Virginia Wine Time

We Enjoy Virginia Wine

Month: April 2010 (page 1 of 2)

Reflections on The Drink Local Conference

Paul certainly captured the spirit of the Drink Local Wine Conference that was held at the Lansdowne Resort this past Sunday. I thought that I would add a few of my own thoughts on the event:

1. We’re on the verge of something really big!
Readers of our blog know that we’ve been heralding Virginia wines for five year now, and the treat for us has been to witness the tremendous growth in the local wine industry. The number of wineries and vineyards in the area has exploded in the past few years; however, the most successful wineries have kept a focus on wine quality. It was fascinating to me to listen to and even interact with successful owners and winemakers such as Mathieu Finot of King Family, Jenni McCloud of Chrysalis, Luca Paschina of Barboursville and Jordan Harris of Tarara. Their quest is to discover what varietals work for Virginia, to experiment and take risks, and to ultimately put Virginia on the map as a region that produces unique yet world-class wines. Which ones will be the flagship grapes? Opinions seem to converge on Viognier, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot with Merlot and Chardonnay in the running. The panel discussions with wine makers and social media experts confirmed what I have known for years now—Virginia is on the verge of something big!

2. Social Media connects consumers to local wines.
Ok—I must admit that I am not a Twitter or Facebook fan. Paul handles all of that for Virginia Wine Time. However, after Sunday’s panel discussion on social media, I am now a fervent believer that Twitter, Facebook, and blogs fill the gap between local wineries and traditional media. Virginia wineries may not be headlining Wine Spectator, but then again most wine drinkers don’t really care. A tweet about a favorite Virginia wine creates a buzz that Wine Spectator could never create. Jenn Breaux Blosser of Breaux Vineyards is by far the most engaged with social media, and she had never been shy about networking via Twitter and Facebook. I do believe the testimonial that she delivered at the conference—social media pulls in customers that she could never reach via traditional media.

There are exceptions, though. I was thrilled to meet Dave McIntyre, wine critic for the Washington Post. Dave’s wine column in Wapo’s food section is one that I never miss, and he has been an active promoter of local wines. I’ll take Dave’s word about wine over Robert Parker’s any day of the week. However, I’d apply the same standard to bloggers and “tweeters” and admit that an expert palate like Dave McIntyre’s certainly trumps mine; so, if Dave recommends a Virginia wine, trust him—it’s really good and worth seeking out!

3. Virginia (and Maryland) makes some excellent wines.
The highlight of the day had to be the wine “Twitter Taste-Off” when we all got to sample the best wines that 21 local wineries had to offer. Paul noted that Breaux Vineyards’s 2002 Reserve Merlot and Chrysalis’ 2008 Albarino took top honors, and those were certainly excellent pours. However, there were a number of outstanding wines that included Michael Shaps’ Viognier (my own personal fave), King Family’s 2008 Meritage (which may give the successful 2007 vintage a run for its money), and Boxwood’s 2007 Topiary. The sleepers of the event had to be the 2005 Petit Verdot from Ingleside and the current Syrah from Maryland’s Black Ankle. (For those who like a fuller-bodied Chardonnay, Maryland’s Elk Run offering may be worth a try, too.)

I was definitely inspired by the day’s events, and now I am even more anxious to hit the wine trails to discover the quality wines that Virginia wineries have to offer. And now I am determined to visit Maryland wineries, too! Of course, another pleasure was to meet other bloggers, and who knew that we would be dubbed the “wine mafia”! Could this be a movie in the making? The Winefather?

Be sure to visit Virginia wineries this spring, and mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you!

Drink Local Wine Conference

Today we attended the Drink Local Wine conference at Lansdowne. We had a great time meeting fellow wine bloggers and meeting members of the Virginia wine community.

