Celebrating 30 Years of Virginia Wine: My Reintroduction After 7 Years to the Commonwealth
It’s funny, when I look back seven years ago, at what I wrote during my first trip during the Wine Bloggers Conference of 2011. “My biggest takeaway on Virginia wine was the European influence on its winemaking. European winemakers and wine consultants are the norm here, and Virginia seems to be on the map as a destination for U.S. entry. Winemakers traveled to Southern France before planting a single Viognier grape. Bordeaux, Portuguese and Spanish varietals are abundant. Wines I would consider to be non-traditional to this region like Albarino, Nebbiolo and Petit Manseng are being offered. This will be an interesting place to watch as some of the top European wine makers and wine families are playing here.” The link to the story from that conference is here.
And, then I fast forward to this Virginia Wine Chat, and then a press trip that I will write about soon, and I can tell you that this is completely the case. Virginia has it going on and I’m excited about the wines that I tasted in October and the future of this region.
Virginia has been celebrating its wine month the longest – 30 years in fact. Frank Morgan, renowned Virginia Blogger and one of my favorite humans, organized the tasting in partnership the Marketing Office of the Virginia Wine Board for the 51st edition of Virginia Wine Chat featuring five of the state’s premier Bordeaux-style red blends.
Frank started Virginia Wine Chat, a monthly winemaker interview and virtual tasting series in 2013, to bring attention to Virginia wines, wineries and winemakers. He shook things up from his regular format this month and had two wine professionals join him, Caroline Hermann, Master of Wine, and Swati Bose, owner of Flight Wine Bar in Washington, DC to lead the discussion.
We were sent five Bordeaux-style reds from across Virginia showing the diversity of the state.
NV Virginia’s Heritage– this wine arrived after the tasting, so it didn’t get included in the group picture. It is a blend of 44% Merlot, 25% Petit Verdot, 12% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc and 9% Tannat. It is a project that was led by Chris Pearmund from Pearmund Cellars, Effingham Manor & Winery and Vint Hill and contains the juice of 16 wineries. Each winery contributed one barrel of 2016 or 2017 Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot or Petit Verdot.
This wine reflects the 400th anniversary of Acte 12, passed by the House of Burgess in 1619, requiring all colonists to plant ten grapevines. It’s a rare find as 10,000 bottles of Virginia’s Heritage were produced, representing the 10,000 grapevines brought to the Virginia by the Virginia Company 400 years ago. The 16 wineries participating are Philip Carter Winery, Pearmund Cellars, Cooper Vineyards, Aspen Dale, Effingham Manor, Glasshouse Winery, Ingleside Vineyards, Naked Mountain Vineyards, Narmada Winery, New Kent Winery, Potomac Point Winery, Rappahannock Cellars, Rosemont of Virginia, Vint Hill Winery, Williamsburg Winery and Winery at Bull Run.
I tasted blackberry, purple flowers, spice and earth. I loved hearing about the collaboration among 16 winemakers to do something special. For more details, http://www.virginiasheritage.com
2014 Glen Manor Hodder Hill
The 212-acre farm contains 17 acres of vines on steep hills, granite and greenstone rock. The land is harvested by Jeff White and his team and is 70 miles west of Washington D.C. The land was purchased by his great grandfather in 1901 in Front Royal. In 2009, Hodder Hill won the 2012 Governor’s Cup.
This blend of 69% Cabernet Sauvignon, 16% Merlot, 15% Petit Verdot was full of dried fruit and flowers, dark cherry, blackberry, cedar, violet, tobacco, plum and earth. I loved this wine. More details here — http://www.glenmanorvineyards.com
2015 Rosemont Kilravock
This 450-acre property has been in the family since 1858, and has 22 acres of vines on rolling hills. The family makes estate wines. This wine is a blend of 40% Merlot, 36% Cabernet Franc and 24% Petit Verdot. I tasted red and black cherry, blackberry, plum, herbs, tea and spice. For more information, http://www.rosemontofvirginia.com.
2016 King Family Vineyards Meritage
David and Ellen King purchased a 327-acre farm in in 1996 and over time converted 31 acres into King Family Vineyards (and an additional 17 acres on another property). The Winemaker Matthieu Finot, came from France’s Rhone Valley, in 2003.
I tasted notes of baking spice, black cherry, pepper, raspberry, blueberry, forest floor, spice, cedar and violets. More info — http://www.kingfamilyvineyards.com
2013 Williamsburg Winery Adagio
There are a few named wine pioneers in Virginia and Patrick and Peggy Duffeler are at the top of the list. They purchased the 300-acre Williamsburg Winery in 1983, which is one of the largest and most recognized wineries in the state.
Adagio is Williamsburg’s flagship red blend, which won the Virginia’s Governor’s Cup in 2014 for the 2010 vintage. I tasted blueberry, cocoa, vanilla, baking spice, cassis, blackberry and purple flowers. This was a lovely and complex wine. More info here — http://www.williamsburgwinery.com
More to come soon on my press trip to Virginia where I got to delve firsthand back into the region, chat with winemakers, visit a few wineries and reinforce that Virginia is much more than an interesting place to watch, it has indeed arrived.