Summer is indeed coming to a close, and what a wonderful summer it has been with few days above 90 degrees, humidity levels in check, and rainfall at near average levels. A few weeks of summer still remain, and it’s not too late to enjoy favorite Virginia sippers as summer fades into fall. Here are a few recommendations that we can make as a result of our recent trip to the Monticello area.
First Colony Winery: Lots of changes here with a renovated tasting room since our last visit. We enjoyed the crisp Rose 2013 with its bright strawberry aromas and flavors and refreshing acidity. Rose is excellent any time of the year, but we made sure to purchase a bottle for our last Wolftrap concert of the summer season. (Paul plans to sip this one while gyrating to the beat of the Gipsy Kings!) With an eye on fall menus, be sure to taste the 2012 Petit Verdot with its aromas of violet, dark berry and tobacco; plan to serve it with roasted meats and game.
Moss Vineyards: It was a treat for us to revisit this winery since our initial impressions were quite favorable. Once again, the Rose 2013 was our winner for the summer sipper award. Classic strawberry notes and a crisp finish suggest a pairing with a late summer sunset and a picnic. The Cabernet Franc 2012 was a lighter bodied offering that presented elements of raspberry, dried herbs and spice. Nice to sip on its own, but should partner well with Virginia ham and light cheeses.
Stinson Vineyards: Now is the time to enjoy tomato salads with fresh basil, and the Sauvignon Blanc 2013 should be the go to wine with this treat. Classic aromas of boxwood and citrus were noted along with a crisp, mineral finish. And yes, we liked the Rose 2013 here too. Stock up on dry rose and enjoy them year round—these are very versatile and tend to be crowd pleasers. We added a bottle of this one to our collection.
Plan a trip to Virginia wineries this Labor Day weekend. If you plan to be in the Monticello area, give the wineries listed here a try; be sure to mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.
Our trek through the wine trails in the Charlottesville area brought us to First Colony Winery. A sign that declared, “new owners” intrigued us, and we knew that we had to get the scoop.
No sooner had we approached the tasting bar, new owners Heather and Bruce Spiess extended their greetings to us. They were also gracious enough to answer all of our questions, too. Heather and Bruce and Jeff Miller had just recently purchased the winery and vineyard; although they live in the Richmond area, they felt a need to rescue First Colony, a winery that had a special connection to them. Their son, Austin, works at First Colony as a vineyard manager, and according to Heather, his hands had “touched every vine on the property.” This personal connection inspired them to purchase the property and to create a new vision for future success.
The first phase of this new vision is to focus on the wines and to improve their quality. Jason Hayman will remain at the helm as winemaker but in a new production facility that will offer an improved environment for winemaking. A special thatched roof will cover the facility to create a unique element. New barrels are already on order, and the vineyards will include new plantings that take advantage of First Colony’s own micro-climate. Bruce even envisions an experimental lot that will allow the winemaker to consider Italian varietals.
The next phase will then be the construction of a new tasting room, and this will begin once the production facility is completed. Heather and Bruce foresee a tasting room that will be a bit more expansive yet welcoming to customers. Design features will allow tasters to take advantage of First Colony’s scenic view; in fact, Paul took a quick tour of the outdoor trail to snap picture of birds as they fluttered by his camera lens. Fans of the First Colony name, though may have to make an adjustment as a name change may also be in the future.
Owning and operating a winery is tough work, and Heather and Bruce, a physician, still maintain jobs in Richmond. However, we did not doubt their commitment to this new venture; their enthusiasm was almost contagious, and we felt excited for them. Indeed, they already have wines to help them move forward. Our own favorites were the upcoming 2011 Estate Reserve Chardonnay that was lighter on the oak and more generous with fruit notes such as coconut, citrus and melon. The 1670 Port made from the Touriga grape and fortified with brandy should prove to be an elegant way to end a dinner party, and maybe partner with a dense chocolate dessert.
We will keep abreast of developments at First Colony Winery; in the meantime, be certain to stop by and meet the new owners of First Colony Winery. Mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.