The first session we attended was a panel discussion about the grapes that work best for Virginia. The panelists were Matthew Meyert from Williamsburg Winery, Jennifer McCloud from Chrysalis Vineyard, and Matthieu Finot of King Family Vineyards. The moderator of this discussion was Richard Leahy of Vineyard & Winery Management magazine. The discussion centered around grapes that work best in Virginia. Both hybrids and vinifera were discussed. It was interesting to hear all the different grapes that each winemaker thought worked best in Virginia.

Our second session was all about social media. The panelists were Lenn Thompson of the New York Cork Report, Jennifer Breaux Blosser from Breaux Vineyards, and Jeff Siegel, the Wine Curmudgeon. The moderator was Michael Wangbicker. This session started with a great discussion about how social media is part of any marketing plan for a winery. We learned that many wineries have seen increases in customers and sales. The discussion got a little heated at one point when it became print media versus online media. Everyone has their opinions. I shared mine. You can probably guess which side I am on. This was my favorite session. I really enjoyed the discussions. All the panelists did a great job!

After the social media session we had lunch. Here’s a photo of the new named “Wine Mafia” having lunch. It was great discussing wines and blogging with these guys.


Pictured: Anything Wine, New York Cork Report, Drink What You Like, and The Other 46.

After lunch we had a session about drinking local and eating local. The panelists were Mary Watson-DeLauder from Lansdowne Resort, Andrew Stover, Chef Wino, and Todd Kliman from Washingtonian magazine. The moderator was Dave McIntyre of the Washington Post. This one started out slow but by the end was pretty interested. I found myself Twittering more than listening until discussion began to peak my interest.

The final event of the day was the Twitter Taste-off. There were 20-some Virginia wineries pouring a red and a white. Participants were to go around the room stopping at different tables to taste the wines each winery brought. We then tweeted about our tastings. At the end we were to vote on our favorites. If you follow us on Twitter, you know we tweeted a lot about the viogniers we tasted. We tried to start with all the whites and then move on to the reds but as we were tasting we ran into so many wine friends that we had to stop and talk. By the time we go to the reds we were running out of time. We had to get our ballets in. After a few more tastings we turned in our ballets. We then waited for the results. The winner of the reds was Breaux Vineyards 2002 Merlot Reserve. The winner for the whites was the Chrysalis Vineyards 2008 Albarino. We enjoyed both of these selections and were pleased to see they won.

While others headed off to dinner after the taste off, we were headed home. We had a great day and thank everyone at Drink Local Wine for the wonderful hospitality. It was also great to meet all the bloggers we chat with on Twitter. We met so many people today! What a great way to promote Virginia wine.


Pictured: Sip, Swirl, Snark, Drink What You Like, and Anything Wine

Warrenton Wine and Arts Festival

Warrenton Wine and Arts Festival-For the second year in a row the Warrenton Wine and Arts Festival will take place this weekend, April 24 and 25 at St. John the Evangelist school in Warrenton Virginia. At the festival you’ll be able to taste wines from about 20 Virginia wineries, hear music from local musicians, see and purchase art from several local artists, and browse the merchandise from several local and regional vendors.

Be sure to check out the website and get your tickets now. We attended the festival last year and really had a great time. We tasted some wines we couldn’t taste unless we visited the wineries.

Drink Local Wine 2010

This weekend is the Drink Local Wine Conference at Lansdowne Resort in Leesburg, Virginia. Most of the events will be happening on Sunday. There will be seminars and an amazing Twitter Taste-off with many Virginia wineries and some from Maryland as well. Warren and I are planning on attending on Sunday and participating in all the activities. We are really looking forward to the Twitter Taste-off. We are also really looking forward to meetings many of the wine bloggers we have come to know by their tweets and their blog posts.

Are you planning on attending the conference on Sunday? Even if we know you are attending, leave a comment letting us know you are attending. We’re interested to find out who all is planning on attending. And if you are attending, plan on looking for us and saying hello! If you haven’t signed up yet, do it now while the price is lower.

We hope to see you there!

Cellar Tasting at Linden

Last Sunday we went to Linden Vineyards to see what wines were new since our last visit. We also decided to do a cellar tastings as well.

