Congratulations to Jeff White!

We salute Virginia Governor’s Cup winner, Jeff White, for winning the coveted award with his 2009 Hodder Hill, a meritage blend. This year’s competition marked a return to judging both white and red wines in a single event. Furthermore, wineries had to acknowledge that any wine submitted for judging was the product of 100% Virginia fruit. The panel of judges was an honor roll of wine experts and included Master of Wine and competition director, Jay Youmans. Therefore, this year’s award winners were those that met more rigorous standards than in previous years. Kudos, then, to all medal winners especially to the ultimate champ, Jeff White.

We decided to mark Jeff’s achievement by paying a visit to Glen Manor Vineyards this past Sunday. Our motive, of course, was to sample the award-winning 2009 Hodder Hill as well as other current releases. Jeff was not in the tasting room, but his wife Kelly was on hand to guide us through our tasting. The 2011 Sauvignon Blanc began our tasting experience, and what a lovely way to start the afternoon. Rich with characteristic grassy and citrus notes, it was offered a refreshing minerality and crisp, clean finish. Jeff White may well be setting the standard for Sauvignon Blanc produced in Virginia as this vintage continues the tradition of quality wine from this varietal at Glen Manor Vineyards.

From there we proceeded to the award-winning 2009 Hodder Hill. The color and aromas suggested Old World complexity and elegance with aromas of cherry, raspberry, coffee, and mint. Similar flavors were noted in the mouth with soft tannins and a lengthier finish. The 2009 Hodder Hill is a blend of 63% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Franc, and 6% Petit Verdot. Kelly explained to us that in contrast to the 2010 season, the 2009 growing season more characteristic of Virginia—warm days, cooler nights, and the right amount of rainfall that fell prior to harvest time. The harvest months, which typically run from August to October, were dry in 2009. These factors allowed for gradual, even ripening of the grapes to produce a complex wine that also expresses the terrior of the vineyards.

Kelly also shared with us that Jeff really had no inkling that he was going to win the competition. In fact, Jeff never enters his wines into judging contests; however, he did enter only the 2009 Hodder Hill in order to receive critical feedback from the judges. Given the elite panel of this year’s judges, this was certainly understandable. When informed that he had indeed won the Governor’s Cup, Jeff was truly surprised.

We finished our tasting with the excellent 2009 Petit Verdot, a wine that we have written about in the past. It continues to progress quite nicely with dark plum flavors and nuances of spice and mocha.

While at the tasting bar, we ran into blogger Dezel Quillen of My Vine Spot and his friend, Michael Ching who is the assistant winemaker at Paradise Springs. Like us, they were on the trail that day to sample the wines at Glen Manor Vineyards. After our tasting, we shared wine and conversation; we also made certain to purchase several bottles of our favorites including the 2009 Hodder Hill.

Be sure to visit Glen Manor Vineyards to taste the excellent wines created by Jeff White, and please mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.

Governor’s Cup Winner

From the press release:

Governor McDonnell Announces Glen Manor Vineyards Awarded 2012 Virginia Governor’s Cup
~New Judging Standards Make Event One of the Preeminent Wine Competitions in the Nation~

RICHMOND – Governor Bob McDonnell, who championed major changes to the Virginia Governor’s Cup competition last year that made the event one of the most stringent and thorough wine competitions in the United States, has awarded the 2012 Virginia Governor’s Cup to Glen Manor Vineyards 2009 Hodder Hill Meritage. The announcement of the Governor’s Cup award winner was made Thursday in conjunction with the Virginia Wine Expo, which runs February 24-26, 2012 in Richmond.

“I raise my glass to Glen Manor Vineyards, whose 2009 Hodder Hill Meritage is a stunning representation of the best in Virginia Wines,” said Governor McDonnell. “Glen Manor’s Meritage and the other 11 wines that make up the Governor’s Cup Case will make a fine addition to wine cellars everywhere, further enhancing the growing reputation of Virginia wines. Just as Virginia wines have been gaining acclaim here and abroad, we have raised the bar on the competition. I believe that having a top notch competition to showcase our best wines is essential to maintaining and growing the national and international notoriety that our wines have been receiving.”

