Winery Happenings

We have managed to attend some winery events in the midst of our 10 Anniversary (Blogiversary) celebration in addition to some wacky and unpredictable winter weather. Two relatively recent events that we attended included an enhanced tasting at Veramar Vineyard and a Nebbiolo Vertical tasting at Breaux Vineyards.

veramarOn March 5, we accepted an invitation to attend the Enhanced Tasting experience at Veramar Vineyard. The enhanced tasting is a re-vamped version of the reserve tasting held at the winery in the past. This tasting includes foods paired alongside limited production (reserve) wines and wines featured on the regular tasting menu. At this particular tasting, a 2014 Fume Blanc was partnered with french olives, a chambourcin-based rose was paired with prosciutto, the 2013 Merlot stood alongside duck rilles, and a non-vintage Bordeaux blend called Rooster Red made fast friends with manchego cheese and fig spread. In the end, I found that all of the foods paired well with each of the wines; however, the wines that impressed me the most were the 2014 Fume Blanc and the 2013 Merlot. The Fume Blanc, made from Sauvignon Blanc grapes grown in Loudoun County, presented elements of citrus and fresh grass along with a mineral note. It was aged in neutral oak for 17 months so it possessed a richer mouth feel than the leaner Sauvignon Blancs that most drinkers may associate with the grape. The 2013 Merlot presented a smoky nose with notes of tobacco, bramble berry and cherry. The Merlot grapes were estate grown and aged for 18 months in French oak barrels, with some time in neutral oak barrels. In the end, I thought that all of the food items paired just fine with all of the wines; so, I felt free to play around and enjoyed the olives with the rose but noshed on the salty prosciutto with the Rooster Red.

Anyway, we enjoyed our enhanced tasting at Veramar Vineyards and made off with bottles of the Fume Blanc and Merlot.

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Breaux Vineyards always hosts a series of vertical tastings that include Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Nebbiolo. On April 2, we attended the Nebbiolo tasting that featured Nebbiolo wines from the 2000, 2001, 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2010 vintages. We both were impressed with the staying power of the older vintages from 2000, 2001, and 2005. Of these, I favored the classic 2005 vintage with its characteristics of spice, tar, clover, and bramble berries. Tannins were still quite pronounced too! Of course, the 2001 is Breaux’s champion vintage of the grape, and it did not disappoint either. How did these compare with the younger vintages? I will predict that the 2010 vintage will be one of the classic on par with the older siblings. 2007 still needs time; harvested from a very hot growing season, the alcohol level was the most pronounced of the lineup. (We’ve enjoyed this one at home but made sure to decant for a while before serving; pair with something fatty too! ) The 2006 vintage proved to be the most fruit forward, most versatile, and most ready to drink now. The food pairings were delicious and included a pork-stuffed cannelloni, duck with polenta, and a roasted lamb chop with roasted veggies. So what paired well with the cannelloni with its shredded pork and rich cheese? Any of the older vintages particularly the 2001. The duck with the creamy texture of polenta? I seemed to keep grabbing the 2005 and 2010. The fattier, gamy lamb chop? 2007 shined. The 2006 seemed to play well with everything that was served.

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Plan an enhanced tasting at Veramar Vineyards or sign up for a vertical tasting at Breaux Vineyards. Experiment with food and wine; do be afraid to go rogue while you’re at it! However, please mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.

2016 Sparkling Tasting—-A Tradition Continues

Frank Morgan of Drink What You Like has organized a sparkling tasting for several years now, and this year the annual event continued. This year the tasting off was held at Stone Tower Vineyards in Loudoun County. Winemaker Jordan Harris landed his expertise to the whole affair, and other palates included fellow bloggers Terry and Kathy Sullivan, Pam Riley, and wine distributor Lucinda Smith.

