Posts Tagged With: Virginia Wines

Just Sayin’ – thoughts on samples

As I sit here staring at my box of 10 Chilean Sauvignon Blancs that I received for the next Wines of Chile Blogger tasting it got me thinking about a conversation last week at DLW10. I was having lunch with the VA wine mafia and honorary member Lenn, and we were talking about receiving samples. I think Lenn asked about Virginia wine samples and to his surprise I think we all said that we’ve never gotten a wine sample from Virginia. That’s not to say I haven’t gotten a comp bottle here and there, but not to the extent that I receive samples and press kits for wines from other states and countries.

When I sit back and think about it, I do feel it’s weird that wineries in the state that I live in and write about the most don’t reach out to myself or the multitude of bloggers here in the Commonwealth. Not sure why this is the case. Is it lack of production levels so they can’t afford a sample program? Lack of knowledge about social media, and the impact of blogging? I’m not sure about the answer and I guess I’m looking for a response from wineries here.

Please don’t take this post as a request for wines! I get plenty through my day job and am not requesting an onslaught of VA wines at my door. It is more of an observation.

Let me know your thoughts.


Categories: wine industry issues | Tags: , | 5 Comments

Wine Blogging Wednesday #61- “At The Source” with Narmada Winery

WBWlogoThis months Wine Blogging Wednesday is hosted by the founder of WBW, Lenn Thompson of the blog “The New York Cork Report.” His topic for this month was to taste and or purchase a wine at the source rather than at your local wine shop, and you get bonus points for tasting with the winemaker.

This was perfect timing for me because this month I had several trips out to Virginia Wine country planned. One in particular was to a brand new winery, Narmada, who’s owners I met at a winery in Santa Cruz, California last year. That’s right I first met Sudha and Pandit Patil (owners) while tasting at Testarossa winery in California last November. The Patil’s kept my information and emailed me a couple of weeks ago to let me know that their new winery was opening soon and wanted me to come out try what they had.


The property that Narmada resides on was purchased in 1999 and the first grapes, 2 acres of Vidal Blanc, were planted in 2004. In 2005 additional grapes were planted, 3 acres of Chambourcin, 2.5 acres of Chardonelle and 1.5 acres of Traminette. Until this past vintage the grapes had been sold off but in 2008 they produced 44 tons of grapes to go into their first official bottlings. Also planted in 2008 were acreage of Vinifera varieties Cab Franc and Viognier. The winery is still under construction, so the tastings are currently being done in a beautiful pavilion next to the pond on their property. Narmada had a soft opening on Labor Day weekend and is currently open Fri., Sat. and Sun., but will have an official grand opening in November.


What we tasted –

momchardonnelle2008 “Mom” Chardonelle – aromas of honey and corn pudding, with flavors of cardamom, apple, honey and white pepper. Full bodied. – one of the few Chardonelles I have enjoyed

2008 “Reflection” Chambourcin – aromas of smoky blueberry, flavors were slightly muddled and metallic. Spicy mouthfeel and medium bodied.

2008 “Melange” 60% Cabernet Sauvignon/40% Merlot – lots of cherry on the nose, with flavors of cooked green beans, red currant, and raspberry. Medium bodied with nice acidity.

2008 “Midnight” Chambourcin (<1% RS) – aromas of cardamom, baking spices and smoky cherry. Flavors were similar but added cranberry and raspberry. Medium to full body, no detectable sweetness. – one of the few Chambourcins I have enjoyed.

We also got taste a couple of wines that aren’t yet released, only because Narmada is waiting on TTB approval of the labels.

2008 Viognier – aromas of honey, slate and peach followed by flavors of honeysuckle, slate, and apricot jam. Good viscous mouthfeel and spicy acidity.

2008 Cabernet Franc – touch good funkiness on the nose paired with cherry and red currant. Flavors of rose, lavender, cherry, red currant and “baby powder”. Medium to full body and silky smooth with velvety tannins


For such a young winery I was very impressed with the offerings, especially the hybrid varieties that I am not usually a fan of. In addition to Pandit, who handles the vineyard management and Sudha who helps with wine making and lab duties, they have brought on Rob Cox as winemaker. Rob was formally of The Winery at La Grange and adds some great regional expertise to the Narmada team.

Check back later in the year when I can get back up to take pictures of the completed winery.


Narmada Winery

43 Narmada Lane,
Amissville, VA 20106-4170

Categories: virginia wine, Wine Blogging Wednesday, wine review, winery review | Tags: , , | 3 Comments

Vineyard update from Virginia’s own, Glen Manor Vineyards

I emailed Jeff White of Glen Manor Vineyards the other day and asked how his year was shaping up with the wetter than normal spring, and below is his response.


