The 38th Annual Virginia Wine Festival

We rarely attend wine festivals, but the Virginia Wine Festival at Great Meadow in The Plains, Virginia is one that we do try to visit. Gorgeous weather and numerous wine, food and art vendors made this year’s festival especially appealing.
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Wine festivals in Virginia have a reputation for attracting party crowds who prefer to get a buzz rather than appreciate wine. However, the Virginia Wine Festival seems to generate a different vibe. A number of seminars held at various times of the weekend that include food and wine pairing sessions, wine tasting 101, and a wine judging crash course. One session delved into wine glasses and the differences between the various types of glasses—perfect for wine geeks!
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Of course, wine tasting is the ultimate reason to attend the Virginia Wine Festival. Over 40 Virginia wineries, cideries, and meaderies poured their wares at the festival. We did not get to sample all of the wines; after all, we did have to drive home. However, we did try to focus on wineries that we tend not to visit due to distance in addition to some well known favorites. Anyway, some standouts from our tastings included:

Barboursville Vermentino Reserve, Nebbiolo Reserve 2010, and the Octagon 2009
Ingleside 2009 Petit Verdot
Potomac Point Chardonnay 2012, Abbinato 2011 and Norton 2011
Rosemont Pinot Grigio and 2010 Merlot
Trump Sparkling Blanc de Blanc 2008
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Food vendors offered a variety of offerings including barbeque, Thai, crab cakes, and Mediterranean. I never turn away from a crab cake, so I enjoyed a crab cake from Sherri and enjoyed it with a glass of the crisp Pinot Grigio from Rosemont Vineyards. Paul sunk his teeth into a burger with another sample of the 2009 Petit Verdot from Ingleside.
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Live music filled the air, but we did keep track of the bands that performed during the course of our time at the festival. However, Paul did snap some photos of the live action, and I saw him snap his fingers to the beat of some cool jazz tunes.
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We enjoyed our time at the Virginia Wine Festival and intend to visit next year; I did not get attend the session on wine glasses, but will do so in 2014! Make your plans to visit the 39th Annual Virginia Wine Festival in 2014; in the meantime, try to visit some of the wineries that we featured in this post. Mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.
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Ribbon Cutting at the Inn at Vineyard Crossing

The Inn at Vineyard Crossing, a bed and breakfast co-owned by Philip Carter Strother and Stephen Mills made its formal debut in Fauquier County with a ribbon cutting ceremony this past Saturday. Although Fauquier County boasts over 20 wineries, accommodations in the area were lacking; the Inn now fills that void.
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Attendees gathered first at Philip Carter Winery and were shuttled over to the Inn for a tour. Of course, Philip Carter house wines were poured for guests who were allowed to freely walk about the Inn. The Inn itself is a renovated historic home that was built in 1787, and it includes five suites the largest of which is the Commonwealth suite. Luxurious best describes this suite; however, all of the suites were well appointed. For Virginia wine lover, the Virginia Viognier suite included a comfy king sized bed and as many pillows as one could ever need to take a snooze. All of the rooms include a private bath.
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The kitchen caught my attention. It was roomy with all of the amenities needed for a truly gourmet experience. A chef-grade stove implied that delicious meals await Inn guests. These meals would be enjoyed in the elegant dining room with its master dining table; a contemporary yet style-appropriate chandelier lights the way for diners to enjoy a meal that we are certain will be paired with Philip Carter wines. We did not investigate the English garden and pool, but these were located directly behind the Inn.
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After tours and wine, Philip Carter Strother gathered the guests to begin the ribbon cutting ceremony at the Inn’s entrance. On hand was Virginia delegate Webert who has made a commitment to promoting Fauquier County businesses including wineries and inns. The ribbon cutting signified a new dimension to Philip Carter Strothers’ devotion to the Virginia wine industry and what it can offer to customers who are now more likely to frequent local wine destinations especially if deluxe accommodations can be part of the plan.
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So did we do a tasting at Philip Carter Winery? Of course we did. Favorites included the well-balanced 2012 Chardonnay that was not yet released; however, Dan Metzger, the operations manager, gave us a sneak preview. Its pear and apple characteristics gave way to a hint of toast and a lengthier finish. We also enjoyed the floral 2012 Sabine Hall Viognier with its peach notes and nice mouth feel. Fall is around the corner and time to consider bolder reds to pair with heartier fare. Consider the 2011 Corotoman, a Bordeaux-style blend. I first observed leather and tobacco notes and then plum and cherry elements; oak nuances were also noted.
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If a trip to Fauquier County wineries is on your itinerary, consider a stay at The Inn at Vineyard Crossing. Needless to say, a tasting at Philip Carter Winery should be on the agenda. Be certain to mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.

