VA Wine

In the Wine Light – Linden Vineyards

In the Wine Light – Linden Vineyards

In the Wine Light is Linden Vineyards. On our return from our trip to the Finger Lakes this summer, we made a couple of stops in Virginia.  Our second stop was at Linden Vineyards in Linden.  

We first visited Linden Vineyards in October of 2019.  We had tasted Linden’s wines previously at an American Wine Society Conference in 2015.  Owner Jim Law led a session on “Site Specific Variations in Wine”.  During this session we tasted Chardonnays and Cabernet Francs from various Linden sites.

Hardscrabble Vineyard - Linden Vineyards - Linden, VA

Hardscrabble Vineyard – Linden Vineyards – Linden, VA


Linden Vineyards began in 1985 with the establishment of the Hardscrabble Vineyard.  This site, once an apple orchard, had long been abandoned.  Eight acres were planted with mostly grafted and propagated in-house from budwood obtained from the few local vineyards in the surrounding area. The first planting consisted of Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Vidal Blanc, and Seyval Blanc as noted on Linden’s website.  The first commercial vintage was 1987.

There are currently 22 acres under vine across 3 vineyard sites:  Hardscrabble, Avenius, and Boisseau.  Avenius is a nearby site first planted in 1996.  Boisseau, a warmer site, is located in Front Royal, VA.  

Jim Law has been a well-respected member of the Virginia Wine community for decades.  That respect extends down to North Carolina as we have heard numerous people sing Jim’s praises.  Jim willingly shares his knowledge and expertise and is a mentor to many.

Barrel Room - Linden Vineyards - Linden, VA

Barrel Room – Linden Vineyards – Linden, VA

Winemaking Philosophy

Linden Vineyards has a distinctive winemaking philosophy.  A recent social media post described it as palate-based winemaking.  Extraction decisions are made solely on taste. They note that taste is somewhat subjective, so the try to discipline their tasting regiment by taking two samples every two days from each lot. In Linden’s library, one of the samples is tasted alongside a sample taken two days previously. They can then taste the progression of extraction. This procedure continues every two days until they decide to drain the wine off its skins.

Another key philosophy for winemaking at Linden is around where the winemaker spends most of his time.  At Linden Vineyards, the winemaker spends more time in the vineyard than in the cellar.  As they say, good wine starts in the vineyard.

Tasting – Chardonnay

Visits to the Linden Vineyards’ tasting room are by reservation only.  Our tasting appointment was at 11am.  Jen greeted us and got us started. We began with the 2018 Village Chardonnay.  This Chardonnay is a blend of all three vineyard sites and spent 10 months in neutral French oak.  The nose gave notes of roasted banana while the palate had crisp pear with some flinty undertones.  The acids were pleasing.

Next up, we tasted the 2016 Avenius Chardonnay.  2016 was a warm vintage.  Again, this wine spent 10 months in neutral French oak which showed on the nose.  Lightly candied pear dominated on the palate.  With crisp acids, this wine was full bodied and very enjoyable.

Tasting – Red Wines

After the whites, we tasted three red wines starting with the 2014 Claret.  A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (44%), Merlot (34%), Cabernet Franc (20%), and Petit Verdot (2%), this wine presented a gorgeous nose with aromas of violets, blueberry, and spice.  The palate gave roasted plums, figs, and a hint of spice.  The tannins were medium with a balanced acidity.

Next was the 2014 Petit Verdot.  Made of Petit Verdot (88%), Cabernet Sauvignon (8%), and Carménère (4%) and aged in older French oak, this wine gave a smoky, toasty nose.  The palate was rich with flavors of blueberries, tobacco, and black tea and hints of violets.  The oak gave a spicy undertone.

We finished the tasting with the 2016 Hardscrabble Red made from fruit from the Hardscrabble vineyard.  A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (56%), Merlot (41%), and Cabernet Franc (3%), this wine was aged in new and used oak for twenty-two months.  Blueberries, black plum, and violets danced on the nose.  Roasted black figs, vanilla, blueberries, and a hint of violets showed on the palate.  The tannins were bold with a long, pleasing finish.