During our tasting we were able to sample the 2008 Seyval, the 2008 Chardonnay, the 2007 Claret, the 2006 Petit Verdot, and the 2008 Vidal Riesling. As many of you know Jim Law is like the guru of Virginia wines. We were unable to single out any wines for our gold stars….they all deserved gold stars!

After our tasting we had some time before our cellar tasting so we decided to enjoy a glass of wine on the deck. Since Warren is a club member we were able enjoy the view. I had a glass of the 2008 Seyval and Warren took advantage of the library wine weekends (where a different library wine is opened on the weekends for sale) and had the 1998 Rush River Red, a red blend. I wrote down grapefruit and lemon and dry for my notes on the Seyval. Warren noted black pepper, dark fruit, and dried herbs from the Rush River Red. We suggest tasters take advantage of the library wines available on the weekends.

During our cellar tasting we tasted the 2008 Boisseau Chardonnay, 2007 Hardscrabble Chardonnay, 2006 Avenius Red, 2006 Hardscrabble Red, 2005 Late Harvest Vidal, and the 2006 Late Harvest Petit Manseng. Warren and I both put gold stars next to the 2008 Boisseau Chardonnay. We noted orange peel, honeysuckle, and a long finish. The rest of our stars were split. I put a star next to the 2006 Avenius Red and the 2005 Late Harvest Vidal while Warren put his gold stars next to the 2006 Hardscrabble Red and the 2006 Late Harvest Petit Manseng.

During the cellar tasting we realized one of the other participants was Curtis Vincent, the former winemaker at Chrysalis. We had a great chat about wine of course and found out he’ll be starting at Swedenburg in May. We are looking forward to the wines he’ll produce at Swedenburg. After the cellar tasting we got to meet Curtis’ new wife (congrats on your wedding!). We had a chance to say hello to Jim Law as well who was enjoying a glass with Curtis and his wife.

We always enjoy our time at Linden Vineyards. The wines are simply wonderful. Consider visiting Linden Vineyards and tasting their wines. You won’t be disappointed. And tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!

Favorites at Rappahannock Cellars

So we continue to blaze the wine trails this spring to present our findings about the latest releases. This includes a recent visit to Rappahannock Cellars located in Huntly, Virginia. Where did our gold stars land on the tasting sheet? Keep reading to find out!

Of the four white wines available for tasting, Paul and I both agreed that the 2008 Viognier should be the gold star recipient. Its honeysuckle and peach notes suggested a fruity palate but a subtle toasted edge and a creamy texture confirmed this to be a fuller-bodied white wine. This Viognier was fermented in stainless steel and then aged briefly in French oak barrels. The 2008 Noblesse Viognier should prove to be popular during the spring and summer months. An off-dry offering, the Noblesse Viognier presented citrusy characteristics and a vibrant acidity that would match well with light picnic fare.

On to the red wines, and here we reached a split decision. I favored the 2007 Cabernet Franc with its black berry and dark cherry aromas and flavors. I noted an earthiness to this one, too. Blended with Cabernet Sauvignon, this Cabernet Franc offers more complexity and boldness than is usually associated with the varietal. Paul’s gold star went to the 2007 Meritage; this was my close second. Paul noted dark plum, cherry, and spice characteristics with a noticeable tannic presence. This is definitely one to age! This Meritage includes a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Merlot and Malbec and is fermented and aged in both French and American oak barrels. Port lovers would be advised to check out the 2007 Port style Red Dessert Wine made from the Norton grape—dark fruits prevail in the mouth, and the 8% residual sugar provide a characteristic sweetness. Pair with blue cheese, dried fruit, and a cigar!

So after our tasting, we shared a glass of the 2007 Meritage with some dark chocolate out on the front porch. Decadence all the way around! We made certain to purchase some of our gold star favorites before we left. Plan a visit to Rappahanock Cellars; of course, mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you!

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