This past Sunday wine bloggers converged on the newest winery in Loudoun County, The Barns at Hamilton Station Vineyards. They included: Kurt and Carol, Frederick, Julie, Christian, Stacy, Kirsten, Anthony, and Hagan (not pictured), as well as significant others.
We all got to meet owners Andrew and Maryann Fialdini and Craig and Kim Garten and were given a tour of the facility. Also on tap was a wine tasting.
The winery and vineyards is located in Hamilton, and the tasting room itself is a restored barn that dates back to 1910. Additions to the barn/tasting room include a back deck and patio that overlooks a pond. Craig Garten conducted our tour and pointed out the various renovations to the barn; of particular interest was the cow stall that is now being converted to a cigar room. The deck and patio offer gorgeous views of majestic mountain landscapes that are just perfect with a glass of wine.
The tasting was given in a basement-level room, and seven wines were offered for tasting. All were from the 2011 vintage, and renowned winemaker Michael Shaps produced them. Grapes are currently sourced from the Charlottesville area, but the future plan is to produce wine from estate grown grapes. Both of the white wines were very nice; Paul favored the 2011 Chardonnay with its abundant apple and pear flavors, and I preferred the vibrant 2011 Viognier and its notes of stone fruit and melon. Crisp with a nice mouth feel, it was a classic Virginia Viognier. Of the red wines, we both enjoyed the 2011 Cabernet Franc. It presented flavors of raspberry and cherry as well as earthy/spicy elements. Buy now to enjoy with grilled summer fare, burgers, or pizza! Merlot lovers might prefer the smokier 2011 Merlot that was aged in both French and American oak. Its dark cherry and plum characteristics and spicy finish should make for a match with steaks.
With our tasting completed, Kirsten Rarich Gunsolus of CellarBlog invited us to share a bottle of the 2011 Viognier with her, and this we did over a cheese plate and fresh bread. Andrew Fialdini also joined us for a chat, and we were able to glean from Andrew the future goals for Hamilton Station Vineyards. Of course, a continued focus on the vineyards is highest on the list with the intent to produce grapes from estate grown grapes. Of course, this will take time since vines typically need at least three years before their grapes are mature enough to produce quality wines. Another goal is to increase production to 3000-4000 cases per year; current production is less than 1000 cases. Finally, the owners want to create an atmosphere at the Barns that encourage friends to gather, relax, and savor the various sensory experiences offered by the wine, food, views and vistas. In fact, weddings have already been booked at the Barns.
Needless to say, we will return to The Barns at Hamilton Station Vineyards to check up on the latest developments. In the meantime, we encourage readers to visit for a tasting; remember to tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you.
Our focus for the next few posts will be Loudoun County wineries and will include the newest winery in the county, The Barns at Hamilton Station Vineyards. This post, though, will feature updates on two familiar wineries: 8 Chains North and Loudoun Valley Vineyards. Of course, our focus continues to be on wines that are appropriate for the summer.
8 Chains North: Ben Renshaw always presents a solid lineup of wines, and we were not disappointed with our tasting experience. We both favored the 2011 Sauvignon Blanc with its lemon notes and refreshing minerality. Its vibrant acidity allowed for a crisp finish. This Sauvignon Blanc was half fermented and aged in neutral French oak and the other half in stainless steel tanks. Perfect partner with a tomato-basil salad, crab cake, or herb-seasoned poultry. Dry Rose fans will enjoy the 2011 Pink Link made from Merlot grapes; our taste buds were treated to strawberry and melon flavors. I have a soft spot for dry Rose as I do think that they are under-appreciated; however, they are versatile and will pair with almost anything. The 2011 Pink Link is an example and should prove to be a willing partner with light fare, salads, and anything on the grill. The popular LoCo Vino was also available for tasting, and the 2010 vintage was very fruity; serve well chilled while relaxing on the deck especially on a warm day.
