New Website

There’s a new website specifically for Fauguier County wineries. When you visit you can find out all about the wineries in Fauquier County. They are divided by exits on route 66. You can also find out about the upcoming events at each winery. In addition to that information, you can also print out tasting sheets for each winery you plan to visit, and map out a trip to several wineries using tour tool. And on top of all that, you can join and be able to input your comments about each wine you tasted at each winery. You really need to check it out.

Gerhard von Fincke has this to say about the creation of this site:

“This site is an attempt to increase awareness and show visitors, mainly from the DC area east of Fauquier, how easy it is to reach “Virginia’s Wine Country” in Fauquier County in less than one hour by using I66 and their respective exits. The site is a combined effort by all wineries to show their locations and upcoming events with a user friendly format, so that visitors can plan winery tours through one single web site without going to each individual winery site to plan their route.”

If you are looking for information about Fauquier County wineries, check out the new website and sign up to save your comments!

Monticello Trail Roundup

I’m going to present a general review of other wineries that we visited during our Columbus Day weekend trip to the Monticello area.  (We wrote about these wineries in August, so visit our posts from the summer to get more detail.)

Blenheim Vineyards:  Always a treat to see winemaker Kirsty Harmon.  It was near closing time when we arrived, but we were treated very well by the tasting staff.  We enjoyed a glass of the excellent 2008 Viognier, and I got to join Kirsty and the harvest crew at the sorting table to pick through Chardonnay grapes.  Since we had just harvested at Gray Ghost, I felt like a trained pro!

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Jefferson Vineyards: Looking for fall/ winter pours?  You can’t go wrong with the 2008 Chardonnay Reserve and the 2008 Viognier.  Prefer reds?  Give the 2007 Cabernet Franc and the 2007 Meritage a try. We noted that guest critic Michael Tyler would like the semi-dry Vin Blanc with its 1.5% residual sugar and Riesling-like profile.

Pollak Vineyards:  See the video posted earlier!  We always enjoy a trip to Pollak Vineyards.  This time we got to meet with winemaker Jake Bushing who gave us a tour of the barrel room.  Paul ended up purchasing a case of white wine, and these included five bottles each of the 2008 Durant White and the 2008 Viognier.  A bottle each of the 2007 merlot and 2007 Cabernet Franc were tossed in the case, too. 

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Virginia Wineworks: We just had to have second sample of the superb 2007 Michael Shaps Viognier.  I also enjoyed the 2007 Michael Shaps Chardonnay.  The 2007 Michael Shaps Cabernet Franc should be considered for the holidays, and the seductive Michael Shaps Merlot just begs for a warm fire place, a romantic steak dinner, and a special someone!

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As fall colors begin to fade and nature takes on the winter landscape, consider a wine tasting trip to the Monticello trail.  If you visit any of the wineries listed in this post, be sure to mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.

End of the Monticello Trail

So finally we revisit the oldies—wineries that we visit frequently while on the Monticello Trail. This will be a quick rundown of our personal favorites based on our recent tastings:

Afton Mountain Vineyards—Unoaked Chardonnay was Paul’s fave; crisp and refreshing

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Barboursville Vineyards—2005 Octagon; this Merlot-based Bordeaux-style blend is currently the subject of international acclaim. Also try the 2006 Cabernet Franc and the 2007 Viognier Reserve.

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Cardinal Point Vineyard and Winery—my own favorite was the 2008 A6, a crisp blend of Viognier and Chardonnay; Paul preferred the 2008 Quattro, an aromatic blend of Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Viognier, and Traminette.

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Kluge Estate Winery and Vineyard—we still detest the test tubes, but we do enjoy the wines. The bubbly 2004 Blanc de Blanc was my favorite, but Paul was in the mood for summer wines and gave the nod to the 2008 Albemarle Rose.

White Hall Vineyards—a very nice tasting staff allowed us a tasting even though we arrived a few minutes before closing time. The lush 2007 Petit Manseng won my gold star for the white wines while the jammy 2007 Touriga earned my award for favorite red wine. (Be sure to try the port-style 2006 Edichi, too.)

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Planning to visit these award-winning wineries soon? Be sure to mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.

Back To Our Regular Program

So back on the Monticello Trail and re-visits to first timers the last time we were in the area. These would include Sugarleaf Vineyards and Pollak Vineyards.