Glen Manor’s award winning wine is a blend of 63% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Franc and 6% Pertit Verdot. The tasting notes for the 2009 Hodder Hill Meritage describe the blended red wine as “a complex wine with ever-evolving aromas of dark red berries, eucalyptus, licorice, tea leaf, cassis and fresh ground coffee beans. On the palate, it is a highly structured wine of dark and refined flavors, with mouth-coating tannins, refreshed by brightness of acidity and finishing long and expressive. The complexity of this wine allows pairing with a wide variety of foods and cooking styles, from aged gouda and earthy sheep cheese to a rustic bowl of onion soup to rich meats, duck, game or lamb.”

“On behalf of my family, we are humbled by this award and honored to help represent Virginia in the first ever Governor’s Cup Case,” said Glen Manor Vineyards winemaker and winery owner, Jeff White. White, fourth generation farmer who established Glen Manor Vineyards in 2005 after growing grapes on the estate since the mid-1990s, studied under acclaimed winemaker Jim Law of Linden Vineyards.

The 2012 Virginia Governor’s Cup Competition was conducted in two stages: the preliminary round took place in mid-January in Alexandria. The final round was judged in late January in Richmond. The Governor’s Cup award winner was selected from the 2012 Governor’s Cup Case, the top 12 scoring wines of the competition, which were selected from more than 400 entries.

In addition the Glen Manor’s 2009 Hodder Hill Meritage, the other 11 wines that form the Governor’s Cup Case include:

· Bluestone Vineyard 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon
· Delfosse Vineyards & Winery 2007 Meritage Blend
· Jefferson Vineyards 2010 Cabernet Franc
· Keswick Vineyards 2009 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon
· Keswick Vineyards 2010 Merlot
· King Family Vineyards 2008 Meritage Blend
· Potomac Point Winery 2009 Heritage Reserve Meritage Blend
· Tarara Winery 2010 Honah Lee White Vinifera Blend
· Trump Winery 2008 Kluge SP Blanc de Blanc Sparkling
· Veritas 2010 Vintner’s Reserve Meritage Blend
· White Hall Vineyards 2010 Gewurztraminer

At least 10 cases of each wine included in the Governor’s Cup Case will be used by the Virginia Wine Marketing Office for promotional uses. A number of cases will be shipped to select wine media as part of a new effort to promote Virginia wines to a larger national and international audience. The award winning wines will be used for educational purposes at Virginia winemaker roundtable discussions as part of an effort to improve overall quality of Virginia wines. And, Governor’s Cup Case wines will be used by Governor McDonnell on domestic and international marketing missions and other events designed to promote Virginia wine and winery tourism.

The Governor’s Cup competition, which was revamped in 2011 at the request of Governor McDonnell, is a result of a partnership among the gubernatorial-appointed Virginia Wine Board (VWB), the Virginia Wineries Association (VWA), which owns and manages the competition, and the Virginia Vineyards Association (VVA). Virginia Wine Board grants from the Virginia Wine Promotion Fund funded the enhanced competition.

As part of the enhancement, the Governor’s Cup competition is once again a single event for all Virginia wines after being split into two separate competitions, one for red wines and one for white wines, during the last few years. Any wine made from 100% Virginia fruit was eligible for the competition, while ciders and fruit wines had their own category and medalists. All entries included an affidavit with a certification of 100% Virginia fruit and vineyard particulars, including grower names and location, as well as information on alcohol, acidity or basicity (pH), and residual sugar.

Jay Youmans, one of only of 31 Masters of Wine (MW) in the U.S., directed the competition. Youmans, who is also a Certified Wine Educator (CWE) and the owner and educational director of the Capital Wine School in Washington, DC, recruited the wine judges from the professional wine buying and wine media community. The judges were compensated for their time for a rigorous schedule of judging to ensure the competition has the highest level of professional evaluation of the wines. There were 28 judges in the preliminary round and 15 judges in the final round. A list of the judges along with their bios can be found at

One of the most important aspects of the revised competition is the educational component of the judging. After the competition, regional forums for the winemakers will be held with the judging director. Notes with the judges’ blind comments will be shared with individual winemakers, so that they will get direct feedback on how their wines were received.

