Virginia Wine: Serious Winemaking Overcoming Serious Challenges

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VIRGINIA WINES FROM 2011 WINE BLOGGERS CONFERENCE – Omni Hotel, Charlottesville; Monticello; and Pollak and Veritas Tasting Rooms, Virginia (7/22/2011-7/24/2011)

Virginia hosted this year’s Wine Bloggers Conference, and took full advantage of their sponsorship and support of the conference to expose assembled bloggers to the state’s wines. During the course of meet-the-sponsor tastings, “live blogging” tastings, a major event at Monticello (outdoors in 101 degree heat and high humidity), a Saturday night Virginia-focused dinner, and my own visit to a couple of wineries that intrigued me after the conference, I managed to taste 117 Virginia wines from 46 producers during the course of the conference’s long weekend. This was a significant increase over the mere five wines from the state I’d managed to sample before (all of which, I believe, were thanks to a few friends who brought back VA wines from visits to the state, as Virginia wines are noticeably absent from wine store shelves throughout my home state of California). I don’t presume to have become any kind of expert on Virginia wines as a result of this quick immersion, but I do come away with a few working hypotheses, as well as an appreciation of the seriousness of the winemaking going on here at a number of producers despite the very challenging climate conditions they have to contend with. I’ll share those hypotheses in this report, along with information on the producers whose wines most impressed me during this visit. I’ll also hazard a suggestion or two for further marketing of the state’s wines.

First that climate: As we learned through first-hand experience during this conference, it can get darned hot and muggy during a Virginia summer. This intense heat and humidity, especially when it comes toward the end of veraison and at harvest, can cause the sugar-ripeness of the grapes to accelerate way ahead of the progress of physiological ripeness. The result tends to be green tannins and a lack of acidity. I learned that it is standard amongst the state’s winemakers to acidify the wines, which basically takes care of the latter problem, as long as the acidification is done carefully and doesn’t result in further imbalance in the wine. The green tannins are hard to overcome, however, unless the grapes ultimately get a chance to reach full physiological ripeness. The humidity and high rain levels also encourage the growth of fungal diseases, especially downy mildew, powdery mildew, black rot, phomopsis cane and leaf spot, and botrytis gray mold. Nonetheless, Virginia winemakers are persevering, and in many cases succeeding, through careful variety, clone and site selection; intensive canopy management (which can help counter the accelerated sugar ripening); and spraying to control fungal infections.

Another way that many producers have sought to overcome the challenges to growing and making fine wine in Virginia has been to import experienced talent from elsewhere: e.g., Italy, France, South Africa and California. This was how Thomas Jefferson originally tried to get vinifera grapes to grow in Virginia when he planted vines at Monticello in 1807 with help from Italian viticulturist Filippo Mazzei. The aforementioned fungal diseases, however, prevented Jefferson from realizing his dream of making wine from those grapes. Italy’s Zonin family finally had success, however, 170 years later, when they imported Gabriele Rausse, pictured below, to help them grow grapes for their Barboursville Vineyards, the state’s first commercial vinifera winery. Gabriele’s efforts resulted in Barboursville’s first vintage in 1979. Barboursville’s current winemaker is the gregarious Luca Paschina, also from Italy. Afton Mountain Vineyards’s winemaker Lucien Dimani is from Cahors, where both his parents were winemakers. He’s also worked in Bordeaux and New Zealand. Matthieu Finot, a winemaker from the Rhone, is winemaker for King Family and consulting winemaker at both Ankida Ridge and Stinson Vineyards. Stephen Barnard, winemaker at Keswick Vineyards, was assistant winemaker at Groot Constantia and Flagstone wineries in South Africa. Simone Bergese, winemaker at Potomac Point, is from Alba, and started his winemaking career at Produttori del Barbaresco. Bill Swain, originally from California and one-time assistant winemaker at Charles Krug, is winemaker for Ingleside Vineyards. And Mike Panczak, winemaker at White Hall Vineyards, got his first experience at Qupe and then Foxen in California’s Santa Maria Valley.

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Veritas owner Andrew Hodson and daughter and winemaker Emily at a “speed blogging” session

With that 1979 vintage from Barboursville being a success, other wine producers got into the act in the 1980s and ’90s. Reportedly there are now 193 wineries operating in Virginia, and there are even wineries successfully producing wines in southern Virginia, which was originally thought to be the last place in the state where that would be possible. I’ve seen some marketing materials—at WBC11, shall we say, and repeated on a few blogs–indicating that Virginia is now the country’s fifth largest wine producer. Unfortunately, that’s pure bullshit. Virginia actually ranked 13th in bulk wine production and 15th in bottled wine in 2010, per U.S. government statistics. As of 2010, per U.S. Department of the Treasury Alcohol and Tobacco Tax Trade Bureau statistics, Virginia was producing 976,052 total gallons of wine, which amounts to .144% of all the still wine made in the U.S. For comparison, in 2010 California produced 606,448,660 gallons, or 89.5% of the country’s still wine; New York was a distant second in wine production with 3.73% of the country’s output; Washington State was third with 2.92%; and Oregon fourth at .724%. In bulk wine, where Virginia ranked 13th, they trailed, after the big four, Kentucky, Florida, New Jersey, North Carolina, Missouri, Ohio, Texas and Indiana. But in terms of quality, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Virginia wines aren’t significantly ahead of those of some of the states that are bigger producers, like Florida, Kentucky, Ohio and Missouri.

There appears to be a lot of experimentation and innovation going on in Virginia, which is a good thing. I tried sparkling wines from unusual varieties (e.g., Merlot and Viognier), some intriguing blends (e.g., Tannat, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot) and even some fortified, late harvest Viognier. The latter, from Pollak Vineyards, was actually pretty darned good. What I tasted that particularly stood out for its quality, however, were whites made from Viognier and Chardonnay, and reds from Bordeaux varietals. There were some quite decent Cabernet Francs, Cabernet Sauvignons, Merlots and Bordeaux blends that could give most Bordeaux superieur and the like a good run for their money. And as I’m a fan of Petit Verdot when it gets fully ripe, I was quite excited about some varietal bottlings of Petit Verdot, and other wines where the grape made up a substantial component of the blend. And most of the Bordeaux varietal bottlings I tried had good balancing acidity. This was due, in presumably all cases, to acidification, but the acidification was well handled and made for generally well balanced wines.

