stumps look void and sad, so I toasted Thomas Jefferson quietly to myself.  The value of some of the wines attributed to his collection have reached record prices at auction!

Ankida Ridge, Glass House, Stinson, Gabrielle RausseFlying Fox and Pippin Hill Farm Vineyard were stops for me, unfortunately I missed several others due to waning energy. The food was excellent!  Shrimp and cheese grits, mini crab cakes, tiny stuffed red potatoes were all tasty pairings for the wines offered. Water bottles were the most coveted item on the menu, Keswick Hall did a fabulous job!

All in all, a lovely event and I overheard many guests discussing return travel plans to Virginia!

Great job, Charlottesville and Virginia Tourism!

Cheers to Good Taste at Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards

In the previous post I spent much of the focus on the surroundings,  but very little attention to the experience at Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards.  When we arrived, the final tear down and post wedding reception clean up was  in progress.  It was actually an opportunity to get a glimpse at the attention to detail offered at Pippin Hill.  We passed through the Granary in the direction of  the Tasting Room and spied a table of leftover  floral arrangements  by  Pat’s Floral Designs, lovely mini garden urns of hydrangeas, berries and David Austin roses. One of the gentleman offered us some of the flowers and we selected a beautiful apricot rose and strolled out to the veranda.

Our visit was at a leisurely pace, encouraged to linger and savour the experience.  Mariah, one of the excellent tasting hostesses, greeted us and took the initiative to set up outdoor seating for us, pulling a low table to the center and arranging chairs for conversation.  She obliged us with a wine tasting outside and brought each wine out in adorable hand crafted  carafes!  I wanted to take one home and wondered if they would be available for guests to purchase in the future.

I’m afraid we enjoyed the wine and food pairings so much that we weren’t quite attentive to the description of each wine. The tastings are separated into whites and reds, each flight 5 dollars per person. The  chardonnay was really nice, not too oaky, fermented partially in steel and new french oak barrels.  We chose two different tapas style pairings, one of roasted garlic and lemon hummus, crusty bread and marinated olives.  The other appetizers paired well with the red wines, a charcuterie platter of dry cured salami, Kite’s country ham, La Quercia prosciutto picante with bread from the wood burning oven sweet spiced pecans and marinated olives. 

 Later, we were treated to a surprise from the chef, a plate of Oysters Rockefeller.  I can really get used to this lifestyle!  Of the red wines we tasted, the Winemakers Select Red was my favorite, a blend of Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Chambourcin.  Some liked the 2008 Shaps Petit Verdot with spicy and bold, with deep crimson color.

Happy Father’s Day to my sweet husband of 29 years!  He is very indulgent taking me to yet another winery on Father’s Day and so is Brian, our youngest son, by hanging out with us! Needless to say, they are my usual partners in crime along with Carolina, bride- to-be!

During our tasting the afternoon humidity became a touch sweltering and we moved indoors,… ahh, nice and cool inside.  The vantage point here was just as well thought out, with windows framing the patio and the wood burning fireplace centering the room.  Tables, sofas, and seating were comfortable and I believe Architectural Digest would do well to write about this place! Can you tell I liked it?