Daily Archives: May 11, 2010

Virginia Wine Council Update

Albemarle County Adopts Farm Winery Zoning Ordinance; Likely to Serve As Statewide Model

From Matt Conrad Director of the Virginia Wine Council:

“Last week the Virginia Wine Council attended the 2:00 p.m. meeting of the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors.  This meeting represented an end to nearly two years of work by the VWC to shape a farm winery zoning ordinance that strikes a balance between the county’s need to protect the welfare of its citizens and farm wineries’ need for regulatory certainty and sustained economic viability.

Throughout work sessions and planning commission meetings, the VWC has consistently argued that the best way to preserve the rural character of Albemarle County and counties like it is to ensure that agriculture is profitable.  The Albemarle County Board of Supervisors did just that yesterday in unanimously adopting the proposed ordinance.

Effective immediately, the ordinance’s relevant provisions include:

* Definitions of “farm winery” and “agritourism” that mirror the State Code definitions (prior versions required contiguous parcels and made reference to commercial activities, respectively).

* Recognition of production, tasting, direct sale, shipment, and storage of wine as by-right activities.

*The ability of farm wineries to engage in/host usual and customary events and activities without regulation.

* Three specific classes of usual and customary events will be limited to 200 persons at any one time (rather than cumulatively).  There is no limitation in frequency.

*No limitation on tasting room hours other than in adopting the hours kept in the “normal course of business of the farm winery” by the farm winery itself.

* A one-time special use permit process for similar farm winery events where attendance will be greater than 200 persons.

*Fair application of the general noise ordinance as currently applied to rural areas throughout the county. Amplified music is permitted but may not be audible 100 feet from the property line.

Several Albemarle County wineries attended to show their support and appreciation of the professionalism and cooperation of planning staff and county leadership.  In attendance were representatives of Albemarle CiderWorks, Blenheim Vineyards, Keswick Vineyards, and King Family Vineyards. The Albemarle County Chamber of Commerce also spoke in favor of the ordinance as adopted.”

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TasteCamp 2010 Day 1: Part 1

Driving up the East side of Keuka Lake I was engrossed with the beauty of the Finger Lakes region, which I continued to soak in for the next three days. This drive took me to our first stop for Taste Camp 2010, Heron Hill Winery, for our first Grand Tasting and our first sample of what the region has to offer.  We had 9 wineries pouring for us and I am happy to say I was able to make it through all the wineries, giving ample time to diagnose each one.  Rather than bore you with 50 tasting notes, I’ll hit you with the highlights of the day. I would first like to thank Heron Hill for hosting us and providing a fabulous lunch (in conjuction with the Finger Lakes Wine Country).  Thanks also to all the wineries that poured their juice. I always admire wineries willing to show themselves to “critics” eager to pick apart their hard work and dedication to an art they devote so much time to.

As as side note, I will say the weekend as a whole provided the opportunity to taste a slew of new grape varieties, helping add some slots to my Wine Century Club checklist.

On to my highlights…

Heron Hill 2002 Riesling – aromas and flavors of petrol, lime, slate and pear juice; full bodied and still providing gripping acidity. I liked this wine a lot but the finish could have been a bit longer.

Keuka Spring 2007 Epic Reserve (Cabernet Sauvigon, Cab. Franc, Merlot) – nice red fruit with hints of cherry, spice, mocha and smoke. Full bodied and quite smooth with leathery tannins at the finish.

McGregor 2007 Cabernet Franc Reserve – Big notes of black fruit including black cherry and plum with hints of fig and a good dose of red currant running through the mid palate. All of this complimented with nice “green” edges and a delicate, yet full bodied structure.

Imagine Moore 2009 Sauvignon Blanc – whoa, did I step into New Zealand for a second? Notes of grapefruit, cat pee, asparagus, citrus and mineral overtones. Wow, impressive! Razor sharp acidity.

Interesting varieties that I tried that didn’t knock me over were: Vergennes, Noiret, Valvin Muscat, and Vignoles. Of all of these that I tried the Valvin Muscat impressed me the most. I felt the variety was a bit too “soapy” though, and reminded me of my grandmother’s bathroom. After talking to Evan, he said it reminded him of a “potpourri box” which was spot on description of the varietal.

All in all the first two hours of TasteCamp were a taste of a great weekend to come, with wonderful wines and regional personality. I couldn’t wait until the nest stop on our Finger Lakes adventure.

Stay tuned to Anything Wine for more TasteCamp stories.

Cheers!

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