Given the insane prices of Bordeaux wines these days, made even worse by the increasingly unfavorable exchange rate, I began to wonder how a “Buy America” campaign focused on Virginia’s Bordeaux varietals might fare. Most of the Virginia Bordeaux varietals I was impressed with were quite fairly priced, so I think there’s some potential to sell U.S.-based lovers of Bordeaux on made-in-America versions of Bordeaux blends that are available for about the same price as a lot of iffy, and often very herbaceous, Bordeaux superieurs. I think that kind of campaign stands more of a chance in gaining market share outside of the state than pushing Virginia’s state grape, Viognier. Many of the Virginia Viogniers I tried were quite decent—aromatic and balanced—while others were more on the fruity and very ripe side. I don’t think the demand for these wines is anywhere near as strong, however, as the demand for reliable, food-friendly, well balanced red wines. The little Viognier bubble that existed toward the beginning of the last decade hasn’t gotten all that much bigger, as best I can tell. I, for one, don’t buy much domestic Viognier as it is, and doubt I would go all the way to Virginia to supplement what little need I have for domestic Viognier. If I want aromatic, white and food friendly, I’m much more likely to reach for still-bargain-priced German Rieslings. I’m just sayin’. But if the state’s Petit Verdots and some of the other, better Bordeaux varietal blends were available in California at reasonable prices, I’d likely pick some up, and I bet other lovers of balanced, Bordeaux-blend type wines would as well.

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So recognizing that my tastings at WBC11 were just a mere quick snapshot of what’s going on in the state, and that the conditions under which I tasted some of these (i.e., at the big Monticello do) were “less than ideal” (okay, so Monticello ranks as “the worst conditions ever”), what did I think were the best of the 117 wines I tasted in the Old Dominion? The wines I rated 89 points or more came from the following producers:
Annefield Vineyards
Aspen Dale Winery
Barboursville Vineyards
Barrel Oak Winery
Blenheim Vineyards
Breaux Vineyards
Fabbioli Cellars
Gabriele Rausse
Jefferson Vineyards
Keswick Vineyards
King Family
Paradise Springs
Pippin Hill
Pollak Vineyards
Rockbridge Vineyard
Veritas Vineyard
White Hall Vineyards

Best overall for me (again, from a very limited snapshot), with multiple wines rated 89 points or more, were Blenheim, Breaux, Jefferson, Keswick, Pollak, Veritas and White Hall. I note from my reading on the wines of Virginia that Kluge Estate and Piedmont Vineyards are thought by some to be among Virginia’s best, but neither of these wineries participated in any of the WBC proceedings.

My very top wines of the weekend, the 14 that I rated 90 points or higher (i.e., nearly 12% of what I tasted) were:
2008 Barrel Oak Winery Petit Verdot Reserve – 90 points
2010 Blenheim Vineyards Viognier – 90 points
2007 Breaux Vineyards Meritage – 90 points
2009 Keswick Vineyards Merlot – 90 points
2007 Keswick Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon – 90 points
2010 King Family Vineyards Viognier – 90+ points
2010 Paradise Springs Chardonnay – 90 points
2010 Pollak Vineyards Viognier – 90+ points
2010 Pollak Vineyards Pinot Gris – 91 points
2009 Pollak Vineyards Petit Verdot – 91 points
2009 Pollak Vineyards Mille Fleurs Late Harvest Viognier Monticello – 91+ points
2010 Pollak Vineyards Mille Fleurs Late Harvest Viognier Monticello – 91-93 points
2008 Rockbridge Vineyard V d’Or – 91+ points
2010 White Hall Vineyards Viognier – 90 points

For my detailed tasting notes, and a little more info on producers that most impressed me, see below:

Afton Mountain

  • 2008 Afton Mountain Vineyards Tête de Cuvée Brut – USA, Virginia, Central Region, Monticello (7/22/2011)
    Light lemon yellow color with medium-sized bubbles; chalk, tart green apple nose; tasty, chalk, tart green apple, mineral palate; medium finish (50% Pinot Noir, 50% Chardonnay) (88 pts.)
  • 2009 Afton Mountain Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve – USA, Virginia (7/23/2011)
    Dark purple red violet color; very tart berry, pencil lead nose; tart berry, pencil lead, graphite, tart currant palate; medium-plus finish 86+ points (86 pts.)

Ankida Ridge

  • 2010 Ankida Ridge Chardonnay – USA, Virginia (7/22/2011)
    Ripe pear, floral, peach nose; ripe pear, floral, peach palate; medium finish (100% new French oak) (85 pts.)
  • 2010 Ankida Ridge Pinot Noir – USA, Virginia (7/22/2011)
    Big black cherry nose; black cherry, black raspberry palate; medium-plus finish (88 pts.)

Annefield

Aspen Dale

Barboursville

This is the winery responsible for showing that vinifera varieties could actually be made into wine in Virginia, and they haven’t rested on that laurel. I was particularly impressed by the Nebbiolo Reserve, and the other wines we tasted were well made, if not as exciting as some others I tried during the weekend. The property on which the winery is situated was once owned by James Barbour, a former governor of Virginia, for whom Thomas Jefferson designed the mansion containing the famous Octagon room, for which the winery’s signature Bordeaux blend wine is named.
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Winemaker Luca Paschina pictured right

  • 2007 Barboursville Vineyards Nebbiolo Reserve – USA, Virginia, Central Region, Monticello (7/22/2011)
    Redolent, tart black fruit nose; tasty, poised, tart black fruit, tart berry palate; medium finish (89 pts.)
  • 2008 Barboursville Vineyards Cabernet Franc Reserve – USA, Virginia, Central Region, Orange County (7/22/2011)
    Redolent, plum, tart currant nose; tart plum, currant palate; medium finish 88+ points (88 pts.)
  • 2006 Barboursville Vineyards Octagon – USA, Virginia, Central Region, Monticello (7/22/2011)
    Dark red violet color; redolent, tart plum, tart berry nose; tight, tart berry, tart plum palate; needs 2 years; medium-plus finish (blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot) (88 pts.)
  • 2009 Barboursville Vineyards Viognier Reserve – USA, Virginia (7/22/2011)
    Very light yellow color; floral, tart pear, lemon peel nose; tart pear, lemon peel palate with good acidity; medium finish (1 yr on lees) (88 pts.)
  • 2010 Barboursville Vineyards Vermentino Reserve – USA, Virginia, Central Region, Monticello (7/22/2011)
    Pear, white flower nose; tasty, tart pear, white flower palate; medium finish (88 pts.)
  • 2002 Barboursville Vineyards Octagon – USA, Virginia, Central Region, Monticello (7/22/2011)
    Black currant, raspberry nose; black currant, raspberry palate; medium finish (68% Merlot, 18% Cabernet Franc, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Petit Verdot) (87 pts.)

