Virginia Wine Time

We Enjoy Virginia Wine

Month: August 2011 (page 2 of 3)

By The Numbers

As most of you know we just completed a trip to visit wineries in the western and southern part of the state. We also had a side trip to Knoxville Tennessee to celebrate my mother’s 80th birthday with my family. We had a great time visiting new wineries, talking with winemakers, tasting new wines, and checking out new tasting rooms. As I have mentioned before, we will be posting soon about our experiences on the road. Until then, here are the numbers from the trip:

1405-Total number of miles traveled.
$3.79-The highest price paid for gas.
$3.23-The lowest price paid for gas.
42.7-Miles per gallon (hybrids get great gas millage).
12-Wineries visited.
9-New wineries visited.
3 1/2-Tanks of gas purchased.
2-Cases of wine purchased.

The last three wineries we visited were Annefield, San Soucy, and Molliver.

Moving On

After a few days in Tennessee celebrating my mom’s 80th birthday, we got back on the road today and traveled nearly 400 miles to Villa Appalaccia Winery, Chateau Morrisette Winery, and Foggy Ridge Cider.

We tasted lots of wine and cider, and took lots of notes. We have plans to post about our experiences in the near future. We’ve gathered so much information lately that we’ll have to digest it before posting our impressions. Stay tuned for more regular updates of our travels to different parts of the state. We have visited 132 wineries to date! We have plans to visit three new wineries tomorrow!

On The Road Again!

After a quick visit to the Woodrow Wilson birthplace and museum in downtown Staunton Virginia, we got in the Virginia Wine Time car and headed to our first winery. Our first stop was Ox-Eye Vineyards tasting room in downtown Staunton. They have a very interesting business model. They do not have a tasting room at the vineyards, instead they have a tasting room in Staunton. We’ll write more about it in the near future.

Our second stop was Attimo Winery just east of Radford Virginia. It took us awhile to get there because of all the construction on I-81 south. They have a beautiful tasting room and an interesting way of tasting at tables and not at the tasting bar…kind of like what they do at Hillsboro. Again, we’ll be posting more about Attimo in the weeks to come. Stay tuned.

Our final stop of the day was at West Wind Vineyard and Winery located just east of I-81 in Max Meadows Virginia. We visited them once three years ago and David remembered us when we were at the Monticello tasting during the wine bloggers conference. It was good to see him and Jason. We tasted the wines and will be reporting about them soon.

We have plans to visit two more wineries tomorrow before heading to Tennessee for a family gathering on Saturday. We’ll return to the trail on Sunday. We have now visited 131 wineries in Virginia! Stay tuned! If you happen to visit any of these wineries, tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!


Yesterday we started a wine trip to visit wineries in the Shenandoah AVA and in the southern part of the state. We will post about each winery in the weeks to come. On the first day we visited Cave Ridge Vineyard, CrossKeys Vineyards, Bluestone Vineyard, and Barren Ridge Vineyards. We tasted some really nice wines and enjoyed our visit to each winery. Here’s a picture from the Cave Ridge Vineyard. As you can see the grapes are almost finished with veraison. The grapes are developing nicely! We’ll post again tomorrow with the wineries we visited and maybe a few teaser pictures

Road Trip!

Today we begin a five day wine trip. We are heading to the western part of the state to visit wineries in the Shenandoah region. We have plans to visit about 12 wineries in the western part of the state and the southern part of the state. We’ll be updating the blog along the way. If you happen to see the Virginia Wine Time car on Interstate 81 South, wave and say hi!

Wine and Photography at Catoctin Creek

We continue to gradually add more wineries to our “visits” list, and Catoctin Creek Winery brings our total to 128. As readers may know, we attended the WBC 11 conference that was recently held in Charlottesville, and we met Jim Hanna, owner and winemaker at Catoctin Creek Winery, at the conference. To be more exact, we met Jim at the Monticello tasting event that was held at the historic Monticello residence. Jim was one of the winemakers who participated in the tasting, and we determined to pay Jim a visit at his tasting room to find out more about both the owner/winemaker and the wines.

