Warmest Christmas Wishes ...

Vine Spot wishes all a ‘Wine-der-ful’ and Merry Christmas.

Happy Sipping!



Striving for Excellence: Kluge Estate Winery & Vineyards

Back in the saddle again, and next stop for Vine Spot on the Monticello Wine Trail is the charming and elegant Kluge Estate Winery and Vineyard. Kluge Estate is located in Historic Albemarle County amongst beautiful manicured greens and wooded surroundings. Kluge Estate is owned by Patrica Kluge, who along with a carousel of acclaimed and talented winemakers, including well known names such as Michel Rolland and Gabriele Rausse, are producing a lineup of noteworthy and award winning wines.

Kluge Farm Shop

Kluge is what I call a full service winery, offering light to full gourmet fare, and the most tempting and decadent desserts that even the strictest of Atkins dieters would have trouble turning down. For example, I have said many times “only a cheese platter” and end up with something chocolate and heavenly by days end. The tasting room is also located in the Farm Shop where many local jams, dipping and cooking oils, cheeses, candles and other tasty nibbles can be found. The farm shop is laid out in true country and quaint fashion, and also boasts a charming little coffee shop on the left wing.

The interior... Heavenly Chocolate Desserts behind the glass

The Coffee Shop

We entered the tasting room and were greeted by tasting associate, Heather, who had just finished up with a large crowd who were enjoying Kluge fine wines. Heather is fairly new to the Kluge team, but well learned, telling us all about the wines offered and Kluge plans for a new state of the art tasting room and winery, which I presume is being built not too far from the Farm Shop.

Tasting Bar

Kluge wines are exceptional and the Albemarle Simply Red 2003 is a favorite. It is a medium bodied Bordeaux styled blend displaying a nice medium garnet color and aromas of dark fruit and plum. On the palate are flavors of spice and dark fruit with nice ripe tannins. The Albemarle Rosé 2005 is a nicely done French styled wine with raspberry, strawberry and vanilla aromas with an abundance of bright fruit flavors following through on the palate. This is the perfect aperitif or appetizer wine and can stand up to BBQ and sweet and spicy dishes. The Albemarle Viognier 2005, Kluge’s most recent addition, displays pleasant perfumed and floral aromas, with peach, apricot and hints of vanilla on the palate. This one will pair well with light seafood and pasta dishes, as well as on its own. Truly, there are no wrong turns; there is something for every palate at Kluge.

Amongst the Tall Trees

Following our tasting we chatted a bit with other guests at the winery and decided to enjoy a glass of the Albemarle Viognier 2005 while sitting outdoors amongst the tall engaging trees. We have been to Kluge several times and on a nice sun filled day, there is nothing quite like sitting outdoors surrounded by those tall trees and enjoying some fine cuisine, paired in happy harmony with one of Kluge’s award winning wines.

Vineyard Shot

Kluge has also expanded its plantings, and will be a leading producer in Virginia in due time. The vineyard, which is situated adjacent to the farm shop, is backed by the picturesque green and wooded Charlottesville countryside.

Dezel relaxing on the porch at Kluge

In closing, Kluge is a dedicated and passionate producer whose goal is to craft and produce world class wines; wines that Virginian’s will enjoy and wines that will compete in the global market for respect and recognition. I recommend readers visit Kluge and enjoy their fine wines and gourmet foods. When you decide to visit, please let them know you read about them on Virginia Vine Spot.

  • Stay tuned friends, lots more to come!

Happy Sipping!



What is a Pinot Blogger they asked …

While out cruising last week in Freeport, Bahamas , I was asked by people on the ship, what is a Pinot Blogger. I explained to them that when you cross the Russian River Valley , Pinot Noir, and Josh of the Capozzi Family Winery, you have the Pinot Blogger.

Josh, also known as the Pinot Blogger of the Capozzi Winery Blog, was kind enough to send readers and supporters of the blog one of these stylish shirts that he designed, which represents the birth of the Capozzi Family Winery in the Russian River Valley . The climate of the Russian River Valley is primed for Pinot Noir grapes, hence the name.

Dezel sporting the Pinot Blogger Shirt

Josh kindly offered these shirts to readers and supporters alike in August and after careful planning and settling on this great design, all readers of the Capozzi Winery Blog now have two things in common; we are all sporting a stylish Pinot Blogger T-Shirt and we love wine.

The shirt arrived a day before Vine Spot’s Bahamas trip, neat and nicely packaged with a very nice Thank You card inside. The ‘Thank You’ truly goes out to the Capozzi family for a nice offering to readers and supporters of their blog.