We continue to be impressed with the offerings at Sugarleaf Vineyards. The 2008 Viognier, blended with 20% Petit Manseng, was my own favorite and presented stone fruit and honeysuckle on the nose with a lovely fruit combination of papaya, fresh pineapple, and a citrus twist in the mouth. I noted some white pepper, too. Some aging in French oak helps to provide a longer finish. Paul placed a star next to the 2007 Petit Manseng and jotted down “floral” and “fruity” as aromatic notes and “peachy” for flavors. He described its finish as “crisp”.

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Of the red wines, we both concurred that the 2006 Cabernet Franc (blended with 10% Petit Verdot) was the gold star winner. Extracted berry and dried herbs were detected on the nose with similar qualities in the mouth with some pepper to boot; I noted some vanilla at the end due to aging in both American and European oak. Looking for a decadent treat? Try the 2007 Neubia Nectar, a lush dessert wine that is a blend of Petit Manseng and Vidal Blanc.

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We always hear good things about Pollak Vineyards and for good reason. Here too, the lineup of wines continues to be quite impressive. The 2008 Durant White, a blend of Viognier, Pinot Gris, and Chardonnay, is a crisp pour with characteristics of citrus, apple, and tropical fruit. A crowd pleaser by any means, this easy drinking white should prove to be versatile at the most formal or informal affairs. I appreciated the 2008 Rose with its tart berry characteristics. Dry and crisp, this rose is yet another example of nice roses being produced in Virginia.

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Paul’s gold star was reserved for the 2007 Merlot with its ripe cherry and blackberry aromas and flavors. Paul found this one to be more fruit-forward and appreciated its longer finish. My own star was reserved for the complex 2006 Meritage, a blend of Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Petit Verdot. Darker fruit profiles here with pepper and cedar noted, too. Nice tannins here made me wish for a nice steak!

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With our tasting done, we were ready to enjoy lunch with one of our favorite wines at Pollak Vineyards. We dined on sliced beef and wild rice salad with a hunk of Emmental cheese, and we paired this with the 2007 Merlot. The grounds at Pollak Vineyards offer stunning views which we enjoyed while munching and sipping.

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Pollak is also known to be amongst the most “green” of vineyards and wineries, and we look forward to delving into this topic the next time we visit Pollak Vineyards. Of course, we also plan to visit Sugarleaf Vineyards to sample upcoming pours that will include the anticpated Cuvee Neubia. Let us know your favorites at Sugarleaf Vineyards and Pollak Vineyards, but when you visit, mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.

Pardon The Interruption

Pardon the interruption of our Monticello Wine Trail series. It will resume after this brief break.

Despite the nasty, rainy day, we decided to visit a few Loudoun County wineries to get a few more stamps in our passport for the Loudoun Wine Trail. We decided to visit a few that we hadn’t been to in a while. This won’t be a full on report of all the wines; Warren is the expert there. I’ll be sharing my impressions of our visits. We went to Loudoun Valley Vineyards, Sunset Hills, and Doukenie.

newlabelGreat things have been happening at Loudoun Valley. When we visited in the Winter we could see things were beginning to change. This time we saw lots of changes. The tasting room has a new air about it…fresh paint, new tables and chairs, and there was even live music! Of course we tasted all the wines and enjoyed them all but I’ll say the 2008 Pinot Grigio was awarded my gold star. It was crisp, floral, with citrus flavors. We also noted the new labels. Very nice! When you visit Loudoun Valley, and I’m sure you will, be sure to taste the 2008 Pinot Grigio.

Our next stop was Sunset Hills. We last visited Sunset Hills in February. At that time they had only been open a few months. Since then things have only gotten better at Sunset Hills. The tasting room was a buzz with tastings going on. They were setting up for a wedding reception as well. As busy as the tasting room was, there was someone available to help us with our tasting. She led us through the tasting and Warren put his stars next to the viognier and the cabernet franc. We were lucky to taste some of these reds in the barrels during our last visit. The big change to Sunset Hills that I noticed this time over our last visit was the addition of food. You can now order cheese and bread baskets with meats and other delicious items. They even have fudge! I had to have some of the peanut butter fudge. It was delicious! Keep in mind though that you can only bring your own food to the lawn for a picnic. The two large decks and the tasting room are reserved for food purchased at Sunset Hills.