Bottled Wine - Linden Vineyards - Linden, VA

Bottled Wine – Linden Vineyards – Linden, VA

Tour with Winemaker

After we finished our tasting, Linden Vineyards winemaker, Jonathan Weber, took us for a tour.  Jonathan has connections to North Carolina having studied at viticulture and enology at the program at Surry Community College.

We started on the crush pad, talking about the vineyard and harvest.  Typically grapes are harvested on day and processed the next.  Sorting tables a used to sort grapes saving the best berries for winemaking.  Recently, they have moved to more whole berry fermentation.  We ended the tour in the cellar further discussing the winemaking process.

View at Linden Vineyards - Linden, VA

View at Linden Vineyards – Linden, VA

Must Visit

If you are a serious wine enthusiast and haven’t visited Linden Vineyards, you should plan a trip.  We’re sure you won’t be disappointed.

We look forward to our next visit!

#InTheWineLight #VAWine

Posted by Joe Brock in In the Wine Light, Top Pick Winery, Wine, Wineries and Vineyards, 0 comments
In the Wine Light – Glen Manor Vineyards

In the Wine Light – Glen Manor Vineyards

In the Wine Light is Glen Manor Vineyards. On our return from our trip to the Finger Lakes this summer, we made a couple of stops in Virginia.  Our first stop was at Glen Manor Vineyards in Front Royal.  

Glen Manor Vineyards Sign

Glen Manor Vineyards – October, 2019

We first visited Glen Manor Vineyards in October of 2019.  We’d always heard great things about them and were super impressed with our visit, so it was a priority to visit them again.

Tasting Room and Winery at Glen Manor Vineyards

Tasting Room and Winery at Glen Manor Vineyards

Scenic Location

Glen Manor Vineyards is located just below Skyline Drive and Shenandoah National Park.  The vineyards are just beyond the tasting room on a steep hills.  Visits to Glen Manor are by reservation only – a feature that started during the pandemic and will likely continue thereafter.

Our appointment was a 4:30pm on an absolutely gorgeous day.  We were greeted by Kelly, one of the owners, who led us outside for our tasting.  We faced the vineyard with Skyline Drive on the mountain above. 

Glen Manor Vineyards with Skyline Drive Above

Glen Manor Vineyards with Skyline Drive Above

Century Farm

This bucolic location provides a peaceful respite from today’s busy life.  Kelly walked us through the history of the estate beginning with the initial purchase of land by the family in 1901.  Fast forward to 1995 when Glen Manor Vineyards was born with the planting of a little more than one acre of Sauvignon Blanc.  

More vines were planted in subsequent years with the most recent addition in 2017.  There are now 17 acres under vine on the 212 acre estate.  In addition to the Sauvignon Blanc, varieties include Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Petit Manseng, and Nebbiolo.

Tasting – Sauvignon Blanc and Rosé

We began our tasting with the 2019 Sauvignon Blanc.  Grapes on the west facing canopy were harvested on August 29, 2019, with grapes from the east facing canopy harvested on September 2, 2019.  Each harvest was fermented separately in stainless steel at 55 degrees for 30 days using two different yeasts. The separate batches were blended in October, 2019, and then bottled in January, 2020.  A grassy, lemony nose gave way to a palate of candied lemon along with a grassy, herbaceous note with a slight minerality.

Next up, we tasted the 2020 Morales Rosé, a blend of Cabernet Franc (45%), Merlot (22%), Petit Verdot (22%), and Nebbiolo (11%).  A well balanced wine that presented notes of strawberry and watermelon.

Front of Tasting Room at Glen Manor Vineyards

Front of Tasting Room at Glen Manor Vineyards

Tasting – Reds

Time for reds, so we started with the 2015 St. Ruth, a blend of Merlot (72%), Cabernet Franc (14%), and Petit Verdot (14%).  Each wine was fermented in small one ton bins with 14 days of post fermentation maceration and later aged for 20 months in French oak.  The 2015 St. Ruth had a nose of caramel, vanilla, and roasted plum.  The palate had nice roasted plum with leathery and spicy notes.

