Zephaniah Farm Vineyard

A few weeks ago we visited Zephaniah Farm Vineyard. We visited them in the fall but decided to return to see how the wines were developing and what might be new on the tasting menu. It was a chilly day so we enjoyed sitting by the fire and having Bonnie conduct our tasting. It’s always fun to catch up with Bonnie. Since we are both teachers and Bonnie is a former teacher, we always have lots to chat about. While we always enjoy all the wines at Zephaniah, we did find our favorites.

Our favorite white wine from the menu was the 2015 Adeline. It’s a blend of 53% Muscat Ottonel, 25% Vidal, and 22% Petite Manseng. The wine is aged in stainless steel. We noted floral, fruity, and sweet notes. We thought this would make a nice wine to enjoy on a warm spring day. The natural sweet notes come from the muscat and vidal. We could see almost anyone enjoying this wine.

Our favorite red from the tasting was the 2013 Three Captains Red. This is a blend of 46% Cabernet Franc, 45% Chambourcin, and 9% Cabernet Sauvignon. I am not normally a chabourcin fan but the blend here ended up being a very favorable wine. We noted tobacco, black currents, blueberries, cranberry, and some mild tannins that grip the tongue in just the right places. Something beef with roasted potatoes and crunchy French green beans comes to mind when thinking of pairings for this wine.

After our tasting we enjoyed a glass of the 2015 Adeline by the fire. And of course before leaving we picked up a few bottles to add to our wine rack. We always enjoy our time at Zephaniah. You can definitely count on a relaxed, enjoyable tasting in the old farm house. And chatting with Bonnie is a plus! Plan a trip to Zephaniah soon and when you do, tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!

Casanel Vineyards and Winery

I’m a club member at Casanel Vineyards and Winery. As a member I need to periodically pick up wines at the winery. Last Saturday we decided to head to Casanel and pick up some wines. At the same time we planned to meet our friend Renee Catacalos of On Our Plates Chesapeake and her sister, Stacy. Renee is the former editor of Edible Chesapeake. She is currently writing a book and wanted to get our take on local wines and experience a local winery.

We all met at Casanel and were delighted to find out that Katie DeSouza would be conducting our tasting. Katie is a font of knowledge and Renee gathered loads of information for her book during our tasting. Katie’s sister Anna was on hand to offer her expertise as well. We tasted through the entire line of wines and were thoroughly impressed once again! Casanel is really making some amazing wines and deserves some accolades for their hard work.

My favorite white wine from he lineup was the 2015 Ellianna. The Ellianna is a Pinot Gris fermented in stainless steel. I noted pear, melon, and citrus. It’s bright and fresh and perfect for the upcoming warm days. Warren mentioned this would pair well with summer light fair and even oysters!

My favorite red of the day was the 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon. This was aged for 20 months in French oak. I noted blackberry, cherry, and a whiff of violet. The tannins are a bit tight right now but will smooth with aging. I thought you could enjoy this wine now and into the future. And have it with a thick filet mignon. It was pair beautifully!

After our tasting we all shared a bottle of the 2014 K2 Red Blend. It’s a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, and Carmenere. We enjoyed it with baguettes, a sharp cheddar cheese, and charcuterie. While enjoying the wine and nibbles we caught up on each other and chatted local wines and foods. Renee took lots of notes for her book all while enjoying the wine and conversation.

Before leaving we all purchased our favorite wines (almost a case!). We all agreed that winemaker Katell Griaud is teaching Katie some great skills and it certainly shows in the wines. There was not one wine we didn’t enjoy. We suggest you plan a visit to Casanel and taste the changes that have been taking place. And when you do, tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!

Granite Heights Winery

One of our favorite wineries in Virginia is Granite Heights. We enjoy returning from time to time to check in with Toni and Luke and see what’s happening with the wines. We always get such detailed information about what’s happening in the winery. It’s always great to see Toni and Luke.

We visited a couple of weeks ago and we weren’t disappointed, as usual. Of course we started with the white wines. We tasted the 2014 Petit Manseng, the Shadow White (NV), and the 2014 Chardonnay. Our favorite was the 2014 Petit Manseng. We noted pineapple, a full fruit palate and nice acidity. We thought of Spring and sitting outside with a plate of nibbles to enjoy this one.

We moved onto the reds and tasted the 2011 Evening Serenade, the 2012 Humility, and the 2012 Merlot. It was really hard to select a favorite here because they were all so good. I did, however, select the 2011 Evening Serenade. Yes, 2011 was a tough year for many wineries in Virginia but with Luke’s expertise, this red turned out beautifully. It’s a blend of 39% Merlot, 11% Cabernet Franc, 38% Cabernet Sauvignon and 12% Petit Verdot. It was barrel aged for 20 months. We noted smoke, raspberries, cherry, and an herby note. The ending was smooth and the tannins just barely touch the back of your tongue. We thought this would make a great pizza, pasta, or burger wine. And in fact, we had it just a few nights later with a spicy pepperoni pizza. It complimented the pizza beautifully.