Barrel Oak

This winery is a relatively new entrant on the scene, with vines planted only in 2006, and the winery has been opened for visitors since 2008. The Petit Verdot was among the best I tasted all weekend. The owners are Sharon and Brian Roeder, and they’ve planted 22 acres to vinifera as well as American and French hybrids. The varieties planted are Seyval Blanc, Vidal Blanc, Petit Manseng, Viognier, Chardonnay, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Traminette and Chambourcin. The winemakers are Sharon Roeder and Rick Tagg.

  • 2009 Barrel Oak Winery Chardonnay Reserve – USA, Virginia, Northern Region, Fauquier County (7/22/2011)
    Ripe green apple, pear nose; ripe green apple, pear palate; medium finish (fermented in stainless steel, aged in neutral French oak) (87 pts.)
  • 2008 Barrel Oak Winery Petit Verdot Reserve – USA, Virginia, Northern Region, Fauquier County (7/22/2011)
    Nice pencil lead, tart black fruit, graphite nose; tasty, pencil lead, tart black fruit, graphite palate; medium-plus finish (15 mos. in French and American oak) (90 pts.)

Barren Ridge

  • 2009 Barren Ridge Tinkling Spring – USA, Virginia, Shenandoah Valley (7/22/2011)
    Intriguing lime ice nose; light bodied, sprightly lime, ripe green fruit palate; medium finish 87+ points (30% Vidal Blanc, 25% Viognier, 22% Traminette, 15% Chardonnay, 8% Riesling) (87 pts.)
  • 2008 Barren Ridge Meritage – USA, Virginia, Shenandoah Valley (7/22/2011)
    Tart black fruit, oak nose; soft, tart black fruit, oak palate; medium-plus finish (50% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Franc, 20% Petit Verdot) (87 pts.)

Blenheim

I was impressed by both of these wines that we tasted at Monticello (and I like the wine label graphics as well, which are based on the Pythagoras tree fractal). The winery was founded in 2000 by owner Dave Matthews, and has two vineyard sites growing five European varieties: Chardonnay, Viognier, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot. Winemaker Kirsty Harmon apprenticed with Gabriele Rausse.
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Winemaker Kirsty Harmon

Boxwood

  • 2009 Boxwood Winery Topiary – USA, Virginia (7/22/2011)
    Dark red violet color; redolent, plum, tart plum, black fruit, oak nose; tasty, Bordeaux superieur-like, tart plum, black fruit, herbaceous palate; medium-plus finish (88 pts.)
  • 2008 Boxwood Winery Boxwood – USA, Virginia (7/22/2011)
    Tart plum, currant nose; with lift; plush, red currant, tart plum palate; medium-plus finish (1 yr in French oak) (87 pts.)
  • 2010 Boxwood Winery – USA, Virginia (7/22/2011)
    Light medium salmon pink color; light, tart currant, blood orange nose; tart blood orange, tart currant palate; medium-plus finish 88+ points (blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot) (88 pts.)

Breaux

This producer was started in 1995 by Paul and Alexis Breaux when they purchased a three-acre vineyard that had been planted in 1985. They now have over 100 acres planted to 18 different grape varieties. The new winemaker is David Pagan Castaño, an import from Yecla, Spain, where his family has made wine for three generations. The wines were good overall, but I particularly liked the Meritage and the Nebbiolo.
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  • 2005 Breaux Vineyards Nebbiolo – USA, Virginia, Northern Region, Loudoun County (7/22/2011)
    Pepper, oak, tart black fruit nose; black pepper, tart black fruit palate; medium-plus finish (89 pts.)
  • 2007 Breaux Vineyards Cabernet Franc Reserve – USA, Virginia (7/22/2011)
    Deep currant, tart plum nose; intense, tart currant, tart plum, tar palate; medium-plus finish (88 pts.)
  • 2007 Breaux Vineyards Meritage – USA, Virginia, Northern Region, Loudoun County (7/22/2011)
    Very dark red violet color; plush, tart plum, berry nose; rich, tart plum, tart berry palate; medium-plus finish (42% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, 18% Malbec, 10% Petit Verdot, 5% Cabernet Franc) (90 pts.)
  • 2010 Breaux Vineyards Viognier – USA, Virginia (7/23/2011)
    Light yellow color; floral, yeasty, leesy, very tart peach nose; very tart pear, chalk palate with medium acidity; medium finish (87 pts.)

Byrd Cellars

  • 2009 Byrd Cellars Muscat – USA, Virginia (7/22/2011)
    Tart orange cream, green herb nose; odd, sweet, cloying, orange popsicle palate; medium finish (6% RS) (76 pts.)
  • N.V. Byrd Cellars Dahlgren’s Raid Red – USA, Virginia (7/22/2011)
    Black currant nose; black currant, tart plum palate; medium-plus finish (blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot aged in French oak for 18 mos.) (85 pts.)

Cardinal Point

  • 2010 Cardinal Point A6 (41 % Viognier/59% Chardonnay) – USA, Virginia, Central Region, Monticello (7/22/2011)
    Ripe apple, oak nose; soft oak, apple palate; medium finish (59% Chardonnay, 41% Viognier) (82 pts.)
  • 2009 Cardinal Point Union – USA, Virginia, Central Region, Monticello (7/22/2011)
    Ripe red plum, black currant nose; ripe red plum, black currant palate; medium-plus finish (40% Petit Verdot, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Tannat) (85 pts.)