Our last stop was at Doukenie. We’ve been there many times in the past and always enjoy their wines. The same was true this time, we enjoyed the wines, especially the 2008 Mandolin. What was different about our visit this time was the change in the tasting room. They have moved the old bar out and now have a huge rectangular bar pretty much in the middle of the room. You just about run into it when you walk in the door. Of course the new big bar does allow for more people to cluster around for tastings. I was just a little disappointed because so many times in the past we had made a connection with our tasting associate in a smaller, more personal way and that seems to be lost with this new arrangement. However, the new bar set up doesn’t effect the wines at all! The wines are what keeps us coming back!

The next time you find yourself in Loudoun County be sure to stop off at Loudoun Valley Vineyards, Sunset Hills, and Doukenie and be sure to tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you! Also, be sure to check our next post as we finish up our tasting notes from our visits on the Monticello Trail.

Back on the Monticello Trail: Item #3

So third on our agenda was to revisit wineries that were first timers for us last year: Blenheim Vineyards, Sugarleaf Vineyards, and Pollak Vineyards.

Since our last visit to Blenheim Vineyards, Kirsty Harmon has taken the reins as winemaker. Kirsty personally guided us through the wine tasting, and along the way we got to chat with Kirsty about her visions for Blenheim’s future. Of the white wines, Paul and I both place our gold star next to the 2008 Chardonnay. This crisp Chardonnay gives the impression of a stainless steel-fermented wine; however, this Chardonnay is indeed done in oak barrels—French, American, and Hungarian. How was this achieved? Portions of Chardonnay from each barrel were blended together to present flavors of apples and pears with a subtle lemon on the finish. Not to be missed, though, is the 2008 Viognier with its peachy aromas and flavors with some white pepper noted, too. Another crisp pour, the 2008 Viognier is a blend of Viognier fermented in oak barrels (40% from French, American and Hungarian oak).

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Paul and I split decisions with the red wines. Paul’s star was awarded to the 2008 Seven Oaks Merlot; he noted full, rich cherry flavors; “fruity with a smooth finish” were Paul’s exact words. Aging in French oak did indeed give this 2008 Merlot a silky finish. My own gold star was awarded to the 2008 Blenheim Farm Cabernet Franc . Full cherry and pepper flavors with some earthy notes were also on display here with a nice acidity to boot. A fuller-bodied wine, it provided a lengthier finish.

As we sampled the 2008 offerings, we did observe a fruit-forward approach to making these wines, and Kirsty does admit to embracing this style of winemaking. A protégé of noted winemaker Gabriele Rausse, Kirsty’s wines are ready to drink now, and they could be enjoyed with food or simply on their own. Other changes include the labels which also reflect Kirsty’s artistic input and the use of screw cap enclosures instead of corks. Ten acres of vines now include Viognier, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot; however, Kirsty likes a challenge and has planted Pinot Noir. Virginia’s climate is usually not kind to Pinot Noir, but Kirsty relishes the chance to make quality wine from this fickle varietal.

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Kirsty finished our visit to Blenheim Vineyards with a brief tour of the barrel room located beneath the tasting room. Small and immaculate describe the barrel room and quite cool to provide optimum conditions for fermenting wines. Kirsty described to us her commitment to making limited quantities of wine that also presented the highest quality possible; after our tasting, we believe that she has reached her goal.

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Of course, we were hungry and eager to eat—light fare including cubed chicken tossed with pasta and herbs, and Swiss cheese with crackers awaited in the car. Now that Blenheim’s tasting room is open to the public, we decided to enjoy lunch and a mountain view from the lofty, spacious tasting room. What wine did we enjoy? The 2008 Chardonnay.

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After lunch, we purchased wine to bring home, and bid our farewells to Kirsty; we also thanked her for being such a gracious hostess and promised to return soon. So what about Surgarleaf Vineyards and Pollak Vineyards? Item #3 continues on our next post. In the meantime, visit Blenheim Vineyards, and mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.

Item #2: Visit Newer Wineries

So back on the Monticello Trail, and this time we were interested in sampling the wares at newer wineries. For this item on the agenda, we added Flying Fox Vineyard and Mountfair Vineyards.

Flying Fox Vineyard has operated as a winery for the last three years, so it’s still a relative newbie. The tasting room was quite nice, and the tasting associate was friendly and knowledgeable about the wines. After many years of growing grapes, they have moved into producing their own wines. Three white wines were offered for tasting, and we reached a split decision on the gold star awards. I favored the 2007 Chardonnay which was fermented in stainless steel to present a crisp wine. Nice citrus aromas were noted here with flavors of apples and pears. On a warm, sultry summer day, the 2007 Chardonnay could be the perfect sipper. Paul preferred the 2008 Viognier with its peach and melon characteristics and dry finish. This, too, was fermented in stainless steel tanks.

