A Day In Pictures

Today we arrived in Charlottesville ready to talk and taste wine. We began with a conversation with Michael Shaps about viognier. We then had lunch at Kluge followed by a great impromptu conversation with Kirsty Harmon at Blenheim. Big things happening there! We continued on to Sugarleaf for a tasting and ended our day at Keswick just before they closed. Here are a few pictures from the day. A full report will be forth coming.







We’re Back!

I’m back from a beach vacation along the Gulf Coast and ready to finish the notes from the Chesapeake Bay Wine Trail! In our last post, I indicated that Ingleside Vineyards and Vault Field Vineyards completed our trail passport. Our friend, Bob, came along to sample the wines at these two wineries, and we included his opinions in our post. So what were our faves at these two wineries? Keep reading to find out!

Ingleside Vineyards maintains a full list of wines to sample and/or purchase. Since our quest was for summer wines, we paid attention to warm-weather sippers, and a unanimous decision was reached with the 2008 Pinot Grigio. “Crisp” and “citrusy” were descriptors that we all noted, and I placed a star next to this one. Another crisp pour was the unoaked Chesapeake Chardonnay with its apple and pear notes; Paul liked this one. Blue Crab Blanc was another summer pour that earned accolades from all three of us. Tropical fruit notes and flavors were noted here with a touch of sweetness to make the Blue Crab Blanc the perfect picnic pour or deck sipper. Grilled steaks on the menu? We suggest the 2006 Cabernet Franc with its raspberry/spicy aromas and flavors. My own favorite was the 2005 Petit Verdot. I noted dark plums and cherries on the nose and mouth with chewy tannins—certainly one to cellar for a while longer. Guest critic Bob also liked the 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon. He noted leather/tobacco on the nose with cherry flavors in the mouth.


Of course, we brought lunch along with us, and between the three of us we had quite a varied menu. It included grilled chicken, summer sausage, Gruyere cheese, roasted almonds and cheese-infused baguettes. We opted for the Chianti-style Chesapeake Cabernet Merlot to accompany lunch, and on a pleasant summer afternoon we dined and wined!


So on to the grand finale—Vault Field Vineyards. Here is where we completed the Chesapeake Bay Wine Trail and reaped the rewards of our efforts. Of the whites, I preferred the buttery 2007 Chardonnay. Fermented in both stainless steel and French oak barrels, this fuller-bodied wine should pair nicely with shellfish. The group “star” was awarded to the 2007 Red, a blend of Merlot and Syrah. We noted aromas of dark cherry and plums with some dried herbs; we also concurred with the black pepper finish described on the tasting notes. This one should prove to be a versatile red wine that could pair well with grilled meats.


Our tasting at Vault Field Vineyards completed our Chesapeake Bay Wine Trail passport, and I was ready to use my reward. With our passport completed, I was able to purchase wines at Vault Field and receive a 10% discount. What did I purchase? The 2007 Chardonnay and the 2007 Red.


We thanked Bob for his valuable input, and we know that we will return to Ingleside Vineyards and Vault Field Vineyards. Of course, readers who visit the Chesapeake Bay Wine Trail should also visit these two wineries, but be sure to mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.

Up next for us? Wineries along the Monticello Trail—stay tuned!

Summer Pours On the Chesapeake Bay Wine Trail

This past weekend, Paul and I visited our friends Bob and Jackie who live in the Northern Neck of Virginia. We also used the trip as an opportunity to visit wineries on the Chesapeake Bay Wine Trail, and we discovered some wines to enjoy for warmer times.

Oak Crest Vineyard and Winery’s signature pours are made from the Symphony grape so called because it is a hybrid (symphony) of muscat and Grenache. From the symphony grape Oak Crest Vineyard and Winery produces five different wines: Symphony Dry, Moonlight Sonata, Symphony Sweet, Finale, and Hot Jazz. Dry and Moonlight Sonata resemble German-style white wines; Dry is crisp with floral aromas, and Moonlight Sonata is slightly sweeter with floral and peach characteristics. An interesting way to end the evening might be with a glass of the Finale, a white port-style wine. However, the most unique wine had to be the Hot Jazz made with Symphony grapes and 1% jalapeno peppers; the spicy splash makes its appearance mid-palate.