Loudoun Valley Vineyards: Big changes continue at Loudoun Valley Vineyards. Winemaker Bree Moore will be breaking ground on a new tasting room soon and will be planting new vines to replace the depleted, older vines on the property. The new tasting room should be ready by the spring of 2013. In the meantime, though, the current tasting room offers wines for all seasons including the summer. The Classic White is a blend of Seyval Blanc and Traminette, and it breathes floral, fruity notes. Elements of citrus and subtle spice were noted too. Nice on its own, enjoy with crab cakes or poultry. Spicy barbeque and hot afternoon may require cooler reds, and the fruity Route 9 Red should do the trick. The Route 9 Red was crafted from Chambourcin grapes and presented cherry and cranberry notes with an earthy edge. With a 1.5% residual sugar level, I’d recommend a quick chill before serving with barbeque-laced fare, chili, or anything else that includes peppers. I became a quick fan of the Vin de Pomme, an apple wine made from granny smith, honey crisp and gala apples. Serve with dessert or as dessert—tart and crisp yet refreshing, I bought a bottle to have as a dessert option or possible a pairing for Thanksgiving dinner.
Be sure to visit these wineries during these toasty days of summer especially if you plan to host a cook out, crab feast, or wine and cheese party. Of course, mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you. Stay tuned for our next post that will feature our visit to the newly opened Barns at Hamilton Station Vineyards.
We made certain to support Fauquier County wineries this past weekend with a trip to Hume Vineyards. As readers may know, the Fauquier County Board of Supervisors recently passed an ordinance that would restrict the business practices of county wineries. Needless to say, we were interested in chatting with winemaker Stephane Baldi about the new laws; however, we were even more eager to find favorite summer wines.
Six wines were available for tasting with five of them from the 2011 vintage. My favorite was the crisp 2011 Seyval Blanc with its citrus aromas and flavors. Like most 2011 Virginia white wines that we have enjoyed, this one possessed a refreshing acidity. Enjoy with anything that would pair with a crisp Sauvignon Blanc! Paul preferred the 2011 Viognier that was 23% barrel fermented with malolactic fermentation and 77% aged in stainless steel tanks. Peach and melon aromas with subtle honey notes were complemented by similar flavors in the mouth along with an added layer of pear. We were also in time to sample the newly released 2011 Rose done with 100% Merlot grapes. Vibrant cherry and strawberry characteristics were noted with a bright acidity to boot. Perfect for this scorching summer, too!
Summer is a time for grilled foods, and the 2011 Chambourcin should pair well with any number of barbequed foods. I noted raspberry and cherry flavors with elements of spice and dried herbs and a nice lingering finish. The final wine that we tasted was 2011 Vendange Tardive, a dessert wine made from late harvest Vidal Blanc grapes. At only 5% residual sugar, it was less honey-textured than some dessert wines and presented apricot flavors. Pair with a favorite dessert or enjoy on its own.
In the midst of our tasting, we were able to catch up with Stephane Baldi. Next year promises to be a big year for Hume Vineyards as Stephane intends to meet his goal of producing wine from 80% estate grown grapes. In fact, next year will see the release of estate grown Sauvignon Blanc, and this will replace the Seyval Blanc. Of course, the subject of the new ordinances arose; not surprisingly, Stephane informed us that legal challenges to them are already in the works. In the meantime, many of the ordinances will take effect immediately with some of them restricting use of lanes and limiting hours of operation.
With our tasting done, we enjoyed a glass of the 2011 Rose beneath the shade of an outdoor picnic umbrella. It was certainly a scorching afternoon, so the cool berry flavors of the Rose was indeed refreshing. We intend to visit more Fauquier County wineries and we encourage readers to do the same. Here again is the list of Fauquier County wineries: (Just be sure to mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.)
Aspen Dale Winery at the Barn
Cobbler Mountain Cellars
Desert Rose Ranch and Winery
Fox Meadow Winery
Granite Heights Winery
Miracle Valley Vineyard
Molon Lave Vineyards
Naked Mountain Vineyard
Philip Carter Winery
Piedmont Vineyards and Winery
Rogers Ford Farm Winery
Vintage Ridge Vineyards
Three Fox Vineyards