Fermented in the same manner at the 2015 St. Ruth, the 2016 St. Ruth was next.  A blend of Merlot (52%), Cabernet Franc (38%), and Petit Verdot (10%), the nose showed black tea and black cherry with more on the palate along with a bit of spice.

Next, we moved to the 2014 Hodder Hill, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (69%), Merlot (16%), and Petit Verdot (15%).  A caramel and toasty oak nose invited you in, but the velvety smooth palate of blueberry, black raspberry made you want more.  A hint of violets danced in the background as the Cabernet Sauvignon proved to be a star.

We ended the reds with the 2017 Petit Verdot which had spent 20 months in French oak.  Fresh baked blueberries on the nose and a rich palate reminiscent of blueberry pie with hints of vanilla and spice.  Glen Manor Vineyards certainly has some impressive reds.

A Fall View of the Vineyards at Glen Manor

A Fall View of the Vineyards at Glen Manor – October, 2019

Tasting – Petit Manseng

Finally, it was time for Petit Manseng!  We tasted three.  First, we tasted the 2019 Dry Petit Manseng.  Harvested on September 18, 2019, chilled overnight, whole cluster pressed the next day, fermented cold in stainless steel in two batches using different yeasts for 30 days, and finally blended together.  Bottled in January, 2020, this wine gave us pear and pineapple on the nose with candied pineapple and pear on the palate.  The acids proved to be nice and balanced.

Next up, the 2017 Petit Manseng which was fermented in a similar manner but had Petit Manseng juice added back to raise the residual sugar to 2.8%.  Candied pear showed through on the nose.  The palate presented golden baked apple and bit of pear.  Full bodied, the sugar, acids, and flavors were balanced.

We ended the tasting with the 2016 Raepheus, a late harvest Petit Manseng dessert wine.  Grapes were harvested on November 11, 2016, and placed in a walk-in freeze for 12 days.  Then, the grapes were whole cluster pressed.  The juice was cold settled for 24 hours with sediment racked off and the juice inoculated for fermentation in two thirds new French oak and one third stainless steel.  On March 5, 2017, the two wines were blended in stainless steel to age on light yeast lees for ten months.  Bottling happened in February, 2018.  What a delight this wine is!  Roasted pineapple on the nose led to a palate of candied pineapple and toasty oak.  A good acid backbone still shown through on the moderately sweet palate.

Wrapping Up

After we wrapped up our tasting, Kelly graciously gave us some recommendations for dinner.  We purchased several wines and ended our glorious afternoon at Glen Manor Vineyards.  We highly recommend you make a reservation and go visit.  You won’t regret it!

#InTheWineLight #VAWine

Posted by Joe Brock in In the Wine Light, Wine, Wineries and Vineyards, Wineries and Vineyards, 0 comments

