Gray Ghost Harvest

On Sunday Warren, his parents (flew in from New Orleans), and I went to Gray Ghost to help harvest the chardonnay grapes. We’ve harvested several years in a row now and always have a good time. I was so distracted by the harvesting that I forgot to take some video of the actual harvesting. However, I did shoot some video of the process after picking the grapes. Here’s a short video of what happens to the grapes after they are harvested.

Click on the picture below to see a short video.

September Tasting Roundup

September Tasting Roundup
Our past posts featured festivals and the wineries that participated.  Of course, we had a great time and tasted some nice wines.  However, we did get out to other wineries in the course of the month but did not write about them.  In this post, I briefly touch upon these wineries, and they include Pearmund Cellars, Hiddencroft Vineyards, and Notaviva Vineyards.

Pearmund Cellars always offers an extensive tasting menu, and this time was no exception.  Paul and I split a combination of the classic and reserve tastings.  Of the white wines, we both favored the 2008 Sauvignon Blanc with its citrusy characteristics. Paul also fancied the medium-bodied 2007 Lisa’s Merlot. My own favorite was the bolder 2007 Ameritage Reserve with its flavors of dark plums, black cherry, and anise.


We always look forward to an update from Clyde and Terri Housel at Hiddencroft Vineyards. We both favored the 2008 Traminette with its spicy nose and pineapple notes. The 2008 vintage does include a blending of 10% Vidal Blanc. We also concurred with our favorite red wine, the Cabernet Franc Reserve that included tobacco notes along with dark berry fruit flavors.


Notaviva Vineyards continues to expand its offerings, and these include award winning wines produced from grapes grown in their own vineyards.  Its selection of wines is called the Music Series with each wine “named after musical terms to represent the emotions they inspire.” Our favorite here was the Vincero Viognier which is done in stainless steel and presents stone fruit and white pepper.  Pleasant acidity and a refreshing crispness made for a “passionate” pour. The 2007 Cantabile Cabernet Franc  was our favorite red wine. Raspberry and pepper notes with a subtle tobacco presence present a symphonic blend in the mouth!


So as fall makes its arrival, we bring our September tastings to a close. Plan a trip to Pearmund Cellars, Hiddencroft Vineyards, and Notaviva Vineyards, and be sure to mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you!


Sample and Enjoy 20 different Wines for Only $10 Per Person

The North End Wine Club at the Surf Club Ocean Grille is resuming. Twenty wines– reds and whites – will be available for sample from Surf Club’s exquisite collection. (Customers have the opportunity to
purchase bottles of wine — with special pricing — to take home for later enjoyment.)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009, begins: 7 PM

$10 per person (plus tax & gratuity)

Open to the Public ~ NEWC membership not required

Surf Club Ocean Grille
Adjacent to the Wyndham Virginia Beach Oceanfront
5700 Atlantic Avenue
Virginia Beach, VA 23451

Please call 757-425-5699 to R.S.V.P. or for more details.
*The North End Wine Club is limited to 100 people so call today to reserve your spot.

Great Grapes Festival at Reston Town Center

On Sunday Warren and I had the opportunity to attend the Great Grapes Wine, Arts, & Food Festival at Reston Town Center. There were 15 wineries in attendance and many vendors and food booths at the festival. The weather was perfect for the occasion.

General Motors sponsored the event and had several new Buick LaCrosses parked at the event for people to check out and learn about. There were many representatives there offering cool Buick wine bottle stoppers for answering a few questions about the new Buick LaCrosse. Warren and I both answered the questions correctly and walked away with our own wine bottle stopper!


We made our way around the event visiting many of the 15 wineries. Here are some of the wineries we visited and which wines got our gold stars.

Cooper Vineyards-We had the chance to taste Cooper Vineyards wines back in July when they appeared at Hartwood Winery. It was good to see some familiar faces. Our gold stars went to the 2008 Coopertage Blanc and the 2008 Petit Verdot. We walked away with bottles of both of these.


Chateau Morrisette-I once called this winery the Disneyland of Virginia wineries but my opinion has changed somewhat. We have tasted their wines for a long time and this time our gold stars went to the Viognier and the Cabernet Franc.