Before leaving we enjoyed a glass of the 2014 Petit Manseng while enjoying the view of the pond and the vineyards beyond while sitting in the Adirondack chairs. We picked up our favorite wines to bring home. Luke had a few bottles left of the 2010 Cabernet Franc and the 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon that I couldn’t resist bringing home. We also purchased the 2011 Evening Serenade and the 2012 Merlot. Great reds to join the other reds on our wine rack.

As is always the case, we enjoyed our time at Granite Heights chatting with Toni and Luke and enjoying the well crafted wines. We will need to return sooner next time and maybe make a video with Luke. Until that time, get out to Granite Heights Winery and tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!

Slater Run Vineyards

A few weeks ago we found ourselves in Middleburg visiting wineries. We realized that Upperville was just a bit farther up the road so we decided to visit Slater Run Vineyards. We’d heard good things about them from others so it was time.

Slater Run has 12 acres of vineyards on a family farm located in Upperville. The vineyards were planted in 2010 and their first wines were released in 2014. Lucie Morton is a consultant and the winemaker is Katell Griaud. We have tasted other wines crafted by Kate so we were looking forward to trying the wines here. Currently you can taste their wines at The Local Taste, their tasting room and wine shop, in downtown Upperville. That is where we tasted their current lineup of wines.

Julien Lacaze conducted our tasting. He’s a very knowledgeable wine steward. Of the white wines, Warren enjoyed the 2015 Pinot Gris with it’s lemon, pear and apple notes. We both really enjoyed the 2015 Chardonnay. We noted pear and apple and particularly enjoyed the creaminess on the finish.

The stand out red that we both enjoyed was the 2014 Roots. It’s a blend of 38% Cabernet Sauvignon, 28% Cabernet Franc, 18% Merlot and 16% Petit Verdot. We noted dark fruit, leather, and some tobacco. We know this one will rest on our wine rack for several years and will get better with time.

Before leaving we purchased our favorites and promised to return. We left with half a case of wine! We’ll definitely be back. If you find yourself in Middleburg, continue up the road to Upperville and stop by the Slater Run Vineyards tasting room. And when you do, tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!

Black Friday Shopping

Instead of fighting the crowds at the mall on Black Friday, we decided to do our shopping at some wineries. We decided to head to two of our favorites, Gray Ghost Vineyards and Gadino Cellars.
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It’s become somewhat of a tradition to go to Gray Ghost Vineyards the day after Thanksgiving. Warren’s parents visit for Thanksgiving each year. His mother makes Al a pecan pie and we take it to him the day after Thanksgiving. During this visit we did just that. Al always enjoys the pie and we enjoy catching up with the Kellerts. Al even did our tasting!
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We always enjoy all of the wines at Gray Ghost but this time we were there to taste the newly released 2014 Petit Verdot. It was the released the day before Thanksgiving. I’m a huge fan of Petit Verdot and Gray Ghost’s is one of my favorite. We noted blackberry, dark currents and blueberries as well as a lengthy finish. We think this vintage will stand up to aging and maybe could even use a little time before enjoying it. Do what I did and get a case so that you can enjoy the changes over time.
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After our tasting we enjoyed some lunch nibbles with the 2014 Reserve Chardonnay, another of our favorites. I opted for a glass of the Petit Verdot as well, you know, for research and note taking. Before leaving we purchased our favorites and promised to return December 3rd or 4th for the Christmas Cork and Cheese Celebration. We always enjoy our time at Gray Ghost. And we always encourage our readers to give them a visit sometime.

Our second stop on our Black Friday shopping was Gadino Cellars. After a time since our last visit, it’s always nice to see Stephanie when we walk in the tasting room. We
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Stephanie conducted our tasting. One of our favorite whites on the menu was the 2014 Petit Manseng. We noted the bright pineapple and citrus palate and the dry style. Another favorite was the 2013 Chardonnay. Warren noted the granny smith apple and the creamy finish. The favorite red on the menu was the 2013 Delfino Rosso. This is a blend of cab franc, petit verdot, and cab sauv. We noted blackberry, cherry, anise, and fruit through the palate. Warren noted some vanilla on the finish. I noted the smooth ending. I quickly decided I needed to bring some of this home.
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After our tasting I enjoyed a glass of the Delfino Rosso and Warren enjoyed the Chardonnay on the deck while we watched the sun lower in the sky. The view was gorgeous. Before leaving we purchased our favorites and said our goodbyes. We had a great time shopping on Black Friday! We hope you’ll check out the wines at Gray Ghost Vineyards and Gadino Cellars soon! And tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!