Catoctin Creek

  • 2010 Catoctin Creek Vidal Blanc – USA, Virginia (7/22/2011)
    Tart pear, tart lemon nose; tart pear, lemon candy palate; medium finish 85+ points (stainless steel) (85 pts.)
  • 2009 Catoctin Creek Syrah – USA, Virginia (7/22/2011)
    Intense smoke, tart berry, blue fruit nose; tart berry, herbal, bacon fat palate; medium-plus finish (80% Syrah, 18% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% Petit Verdot) (86 pts.)

Chatham

Chrysalis

  • 2010 Chrysalis Vineyards Viognier – USA, Virginia, Northern Region (7/22/2011)
    Honeysuckle, peach, cantaloupe nose; honeysuckle, green melon palate; medium finish 87+ points (87 pts.)
  • 2008 Chrysalis Vineyards Norton Locksley Reserve – USA, Virginia, Northern Region, Loudoun County (7/22/2011)
    Rich berry, black plum nose; ripe black plum, tar, black fruit palate; medium-plus finish (75% Norton, 12.5% Nebbiolo, 12.5% Petit Verdot) (86 pts.)

Cooper

8 Chains North

  • 2008 8 Chains North Sauvignon Blanc – USA, Virginia, Northern Region, Loudoun County (7/22/2011)
    Savory, leesy, sauteed onion nose; odd, savory, baked grapefruit palate; medium finish (80 pts.)
  • 2008 8 Chains North Furnace Mountain Red Reserve – USA, Virginia, Northern Region, Loudoun County (7/22/2011)
    Earthy, berry, lilac nose; black fruit, lilac palate; medium finish (35% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 20% Malbec, 15% Petit Verdot, 10% Cabernet Franc) (85 pts.)

Fabbioli Cellars

  • 2010 Fabbioli Cellars Something White – USA, Virginia, Northern Region, Loudoun County (7/22/2011)
    Intense, roses, gardenia nose; tasty, gardenia, roses palate; medium finish (66% Traminette, 34% Vidal Blanc) (88 pts.)
  • 2009 Fabbioli Cellars Tannat – USA, Virginia, Northern Region, Loudoun County (7/22/2011)
    Deep tar, black fruit nose; tasty, tar, tart black fruit palate; medium-plus finish (80% Tannat, 17% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Petit Verdot) (89 pts.)

Flying Fox

  • 2010 Flying Fox Viognier – USA, Virginia, Central Region, Monticello (7/22/2011)
    Nice pear nose; poised, pear, floral palate; medium finish 88+ points (95% Viognier, 2.5% Chardonnay, 25.% Vidal Blanc) (88 pts.)
  • 2008 Flying Fox Petit Verdot – USA, Virginia, Central Region, Monticello (7/22/2011)
    Deep, tart black fruit, pencil lead nose; tart black fruit, pencil lead palate; medium-plus finish (88 pts.)

Gabriele Rausse

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Gabriele Rausse, responsible for Barboursville’s successful vinifera vintage in 1979, pictured right

Gadino Cellars

  • 2010 Gadino Cellars Viognier – USA, Virginia, Northern Region, Rappahannock County (7/22/2011)
    Lifted pear, floral, apple nose; a lilttle odd, ripe pear, oak palate; medium finish (82% Viognier, 10% Chardonnay, 8% Vidal Blanc) (84 pts.)
  • 2009 Gadino Cellars Cabernet Franc Antiche Viti Reserva – USA, Virginia, Northern Region, Rappahannock County (7/22/2011)
    Nice tart currant nose; tart currant, earthy, tart berry palate; medium-plus finish (76% Cabernet Franc, 12% Merlot, 11% Cabernet Sauvignon) (86 pts.)

Glass House

  • 2010 Glass House Winery Viognier – USA, Virginia, Central Region, Monticello (7/22/2011)
    High pitched, apple, apple skin nose; light, apple, apple skin, orange cream palate; medium finish (82 pts.)
  • 2010 Glass House Winery C-Villian – USA, Virginia, Central Region, Monticello (7/22/2011)
    Foxy, tart black fruit, berry nose; foxy, tart black fruit, berry palate; medium-plus finish (60% Chambourcin, 30% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc) (81 pts.)

Gray Ghost

  • 2010 Gray Ghost Winery Vidal Blanc Adieu Gray Ghost Vineyards – USA, Virginia, Northern Region, Rappahannock County (7/23/2011)
    Light medium golden yellow color with 2 millimeter clear meniscus; heavy bodied, ripe peach, tart pear, tart apricot nose; ripe peach, ripe apricot, pear cling syrup palate with low acidity and a little heat; medium-plus finish (85 pts.)

Horton

  • N.V. Horton Vineyards Viognier Sparkling – USA, Virginia, Central Region, Orange County (7/23/2011)
    Very light yellow color with an abundance of tiny bubbles; tart green apple, tart citrus nose; tasty, refreshing, tart citrus, very tart apple, lime, chalk palate, reminiscent of a good cava, but with little Viognier character; medium finish 88+ points (left on lees for 7 years) (88 pts.)

Ingleside

  • 2006 Ingleside Vineyards Petit Verdot – USA, Virginia, Eastern Region, Northern Neck (7/23/2011)
    Opaque purple red violet color; herbs, marjoram, pencil lead nose with a sense of pepper; intriguing, tart herb-infused black fruit, marjoram, pepper, pencil lead palate; medium-plus finish 88+ points (88 pts.)

Jefferson

This producer occupies the land that Thomas Jefferson arranged for his wine consultant, Filipo Mazzei, to buy, near Monticello. They claim that it was first planted to vinifera varieties in 1774. Andy Reagan is the winemaker. From what I tasted, this seems to be a very consistent producer. The Petit Verdot Reserve sells for only about $20.

  • 2010 Jefferson Vineyards Pinot Gris – USA, Virginia, Central Region, Monticello (7/22/2011)
    Light yellow color; ripe citrus, pear, floral nose; tasty, pear, floral, tart apple palate; medium finish (89 pts.)
  • 2005 Jefferson Vineyards Petit Verdot Reserve – USA, Virginia, Central Region, Monticello (7/23/2011)
    Dark ruby color; nice tart currant, pencil lead nose; velvety textured, ripe currant, pencil lead palate with integrated oak and firm tannins; medium-plus finish (89 pts.)
  • 2010 Jefferson Vineyards Viognier – USA, Virginia, Central Region, Albemarle County (7/22/2011)
    Ripe pear nose; ripe pear, pear compote, fruit cocktail palate; medium finish (75% Viognier, 14% Riesling, 7% Chardonnay, 4% Petit Manseng) (87 pts.)
  • 2008 Jefferson Vineyards Meritage – USA, Virginia, Central Region, Monticello (7/22/2011)
    Aggressive, tart currant nose; tart currant, plum palate; medium-plus finish 87+ points (55% Cabernet Franc, 23% Petit Verdot, 12% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot) (87 pts.)