Fabbioli Cellars-We love all the wines that Doug produces. We always enjoy talking with Doug as well. While we do love all the wines, the gold stars went to the 2008 8 Chains LoCo Vino and the 2008 Cabernet Franc.


Vino Curioso-We have only ever tasted these wines at festivals. We know they are planning to eventually have a tasting room but until then we’ll continue to learn about their wines at festivals. Our gold star here goes to the Yesterday which is a sauvignon Blanc.


Chateau O’Brien-We haven’t visited Howard in a long time so we need to plan a trip there soon. It was nice to see some familiar faces at the booth though. Our gold stars here go to the 2007 Northpoint Rose and the 2008 Virginia Apple Wine.


First Colony-Our gold stars went to the 2008 Viognier and the 2006 Late Harvest. Both very nice wines.

After visiting all the winery booths we got some lunch and then wandered around enjoying all the vendor booths. I had to buy some kettle corn and some peanut brittle. It was really good. We also enjoyed the live music at the event. We even picked up some reusable shopping bags from the Giant booth.




It was great day and the weather was perfect. We enjoyed all the wine, food, and vendors. We even considered getting a Buick LaCrosse at one point! If you happen to visit any of the wineries mentioned please tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!


Wine Festival At The Plains

On Saturday Warren and I attended The Commonwealth Polo and WIne Event at The Plains. As you can see from the photos on the last post, it was a beautiful setting at Great Meadow. Even though the skies were cloudy and it was a little chilly for early September there was no rain which made it perfect for enjoying wine tasting, browsing the exhibits, and watching the polo matches. We had a great time.


Our focus of course was on the wines. There were many wineries tasting at the event. Many of the wineries we’ve visited before but there were also a few new ones. Here’s a listing of most of the wineries we visited at the festival and which wines got our gold stars.

Gabriele Rausse Winery-Stars go to the 2007 Refosco and the 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve.


Philip Carter Winery-Stars go to the recently released 2008 Chardonnay and the Meritage. We plan to visit Philip Carter soon because they have some new wines coming out this fall.


Gadino Cellars-Our gold stars were given to the 2007 Viognier and the 2007 Cabernet Franc…both really nice, strong wines. We have to make a visit to the winery soon.


Aspen Dale-We had a great time visiting with Shay McNeal when we visited Aspen Dale Winery so it was nice to see her again at the tasting booth. Our gold star here goes to the 2008 Parris Country Blend Merlot.


Fox Meadow Winery-We haven’t been here in a long time so it was nice to taste their current offerings. Our gold stars went to the 2008 Riesling and the 2006 Merlot.


Miracle Valley-We’ve visited this one a few times and always enjoy their wines. Our gold star here goes to the 2008 Cabernet Franc.

Holly Grove Vineyard-This is a new one to us. We are curious to make a trip to the eastern shore for a visit sometime. Our gold star here went to the 2008 Sunset Rose.


Bright Meadow-This is another new one to us. We’ll have to plan a trip down south for this one. Our gold star here went to the Burley Red.


After our tasting we made our way to the the food vendors and had ourselves some brick oven pizza with a bottle of Parris Country Blend Merlot from Aspen Dale. It went beautifully with our spicy pizza.


After enjoying our lunch, we took some time to enjoy the polo matches that were taking place right in front of us. The arrangement of the food vendors, seating areas, and shopping vendors was perfect for enjoying the polo while enjoying other activities. Warren has decided he’d like to learn how to play polo!



At the end of the polo matches, we did a little shopping at different exhibits. We left with some peanut brittle and some biscotti. We loaded up our purchases and headed home. It was a long day but one we thoroughly enjoyed. If you visit any of the wineries mentioned, please tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!

Narmada Winery Opens

During a Labor Day weekend trip to Amissville, we paid a visit to Narmada Winery on its opening weekend.  We also got to briefly chat with winemaker Rob Cox about the winery, its vineyards, and the future.


