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. 

Posted by Matt Kemberling

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