Keswick

This, for me, was one of the most impressive producers I got to try during the whole event. Al and Cindy Schornberg planted a vineyard on part of the original 1727 Nicholas Meriwether Crown Grant, and produced their first wines in 2002. Al had previously been a high-tech entrepreneur in Michigan, and the Schornbergs have invested a tremendous amount in acreage and equipment in an effort to produce high level wines. Stephen Bernard, pictured below, has been winemaker and general manager since 2006. He started out at one of South Africa’s oldest wineries, Groot Constantia. Both the Merlot and Cabernet were among the best versions of those varieties I sampled during my visit.
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  • 2010 Keswick Vineyards Viognier – USA, Virginia, Central Region, Monticello (7/22/2011)
    Floral, pear, peach nose; light-bodied, pear, tart peach palate with good acidity; medium-plus finish (89 pts.)
  • 2009 Keswick Vineyards Merlot – USA, Virginia, Central Region, Monticello (7/22/2011)
    Intense, tart currant, smoke nose; tasty, ripe currant, tart black fruit palate; medium-plus finish (75% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon) (90 pts.)
  • 2007 Keswick Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon – USA, Virginia, Central Region, Monticello (7/23/2011)
    Dark red violet color; tart currant, tart red plum, cedar nose; tasty, medium bodied, cedar, tart red currant palate with balance and firm tannins; medium-plus finish (90 pts.)

Kilaurwen

  • 2010 Kilaurwen Riesling – USA, Virginia, Central Region, Monticello (7/23/2011)
    Light yellow color; tart yellow apple, chalk, peach, rotting fruit nose; peach syrup, rotting fruit palate with a sense of acidification (w/20% Chardonnay) (NR/flawed)

King Family

This was the source of one of the weekend’s best Viogniers. David and Ellen King, originally from Texas, are the owners, and their children and the childrens’ spouses are also very involved with the business. The winemaker, as mentioned above, is Frenchman Matthieu Finot, who has previously worked in the Rhone Valley, Bordeaux, Burgundy, Provence, the Jura, Italy and South Africa.

  • 2010 King Family Vineyards Viognier – USA, Virginia, Central Region, Monticello (7/22/2011)
    Ripe pear, floral nose; tasty, poised, tart pear, floral palate; medium finish 90+ points (70% fermented and aged in stainless steel tanks, 30% in neutral oak) (90 pts.)
  • 2009 King Family Vineyards Meritage – USA, Virginia, Central Region, Monticello (7/22/2011)
    Tart berry nose; simple, tart berry palate; medium finish (52% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc, 20% Petit Verdot, 8% Malbec) (85 pts.)

Lovingston

  • 2006 Lovingston Pinotage – USA, Virginia, Central Region, Monticello (7/23/2011)
    Medium dark ruby color; herbal, earthy, brett nose; tart red berry, tart red currant, earthy palate with medium acidity; medium-plus finish (86 pts.)
  • 2010 Lovingston Petit Manseng – USA, Virginia, Central Region, Monticello (7/23/2011)
    Light yellow color; ripe apple, fruit cocktail syrup nose; even more fruit cocktail syrupy on palate, with cling peaches syrup, and low acidity; medium finish (1% RS) (79 pts.)

Michael Shaps

  • 2008 Michael Shaps Viognier – USA, Virginia, Central Region, Monticello (7/22/2011)
    Pale yellow color; lifted, tart apple, tart pear nose; tart, crisp green apple, tart pear palate; medium finish (stainless steel) (88 pts.)
  • 2007 Michael Shaps Meritage – USA, Virginia, Central Region, Monticello (7/23/2011)
    Very dark ruby color; ripe cassis, ripe berry nose; tight, tart cassis, tart red berry palate with high acidity, out of balance; short-medium finish (50% Cabernet Franc, 30% Merlot, 20% Petit Verdot) (80 pts.)

Château Morrisette

  • 2010 Château Morrisette Chambourcin Dry Rosé – USA, Virginia, Central Region (7/22/2011)
    Bright light medium pink color; strawberry, raspberry nose; light strawberry, strawberry cream palate with some acidity; medium finish (85 pts.)
  • 2009 Château Morrisette Cabernet Franc – USA, Virginia (7/22/2011)
    Oak, tart currant nose; soft, ripe currant palate; medium finish (80% Cabernet Franc, 11.1% Petit Verdot, 5.7% Tannat, 2.8% Chambourcin, .4% Misc red) (85 pts.)

Mountfair

  • 2009 Mountfair Vineyards Engagement – USA, Virginia, Central Region, Monticello (7/22/2011)
    Oak, tart black fruit nose; oak, tart black fruit, tart berry palate; medium-plus finish 86+ points (60% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Petit verdot; 24 mos. in American and French oak) (86 pts.)
  • 2009 Mountfair Vineyards Cabernet Franc – USA, Virginia, Central Region, Monticello (7/22/2011)
    Tart plum, blue fruit nose; tart plum, tart berry palate; medium finish (80% Cabernet Franc, 20% Merlot) (85 pts.)

Naked Mountain

  • 2010 Naked Mountain Riesling – USA, Virginia, Northern Region (7/23/2011)
    Very light yellow color; tart peach, ripe citrus nose; ripe peach, applesauce palate, lacking acidity; medium finish 979% Riesling, 21% Chardonnay; 3% RS) (81 pts.)

Paradise Springs

  • 2010 Paradise Springs Chardonnay – USA, Virginia, Northern Region (7/22/2011)
    Ripe lemon, oak nose; ripe lemon palate; medium-plus finish (9 mos. sur lie in 1 and 2 yr old barrels) (90 pts.)
  • 2009 Paradise Springs Cabernet Franc – USA, Virginia, Northern Region (7/22/2011)
    Oak, smoke nose; oak, ripe plum palate; medium finish (84 pts.)