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I did think that the red wines at Flying Fox were a bit stronger, and I particularly enjoyed the 2006 Cabernet Franc. Raspberry and cherry were evident on the nose with hints of dried herbs and black pepper with complementary flavors presented in the mouth. A small blending of Merlot rounded out this Cabernet Franc. Not to be outdone was the 2006 Petit Verdot with its blackberry and black cherry characteristics; the tasting noted use the term “concentrated”, and I do indeed concur. I noted some vanilla at the end with a lengthier finish to boot.

As we swirled and sipped, a rain shower announced its arrival outdoors. With our tasting done, we decided to gaze up at the summer shower from the dry comfort of the tasting room. We opted to enjoy a generous cheese plate offered by the winery which we then paired with the 2006 Cabernet Franc. I particularly enjoyed the Gorgonzola cheese while Paul munched on the white cheddar.

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Alas, the summer shower did indeed end, and with lunch and wine consumed it was time to move on. With a lovely rainbow guiding the way, we made our way to Mountfair Vineyard. Mountfair just opened with the past six months, and the focus is blended red wines from Bordeaux varietals. We were fortunate enough to meet one of the owners, Chris Yordy. He conducted our tasting. Three wines were offered for tasting, and all presented different blending proportions of Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Petit Verdot. I allowed Paul to award the gold star here, and this he presented to the Merlot-based 2007 Engagement. (The blending proportions here are 65% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Franc, and 10% Petit Verdot.) Paul’s descriptors included “intense cherry”, “spice”, and “nice tannins” to suggest a complex yet accessible red wine. I thought it still tasted a little young, so “engage” now with a purchase but enjoy a bit later with a favorite beef dish. A juicier pour is the 2007 Wooloomooloo (an Aboriginal term). The predominant varietal is Petit Verdot: so, expect a denser color with a more layered fruit structure.

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Mountfair’s tasting room is still a work in progress; however, it’s the wines that count, and the wines here are very good. Paul was impressed with Engagement and purchased a bottle that now rests comfortably on his wine rack.

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The list of Virginia wineries grows every day it seems, and that just keeps us busier and busier as we continue to sample Vriginia’s finest. Be sure to visit Flying Fox Vineyard and Mountfair Vineyards, and mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.

Summertime Along The Monticello Trail

Summertime allows us the opportunity to visit lots of wineries especially those that are most distant from home. We made wise use of our time staying in the Charlottesville area, and we had a few items on our agenda. One item was to interview winemakers for an upcoming feature on Viognier, and these included Michael Shaps of Virginia Wineworks, Andy Reagan of Jefferson Vineyards, and Matthieu Finot of King Family. Second on our “to do” list was to visit newer wineries in the Monticello area, and this we did accomplish—Flying Fox Vineyard and Montfair Vineyard were indeed visited by the “dynamic duo”. Item #3 was to re-visit certain wineries that were first visits the last time around to see how things were progressing—Blenheim Vineyards, Sugarleaf Vineyards, and PollakVineyards were placed on the calendar. Next on the list? Visits to established wineries in the area just because we wanted to—Afton Mountain Vineyards, Kluge Estate Winery and Vineyard, White Hall Vineyard, Cardinal Point Vineyards, and Barboursville Vineyards. Final item—enjoy some down time in the lovely Monticello area. Did we accomplish all of this? Yes, but over a period of five days; so, we have lots to write about for the next several posts!

viognierSo let’s start with Item #1 and our experiences with Viognier. I’ll keep this one brief, because we are planning an extra feature on Virginia Wine Time in the upcoming months which will focus on Viognier. Why Viognier? From our observation, Viognier appears to be the flagship white varietal for Virginia, and this is based on our reading of reviews from wine critics, national and international awards heaped upon Virginia Viogniers, and formal and informal conversations with winemakers. Therefore, we plan to offer a more detailed article on Viognier for the Fall; look for a history of Viognier in Virginia to appear in the spring issue of Edible Chesapeake, too. (Yours truly will be writing that article!)