This year’s lineup featured only Virginia sparkling produced from the Chardonnay grape (or blanc de blanc), and nine sparkling were offered by local wineries for the taste off. These included:

Boneyard Bubbles by Tarara
Greenhill Blanc de Blanc
King Family Brut
Stone Tower 2009 Wild Boar
Thibaut-Janisson NV
Trump 2008 Blanc de Blanc
Trump 2008 Reserve
Trump 2009 Blanc de Blanc
Veritas Scintilla NV

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So how did they rank? My personal top three were: 1) Trump 2009 Blanc de Blanc; 2) Boneyard Bubbles, and 3) Trump 2008 Reserve. Paul’s top three included: 1) Trump 2008 Reserve; 2) Thibaut Jansson NV, and 3) Stone Tower 2009 Wild Boar. Overall ranking were as follows:

1. Stone Tower 2009 Wild Boar
2. Trump 2009 Blanc de Blanc
3. Boneyard Bubbles
4. King Family Brut
5. Trump 2008 Reserve
6. Thibaut Jansson NV
7. Veritas Scintilla NV
8. Greenville Blanc de Blanc
9. Trump 2008 Blanc de Blanc

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Virginia wineries are producing some excellent sparkling wines; visit these wineries to taste these bubblies for yourself. Please mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you!

Winery Happenings

As 2015 comes to a close, I wanted to catch up on a couple of celebratory events that occurred at local wineries in the past couple of months. In early November, Old Westminster hosted a “vine” cutting event to celebrate the official opening of its new tasting room; later in the month, Gray Ghost Vineyards held a gala to toast the release of its gold-medal winning 2012 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon.

Paul and I try to frequent Maryland wineries when the calendar allows us to do so. One Maryland winery that is always on our must visit list is Old Westminster. We’ve written about this winery in the past and always with glowing remarks. On November 5, Old Westminster cut the vines to open a new tasting room to accommodate the growing crowds that visit the winery. Mother Nature provided a crisp fall afternoon for the ceremony that opened with remarks from Kevin Atticks, executive director of the Maryland Wineries Association. Al Spoler, host of the radio program Cellarnotes, continued the accolades first offered by Kevin Atticks. Finally, Drew Baker, vineyard manager and spokesperson for the Baker family, took to the podium to extol the virtues of value added farming and its future in Carroll County, Maryland; he also thanked sister Lisa for her expert winemaking. Drew also acknowledged that the success of Old Westminster was due to a family effort to craft wines in a state that is just appearing on the radar as one that can indeed produce quality wines.





The Baker family and other guests then cut the “vine” to officially open the tasting room. Guests were then treated to a buffet lunch paired with the winery’s Greenstone, a blend of Viognier and Sauvignon Blanc, and Revelry, a red wine blend.

Gray Ghost Vineyards’ fans were excited to celebrate the gala release of the winery’s 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve. A reserve cabernet was not produced in 2011 because Cheryl and Al Kellert, owners and winemakers at Gray Ghost, did not feel that the 2011 vintage met the standard for a reserve wine. However, the 2012 vintage was a different story, and the Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon has already taken a gold medal at a California wine competition. The gala proved to be an wonderful evening with lovely fall table settings providing an elegant atmosphere for the event. Heavy hor d’oeuvres and decadent chocolates paired well with the complex Cabernet Sauvignon and its notes of dark cherry and plum. Silk tannins presented a wine that can be enjoyed now but will be appreciated more if aged for a few years.
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Plan a visit to these local wineries and sample their award-winning wines. Purchase their wines to serve over the holidays or to give as gifts. Please mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.

Blog Anniversary!

10 Years ago today we began Virginia Wine Time. Since then we’ve posted 914 articles and racked up 602 comments and visited 178 Virginia wineries. We’ve gained more than 5000 followers on Twitter and over 1200 followers on Facebook. We thank you all for sticking with us all these years.

To celebrate the 10th anniversary we went to Eno Wine Bar to attend the tasting of the Breaux Vineyards Eno Cuvee’ Meritage. Winemaker Heather Munden was there to talk about the wine. We had a great time chatting with her about what’s going on at Breaux. We really enjoyed the Eno Meritage. If you get to Eno, be sure to ask for a glass. You won’t be disappointed.

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In the months to come we plan to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the blog with special posts. Return often to keep up with the posts.

Thank you for all the love over the years!

Warren and Paul


We celebrated our honeymoon last week with a trip to the Charlottesville area. We stayed at our favorite inn, the Inn at Meander Plantation, and visited favorite wineries. In the midst of celebrating our marriage, on Friday, June 26, we were excited to learn of the Supreme Court decision that confirmed marriage equality for all Americans. We were ecstatic with the news and used it to add to the celebration!

We began the day with bubbles at Trump Winery. Here we enjoyed the 2008 Reserve Sparkling with crab cakes.