Virginia Adventures Day 4

Day four brought us to the close of our journey in
Virginia. As we made our way back down the highway from Northern
Virginia through the Appalachian Mountains in the Shenandoah
Valley, we decided to make a few last stops. Although we didn’t
stop at many wineries, we were still able to make it to three.
 All three are great locations and you should plan a visit
if you’re in the area.  Our first stop was Cave Ridge Vineyard.
 There we were presented with two tasting options. We
could either taste the standard offering, or we could extend the
tasting and enjoy their port-style and dessert wines. Being port
lovers, we naturally decided to try it all. On the standard
tasting, there were a few wines that stood out. One of our
favorites was the 2013 Viognier. This particular wine was barrel
aged, which gave it a nice oaky nose and flavor with a drop of
vanilla. Also notable was the 2013 Riesling. This French style
Riesling was slightly carbonated, giving it a crisp and dry body.
There was a bit of acidity to the wine that gave it a nice firm
backbone. The port-style wines were tasty as well. They offered a
red made from Chambourcin and a white made of Viognier. Both were
quite tasty and complex with the red showing toasty butterscotch
and the white being smooth and tropical.  Our next stop
was just down the road at the Winery at Kindred
 Still slightly young, this winery is
doing well. They offer a wine tasting as well as a cider tasting.
We opted for the wine tasting and were eager for the first pour. On
the menu were two Chardonnays.  The first was bright and
acidic with a hint of oak and a mellow buttery flavor. The second
was more traditional with a bigger oak nose and a creamy and nutty
flavor. Our favorite was the 2013 Malbec. This light red had cherry
and vanilla on the nose. It was slightly jammy with a red currant
finish. The light tannins were vibrant and playful and lingered for
only a minute before finishing cleanly.  Our last stop of
the day was a bit farther down the highway in Staunton,
Virginia. Ox Eye
 Ox Eye Vineyards is one stop we will
always try to make whenever we’re in the area. Their new releases
are coming soon, but their current offerings are at also great. The
2013 Dry Riesling is ripe with a honey nose and has really mellowed
out since the last time we tasted it (just last year). It has a
good balance of acids and honeysuckle with a light citrus finish.
Their 2012 Pinot Noir was mild and jammy with a hint of
strawberries and black cherries. Finally their 2012 Cabernet Franc
had a rich nose with a delicate spice on the mid-palate. With each
sip, the spices continued to build until it faded into a long and
lingering finish. 

Posted by Matt Kemberling in Wine, Wineries and Vineyards, 0 comments
Virginia Adventures Day 3

Virginia Adventures Day 3

Day three brought us to familiar wineries once again.  These were the wineries that we marked on our “go back to” list.  We were in the northern part of Virginia with Winchester as our base.  All of the wineries were within an hour drive from Winchester and if you were to drive the whole circuit without stopping, it would only take about three hours.  We made our way to a fair number of wineries.  Below are the notes of our journey.  The next time you’re in the area, you should make it a point to check out these great wineries.

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Posted by Matt Kemberling in Wineries and Vineyards, 1 comment
Virginia Adventures Day 2

Virginia Adventures Day 2

Day two brought us to five wineries before ending up at our final destination. We started in the Charlottesville area and made our way northward. After our second stop, we quickly found oursves in the middle of the mountains with no cellphone service in sight. The only saving grace for communication with the outside world was the free wifi that the wineries offered. 


The view from Moss Vineyards.

Stop one was at Stinson Vineyards. We arrived right at opening and were the first ones in the tasting room.  Our favorite wine here was the 2014 rosé made from the Mourvèdre Grape. The wine was dark in color with a outstanding earthy nose. The flavors were deep and complex with a mild mushroom flavor. Also worth noting was the 2014 Sauvignon Blanc, showing a grapefruit nose and citrus flavor with a nice mineral finish. 

Stop number two was just around the corner from our first stop. Grace Estate Winery had just opened their new tasting room the day before we arrived, and it is coming along nicely. The furniture should be arriving within the next week or two, but they have wine and glasses so that’s enough to keep the tasting room running. They had six wines up for tasting. We particularly enjoyed the 2012 Cabernet Franc which had about 10% Petit Verdot blended in. The finished product is a dark red wine with a good tannic structure. There is a nice pepper flavor on the mid-palate and it finishes almost sweet with a hint of caramel. 

Stop number three took us slightly off the beaten path. Mountfair Vineyards produces red blends and caters to a dedicated group of followers.  Their current offerings are the 2013 Epiphany and the 2013 Complicated. The Epiphany is a Cabernet Franc blend that is light and even with an ample display of dark fruits. The Complicated is a Petit Verdot blend that is dark in color and flavors with notes of cherries and spices. In addition to their own wines, they offer a great selection of wines and ciders from smaller producers who don’t always have tasting rooms. One of the ciders that we enjoyed was the Potters Farmhouse Dry. It was bright and fruity with a crisp finish. The concept here is great and the setting ales you feel like you’re tucked away in the mountains (because you are!). 