Our first interview and Viognier tasting was done courtesy of renowned winemaker, Michael Shaps. Michael’s winemaking credentials are well known and quite extensive. His winemaking skills were honed in France, and Michael has lent his considerable talents to several Virginia wineries including King Family. Michael graciously agreed to meet with us on a Friday at Virginia Wineworks, a day that the tasting room is not usually open for tasting. In fact, Michael was already quite busy with the bottling of white wine for First Colony Winery. We had never seen this highly mechanized process in action, so we were quite mesmerized by the whole affair. Before long, though, Michael treated us to a sampling of his two Viognier offerings—the Virginia Wineworks White and the premium Shaps label. The Wineworks White was a blend of Viognier and Vidal Blanc with less that 1% residual sugar, and it proved to be a very nice, uncomplicated sipper. Nice to share with a friend on the deck, serve as an aperitif, or pair with a chicken and cream sauce dish. Our favorite, though, was the Michael Shaps Viognier, and this one we’ve already described on our short video. The Shaps Viognier is indeed premium—aromatic, intense, and full-bodied. It’s done in stainless steel; however, the juice is allowed to soak on the skins to give this Viognier the weightiness often associated with an oak-aged Viognier. Pour to accompany a shellfish dish and enjoy!

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While Michael Shaps prefers to ferment his premium Viognier in stainless steel, Andy Regan of Jefferson Vineyards opts for a mix of fermentation in neutral French oak barrels and stainless steel tanks. We sampled Jefferson Vineyards’ 2008 Viognier and concurred with the tasting notes—floral and apricot aromas with complimentary flavors in the mouth framed in a nice acidic structure. I confessed to Andy that I always keep a bottle of the Jefferson Viognier on my wine rack, and I left the winery with a bottle of the 2008 offering. Andy shared with me his own favorite recipe to pair with this lush Viognier—grilled bacon-wrapped tuna steaks topped with homemade salsa. Of course, hearing the details made me hungry, but I left with another great menu suggestion to partner with this lovely Viognier.

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Matthieu Finot of King Family Vineyards presented yet another treatment of Viognier. Finot was trained as a winemaker in Burgundy and brings a classic Old World style to King Family’s Viognier (and Chardonnay, too) and also prefers stainless steel fermentation with some time in neutral French oak barrels. The result? The 2008 offering presented the familiar honeysuckle and stone fruit aromas and flavors; in particular, I noted white peaches. Nice acidic structure and a fuller body, too. Finot likes to sip this one on its own, especially in the summer, or with a shellfish dish. (And yes, I added a bottle of this one to my wine collection, too! )

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Three excellent Viogniers offered to us by three outstanding winemakers—what a treat! Needless to say, we learned lots from the three winemakers as we swirled and sipped, but we’ll reserve these extras for our later article. (Didn’t I say this post would be short? Oh well!) In the meantime, be sure to sample Virginia Viogniers to find out what the buzz is all about; start with these offerings from Virginia Wineworks, Jefferson Vineyards, and King Family Vineyards. Of course, mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you!

We’re Back!

I’m back from a beach vacation along the Gulf Coast and ready to finish the notes from the Chesapeake Bay Wine Trail! In our last post, I indicated that Ingleside Vineyards and Vault Field Vineyards completed our trail passport. Our friend, Bob, came along to sample the wines at these two wineries, and we included his opinions in our post. So what were our faves at these two wineries? Keep reading to find out!

Ingleside Vineyards maintains a full list of wines to sample and/or purchase. Since our quest was for summer wines, we paid attention to warm-weather sippers, and a unanimous decision was reached with the 2008 Pinot Grigio. “Crisp” and “citrusy” were descriptors that we all noted, and I placed a star next to this one. Another crisp pour was the unoaked Chesapeake Chardonnay with its apple and pear notes; Paul liked this one. Blue Crab Blanc was another summer pour that earned accolades from all three of us. Tropical fruit notes and flavors were noted here with a touch of sweetness to make the Blue Crab Blanc the perfect picnic pour or deck sipper. Grilled steaks on the menu? We suggest the 2006 Cabernet Franc with its raspberry/spicy aromas and flavors. My own favorite was the 2005 Petit Verdot. I noted dark plums and cherries on the nose and mouth with chewy tannins—certainly one to cellar for a while longer. Guest critic Bob also liked the 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon. He noted leather/tobacco on the nose with cherry flavors in the mouth.

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Of course, we brought lunch along with us, and between the three of us we had quite a varied menu. It included grilled chicken, summer sausage, Gruyere cheese, roasted almonds and cheese-infused baguettes. We opted for the Chianti-style Chesapeake Cabernet Merlot to accompany lunch, and on a pleasant summer afternoon we dined and wined!

