The Wine Festival at The Plains

This Saturday and Sunday, September 11-12, Great Meadow will be the site of Virginia’s most exciting new & improved wine festival of the season. This is no regular wine festival. The Wine Festival at The Plains is the See-And-Be-Seen event of the year. Championship Virginia wines and championship international polo, all in one double-header weekend at Virginia’s most pristine spot for sipping some vino – Great Meadow Event Center in The Plains, Virginia.

The Award winning wineries featured at this event include several that never go to other wine festivals.

•The wine crowned Best Cab Sauv on the East Coast will be there
•The Reserve Norton that won Best of the East Coast will be there
•The Viognier that always wins the “Virginia versus the world” smackdown will be there
•Find Gold medal winners galore, including Cuvee Laurent, a red blend, 2 gold Petit Verdots, Left Bank, Chardonnays, Malbec, Cab Sauvs, Cab Francs etc., etc., etc.
•Taste some funky favorites – chocolate wine, strawberry wine, persimmon wine, honey mead, sangrias and that wine bottle with a pear growing in it will be there.

But wait, the polo is just as exciting! No, not the Salahi kind of gate crashing exciting. Just like the White House – The Salahi’s have not been invited to this event!

The highlight of the season at Great Meadow will be the USPA Hall of Fame Challenge Cup held on Sunday. This is a professional 8 goal match where the best polo players in the country will be vying to have their name placed on the USPA Hall Of Fame Cup. The stakes are high. The Challenge Cup may be a player’s only chance to have their name in Polo’s Hall of Fame.

Know nothing about polo? Basically, it’s guys (and rarely – girls), all on big horses, chasing a little ball and swinging big hammers as hooves thunder across 300 yards of perfectly manicured grass in the fall sunshine … nothing short of perfectly exhilarating fun! To make things even more interesting, this year’s Hall of Fame Cup match will feature all the best pro polo guys … and a girl … Issy Wolf. She is the most watched rising star in polo world – a young world class polo contender out of UVA. This summer she has been featured in Washingtonian Magazine and Virginia Living Magazine as the name to watch in the polo world. Come cheer her on and watch her go up against the best players in the U.S.

Save $10 off the Gate Price online until Friday with Coupon Code WWP906 at

Information provided by Virginia Wine

Harvesting at Gray Ghost

On Saturday we helped harvest at Gray Ghost Vineyards. We harvest there every year and always have a great time. This year we harvested the vidal blanc and the gewurztraminer. The weather was perfect and it went so fast! Here are some pictures from the harvest.

Iron Bridge Wine Co.

While staying in Warrenton to harvest grapes at Gray Ghost, we had dinner at the Iron Bridge Wine Co.

To begin we decided on a flight of VA wines with a cheese plate. Delaplane cellars Chardonnay, Pearmund Riesling, and the Gadino Petit Verdot were on the flight. Tasting the wines with the different items on the cheese plate was fun and adventurous. We selected the Gadino Petit Verdot to receive the gold star for the flight. However the gold star pairing had to be the blue cheese with the Pearmund Cellars Riesling. It just goes to show that opposites do attract.

For dinner we had the 2007 Topiary. It’s a blend of Cabernet Franc and merlot. Paul paired it with black angus beef meatloaf and Warren had New Zealand lamb chops. We noted dark plum, dark cherry, cassis, a hint of spice, and a solid dark garnet color. The Topiary paired well with our meals.

This restaurant serves and sells many Virginia wines. They have four floors in the wine tasting experience. After dinner we spent some time at the Enomatic bar tasting VA wines as well as wines from all over the world. Just to let you know, the Virginia wines more then held their own. In fact our ultimate gold star for the evening was awarded to the Hardscrabble Chardonnay from Linden. If you purchase a bottle to go from the downstairs selections you get a 25% discount off the shelf price. Some of the wineries represented here are Gray Ghost, Pearmund, Gadino, Linden, Hume, Fabbioli Cellars, and Boxwood.

We had a wonderful dinner and the Virginia wines were superb. If you find yourself in Warrenton and hungry, consider the Iron Bridge Wine Co. on Main St. And tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you.

8 Chains North

I’ve lost track of the latest count, but we crossed the #100 threshold earlier this year. With all of the new wineries opening these days, it really is hard to keep track of it all. However, we added to the total last weekend with a visit to another newbie, 8 Chains North.

8 Chains North is also an addition to the growing number of quality wineries in Loudon County. Tasters may remember that before the July opening of the winery, 8 Chains wines were available at Fabbiolo Cellars. Now with a tasting room open, winemaker Ben Renshaw is able to showcase a more complete lineup of wines, and these we tasted last Saturday. At the end of our tasting, we were quite impressed with what we sampled.

Three white wines were available for tasting one of which included the heralded 2007 Glen Manor Sauvignon Blanc. The Glen Manor selection was on the list because the 8 Chains North 2008 Sauvignon Blanc was almost sold out. The 2008 Sauvignon Blanc was aged sur lies in neutral French oak barrels, and it was quite crisp with a characteristic grassy nose. In search of a favorite, though, Paul and I both concurred that the refreshing LoCo Vino fit the bill. On a very hot day, it was hard to beat this blend of Traminette and Vidal Blanc. It presented a floral nose with notes of pear and citrus, and the 1% residual sugar only heightened the fruit characteristics.

On to the red wines, and we split decisions here. It’s no secret that Paul likes Merlot, and he preferred the smoky 2008 Merlot that was produced from the winery’s Furnace Mountain Vineyard. Paul noted cherry and plum flavors with oak nuances that make for a more structured wine. Aged 11 months in French and American oak barrels, this Merlot might pair well with barbeque. My own gold-star, though, was awarded to the 2008 Furnace Mountain Red. This one presented a denser core than the medium-bodied Merlot, and it is a blend of all five Bordeaux red varieties. (Can you remember what they are?) Grapes were used from the Furnace Mountain Vineyard, Tranquility Vineyard, and Hiddencroft Vineyards. I was intrigued by the complexity of this wine with its layers of berry and spicy flavors; a subtle mocha finish completed the experience. Aged in both American French oak barrels, the 2008 Furnace Mountain Red should age quite well.

Current production at 8 Chains North is 1500 cases, and the winery’s main vineyard, located near Fabbioli Cellars, produces Petit Verdot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot. (So can you name those Bordeaux varietals now?) Traminette is also grown in this vineyard. Winemaker and vineyard manager Renshaw obviously places a premium on quality vineyard practices as is evidenced by the current lineup of wines.

So with our tasting done, we decided to share a glass of the LoCo Vino. It was a scorcher outside, and the LoCo Vino proved to be a refreshing sipper. We know that we will return to 8 Chains North this fall, but readers will want to visit sooner. Mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.