We were struck by the expanse of the property that includes Narmada Winery.  This includes the home of owners, Sudhas and Pandit Patil, the vineyards, barrel room, and future tasting room.  A man made pond adds a bucolic touch, too.  On opening day, though, the tasting room was still under construction, and tasting were conducted beneath tents that overlooked the property and its amenities.  Of course, we all about the wine, and winemaker Rob Cox guided us through the list of current releases.  The first wine was also the only white wine offered, and it was affectionately called Mom to recall the hard work and dedication associated with being a Mom.  It’s made from Chardonel , a French-American hybrid, grown on the estate and spends  some time spent in both oak barrels and stainless steel tanks.  It presents pleasant pear aromas and flavors with a subtle almond at the end. Boasting 1.5% residual sugar, Mom is a refreshing wine but not cloyingly sweet.  In fact, it was the perfect pour for the warm afternoon and would make for an easy sipper or picnic partner.  (I also imagine that many Moms would love to relax with a glass of this one after a hard day!)


Of the four reds available for tasting, three were Chambourcin products; Chambourcin, too is a hybrid grape and grows well in Virginia.  Our favorite here was the dry Chambourcin known as Reflection.  Treated seven months in oak, Reflection is a light-bodied wine with bright cherry and raspberry notes.  I think this would be a nice red wine to enjoy during summer time with grilled or spicy fare.  An interesting port-style wine was Primita which comes in at 9% residual sugar; it’s also blended with a bit of Grenache.  Destined to be great with dark chocolate, I’d also enjoy Primita with a strong cheese.


As we swirled and sipped, we also got to chat with Rob Cox. He recognized us from the blog even though we were trying to be anonymous. Rob’s credentials include work at Pearmund Cellars, and he has worked with Sudha and Pandit Patil to produce upcoming releases that will include Chardonnay, Viognier, and Cabernet Franc.  The Patils are of Indian heritage; therefore, they favor varietals and a winemaking style that can compliment spicy cuisine such as Indian food.  Their vineyard adventures began six years after they purchased the Amissville property in 1999.  Fourteen acres of property are now in vines.  The tasting room will open in November.


So with our tasting done, we shared a glass of the Mom Chardonel and enjoyed the blue grass rhythms of a local trio.  We do plan to return to Narmada especially once the tasting room is open for business, and we are eager to try the upcoming releases.  Be sure to stop by Narmada Winery, and mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.

Breaux Vineyards

Labor Day weekend affords us the time to visit more wineries. We decided to visit a few in Loudoun County. There are several we haven’t visited in awhile. On this trip we visited Breaux, Notaviva, and Hiddencroft.

Our first stop was Breaux Vineyards. As we walked into the tasting room we were greeted by Cooper, the vineyard dog. He was very excited to see us. As we were giving Cooper some attention, Jennifer Blosser, Hospitality & Events Manager, recognized us from the blog and gave us a warm welcome. She set us up at the bar for a tasting with Richard, our hospitality associate.


Richard began our tasting with the whites. Of these I put my gold star next to the 2007 Madeleines Chardonnay. I enjoy steel fermented chardonnays and this one is well balanced. It’s got tropical notes and honey on the nose. Warren put his gold star next to the 2007 Viognier. His notes included words like floral nose and honey suckle. He also mentioned it was crisp.

Next up were the reds and we had plenty to taste. My gold star was placed next to the 2002 Merlot Reserve. Warren placed his star here as well. This was a wonderful merlot with smooth tannins and extracted fruit flavors. Another wine of note was the Equation. This is 95% merlot and 5% petit verdot. The interesting “equation” here it’s a blend of 2005 barrel aged and 2007 steel aged. We thought it was quite interesting.


We were also able to taste a few wines from the Cellar Club library. We were able to taste a 2002 Free Run Merlot and a 2005 Syrah. The merlot was a light bodied sipper that we both enjoyed. Warren described the syrah as having some spice and chewy tannins.

Richard finished our tasting with the sweet wines. Of these we enjoyed the Nebbiolo Ice. It’s an interesting dessert wine made from nebbiolo. It has 10% residual sugar and wasn’t too sweet for our palates. We enjoyed this one.