We were able to add White Fences to list of wineries visited. This is one of the newer wineries in the area, and we were able to sample their Meteor series as well as their new Blue Jimmy wines. The Meteor wines were dry or off-dry wines with the Meteor Firefly presenting less that 1% residual sugar. Firefly is a rose with bright strawberry and subtle melon flavors—a nice picnic or deck wine. Paul favored the Blue Jimmy line that included a stainless steel Chardonnel (Blue Jimmy Soft Shell White) and Blue Jimmy Soft Shell Red produced from the 2008 Chambourcin. The Soft Shell Red was all berry fruit in the mouth with a soft finish that may remind some sippers of a Beaujolais-style wine.

Also during our trip, we were able to return to Athena Vineyards. An expansive tasting menu featured fourteen wines to sample. I favored the Chardonnay, a Burgundian-style Chardonnay that was briefly fermented in oak barrels. I noted pears with citrus undertones and a nice honeyed finish. Nice to sip or enjoy with a crab cake. Athena’s White, a crisp blend of Vidal Blanc and Seyval Blanc, might be another option for light summer fare. Paul enjoyed the light-bodied Cabernet Franc with its characteristic raspberry and black pepper notes. A special pour was the Jacques Recht Pinot Noir so named to honor former winemaker Jacques Recht. Jacques Recht had an extraordinary career as a winemaker in Virginia, and he recently passed away. It was certainly a touching way to end our tasting experience at Athena Vineyards.

Summertime is the perfect season for sangria, and Belle Mount Vineyards offers a wine suited for this classic summer beverage. The Workboat Red is a fruity, sweeter Chambourcin that some may either enjoy on its own or blended with a favorite sangria recipe to create a cool summer sipper. If burgers or ribs are on the grill, Belle Mount Vineyards’ Norton might be the perfect partner.

Needless to say, we did not visit all of these wineries on the same day; this was a three day venture that found us participating in the Chesapeake Bay Wine Trail program. With passport in hand, each winery gave us a smiley sticker to confirm our visit. Stickers from six different wineries earn the participant a 10% discount on wine purchases on the Chesapeake Bay Wine Trail! So where did earn the last two stickers? Ingleside Vineyards and Vault Field Vineyards completed our passports, and we’ll describe these visits next time. In the meantime, should you visit the four wineries described in this current post then please mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.

Current Releases at Piedmont

The last time we were at Piedmont Vineyards and Winery, Gerhard von Fincke had assumed the role of winemaker. We returned last Sunday to sample the results of Gerhard’s work.

We were warmly greeted by Gerhard as we entered the busy tasting room, and he handed us the tasting menu which featured the full complement of Piedmont’s wines. Of course, we were interested in the wines that Gerhard produced, and these were the 2008 Hunt Country Chardonnay and the 2008 Cabernet Franc. Both releases earned our gold stars of approval. The 2008 Hunt Country Chardonnay was done in stainless steel and featured lemon aromas with flavors of lemon and pears. I also noted a crisp finish that is characteristic of a stainless steel Chardonnay.


The 2008 Cabernet Franc was aged in oak for six months. Raspberry was prominent on the nose with raspberry and pepper in the mouth. This medium-bodied Cabernet Franc was not blended with other varieties, but it should be purchased sooner rather than later. Only 142 cases were made when this was released in March, and only a few cases remain of this popular wine.

Gerhard had been carrying some of the wines produced by DelFosse Winery, and he still pours the fruity Cuvee Laurent which includes Chambourcin, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot. The sweeter Deer Rock Red, a 50/50 blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Chambourcin, is also still available at Piedmont Vineyards and Winery

Gerhard seems pleased with the direction that his wines are taking, and he credits local winemaker Doug Fabbiolli with assisting him in the winemaking craft. Gerhard’s next release will be the Hunt Country Red. This will be a bolder blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc due for release in September.


With our tasting done, Paul and I each enjoyed a glass of the 2008 Hunt Country Chardonnay. On a warm summer day, its citrusy characteristics and crisp finish proved to be refreshing. In fact, we left with a bottle of the 2008 Hunt Country Chardonnay to bring home. We’re excited for Gerhard and see bright things for Piedmont Vineyards and Winery. We look forward to our next visit there, and readers should plan a visit, too—be sure to mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.