Pippin Hill

  • 2010 Pippin Hill Farm Viognier – USA, Virginia, Central Region, Monticello (7/22/2011)
    Intense, ripe pear, green apple nose; tasty, crisp, tart pear palate; medium finish (89 pts.)
  • 2010 Pippin Hill Farm Winemaker’s Select Red – USA, Virginia, Central Region, Monticello (7/22/2011)
    Chocolate, black fruit nose; tart black fruit, chocolate palate; medium-plus finish (66% Chambourcin, 34% Cabernet Franc) (87 pts.)

Pollak

This was another of the most impressive producers across the board that I encountered during my visit. The Viognier got my attention as one of the two best wines of the night at the Saturday dinner. We happened to be seated at the same table as two of the Pollak staff, including tasting room manager Nick Dovel. Since Nick was going to be in the tasting room the next day, Fred Swan and I invited ourselves to come for a visit after the wine bloggers conference was over to sample more of the Pollak wines. I had been particularly intrigued when Nick mentioned at dinner that they use a variety of different commercial yeasts in fermenting the wines, as they’ve found different yeasts bring out different characteristics and/or flavors in the wine, and that blending batches fermented with different yeasts can add to the finished wine’s complexity.

Since I’m already aware that yeasts are responsible for a large percentage of the flavor compounds in wine, and am hugely tired of the wine world’s current fetish for “indigenous” or “ambient” yeasts (which just means that whatever Saccharomyces cerevisiae strains have become dominant in the winemaking facility environment take over the fermentation, regardless of whether they’re the ones that might have the most interesting impact on the ultimate wine), I jumped at the chance to sample the result of fermenting the same variety from the same vineyard with different commercial yeasts. (For more on the subject of yeasts and their impact on wine, see my post here.) Nick obliged us the following day by not only tasting us on all the current releases, including the excellent 2010 Pinot Gris and 2009 Petit Verdot, but also letting us compare a barrel sample of 2010 Merlot from their Smuggler vineyard fermented with D254 yeast alongside a barrel sample fermented with BM4x4 yeast. Both had good structure and firm tannins, especially the D254 sample, but there was a very appealing roasted fruit quality and meatiness to the BM4x4 sample. He also let us try the very unusual fortified late harvest Viognier that the winery has been making since the ’09 vintage. It’s called Mille Fleurs, and they make it with Viognier grapes that have “dimpled,” indicating that they’ve already lost 10% or so of their water content. They ferment them to 5% alcohol, and then fortify with brandy distilled from their own Chardonnay grapes to 18% alcohol. They then age the wine in barrel for two years. The ’09 had a wonderful silky texture, and nose and palate reminiscent of fine pear brandy. We also tried a barrel sample of the 2010 version, which has the potential for being even more complex.
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Pollak owners Margot and David Pollak, who live in Ohio, purchased the farm that has become Pollak Vineyards in 2001, after looking for a suitable location for a new winery venture nationwide for some time. David Pollak had been a founding partner of Bouchaine Vineyards in Carneros back in the ’70s, eventually selling out to the DuPont family in the mid-1980s. When the couple decided to re-enter the wine business, they were impressed by what was happening in Virginia, where the price of fine potential vineyard land was also substantially less than in California. They purchased 100 acres in a “wind gap,” where the breeze is fairly constant throughout the growing season, helping to keep the grapes dry and lessening the chances of rot. Starting in 2003, they have planted 27 acres to vines, relying on experienced Virginia consultants Chris Hill and Michael Shaps. Viticulturist Chris Hill dictated the “ballerina” trellis system, specially designed for Viognier in Virginia’s growing conditions, used on the first 10 acres planted. The varieties planted, all French vinifera, include Chardonnay, Viognier, Pinot Gris, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Petit Manseng. The winemaker is Jake Busching. They produced a field blend Meritage in 2005, but the first real commercial vintage was 2007. The lovely tasting room, with a view of the vineyards and a small lake, was opened in 2008. I look forward to checking back on this producer in the coming years, as I think they have the potential for creating really elegant and complex wines that should be standouts for the state.
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  • 2010 Pollak Vineyards Viognier – USA, Virginia, Central Region, Monticello (7/23/2011)
    Light peachy yellow color; peach, apricot, floral nose; very appealing, tart peach, floral, tart pear palate with good acidity; medium-plus finish 90+ points (good value at $20) (90 pts.)
  • 2009 Pollak Vineyards Chardonnay Estate Grown – USA, Virginia, Central Region, Monticello (7/24/2011)
    Light yellow color; pineapple, tropical fruit, lemon cream nose; creamy textured, ripe pineapple, lemon cream palate; medium finish 87+ points (87 pts.)
  • 2010 Pollak Vineyards Pinot Gris – USA, Virginia, Central Region, Monticello (7/24/2011)
    Very light peachy yellow color; lifted, peach, pear, ripe apple nose; tasty, crisp, tart pear, tart peach, mineral palate with nice balance; medium finish (good value at $18) (91 pts.)
  • 2009 Pollak Vineyards Durant White – USA, Virginia, Central Region, Monticello (7/24/2011)
    Light yellow color; intense poached pear nose; simple, poached pear, apple palate; medium finish (60% Chardonnay, 30% Viognier, 10% Pinot Gris) (87 pts.)
  • 2009 Pollak Vineyards Durant Red – USA, Virginia, Central Region, Monticello (7/24/2011)
    Medium ruby color; smoky, tart cherry nose; toasty, smoke, herbaceous, currant palate with good acidity; medium finish (50% Cabernet Franc, 50% Merlot; stainless steel) (86 pts.)
  • 2009 Pollak Vineyards Merlot – USA, Virginia, Central Region, Monticello (7/24/2011)
    Medium dark purple red violet color; appealing, lifted, ripe plum, ripe currant nose; tasty, elegant, tart plum, tart currant palate with near medium acidity and fine tannins; medium finish (good value at $20) (89 pts.)
  • 2009 Pollak Vineyards Cabernet Franc – USA, Virginia, Central Region, Monticello (7/24/2011)
    Medium dark ruby color; nice plum, baked plum, French oak nose; poised, youthful, rounded, tart currant, tart plum, tart cherry palate with near medium acidity; medium-plus finish 89+ points (8 to 9 yeast strains used for fermentation; good value at $20) (89 pts.)
  • 2009 Pollak Vineyards Petit Verdot – USA, Virginia, Central Region, Monticello (7/24/2011)
    Medium dark purple red violet color; ripe plum, red berry, cherry nose with some depth; tasty, plush, tart red berry, ripe currant palate, well balanced; medium-plus finish (in French oak barrels for 14 mos.; good value at $24) (91 pts.)
  • 2009 Pollak Vineyards Mille Fleurs Late Harvest Viognier Monticello – USA, Virginia, Central Region, Monticello (7/24/2011)
    From 375 ml – medium apricot color; lovely pear liqueur, peach, baked peach, apricot nose; rich, smooth, silky textured, plush, pear brandy palate; long finish 91+ points (91 pts.)
  • 2010 Pollak Vineyards Mille Fleurs Late Harvest Viognier Monticello – USA, Virginia, Central Region, Monticello (7/24/2011)
    Barrel sample – light medium yellow color; apple brandy, floral, banana, almond nose; rich, silky textured, fleshy, almond, pear brandy, floral palate, like “peaches cooked in Bourbon sauce” per Fred; long finish 91-93 points (91 pts.)

