We always look forward to the holiday party at Gray Ghost Vineyards; in particular, we look forward to counting the corks on winemaker Al Kellert’s latest holiday creation. This year’s cork creation was candy canes, and the party attendee who correctly guessed the number of corks used to create the piece will win an assortment of Gray Ghost wines. I’ve been attending these for the last twelve years or so, and I’ve never won. However, I feel good about my chances this year after I simply copied Paul’s number and added a few more corks to the count. Paul had just won $14 in the lottery, so I felt confident Paul was on a winning streak that could only be broken by one person—me!

Anyway, a twist to this year’s holiday party at Gray Ghost was the pairing of Gray Ghost wines with locally produced cheeses and meats. In the past, co-winemaker Cheryl Kellert prepared hors d’oerves and sweet treats for the event; this year, though, the Kellerts opted to promote local food products as complements to their wines. The participating dairies included Culpeper Cheese, Everona Dairy, and Marshall Farms. Crofton Market provided the meats. Dessert items included brownies and mini-cheese cakes. Guests were able to enjoy the foods with the full menu of Gray Ghost wines including the newly released 2011 Reserve Chardonnay, and these were sampled in logo glasses with a holiday design created just for the holiday event. Listed below were the cheeses offered for tasting at the event:

Everona Dairy
Stony man
Piedmont
Herbs de Provence

Marshall Farms
Farmstead cheddar
Monterey Jack
Cracked Peppercorn Cheddar

Culpepper Cheese
Amish Butter Cheese

Croftburn Market
Black peppercorn and red wine salami

So what were our favorite wine and cheese pairings? I found the cheeses to be amazing versatile with any of the Gray Ghost wines that were poured. I’m a big fan of the Reserve Chardonnay, and the 2011 vintage paired well with the harder Farmstead Cheddar from Marshall Farms. Paul preferred the 2011 Chardonnay with the Amish Butter Cheese from Culpeper Cheese. My favorite cheese was the cracked peppercorn cheddar from Marshall Farms, and this paired well with the slightly sweet Victorian White (or the sweeter Vidal Blanc) and the 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon. Paul’s favorite cheese was the Stoney Man, a manchego-style cheese, from Everona Dairy partnered with the 2010 Ranger Reserve. And what about wines and sweets? The brownies were delicious and played well with both the Cabernet Sauvignon and the Ranger Reserve; however, we did enjoy these with the rose-style Victorian Red. And the mini-cheese cakes? Of course, these can only be savored with the 2011 Adieu.



The Gray Ghost holiday party helped us to kick off the holiday season, and we left fully confident that a basket of Gray Ghost wines will be won by one of us. To be on the safe side, though, we left with bottles of our favorite Gray Ghost wines. We applaud Al and Cheryl Kellert’s efforts to promote the eat (and drink) local concept, too. Plan a visit to Gray Ghost Vineyards soon, and be sure to mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.