Glen Manor Vineyards is located in Front Royal, Virginia, approximately 70 miles west of Washington D.C. Situated on a western flank of the Blue Ridge Mountains and near the north entrance to Shenandoah National Park and Skyline Drive, nearby mountains, ranging between 1400 and 3400 feet in elevation, surround the vineyards forming a “Glen.” The vines grow high on steep mountain slopes, in very deep and well drained rocky soils. For more information, visit

Sales of Virginia wine reached a record high in fiscal year 2011 with more than 462,000 cases, or more than 5.5 million bottles, sold. This volume marks a sales increase of more than 11 percent over the previous fiscal year. Virginia currently ranks fifth in the number of wineries in the nation with 210. Virginia is also the nation’s fifth largest wine grape producer. According to a recently released economic impact study, the Virginia wine industry employs more than 4,700 and contributes almost $750 million to the Virginia economy on an annual basis. For a complete list of previous Governor’s Cup winners and further information about the Virginia wine industry, events, tours and tastings, please visit the Virginia Wine Marketing Office’s website at or call 804‐344‐8200.

Jeff White
Owner and Winemaker
Glen Manor Vineyards

Jeff White, vigneron, fourth generation farmer and together with his family, owner of Glen Manor Vineyards, entered the wine industry in 1993 upon accepting a summertime position at the Virginia Tech Fruit Research Station near Stephens City, Virginia. There he worked with the State Viticulturist, Dr. Tony K. Wolf in his experimental winegrape vineyard.

At summer’s end Jeff joined Linden Vineyards to help work the 1993 harvest and crush. It was during this time that Jeff decided to establish his own six acre vineyard on his family’s Virginia Century Farm. He planted his first vineyard in 1995 and in 1996 harvested his first grapes. Jeff sold his fruit to and continued working for and learning from Jim Law of Linden Vineyards for the next ten years.

In 2005 Jeff established Glen Manor Vineyards winery, beginning construction and producing his first wines in 2007. He also established a new 8.5 acre high mountainside vineyard on his farm in 2008. Jeff and his wife Kelly, enjoy travelling in winter with their Chocolate Lab, Huck and American Brit, Sport.

Virginia Wine Showcase

On Saturday we went to the Virginia Wine Showcase held at the Crystal Gateway Marriott in Arlington. There were lots of wineries in attendance pouring many wines. It was great to see some old wine friends, catch up and taste wines we’ve had before. While it was great to visit many of the wineries we’ve visited in the past, it was also fun trying some new wines that we haven’t experienced in the past. While moving from booth to booth tasting wines, I kept track of a few wines of note. I thought they stood out enough to mention here.

Some of the wines I felt worth noting from the showcase are:

Rosemont of Virginia Pinot Grigio
Rosemont of Virginia Kilravock
Cobbler Mountain Cellars 2010 Petit Verdot
Well Hung Vineyards 2010 Everyday Chardonnay
Well Hung Vineyards 2010 Viognier
Well Hung Vineyards 2010 Merlot-Verdot
Savoy-Lee Winery 2006 Cabernet Franc
Annefield Vineyards 2008 Red (my favorite of the day)

Here are some pictures from the event. I did not have my best camera with me so these aren’t the best pictures I could have taken. But you get the idea.

Rose Tasting at Philip Carter Winery

Valentine’s Day is now a fading memory, but we hope that love for Virginia is still in the air as we head toward spring. A recent visit to Philip Carter Winery found us participating in a blind tasting of roses from Virginia. The event was held on the snowy weekend before Valentine’s Day, and it featured four rose wines from across Virginia including Philip Carter’s 2011 Rose.