On a scorching hot day, we met Jim Hanna at his home in Loudoun County to chat with him and to sample his wines. His vineyard and tasting room are all located on his personal property, and the tasting room is located in the basement of his home. Jim started a vineyard four years ago with a small planting of Viognier. However, Jim quickly realized that just managing a vineyard was itself a full-time, challenging job. Having just retired from a career with the World Bank, Hanna wanted to pursue other passions that included winemaking and photography. With these goals in mind, he opted to buy fruit from established vineyards so that he could pay full attention to the skill of winemaking. Therefore, all grapes that are used by Catoctin Creek Winery are grown at either Breaux Vineyards or Fabbioli Cellars, and Jim Hanna plays an active role to monitor the progress of grapes as they evolve in the vineyards. And who are Hanna’s teachers in the school of winemaking? Professors Dave Collins, former winemaker at Breaux Vineyards and now at Big Cork Vineyards, and Doug Fabbioli of Fabbioli Cellars consult with Jim Hanna to produce quality wines that bear the label, Catoctin Creek Winery.

Jim Hanna began marketing his own wines in the spring of this year, and they are tasted in the basement of his home. A basement, you might ask? Words like moldy, dank, and dark might come to mind; however, Jim converted this space into an environmentally controlled facility that is actually quite comfortable. Given his small production level, now at 200 cases, it actually serves his needs quite well. A small room to the right of the tasting bar serves as a barrel room, and the twelve French oak barrels house wines from the 2008 through the 2010 vintages. Converting this space into a small tasting/barrel storage facility allows Hanna to keep overhead costs at a minimum; therefore, he can devote time and resources to his main focus—the production of quality wines.

So what about the wines? Four wines were available for tasting, and these included a 2010 Vidal Blanc, 2009 Cabernet Franc, 2009 Syrah and 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon. The 2010 Vidal Blanc was our immediate favorite, and it presented tropical fruit characteristics with a refreshing minerality. Done in stainless steel, it is also bone dry and therefore quite versatile; serve on its own or with foods that might pair with a dry Riesling. We also enjoyed this one at the Monticello tasting event as did a blogger from California who ordered a case to be shipped out to his home! Of the red wines, we both preferred the 2009 Cabernet Franc with its notes of plum, dark cherry, and black pepper. Soft tannins made for an accessible, elegant pour.

Future changes at Catoctin Creek involve the other two red wines—the very peppery 2009 Syrah and the 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon. True to his commitment to crafting quality wines, Hanna will change the future lineup of wines and phase out the Syrah with a Malbec. The 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, which earned a medal for Hanna, will give way to a Bordeaux (or Meritage) blend.

As we swirled, sniffed and sipped, Jim continued to present his philosophy on winemaking. Among his many skills, Jim is also an expert photographer who sees winemaking as an artistic craft that is constantly being perfected; as the photographer captures a perspective in the camera, so too does the winemaker with grapes. The winemaker’s point of view is captured in the bottle much like the photographer’s is preserved in digital format. Therefore, Jim will continue to produce small quantities of wine that reflect his own winemaking philosophy in much the same way that pictures present his artistic philosophy. Sounds too serious? Actually, for Jim Hanna, this is all about “keeping it fun”. After we sampled his wines and viewed his photographs, we can conclude that Jim Hanna is having a blast. Light-hearted and with a sense of purpose Jim Hanna and Catoctin Creek Winery are well positioned to experience further success.

While Paul and Jim continued to chat about photography, I enjoyed another sample of the Cabernet Franc (and wondered what I did with that Kodak Insta-matic from 1975 as I was certain that it needed more flash cubes!) We will continue to follow the developments at Catoctin Creek Winery, but readers should be certain to sample Jim Hanna’s current releases. Just remember to mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.

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