Potomac Point

Prince Michel

Rockbridge

  • 2008 Rockbridge Vineyard V d’Or – USA, Virginia, Shenandoah Valley (7/23/2011)
    From 500 ml – light medium golden color; nice ripe pear, peach, apricot nose; tasty, medium-plus bodied, ripe apricot palate with good balancing acidity; long finish 91+ points (cryogenic “icewine”; 25% Vidal Blanc, 25% Riesling, 25% Traminette, 25% Vignoles) (91 pts.)

Stinson

  • 2010 Stinson Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc – USA, Virginia, Central Region, Monticello (7/22/2011)
    Ripe pear, apple, ripe grapefruit nose; lightly oily textured, pear palate; medium finish (86 pts.)
  • 2010 Stinson Vineyards Cabernet Franc – USA, Virginia (7/22/2011)
    Tart currant nose; tart currant, red plum palate; medium finish (whole berry fermentation; aged in French oak) (84 pts.)

Tarara

  • 2009 Tarara Winery Chardonnay Three Vineyard Tarara Vineyards – USA, Virginia, Northern Region, Loudoun County (7/22/2011)
    Oak, apple nose; oaky, apple palate; medium finish (80 pts.)
  • 2008 Tarara Winery Terranova – USA, Virginia, Northern Region, Loudoun County (7/22/2011)
    Oak, red berry, plum nose; tart plum, red berry, oak palate with good acidity; medium-plus finish (86 pts.)
  • 2010 Tarara Winery Viognier – USA, Virginia, Northern Region, Loudoun County (7/22/2011)
    Nice tart pear, floral, peach nose; tart pear, white fruit palate; medium finish 86+ points (86 pts.)
  • 2008 Tarara Winery Nevaeh Red – USA, Virginia, Northern Region, Loudoun County (7/22/2011)
    Deep black plum, tart currant nose; tart currant, tart black fruit, charcoal palate; medium-plus finish (71% Merlot, 23% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Cabernet Franc) (88 pts.)

Veritas

We asked Nick at Pollak which one other winery we should visit in the neighborhood, which was all we had time for before my flight back to San Francisco. Nick turned us on to Veritas. This seemed like a real destination tasting room, as it was quite crowded with visitors when we arrived. It felt even more crowded when a brief thunderstorm started, and more people entered looking for cover. The quality of the wines was, on the whole, quite good. I particularly like the non-vintage white blend White Star, as well as the sparkling wine they make from white grapes, Scintilla. British-born neurologist Andrew Hodson is the owner, with his wife Patricia, and Andrew and his daughter Emily are the winemakers. They started operations in 2002.
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  • 2010 Veritas Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc Reserve – USA, Virginia, Central Region, Monticello (7/22/2011)
    Very light yellow color; tart grapefruit, lemon grass nose; detailed, tart grapefruit, lemon grass, smoke, tart gooseberry palate; medium finish (stainless steel fermented, 3 mos. in new and used oak) (88 pts.)
  • 2010 Veritas Vineyard Viognier – USA, Virginia, Central Region, Monticello (7/23/2011)
    Light yellow color; ripe pear, applesauce nose; ripe pear, applesauce palate; medium finish (86 pts.)
  • 2010 Veritas Vineyard Chardonnay Saddleback – USA, Virginia, Central Region, Monticello (7/24/2011)
    Light lemon yellow color; lifted lemon, lemon cream, apple nose; soft, tart apple, tart peach palate; medium finish 85+ points (stainless steel fermentation, 4 mos. in neutral oak) (85 pts.)
  • 2009 Veritas Vineyard Chardonnay Harlequin Reserve – USA, Virginia, Central Region, Monticello (7/24/2011)
    Very light yellow color; reduction, tart lemon, citrus nose; reduction, tart lemon palate with near medium acidity; medium finish (6 mos. in French oak, 1/3 new) (86 pts.)
  • N.V. Veritas Vineyard White Star – USA, Virginia, Central Region, Monticello (7/24/2011)
    Very light yellow color; lifted, floral, rose petal, Gewurz-like nose; Gewurz-like, roses, floral, appealing palate with balance; medium finish (blend of Viognier, Traminette, Chardonnay and Vidal Blanc; good value at $18) (89 pts.)
  • 2009 Veritas Vineyard Petit Manseng – USA, Virginia, Central Region, Monticello (7/24/2011)
    From 500 ml – light lemon yellow color; pear, pear cling syrup nose; sweet, medium-bodied, pear syrup, ripe grapefruit palate; medium finish (10% RS) (87 pts.)
  • 2010 Veritas Vineyard Rosé – USA, Virginia, Central Region, Monticello (7/24/2011)
    Bright, light pink color; tart currant, tart tomato soup nose; tasty, light-medium bodied, light, tart currant palate; medium finish (54% Merlot, 46% Cabernet Franc; 5 mos. in neutral oak) (88 pts.)
  • 2010 Veritas Vineyard Cabernet Franc – USA, Virginia, Central Region, Monticello (7/24/2011)
    Medium cherry red color; oak, ripe currant, light smoke nose; tart currant palate with medium acidity; medium finish 85+ points (85 pts.)
  • 2009 Veritas Vineyard Vintner’s Reserve – USA, Virginia, Central Region, Monticello (7/24/2011)
    Very dark red violet color; nice tart currant, pencil lead nose; tasty, balanced, tart currant, cedar, pencil lead palate with firm tannins; needs 2-3 years; medium-plus finish (40% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Franc, 20% Petit Verdot) (88 pts.)
  • N.V. Veritas Vineyard Red Star – USA, Virginia, Central Region, Monticello (7/24/2011)
    Dark ruby color; cru Beaujolais-like, ripe currant, red plum nose; ripe currant, red berry, Gamay-like palate with firm tannins; medium finish (37% Merlot, 37% Chambourcin, 26% Cabernet Franc) (87 pts.)
  • N.V. Veritas Vineyard Scintilla Brut Blanc de Blancs – USA, Virginia, Central Region, Monticello (7/24/2011)
    Light yellow color with a good amounts of tiny bubbles; tart apple, tart peach nose; sharp acid attach, light mousse, crisp tart apple, mineral palate with near medium acidity; medium finish (2 years in bottle) (89 pts.)
  • N.V. Veritas Vineyard Mousseux – USA, Virginia, Central Region, Monticello (7/24/2011)
    Light pink color with lots of tiny bubbles; strawberry cream, raspberry nose; light currant, Merlot, lightly herbaceous palate; medium finish (85 pts.)
  • 2009 Veritas Vineyard Petit Verdot Paul Shaffer 3d Edition Monticello – USA, Virginia, Central Region, Monticello (7/24/2011)
    Very dark ruby color; ripe plum, berry, lilac nose; plush, tight, tart berry lilac, currant palate with near medium acidity and firm sweet tannins; medium-plus finish 88+ points (88 pts.)
  • 2009 Veritas Vineyard Traminette Kenmar Late Harvest – USA, Virginia, Central Region, Monticello (7/24/2011)
    Light lemon yellow color; lovely, spicy, tart apple, cinnamon apple, floral nose; intense, floral, roses, rosewater, tart apricot palate with good acidity; long finish 88+ points (75% late harvest, 25% non-late harvest; late harvest grapes frozen manually) (88 pts.)