Later that night, we dined at the Inn. Suzie and Suzanne always pair their menu selections with Virginia wines. The Gray Ghost Seyval Blanc, Barboursville Reserve Chardonnay, and the Rosemont Syrah were among the wines featured on the menu that evening.

We were not quite ready to finish our celebration, so we finished the night with a bottle of the Thibaut-Jannison Sparkling.

We will be posting more about the wineries that we visited. In the meantime, celebrate your own special occasion in the heart of Virginia wine country. Plan a stay at the Inn at Meander Plantation. Of course, please mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.

Old Westminster Pours at Eno

Wine bars are the rage right now, and one of my favorite wine bars is Eno located in Georgetown. Eno boasts a very eclectic wine list that also includes local wines, and last Wednesday, the bar hosted a wine tasting for Old Westminster located in Westminster, Maryland. We’ve written about Old Westminster’s excellent wines in the past, so I was excited to attend the tasting at a favorite wine bar.
Drew Baker was on hand to pour three Old Westminster wines, and these included the 2013 Albarino, the NV Tapestry, and the 2013 Crushed. I became an immediate fan of the 2013 Albarino that took a gold medal in the Maryland Governor’s Cup competition. Citrus and melon notes and a refreshing acidity gave way to a more complex, creamier finish due to lees contact for six months. Albarino is a varietal that seems to do well in local vineyards, and Drew shared with me that Old Westminster has planted more of the grape on its estate. He cited its winter hardiness as a key factor for its success in the area’s vineyards. The Old Westminster 2013 Albarino is destined to please during the hot summer months especially if shellfish is to be enjoyed at the dinner table.
The non-vintage Tapestry is actually a blend of red grapes from several vineyards and vintages, and it features Syrah as part of the mix. It presented black fruit aromas along with a tobacco note; Merlot added a brighter cherry note to the palate. I’d pair this one with barbeque fare. In fact, I enjoyed it with the mushroom bruchetta that I ordered from the Eno menu.
The third wine poured was also my favorite, and it was the 2013 Crushed created from a blend that includes the Bordeaux varietals with Cabernet Franc and Merlot taking on the star roles. A whiff of cedar as followed by aromas of blackberry, currants and licorice; accessible tannins and a generous length supported a very juicy entry. Grilled steaks with mushrooms should shine with this one. The 2013 Crushed is also poured at Eno, so consider a glass with a charcuterie and cheeses. It was my wine of choice with a margherita flatbread served from the Eno kitchen.

Plan a visit to Eno during the summer to enjoy a favorite wine; I suggest trying any of the wines from Old Westminster. Going on the Maryland wine trail this summer? Plan a stop at Old Westminster, and mention to Drew Baker that Virginia Wine Time sent you.

Birthday Weekend Wines

Paul celebrated his birthday this past weekend with Virginia wine. Is there any other way to celebrate a special occasion?

IMG_1505Paul’s birthday was on May 29, and I took him out to dinner at Chef Geoff’s. We feasted on crab cakes and the Barboursville Viognier—the same white wine that was poured at our dinner celebration in February. It still presented the same floral aromas and full mouth feel that we enjoyed three months ago!

IMG_1518On Saturday, I cooked an Italian dinner with beef and Italian sausage ragu, a large Italian salad and garlic bread. We paired this with the earthy 2010 Nebbiolo from Chrysalis Vineyards. The tannins seemed to soften with the tomato-based ragu, and we enjoyed the brambleberry elements too.

IMG_1509The weekend finished with a picnic on Sunday and a bottle of the Aerie White from Naked Mountain Vineyards. A perfect wine with picnic fare on a very warm day!!

Make Virginia wines a part of your celebrations. Visit local wineries to find your own special favorites. Be sure to mention that Virginia Wine time sent you!

The Wines of America

WineAmerica.Logo_-300x129Every spring I look forward to attending The Wines of America event sponsored by WineAmerica and Winegrape Growers of America in conjunction with the Congressional Wine Caucus. It is at this event that tasters get to experiences wines from all over the country. Thirty eight wineries from 25 states poured their best at the Capitol Visitor’s Center, and while I did not come close to tasting all the wines poured that evening, I did keep notes on wines that I thought were quite good.