Stop number four was around the base of the mountain and further into the heart of the cell phone dead zone. Glass House Winery is so named because of the large glass conservatory that is onsite. The owners are not only winemakers, but they are also a certified chocolatier and a conservatory enthusiast. They pair the dessert wine with a handcrafted espresso chocolate that melts in the mouth. Our favorites here were the 2013 C-villian (Chambourcin)  and the 2013 One Lane Bridge (Lemberger). The Chambourcin was fruity with a light pepper spice. The Lemberger was dark and fruity with hits of clove and cinnamon. After the tasting, we hopped on the wifi for a quick second and then we were back on our way. 

Our final stop for the day was at Moss Vineyards. Although this winery is truely off the beaten path, down a winding gravel road and up a mountainside, it’s worth the visit. We had a few favorites that we sampled. The 2013 Viognier had a nose of lightly toasted honey with a big honeysuckle flavor. The 2012 Vino Rosso was soft and smooth with a tomato jam nose and a smokey finish. Our overall favorite was likely the 2010 Achitectura. This red blend was immensely dark in color with a rich nose and a well developed flavor. It was full in body and had a great complex flavor that lingered in the mouth for a good long while. 

All of the wineries we visited on day two were part of the Monticello Wine Trail on a smaller trail called the The Appellation Trail. For more details and to plan a visit, head to the trail’s website or click the wineries above to go directly to their sites. 

Posted by Matt Kemberling in Wineries and Vineyards, 0 comments

Virginia Adventures Day 1

We’re back on the road again, this time heading to the wineries in northern Virginia. On the way we stopped in Charlottesville to visit a few new locations. 

Day 1 took us to five wineries and two breweries.

Our first stop was Lovingston Winery. Located just outside of Lovingston, Virginia this winery provides a quiet escape from the daily hustle and bustle. The winery is a small family run operation. Their tasting room is right in the middle their gravity fed production room.  (When I say right in the middle, I mean you climb a half flight of stairs to get to the tasting bar that’s at the same level as the tanks. The experience was quite unique.)  The tasting usually consists of six wines, but we also had a sneak peak of two new releases. Here are the notes for the verticals.  The 2013 Seyval Blanc offered a bright and crisp profile with a great citrus finish. The 2014 was a bit lighter on the nose settling in the honeysuckle family. The flavor was also more mellow with a bigger mouthfeel. The finish was clean with a great mineral note.  The 2013 Petit Manseng was done in more of an off dry style with big tropical flavors and aromas while still keeping a nice acidic finish. The 2014 was a bit different in style, but still slightly sweet. The flavors teetered on smokey with hints of herbs and spices on the nose. Also of note here are the 2013 Pinotage and the 07 Reserve Merlot. Both were full in body and flavor and had a lot to offer. 

Stop two was somewhat unexpected and was the result of us looking for lunch. Our food plans changed somewhat last minute (I’m not the best navigator sometimes). So we had to hunt for an alternate. Luckily for us, a new boutique winery just popped up on the way to Charlottesville. Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards is just a quick turn off highway 20 and is worth the slight diversion. They’re tucked away on the side of a hill with an unobstructed view of the blue ridge mountains and all of its little valleys. The setting is gorgeous, the wines are quite good and locavores will love the food as well. Of interest here was the 2014 Sauvignon Blanc done more in the New Zealand style rather than New World. It was grassy and balanced with a nice profile of minerals and fruit. Also worth noting is the 2013 Petit Verdot, a dark leathery wine with hints of spice, smoke and cherries. Stop in, wine, dine, and enjoy the view! 

Stop number three was the Virginia Wineworks. The winemaker, Michel Shaps, is regional presence in the Virginia wine making world. He produces wines for several vineyards in the area as well as running a custom crush operation. There were several wine tasting options available. We decided to stay local and go for the Virginia tasting.  The wines were all delicious, but we particularly liked the Odette, a white blend that was light and balanced. The unique thing about this wine is that you could almost taste every grape in this wine. It started with an appley Chardonnay, moved into a floral/tropical Viognier which rounded into an acidic Petit Manseng before finishing with a note of Riesling. The winery itself is picking up on a new trend in the industry: growlers and boxes. Many of the wines here are for sale in a 64 oz growler. The Chardonnay also comes in a 3-Liter box. New things on the horizons here, worth keeping an eye on. 