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So on to the grand finale—Vault Field Vineyards. Here is where we completed the Chesapeake Bay Wine Trail and reaped the rewards of our efforts. Of the whites, I preferred the buttery 2007 Chardonnay. Fermented in both stainless steel and French oak barrels, this fuller-bodied wine should pair nicely with shellfish. The group “star” was awarded to the 2007 Red, a blend of Merlot and Syrah. We noted aromas of dark cherry and plums with some dried herbs; we also concurred with the black pepper finish described on the tasting notes. This one should prove to be a versatile red wine that could pair well with grilled meats.

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Our tasting at Vault Field Vineyards completed our Chesapeake Bay Wine Trail passport, and I was ready to use my reward. With our passport completed, I was able to purchase wines at Vault Field and receive a 10% discount. What did I purchase? The 2007 Chardonnay and the 2007 Red.

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We thanked Bob for his valuable input, and we know that we will return to Ingleside Vineyards and Vault Field Vineyards. Of course, readers who visit the Chesapeake Bay Wine Trail should also visit these two wineries, but be sure to mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.

Up next for us? Wineries along the Monticello Trail—stay tuned!

Summer Pours On the Chesapeake Bay Wine Trail

This past weekend, Paul and I visited our friends Bob and Jackie who live in the Northern Neck of Virginia. We also used the trip as an opportunity to visit wineries on the Chesapeake Bay Wine Trail, and we discovered some wines to enjoy for warmer times.

Oak Crest Vineyard and Winery’s signature pours are made from the Symphony grape so called because it is a hybrid (symphony) of muscat and Grenache. From the symphony grape Oak Crest Vineyard and Winery produces five different wines: Symphony Dry, Moonlight Sonata, Symphony Sweet, Finale, and Hot Jazz. Dry and Moonlight Sonata resemble German-style white wines; Dry is crisp with floral aromas, and Moonlight Sonata is slightly sweeter with floral and peach characteristics. An interesting way to end the evening might be with a glass of the Finale, a white port-style wine. However, the most unique wine had to be the Hot Jazz made with Symphony grapes and 1% jalapeno peppers; the spicy splash makes its appearance mid-palate.

We were able to add White Fences to list of wineries visited. This is one of the newer wineries in the area, and we were able to sample their Meteor series as well as their new Blue Jimmy wines. The Meteor wines were dry or off-dry wines with the Meteor Firefly presenting less that 1% residual sugar. Firefly is a rose with bright strawberry and subtle melon flavors—a nice picnic or deck wine. Paul favored the Blue Jimmy line that included a stainless steel Chardonnel (Blue Jimmy Soft Shell White) and Blue Jimmy Soft Shell Red produced from the 2008 Chambourcin. The Soft Shell Red was all berry fruit in the mouth with a soft finish that may remind some sippers of a Beaujolais-style wine.

Also during our trip, we were able to return to Athena Vineyards. An expansive tasting menu featured fourteen wines to sample. I favored the Chardonnay, a Burgundian-style Chardonnay that was briefly fermented in oak barrels. I noted pears with citrus undertones and a nice honeyed finish. Nice to sip or enjoy with a crab cake. Athena’s White, a crisp blend of Vidal Blanc and Seyval Blanc, might be another option for light summer fare. Paul enjoyed the light-bodied Cabernet Franc with its characteristic raspberry and black pepper notes. A special pour was the Jacques Recht Pinot Noir so named to honor former winemaker Jacques Recht. Jacques Recht had an extraordinary career as a winemaker in Virginia, and he recently passed away. It was certainly a touching way to end our tasting experience at Athena Vineyards.

Summertime is the perfect season for sangria, and Belle Mount Vineyards offers a wine suited for this classic summer beverage. The Workboat Red is a fruity, sweeter Chambourcin that some may either enjoy on its own or blended with a favorite sangria recipe to create a cool summer sipper. If burgers or ribs are on the grill, Belle Mount Vineyards’ Norton might be the perfect partner.

Needless to say, we did not visit all of these wineries on the same day; this was a three day venture that found us participating in the Chesapeake Bay Wine Trail program. With passport in hand, each winery gave us a smiley sticker to confirm our visit. Stickers from six different wineries earn the participant a 10% discount on wine purchases on the Chesapeake Bay Wine Trail! So where did earn the last two stickers? Ingleside Vineyards and Vault Field Vineyards completed our passports, and we’ll describe these visits next time. In the meantime, should you visit the four wineries described in this current post then please mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.