Tasters were asked to evaluate the wines based on color, aroma and taste. The blind tasting included the following wines: 2011 Danielle’s Rose from Philip Carter Winery, 2010 Make Me Blush from Naked Mountain Winery, 2010 Rose from Veritas Vineyards, and the 2010 Fiore from CrossKeys Vineyards. (For novices, blind means that although we knew which wines were being poured, we did not know one wine from the other when they were poured into our glasses. The labels were hidden from view.) Our panel of four tasters judged wine #4 to be the best in all categories. Its salmon-pink hue and strawberry/melon aromas were classic characteristics of Old World rose wines. In the taste category, it again earned the unanimous “best in show” award. Crisp and bone dry, it presented flavors that mirrored the enticing aromas that wowed the small group of tasters. Wine #3 likewise earned praise from the group with some banter between Paul and another taster about the possibility of Wine @2 scoring higher in the aroma category. In the end, though, it was #3 that won second place. Like wine #4, it was crisp and dry, but its tone was a much fainter pink; the aromas and flavors were likewise quite similar but less vibrant.

Wine #2 did induce conversation. Paul and another taster really liked the more fruit forward aromas with this one; however, a sip revealed a sweeter wine that, while refreshing, put it at odds with Wines #3 and #4. Its color was also the darkest of the four wines and on par with some Spanish roses that are popular during the summer. However, I do tend to tire of these sweeter rose wines rather quickly unless paired with really hot, 5-alarm barbeque sauces served with grilled fare on a 105-degree day in August. After some discussion, we all concurred that while wine #2 had its place, a winter’s afternoon (though a warm one by Virginia standards) was not one of them. That meant wine #2 placed third in the pecking order. Unfortunately, one of the rose wines had to finish last, and that was wine #1. Its color was somewhat similar to wine #3, but its nose suggested very sweet. And a taste revealed that it was sweetest of the contenders. I jotted down, “strawberry short cake in a glass.” Paul drew a frown face next to it. I do believe that this rose wine can be best appreciated in the summer and like wine #3 is best suited for a hot day; in fact, I’d serve this as a dessert wine with cheesecake. However, next to the drier rose wines that were poured, it did seem less elegant and sophisticated.

Okay—so which wines were which? Here they are:

1. Wine #4—2010 Rose from Veritas Vineyards
2. Wine #3—2011 Danielle’s Rose from Philip Carter Winery
3. Wine #2—2010 Fiore from CrossKeys Vineyards
4. Wine #1—2010 Make Me Blush from Naked Mountain Winery

Rose wines have made a comeback in recent years, and we hope that the sickly sweet White Zinfandel craze that tarnished the reputation of rose is well behind us. As this tasting proved, Virginia wineries can produce some excellent rose wines. Before we left Philip Carter Winery, we made sure to purchase a bottle of the 2011 Danielle’s Rose made from the Tinta Cao grape. I also made a note to procure a bottle (or two) of the 2010 Rose from Veritas Vineyards.

Whether your tastes for rose wines are dry or sweet, Virginia wineries are certain to have a rose or blush wine to please. Of course, you need to get on the wine trails to find out where your favorites are being produced. Visit the wineries mentioned in the post to conduct your own comparison but mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.

MS Fundraiser at Vinifera Wine Bar

Allan Liska of Cellarblog organizes an annual wine tasting fundraiser to help in the fight against multiple schlerosis. This year the event was held at Vinifera Wine Bar in Reston, and since it took place on February 12, just two days before Valentine’s Day, chocolates from a local chocolatier called MC2 Confections were also served. Loudoun County wineries poured their wines at the event, and these included 8 Chains North, Fabbioli Cellars, Loudoun Valley Vineyards, Notaviva Vineyards, and Tarara Winery.

The bar was absolutely packed when we arrived as attendees lined up at tasting tables to enjoy tasting samples of Virginia wines. We also made certain to enjoy the chocolates. A favorite wine and dark chocolate pairing is always the Raspberry Merlot from Fabbioli Cellars. White wines were also poured, though, and I did enjoy a fume-style Sauvignon Blanc poured by Jordan Harris of Tarara Winery.

We also ran into the dynamic duo who write Swirl, Sip, Snark. We compared tasting notes and caught up with our travels on the wine trails.

Wine and chocolates are always a great way to celebrate Valentine’s Day. It’s even better when the wine and chocolates are locally produced and then team up for a good cause. Allan Liska’s goal was to raise $4000 from the event, and we hear they surpassed $7000! That’s great!