Yes it was a cool wet spring. It now appears that summer is here, sunny, dry and a little cooler than normal. The vineyard came through fine, no disease. We are letting the grasses grow long and we’re putting off hedging as late as possible, trying to retard lateral shoot growth and of course lots and lots of leaf removal around the clusters. Looks like a lite crop, some set issues as there was rain during flowering. Means we will not have to drop fruit on some vines but most others still will require some green harvesting. We start green harvesting in a couple of weeks. Way too early to predict quality….think sun. Bright side of all the wet weather, our 2008 and 2009 plantings are flourishing on their un-irrigated slopes.”

Make sure to check out Glen Manor, fabulous wines and beautiful views!


Categories: virginia wine | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Virginia Wine Tasting Weekend – Day 1

If you have been following me on Twitter or Facebook, you probably know that Megan and I were up in Northern Virginia Wine Country for the past few days. We visited a total of 9 wineries over the weekend, 6 of which were completely new to me (this was actually part of the point of the trip since Loudon County is a bit of a hike for a day trip).

Day 1 – Barrel Oak Winery, Vintage Ridge and Aspen Dale

barreloak_barrelshotI first wrote about Barrel Oak over a year ago, before the winery had even opened. We were invited up by owners Brian and Sharon to talk about their new project and the vision for Barrel Oak Winery (BOW). Now as they celebrated 1 year of being in business, we hung out with Brian, Sharon and Rick Tagg, talking about the past year, the new plantings and sampling both the wines at the tasting bar as well as those in progress in the barrel room. The first vines planted are under their 3rd leaf, and the hills surrounding the winery are now completely covered by vines, but the wines we tasted were produced from purchased grapes. The vibe at BOW was hopping and there was not a face without a smile on it in the entire place, including the staff. Brian and Sharon have a true joy for what they are doing and it is infectious to say the least.

My Barrel Oak wine highlights –

  • 2008 Traminette – tons of rose petal on the nose, apricot, peach and lots of Asian pear on the back of the palate, crisp acidity

  • 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon – blueberry and hot cocoa on the nose, raspberry, cherry, sautéed green pepper with big ripe tannins

  • 2007 Cabernet Franc – raspberry and cherry on the nose, followed up by mint, fresh herbs, red currant and black pepper on the palate; nice acidity and velvety tannins

I didn’t take a ton of notes from the barrel tasting but I loved the Cab Francs, the Petite Verdot and their Viognier was killer. I look forward to seeing how these wines progress into bottle.


Thanks again to Brian, Sharon and Rick for showing us a great time as well as Kim who was our tasting room assistant.

Vintage Ridge

This was my first visit to Vintage Ridge, although I had wanted to go several times but always seemed to be in the area when they were closed. I was really excited about their concept of pairing wine and food together during the tasting, and didn’t realize how “intense” the experience was going to be. I imagined that they would give visitors a couple of cheeses or meats as pairing suggestions, but the actual experience was far more elaborate. The tasting was conducted in more of a restaurant style– you actually sit at a table and the wines are poured one by one along with an amazing platter of cheeses, sauces, mustards, nuts and even a mini Panini (it also came with meat, but we requested our plate sans meat).


Although the experience was fun and I was looking forward to it, I think I would have just rather done a tasting without the pairings (particularly since each tasting cost $12 and you are expected to tip your “waitress”). I don’t think they offer a wine tasting alone, though–we were told “they do things differently here” and weren’t given an option to just taste the wine. They were quite busy, so I won’t complain too much about attribute the time between wine pours (the entire experience took about an hour, with little information or dialogue about the wines). I do have a couple of complaints, though.

  • First, the foods, although very good, for the most part didn’t highlight the wines at all and actually detracted from most. The most absurd pairing was the hot, spicy mustard with Petite Verdot. Luckily I had tasted the PV before the mustard wrecked my palate, but if it is any indication of the PV quality, we actually chose to purchase the mustard (which incidentally was sold out). While the winery provides a FUN experience which people really seem to enjoy, the pairings were poor and made it difficult to evaluate the wines in and of themselves.

  • My second complaint will actually be the topic of a separate post later this week, though I feel I should mention it here, as it sparked the issue for us over the weekend. The winery owner actually poured one of our wines, so I took the opportunity to introduce myself as being part of a Virginia Winery, a wine store manager that sells VA wines, and a wine blogger. Surprisingly, the conversation ended there without further dialogue—the owner didn’t ask which winery I was associated with, the name of my wine shop, or about my wine blog. At the time I assumed that he was merely too busy at the moment and would stop back by over the next hour as the tasting room thinned out–NOPE! Not once did he come back by to talk, despite the fact that we work in the same industry, I could possibly put his product on a wine store shelf, and I could write about his winery on my blog, which gets steady readership among VA wine drinkers. I really couldn’t understand this, and was honestly baffled!