With our tasting complete, we selected the 2007 Madeleines Chardonnay to have with our lunch of grilled chicken, almonds, cheeses and crackers. It was a warm day outside so this was a nice cooling sipper enjoyed with our lunch.


Before leaving we purchased a few bottles of wine and thanked Jennifer and Richard for their wonderful hospitality. When you find yourself in Loudoun County be sure to visit Breaux Vineyards and tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!

The Commonwealth Polo & Wine Event


The Plains, VA Bring out the big hats and sundresses ….The Wine Festival at The Plains and the 24th annual Commonwealth Cup of Polo happens September 12 and 13 at everyone’s favorite location – Great Meadow Equestrian Center just west of the Washington DC metropolitan area in The Plains.

What a difference an exit makes – just one exit past the sprawling city at exit 31 off of I-66, is where Virginia becomes gorgeous rolling farmland. This year, the Great Meadow Equestrian Center, located here, will be the site of two favorite events combined on one ticket.

The Wine Festival at The Plains and The 24th annual Commonwealth Cup of Polo come together at Great Meadow for a weekend of great wine, great food, great art and great international polo – USA versus Great Britain.

The Wine Festival at The Plains brings Virginia’s Tasting Rooms together in one location for a grand celebration of the vintage harvest. Guests of this event will discover a selection of locally-grown artisan wines being produced in the boutique wineries of Virginia, including many that are rarely brought out of the tasting room.

The Commonwealth Cup is the oldest and one of the most highly attended polo matches of its kind in the country. In this rousing and spirited annual challenge, the best players in the US square off against an elite team of Brits from the British Forces Foundation for a key benefit match.

The combined event features gourmet cuisine prepared by the region’s best chefs, a select group of fine art and fancy food vendors, and polo’s traditional half time divot stomp with a Virginia Wine twist. Sunday will also include a bagpipe concert and horse-drawn carriage parade. A Viking Appliance culinary stage will feature wine pairing and tasting demonstrations, including wine tasting 101 classes, the author of the popular book, Gourmet Getaways, the Executive Chef of the famed Boars Head Inn in Charlottesville, and winemaker pairings throughout the weekend.

This delightful Autumn afternoon of good fun support a very good cause. The event is a fund raiser for the Wounded Warrior Project, a 501c3 organization that implements initiatives that honor and empower our national heroes.

The Commonwealth Polo & Wine Event at The Plains is sponsored by Farm Wineries Council, Inc., Great Meadow Polo Club, The Washington Post, Moore Cadillac and Viking Appliance.

For information about the event and to purchase discount tickets online, please visit the event website at

Thanks to Donna and Carl from the Farm Wineries Council for all the information in this post.

New Reds at Piedmont

Recently Gerhard von Fincke e-mailed us inviting us to visit Piedmont Vineyards to taste his recently released wines. Last Sunday we decided to do just that.


It’s always nice to chat with Gerhard and enjoy some wine at the same time. He conducted our tasting and we were able to taste many of our favorites. But we were there to taste the new 2006 Merlot and the 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon. Both of these wines were released in late July.


The 2006 Merlot spent 30 months in oak. Even though it spent a long time on oak, it retained much of the fruit characters you expect in a merlot. I enjoyed this one. Gerhard suggests letting mellow in the bottle for three or four months. This one got my gold star for the day.

The 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon also spent 30 months in oak. This one has a dark garnet color. In the mouth it has hints of dark fruit; plums and cherries. It has some chewy tannins. As with the Merlot, this one needs a few months to settle down in the bottle. With time this will turn into an amazing cab. Warren awarded this cab his gold star for the day.

After our regular tasting, Gerhard let us taste a few older cabs. We were able to taste the 2000 cab and the 1997 cab. The 1997 is holding up beautifully. We liked this one so much, Gerhard let us have a glass with our lunch!


While enjoying our lunch and the 1997 cab, we also enjoyed some live music. Piedmont now has live open mic entertainment on Sunday afternoons. We got to hear several songs by Expanding Waistlines. We think this is a great addition to the atmosphere at Piedmont.


The next time you visit Piedmont, be sure to tell them Virginia WIne Time sent you!