Vinefera was so packed for the successful event, it was difficult to take some decent photos. Even without the photos, we had a great time enjoying the wines and chocolates. If you visit any of the wineries mentioned or even MC2 Confections, let them know Virginia Wine Time sent you!

Cabernet and Chocolates

On Saturday we attended the annual Cabernet and Chocolates event at Gray Ghost. We always have a great time enjoying the chocolates and red wines. This year Gray Ghost released the Vidal Blanc on this chocolate filled weekend. We enjoyed the new Vidal with it’s melon and crisp fruity flavors. Of course we enjoyed the red wines as well. The merlot was my favorite paired with the chocolates. Here are some pictures from the event:

Loudoun Sweep

Our crazy winter weather continues to unfold; last week, I was able to jog outdoors wearing shorts and a t-shirt. However, a colder weekend at the end of January did bring the threat of snow and ice. The snow event never happened, and that gave us the chance to visit Swedenburg Estate Vineyard and Chrysalis Vineyards without worries about slick roads. (It also gave me a chance to wear my new sweater!)

Swedenburg Estate Vineyard: Curtis Vincent has assumed command of the winemaking at Swedenburg, and the white wines that we tasted were of his creation. The 2010 Chantilly made from Seyval Blanc was very crisp with citrus and mineral characteristics. Lean and clean indeed! This one should pair quite nicely with shellfish. I also enjoyed the 2010 Chardonnay that was fermented in French oak barrels. A fuller mouth feel and creamier texture suggested some malolactic fermentation. It presented pear and apple notes with hints of cedar to boot.

Although we missed Curtis on the particular visit, we did note improvements in the quality of the wines under his craftsmanship. We also learned that winery is up for sale, and we hope that any potential buyer will continue Swedenburg’s winemaking legacy that began with Wayne and Juanita Swedenburg over 25 years ago.

Chrysalis Vineyards: Our visit here was actually part of a VIP pick up party that featured wine tastings and food. Chrysalis fans may know that renowned chef Hump Astorga has left Chrysalis; however, there is no need to despair. VIP events will still include gourmet treats that will be prepared by guest chefs.

Of course, wine was our primary interest, and the current offerings were the creations of winemaker Alan Kinne. “Elegant” and “polished” were the words that I used to describe Kinne’s wines. The 2010 Chardonnay, done in stainless steel, was crisp and lean with apple notes and a no-holds-barred minerality. Of course, Viognier is the flagship white wine here, and the 2010 bottling presented the rich stone fruit flavors and luxurious mouth feel that defines Chrysalis’ Viognier. Kinne’s expertise, though, shined brightly with the 2009 Norton Estate Bottled and the complex 2009 Norton Locksley Reserve. Norton and its acidic nature can be difficult to tame, but Kinne accomplished the task and more with these world-class wines. The former was blended with some Petit Verdot while the latter usually includes Petit Verdot and other varietals; however, both were rich with dark fruit and spicy aromas and flavors. In the end, I leaned heavily toward the 2009 Locksley Reserve; earthy elements and a lengthier finish complemented a full-fruit presence in the mouth. Both are sitting on my wine rack, but I think the Locksley Reserve will be napping for quite a while.

We ran in to owner Jenni McCloud, and she updated us on her renovation plans. The new tasting room is on target to proceed, and current plans will provide for a versatile, taster-friendly facility. Tasters can opt for either a personally guided tasting of wines with a tasting associate or conduct a self-guided tour at a tasting station. The self-guided tastings will resemble the enomatic stations at a tasting bar, and tasters would use debit-type cards to sample Chrysalis wines. We will be sure to chart the progress of this development!

And so food and wine—Asparagus tarts and clam chowder were served at the tasting event, and I enjoyed both with the 2010 Chardonnay. In fact, I pleaded for a second serving of the clam chowder; it was the perfect comfort food on a very cold day.

Whether it’s warm or cold outside, a visit to Virginia wineries is sure to please. Visit Swedenburg Estate Vineyard and Chrysalis Vineyards to sample their latest pours. Be sure to mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.