Visit To Paradise Springs

On Sunday we decided to visit Paradise Springs Winery in Clifton, Virginia. We hadn’t been to Paradise Springs in a long time and it was time to check out the new wines.

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Upon entering the tasting room we were waved at by one of the wine educators, Joey. He waved us over to his tasting station. He informed us that he knew us from our blog! That was so cool! Joey turned out to be a very knowledgable wine educator. Not only was he an expert on the wines at Paradise Springs, but he also knows a lot about wine in general. Throughout our tasting he shared tidbits of information about Paradise Springs and their whole winemaking process. He was one of the most knowledgable wine educators we’ve ever had. We thoroughly enjoyed our tasting experience with Joey.

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From our tasting we selected a few favorites. Our favorite white was the 2013 Chardonnay. We noted pear, citrus, a hint of mineral and a lengthy finish with a round mouth feel. Our favorite red was the 2013 Cabernet Franc. It was smokey and we noted cherry, red raspberry, and eucalyptus. We also enjoyed (and always do enjoy) the 2014 Nana’s Rose. We noted strawberry, melon, with a crisp mouth feel. We enjoyed it so much we enjoyed a bottle with some nibbles after our tasting.

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After our tasting Joey gave us a quick tour of the wine making area. The new floor looked great and the plan for future expansion of tanks will be a great addition. After enjoying our Nana’s Rose with some nibbles, we purchased our favorites and said goodbye to Joey. We consider Joey our newest wine friend! If you haven’t been to Paradise Springs in awhile, it’s time to plan a visit. Be sure to ask for Joey and when you do, tell him Virginia Wine Time sent you!

P.S. This is post number 900!

Richard Leahy Releases Beyond Jefferson’s Vines

Richard Leahy masterfully captures the past, present and future of a wine region that has grown dramatically in recent years. Pour yourself a glass of a favorite Virginia wine and follow Leahy as he tastes his way through Virginia wine country. Wine aficionados at all levels who want to know more about this emerging wine region will find this book to be indispensable.

This was the jacket endorsement that I wrote for Richard Leahy’s newly released book on the Virginia wine industry called Beyond Jefferson’s Vines. Paul and I have logged countless months, days, hours and minutes traveling the state to sample the best (and not so best) wines of Virginia. Therefore, it is with some authority that I can tell you that reading Beyond Jefferson’s Vines is the next best thing to actually traveling the state for yourself. Included in this must-read work is an introduction by fellow critic, Dave McIntyre who advises us all to “to over Thomas Jefferson.” And indeed it may be time to do just that. Leahy gives testimony to an industry that has grown (most importantly) in quality and in quantity within the past decade. The Virginia wine industry has arrived both nationally and even internationally, and while Jefferson helped to give birth to a nation, his attempts at winemaking were absolute failures. It is obvious, then, that the Virginia winemaking has reached heights that Jefferson could only imagine. Time to get over Thomas Jefferson? Absolutely!

On hand to celebrate Leahy’s book releases included industry professionals such as Christopher Parker, a British native and Virginia resident who exports Virginia wines to Great Britain. Bloggers were in attendance and included the duo known as Swirl, Sip, Snark, Frank Morgan of Drink What You Like, and Dezel Quillen of My Vine Spot. John Hagarty, local wine reporter and associate with Rappahanock Cellars was also on hand. And where was the event held? At a Virginia winery, of course. Paradise Springs hosted the event, and we were treated to lunch and wonderful pours from Paradise Springs Winery. Publisher Carlo DeVito paid homage to Leahy’s hard work in producing the book under demanding deadlines; however, Richard seemed unfazed by the stress and demands. I’ve always been impressed by Richard’s easy-going cheerfulness, and as I’ve gotten to know Richard and then reading Beyond, I now know why. Richard has a passion for what he does (and does very well)—the tireless promotion of the local wine industry.

As the release party came to a close, Richard autographed copies of Beyond Jefferson’s Vines for each attendee. However, we had one more treat in store, and that was a barrel tasting conducted by Paradise Springs winemaker, Rob Cox with Richard Leahy as part of the group. I will not hash out the particulars of the barrel tasting, but I will say that the still-fermenting Chardonnay was excellent as was the fruity Petit Manseng that promises to be drier than the current 2010 bottling. The Petit Verdot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Tannat were all from the 2011 harvest, and these all indicated that the 2011 harvest was not a complete disaster. These evolving red wines will be fruitier and lighter bodied (even the Tannat) than the vaunted 2010 counterparts; however, they will be quality wines probably to enjoy while young.

Look for Richard Leahy’s Beyond Jefferson’s Vines wherever books are sold; in fact, copies will be available in some tasting rooms. Of course, pay a visit to Paradise Springs Winery, too. Be sure to mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.

Wines To Celebrate Summer

With summer officially under way, we continue our focus on wine to enjoy during the season. This past weekend our quest took us to Paradise Springs Winery, the only winery in Fairfax County. This also was our first visit since the dedication of the new tasting room; although Paul was on hand for the celebration, I was not able to attend. So our visit had two purposes—to scout out summer pours and to check out the new tasting facility.

The new tasting room is indeed spacious and elegant. It was hard for me to believe that tastings were once conducted in the small cottage on the historic property. From the tasting room, the barrel room was in clear view thanks to a windowed wall that divides the two facilities. Our immediate intent, though, was to taste wines and to ascertain which would best refresh on a warm summer’s day. Tasting associate Corima skillfully guided us through our tasting as we began to swirl, sniff and sip.

A trio of wines made the cut for our summer sipper designations. How exactly do we define a “summer sipper?” From our own tastes, we tend to prefer fruitier wines that are very dry or off-dry and best served very cold. We also look for versatility—a nice summer wine should be enjoyable on its own or with a range of foods. With these factors in mind, we tasted away and concluded that three wines from Paradise Springs Winery were indeed summer sippers. They were:

2009 Petit Manseng: 100% varietal and aged in stainless steel with some time minimal time in French and Acacia oak barrels. Very dry but fruit forward with aromas of orange peel; of the three listed here possessed the weightiest mouth feel. Serve with creamy cheeses and a fruit plate or with a seafood entrée.

2009 Sommet Blanc: A blend of Vidal Blanc, Traminete, Viognier, Chardonnay and Riesling. Less than ½% residual sugar but very fruity with melon and stone fruit elements. No oak aging here. Serve to enjoy on its own but can pair nicely with light cheeses or picnic fare. A crabcake may not be out of the question!

2010 Nana’s Rose: Made from 100% Merlot and very dry. My favorite of the trio. Done in the dry French style, it was rich with ripe strawberry aromas and flavors with a hint of tart cherry in the mouth. Roses are the ultimate in versatility and pair with just about anything and every palate. (More dry roses in Virginia, please!)

With our tasting done, we decided to share a bottle of the 2010 Nana’s Rose with a cheese plate and crackers. This was enjoyed while out on the back patio that included a large fireplace. No need for extra warmth right now, but these accommodations should strike the right note in fall and winter when cooler weather calls for heavier wines and extra heat. We’ll return soon to report on new developments and releases at Paradise Springs Winery; in the meantime, plan a visit to Paradise Spring Winery and mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.