West Wind Farm

  • 2010 West Wind Farm Pinot Gris – USA, Virginia, Southwest Region (7/22/2011)
    Apricot, tart peach nose; fruit, tart apricot palate; medium finish (1.8% RS) (85 pts.)
  • 2009 West Wind Farm Cabernet Sauvignon – USA, Virginia, Southwest Region (7/22/2011)
    Ripe plum, plum sauce nose; tart red plum, currant palate; medium-plus finish (85 pts.)

White Hall

Owners Tony and Edie Champ established White Hall in in 1992 with six acres of Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. They have since added Pinot Gris, Gewürztraminer, Muscat, Touriga Nacional, Viognier, Petit Verdot and Petit Manseng, for a total of 45 planted acres. The winemaker is Mike Panczak, from California’s Santa Maria Valley. Both the Viognier and Petit Verdot were quite good.
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  • 2010 White Hall Vineyards Viognier – USA, Virginia, Central Region, Monticello (7/22/2011)
    Honeysuckle, pear nose; tasty, rich, tart pear, honeysuckle palate; medium-plus finish (87% Viognier, 13% Petit Manseng; .9% RS) (90 pts.)
  • 2009 White Hall Vineyards Petit Verdot – USA, Virginia, Central Region, Monticello (7/22/2011)
    Tart black fruit, tart berry nose; tasty, tart berry, ripe currant palate; medium-plus finish (82% Petit Verdot, 9% Merlot, 9% Cabernet Sauvignon) (89 pts.)

Williamsburg

  • 2007 Williamsburg Winery Cabernet Franc Trianon – USA, Virginia (7/23/2011)
    Very dark ruby color; tart berry, tart currant, French oak nose; ripe currant, tart raspberry palate with near medium acidity and firm tannins; needs 3 years; medium-plus finish 87+ points (with 15% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot) (87 pts.)
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6 Responses to Virginia Wine: Serious Winemaking Overcoming Serious Challenges

  1. Larry Stein says:

    Several years ago (5? 6?), I was having lunch with Stuart Yaniger. He had a couple of Cab Franc samples, one from Long Island (can’t recall the winery) and the other from White Hall. Before opening them, we just figured that we’d be tasting these for educational purposes and then move on to something else. Wrong. We drained both bottles. They were both delicious, balanced and varietally correct.

    Gee, I wonder if you’ll get 60+ replies to this post? 😉

  2. PINANDRIE says:

    Thanks for posting this one. Great job. I enjoyed reading this one. Cheers!

  3. David Pollak says:

    One of the most complete discussions I have seen on what we are doing in Virginia. You really are a fast study. Glad you had a chance to visit our winery and talk with Nick. He has wonderful range in talking about the nuances of wine. Hope you and your friends have an opportunity to stop by again. It takes about ten years to understand a new vineyard. This has been a great experience. Regards, Dave

    • Richard Jennings says:

      David,
      Thank you for the kind comments on the post. And thanks for putting together such an impressive project in Virginia! You guys are off to a very solid and impressive start. I quite enjoyed the wines and, as I mentioned in my post, look forward to keeping track of what you’re doing there. And Nick was very informative and infectiously enthusiastic.
      Warm regards,
      Richard

  4. Warren says:

    Thank you for providing such a comprehensive and thoughtful review of Virginia wines. The Virginia wine industry has come such a long way, and I think your reviews captured the hard work and passion of many winemakers in this state. It’s also obvious that you took advantage of all opportunities to try the local wines and to meet with some of the winemakers. Well done!

    Cheers!

  5. TNWT says:

    Though you are a bit more generous in your rating scale than I would have anticipated, I do appreciate your honesty in tasting reactions. O.K., you have convinced me that I need to swing by Pollak on a trip headed north, even though it is considerably out of my path. The only vineyard that I would have also rated higher would have been Cooper Vineyards. Granted it is hard to judge a three-year-old Norton wine which needs considerably more aging. Thank you for your blog effort(s).

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