Stop four took us to Blenheim Vineyards. The setting is rustic barn meets modern tasting room. They also have hopped onto the growler bandwagon and offer a few of their wines in a larger size. They have two white blends that use a good amount of red grape in them. They didn’t impart any color, but it did add to the flavor and body of the wines. Of interest here was the 2013 Grenache, a GSM blend that was full of pepper and dark fruits. Also worth noting is the 2013 Painted Red, a blend of Petit Verdot, Syrah, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot. It was bright and fruity that quickly moved into a smooth and even texture. 

Our final winery of the day was Jefferson Vineyards. Conveniently located just outside of Monticello, this winery should be on your list if you’re in the area. The winery itself has been family run for over three generations. Many of the red wines shared similar characteristics of toasted caramel, but each was unique in its own right. Our favorites were the 2012 Petit Verdot which was dark and fruity with a nice toasty finish and also the 2012 Meritage which was smooth and silky with a delicious flavor.  

After a long day of winery stops, we headed to our hotel and looked for dinner options. We decided to eat in downtown Charlottesville. But first, we made a quick stop at Champion Brewing Company where we had an overly delicious imperial coffee stout. After our beer flight, we went on to South Street Brewery for some DIY Mac & Cheese and another beer sampler. The kolch and the red IPA were very good and worth searching out. 

If you’re thinking about a trip to Charlottesville, the numerous wineries and breweries definitely make it worth it. 

[su_gmap address=”Charlottesville, VA”]

Posted by Matt Kemberling in Breweries, Wineries and Vineyards, 0 comments

Virginia Wine Trip Day Five

Day five brought us to our final day in the Virginia wine regions.  We were headed back south, so we decided to stop at a three of our favorite wineries from our stop last year plus one new winery.  First on the list was Shenandoah Vineyards.  This winery is the second oldest in Virginia with vines planted back in the late 1970s.  The walk way up to the tasting room is a living vine covered staircase (a ramp is available in the back) that was full of fruit while we were there.

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Posted by Matt Kemberling in Wineries and Vineyards, 0 comments

Virginia Wine Trip Day Three

Day three had twelve wineries on the schedule for us to visit. Now, I know what you’re thinking, 12 is a lot to visit in just one day. Well, let me assure you, we were splitting tastings and in some cases, we actually had to dump *gasp* some wine.

Day 3 started at Tarara Winery. The grounds were expansive at around 470 acres with 50 under vines and another 50 soon to be planted. The winery hosts several music festivals throughout the summer season and let me tell you, any festival here would be quite fun. Next on the list are Lost Creek and Hidden Brook Winery; two wineries that neighbor each other and provide two completely different tasting experiences.

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Posted by Matt Kemberling in Wineries and Vineyards, 0 comments

Virginia Wine Trip Day Two

Day two had nine wineries on schedule for us. It was definitely a very busy day and it had us driving more than any other day on our schedule. We started our day at 10:30 AM with a tasting at Pearmund Cellars. Melissa conducted our tasting and gave us quite an education on the oldest Chardonnay vineyard in Virginia. When we were finished, we made our way to Molon Lave Vineyards. This unique winery offers a few Kosher wines (one of the few on the east coast) as well as non-Kosher offerings.

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Posted by Matt Kemberling in Wineries and Vineyards, 0 comments

Virginia Wine Trip Day One

The first day of travel took us through the Blue Ridge Parkway where we met our first stops. Lunch and a beer flight was first on the list at the Blue Mountain Brewery.

Blue Mountain Brewery

The beer flights were $9 for a 2.5 oz sample of ten different beers. Continue reading →

Posted by Matt Kemberling in Breweries, Wineries and Vineyards, 1 comment