Always A Favorite

We haven’t been on the wine trail since Columbus Day weekend! Yesterday we decided to go to Linden Vineyards. We’ve had a busy couple of weeks and we wanted to relax and enjoy some wonderful wines. As usual, Linden didn’t disappoint.
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As we drove up the driveway we saw Jim Law out in the vineyard he had just ripped up. He pulled out 20 to 30 year old Cabernet vines and plans to replace them in 2018 with new Cabernet vines. The vines that were ripped up and been grafted from Chardonnay vines. Some took, some didn’t. Over the years they had vines ripening before others in the same field. Jim made the decision to start over. This time he’ll plant them in a north/south orientation to take advantage of the sun. According to his newsletter and Jim himself, look for this vineyard to be in the bottle by 2022 or 2023.
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Upon entering the tasting room we saw Shari Avenius, always smiling and ready to talk wine. We were lucky enough to have her begin our tasting. But before the tasting began we signed up for the cellar tasting. This time it would be with Jim Law himself. On the tasting menu we tasted the 2015 Rose, 2015 Riesling Vidal, 2014 Claret, 2011 and 2013 Petit Verdots. Of course all the wines were wonderful but the 2014 Claret stood out to me. It was smooth and fruity and definitely a food friendly wine. It was my kind of red. Not too heavy and not too light. It was just right.
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After our tasting we joined Jim Law in the cellar. Here we tasted the 2015 Sauvignon Blanc compared to the 2015 Avenius Sauvignon Blanc, then the 2012 Hardscrabble Red compared to the 2013 Hardscrabble Red and finally the 2009 Late Harvest Vidal with the 2012 Late Harvest Petit Manseng. Warren and I actually came to the same conclusion on these. We both enjoyed the 2015 Avenues Sauvignon Blanc. We enjoyed the citrus (lemon-lime) and mineral notes. It was fresh and crisp! We both also enjoyed the 2012 Hardscrabble Red. We found it to be soft and fruity with bright berry notes. Jim described it as feminine and we agreed. We thought the 2013 needed a bit more time to enjoy. We finished the cellar tasting by agreeing the 2009 Late Harvest Vidal was the winner of the dessert wines.

We were so lucky to have Jim do our cellar tasting. We were the only ones at that tasting time so we had the opportunity to chat with him about all sorts of things. We always enjoy spending time with Jim. We suggested he come to DC and we’d take him out to dinner!
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After our cellar tasting we enjoyed a nibbles tray with a bottle of the 2012 Hardscrabble Red. Perfect pairing with the cheeses and meats on the tray. Of course we enjoyed the view as well! Linden Vineyards is definitely very high on our favorites list. We always have a great time and always enjoy the wonderful wines. If you haven’t been Linden Vineyards lately, it’s time to return. And when you do, tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!

Black Friday Shopping

Warren’s parents came in town last weekend to enjoy the Thanksgiving weekend with us. We had a great Thanksgiving day with some wonderful wines. On Black Friday we decided to do some shopping like half of the United States. We visited Gray Ghost Vineyards and Gadino Cellars.
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Our first stop was Gray Ghost Vineyards. As long time readers know, Gray Ghost is one of our absolute favorites. We always get a warm greeting when we enter the tasting room. Every year Warren’s mother brings Al Kellert a pecan pie and this year was no different. Al was very happy to see that pie in her hands.
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After catching up with Amy and Al and Cheryl, we did a tasting of the current line up of wines. We love all the wines at Gray Ghost but of course there are always stand out wines. In my opinion the 2014 Chardonnay is one of the best. It presents tropical flavors with creamy notes and subtle oak notes. My favorite red is the 2013 Ranger Reserve. This is a true Bordeaux blend. I noted lots of dark fruit and coffee notes. The tannins were smooth and nimble. I thought of big red meats and some hard cheeses. I wanted a small chunk of dark chocolate to enjoy with this one. The Petit Verdot was not on the regular tasting but it was another stellar wine.
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After our tasting we enjoyed some lunch nibbles with a bottle of the Ranger Reserve which we thoroughly enjoyed and paired well with our lunch items. Before leaving we purchased our favorites and picked up a case for Warren’s parents. We said our goodbyes knowing we’d be returning in one week for the Holiday Open House on December 5th and 6th.
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Our second stop was Gadino Cellars. We hadn’t been there in a very long time. We began our tasting and then Stephanie entered the tasting room. We always enjoy talking wine with Stephanie. She told us how the 2015 harvest was and what upcoming wines we might want to check out. Gadino is another winery where we enjoy all the wines on the tasting menu. Of course we have our favorites as well. We all really enjoyed the 2014 Pinot Grigio. Light and crisp and reminded us of warm Spring afternoons. We were all also big fans of the 2012 Cabernet Franc Riserva. We noted lots of cherry, spice, and pepper. A classic cab franc from Virginia. After our tasting we each enjoyed a glass of the cab franc on the deck while taking in the last moments of the sunny Friday afternoon.
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What a great way to spend our Black Friday! If you haven’t been to Gray Ghost Vineyards or Gadino Cellars in awhile, plan a trip soon. And when you visit, tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!
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