Vintage Ridge Wine Highlights –

  • 2005 Cabernet Franc – mocha, boysenberry and raisin with plum, roasted meat, black pepper and a hint of menthol on the palate

  • I don’t remember the name of the woman doing our pouring but she was very nice, relatively knowledgeable, and had a smile on her face the entire time despite the fact that she was extremely busy.

Aspen Dale Winery at The Barn

shay_aspendalewineryWe heard about Aspen Dale while we were at Barrel Oak—Aspen Dale was celebrating their grand opening that very day, so the folks at Barrel Oak asked us if we had heard about it (there was little or no fanfare or publicity around their opening). Intrigued, we snagged some directions from an email that Rick Tagg had, and after Vintage Ridge made our way over to check out the new “speak easy”. The place is an adorable old restored barn that has tons of charm and unassuming character. Shay, the owner and wine maker was doing our tasting, and explained her family’s history and her philosophy on simple, extremely small lot wine making. I won’t go into this much, as Megan will be writing more about this on her blog Wine Conscience in the next couple of days. Currently, all the fruit is being sourced and produced at Breaux Vineyards (we visited them the next day) but Shay oversaw the wine making decisions.

Aspen Dale Wine Highlights –

  • 2008 Hildersham Sauvignon Blanc – grassy with apple and Asian pear and asparagus and tons of minerality, crisp but full across the mid-palate

  • 2007 Rockawalkin’ Cabernet Sauvignon – baking spice, dark fruit highlighted by black cherry and leathery notes; full bodied with good acidic structure and dusty tannins


Thanks to Shay for showing us around, we were glad to be a part of their opening weekend and can’t wait to see what they offer in the future.

Stay tuned later this week for our visits to Breaux, Notaviva, Sunset Hills, Corcoran, Cross Keys and Pollack.


Categories: virginia wine, wine tourism, winery review | Tags: , , , | 6 Comments

What to pair with Tofurky?

tofurkyAround this time of year, wine bloggers, magazines and newspapers start printing their Thanksgiving wine pairing ideas. I usually don’t write about my wine pairing strategy, but rather post what I am going to drink or actually did drink on the festive occasion. This year, I feel it is my duty as a vegetarian to post my wine pairing ideas for Tofurky.

Ah Tofurky, that gloriously weird (even to a veggie) molded mock turkey that elicits giggles and ridicule from our non-vegetarian family members year after year.  As the name would imply, Tofurky is primarily made of tofu, with other protein-rich ingredients like soybeans, garbanzo beans and wheat gluten.  The “skin” is mysteriously textured and the inside is stuffed with a mixture of brown rice and whole wheat bread crumbs.  I think the key in pairing this wonderful “bird” with a wine is in the 3 basting options that are provided from the company.


Tofurky Baste – option 1:
3 tablespoons olive oil (or other vegetable oil)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon ground sage

Tofurky Baste – option 2:
1/8 cup orange juice
1/8 cup soy sauce
1 Tablespoon sweetener of your choice.

Tofurky Baste – option 3:
1 tablespoon apricot jam or spread
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons water

As you can see, the main ingredients in all of these are a type of oil and soy sauce. The Tofurky itself is like tofu in that it has a fairly neutral taste to it and typically takes on the flavor of the chosen baste. So barring a hugely tannic red wine, the pairing possibilities are quite extensive.

We primarily choose the first option above, because it is the more savory of the three, although we “freestyle” wih fresh sage and a bit of thyme.The wine I usually choose is a nice Cabernet Franc, preferably from Virginia or the Loire Valley. These wines are usually softer in nature and have great red fruit, earthy, herbal and vegetal notes that help to enhance the “herbiness” of the baste.

Since I usually don’t choose the sweeter basting options, I can’t speak from experience, though based on the ingredients I would probably choose a wine to enhance the tropical fruit notes of the basting concoction. Be careful though, the olive oil combined with the soy sauce does provide a distinct flavor and somewhat fatty texture. I would go with a fuller bodied Pinot Gris, a bone dry Riesling or even a Viognier.If all else fails, I love to fall back on a good ol’ dry Rose, which will go with almost everything on the table.

The other thing to consider is the fact that the vegetarians are typically the only ones bold enough to eat Tofurky.  If you choose to indulge, make sure that the wine you choose will go with the plethora of other foods that are being served.  More than likely you will be fine, because as my friend Lenn put it “there just isn’t a “perfect” pairing for anything”. With all of that said, drink what you like and it will almost definitely go with Tofurky, and green bean casserole etc…

If you are a Tofurky fan, please leave a comment letting me know what you pair with it.


Categories: wine pairing | Tags: , , , | 11 Comments