The Northeast Region includes wineries from Connecticut, Maryland, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. The stunner here was the 2012 Gruner Veltliner from South Shore Wine Company located in the Lake Erie area of Pennsylvania. Nice stone fruit and spice notes were accompanied by a mineral element—it was quite good! From Maryland, my fave was the 2014 Boordy Vineyards Dry Rose with its strawberry elements that heralded the arrival of spring.

The New York Wine Selections featured a refreshing 2013 Rose Sparkling wine from Bedell Cellars as well as a 2013 Cabernet Franc from the same winery; it presented characteristic aromas of fresh berries and spice. The Great Lakes Region presented very good examples of hybrids done well; one such case was the 2013 Blue Sky Vineyard Seyval Blanc (Illinois) and the 2013 Wollersheim Winery “Prairie Fume” Seyval Blanc (Wisconsin). Illinois Sparkling Company’s “Franken French Hybrid” is indeed a sparkling wine produced from the Chambourcin grape, and I was pleasantly surprised with the result. However, it was the 2013 Ferrante Grand River Valley Gruner Veltliner that most impressed me with its heady floral aromas and subtle peach notes.

After a break to nibble on cheeses and bread, I sampled the ware from the Midwest Region. Here I enjoyed the 2011 Les Bourgeois Vineyards Norton from Missouri and the 2013 Haak Vineyards Dry Blanc du Bois from Texas. The Blanc du Bois is a hybrid grape that mimics Alsatian varieties, and it can be rather acidic; it paired well with the cheeses on my plate. The Rocky Mountain Region finished my tasting across America, and here I enjoyed the 2014 Dos Cabezas WineWorks Meskeoli from Cochise County in Arizona. Lovely floral notes and tropical fruit flavors were the result of a blend that included Viognier, Muscat and Riesling. One sniff made me want to head out to the beach with a bottle of the Meskeoli, a fruit and cheese plate, and a good book! Anyway, I also enjoyed the complex 2012 Bookcliff Vineyards “Ensemble” Red wine from Colorado and the 2012 Bitner Vineyards Dry Riesling from the Snake River Valley in Idaho.

Yes, I did sample at least one Virginia wine, and that was the 2013 Viognier from Breaux Vineyards; my mission was to try wines from other states, so I did not make a point to try the range of Virginia wines. Likewise, I avoided offerings from California and Oregon. I wanted to step outside of my comfort zones and was glad that I did.

Planning a trip to any of the wineries mentioned in this post? Let us know what you think; of course, mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.

6 Tasters, 5 Cabernet Francs, 1 Winner

Paul and I hosted a blind tasting of five Cabernet Francs from Virginia (of course). Our amateur team was provided with a simple scoring sheet and after a brief discussion about the Cabernet Franc grape and its characteristics, the tasting began. The wines were wrapped in paper bags so that our tasters did not know which wines they were tasting, and these included the 2012 Barboursville Reserve, the 2013 Marquis de Lafayette by Breaux Vineyards, Gadino Cellars’ 2012 Cabernet Franc, a 2013 offering by King family, and 2013 Cabernet Franc by Zephaniah. Light fare was served as the tasting and scoring was conducted, and these allowed our team to see how the wines paired with cheeses, dried meats, and prosciutto-wrapped dates.

So which Cabernet Franc won the contest? Here is how they ranked:

Gadino Cellars 2012
Barboursville Vineyards 2012 Reserve
Breaux Vineyards 2013 Marquis de Lafayette
King Family Vineyards 2013
Zephaniah Vineyards 2013

Our team of sippers appreciated the brambleberry and tobacco notes of the Gadino Cabernet Franc; it also offered a generous length. I found it to be very lively with vibrant fruit elements. The Barboursville Reserve was a close second but was a bit tight at the beginning compared to the winner; lots of swirling coaxed out the cedar and pepper notes and eventually dark berry aromas and flavors.

Once the official tasting was done, we feasted on braised lamb shoulder chops flavored with fresh mint and green olives, couscous, and roasted green beans topped with roasted almond slivers. These paired quite well with the wines that were poured for the tasting.

It was fun to showcase one of Virginia’s premier grapes at this taste off. We did not take ourselves too seriously, and we enjoyed the conversation that the wines engendered.

Seek out these or other Cabernet Francs and hold your own wine tasting with family, friends, and food. Of course, always mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you! Watch the video of our tasting below and subscribe to our NEW YouTube Channel!