Go To The Library—At Gray Ghost Vineyards!

Since July of this year, Gray Ghost Vineyards has hosted library tastings of red wines that they have literally kept in a wine library, and the oldest vintage dates back to 1993, the year that the winery opened. These events are held on the first Sunday of each month and will continue until December. This weekend, September 1st, they will be opening 3 vintages of Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon: 1998, 2005 and 2008! $25 includes tasting of all current releases as well. You need to call to make reservations: 540-937-4869
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We attended the August library tasting, and the featured wines included the 2002 Cabernet Franc, 2008 Cabernet Franc, 1995 Cabernet Sauvignon, and 2000 Cabernet Sauvignon. It’s generally agreed that Cabernet Sauvignon ages well; however, we were impressed with the staying power of the Cabernet Francs. An additional incentive to attend the library tasting is the ability to also purchase favorite features from the library. Paul opted to grace his own wine library with a bottle of the 2002 Cabernet Franc, and I gave a bottle of the 1995 Cabernet Sauvignon a new home. It was fun to chat with other wine lovers who appreciated these wonderful wines, and the wine library provides an elegant setting in which to enjoy them.
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We recommend going to the library—the wine library at Gray Ghost that is. No library card needed. Please mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.

Granite Heights Continues to Impress

We last visited Granite Heights Orchard and Winery last summer and were impressed with the winemaking philosophy of winemakers and owners Luke and Toni Kilyk. We were also pleased with the wines that we tasted. This time around we noted a continued dedication to excellent winemaking, vineyard management and tasting room experiences.
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Two new white wines were added on the tasting menu since our last visit, and these included a crisp 2012 Chardonnay that was fermented and aged in stainless steel barrels. Apple, pear and citrus elements prevailed, and its refreshing acidity made it an easy sipper. The 2011 Petit Manseng was likewise fermented and aged in stainless steel barrels with no malolactic fermentation. We noted ripe tropical fruit and pear characteristics with a fuller mouth feel than the Chardonnay. Residual sugar of around .5% elevated the fruit flavors without the cloying sweetness.

Two new red wines were also released this year, and these included my favorite, the 2009 Evening Serenade and Paul’s fave the 2009 End of the Road. The 2009 Evening Serenade is a blend of Merlot (84%) and Cabernet Franc (16%) and presented a smoky nose with flavors dark cherry and blackberry. End of the Road is a blend of Cabernet Franc (84%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (16%); Paul detected a smoky nose with notes of sweet tobacco; currants and plum flavors were also appreciated. Of course, it is still summer, and red wine drinkers may be more inclined to enjoy a rose instead. The 2012 Rose is dry (yay!) and made from Merlot grapes; nice strawberry and melon flavors and a crisp finish made for an enjoyable wine.
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As readers can tell, our visit at Granite Heights began in the tasting room, and we were treated to a seated tasting. We’ve already reported on the tasteful, no-frill tasting room, and a knowledgeable tasting educator delivered an excellent tasting experience. We also got to chat with Luke and Toni Kilyk who graciously answered our questions and gave us a tour of the facility. Luke and Toni remain committed to producing wine and sharing it with customers in a quaint and intimate atmosphere. We tasted the commitment to quality winemaking, and we can attest to the consistent climate control of the barrel room as well as its immaculate cleanliness. The Kilyks have even invested in a bottling machine to insure quality control up to the final bottling. Of course, Virginia’s climate raises many challenges in the vineyard, and Luke informed us that a wine machine would be installed in the vineyard to minimize frost damage. New vines will also be planted and these include more Merlot as well as Vermentino, a white grape that is not widely planted in Virginia.
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Granite Heights currently produces 900 cases of wine, and while case production may increase a bit over time, the Kilyks remain steadfast in their commitment to producing limited quantities of quality wines. The tasting experience will likewise remain wine-focused, and there are no plans to build an expansive tasting room. Weddings, bridal parties, and a dog park? These are also not part of the plan.

We applaud Luke and Toni Kilyk’s continued dedication to excellent wine making especially at a time when more and more newer wineries seem to place emphasis on themselves as events facilities or party destinations. We can gladly report that this is not the case at Granite Heights Orchard and Winery, and the results can be tasted in the wine glass. The wines continue to the reason to return to Granite Heights Orchard and Winery.

We purchased bottles of our favorite Granite Heights wines, and we will return very soon. Please plan to visit Luke and Toni Kilyk at Granite Heights Orchard and Winery, and mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.