Check out the Capozzi Winery Blog! It is chalk full of good information and you can find out more about the Capozzi Family Winery, the Russian River Valley , and the wines they will produce.

Happy Sipping!



Vine Spot seeks warmth on the High Seas

Hello Friends,

Vine Spot will be on vacation for a week, tagging up with an old friend named Carnival. In search of warmer temps, Vine Spot hits the high seas tomorrow for several days of fun under the sun. Hopefully Carnival’s wine line up has improved since last visit. Vine Spot does hope to have a few wine stories to share when back on dry land.

Be sure to check back, I have more Monticello Wine Trail visits to post, as well other Virginia Winery visits. Also, Spain makes the weekly rotation; needless to say I’m sold on Spanish Tempranillo. Yummy!

Happy Sipping All!



Next Stop: First Colony Winery

After savoring the tasty Merlot 2005 and seasonal warmth at Oakencroft Vineyards, we saddled up and headed to First Colony Winery. First Colony is located in Charlottesville, VA , and is another gem on the Monticello Wine Trail. First Colony Winery is situated on a 62 acre site, and backed by the wooded and green surroundings of the Green Mountain Range. First Colony was one of the the first wineries we ever visited, so we always stop by for a sip when in the Charlottesville area. The winery, owned by Randolph McElroy Jr, opened doors in Spring of 2002, and since such time has successfully produced satisfying and award winning wines.

First Colony Winery

When we arrived to the tasting room, we were greeted by Tasting Room Manager, Tiffany Park. We also noticed that the gift area was well stocked for Christmas with all sorts of wine related gift ideas. The winery itself is light filled and spacious with two indoor seating areas and an upstairs seating area that is used for wine dinners and other special events. The common seating area offers ample natural lighting, a fireplace, and wooded views. When the weather is favorable, there is a nice deck and patio area where fine nibbles and First Colony wines can be enjoyed.

Common Indoor Seating Area

After chatting with Tiffany about the winery and the wines produced, we were ready to taste. Our friendly and informative tasting associate poured the following First Colony wines: Chardonnay 2003, Viognier 2005, Sweet Shanando 2005 (100% Vidal Blanc), Rosé 2004, Cabernet Franc 2004, Merlot 2005, Meritage 2004 (55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 34% Merlot, 11% Cabernet Franc), Cabernet Franc Reserve 2004, Tannat 2005 and the Claret, a very nice Chambourcin based red blend.

First Colony Tasting Bar

As with our past visits, we enjoyed all the wines tasted. One white wine to note that we checked off on our list is the Viognier 2005. The Viognier displays nice fruit, acidity and texture and offers pleasant aromas of apricot and honeysuckle. Yummy! The reasonably priced Cabernet Franc 2004 stuck out on the palate, offering red fruit and herbal aromas with nice fruit flavor, good acidity and supple tannins on the taste. This earned the Cabernet Franc 2004 and several others a trip back to my wine fridge. Also enjoyed was the Cabernet Franc Reserve 2004. The Cabernet Franc Reserve is blended with small amounts of Touriga and Tannat for color, tannic structure and complexity. The Cabernet Franc Reserve offers an intense nose of dark and red fruits and other soft earthy nuances. On the palate, this medium bodied wine is full of dark and red berry fruit that is nicely framed in subtle oak with a smooth lingering finish. What is truly worth the purple tongue, teeth and mouth after consumption is the Tannat 2005. I enjoyed a glass of this on the deck whilst being pummeled in a game of computerized Scrabble. The Tannat 2005 is blended with small amounts of Touriga and is a nice deep purple color. The Tannat 2005 is rich and full with lush dark fruit and plum flavors on the palate. A wonderful food pairing wine with firm tannins, you can pair this with your favorite red meat dish. This wine won gold in the Monticello Cup 2006, and is a nice example of a variety finding roots here in Virginia.

Lastly, several out of state e-mailers who have visited Virginia Wineries in the past have asked me about Totier Creek Winery. I would like to inform those readers that have not visited in a while that First Colony is the site where Totier Creek Winery once stood. When current owners found this property in 2000 there was major work to be done. I myself have only lived here 3 years so did not get to experience Totier Creek Winery, though an e-mailer in New Jersey notes that it was rather promising. From what I gather, the property was terribly neglected when founded by current owner Randy McElroy Jr in 2000. Randy erected a new tasting room, replanted the vineyard, and many other effortful task in returning the site to former glory. The end result is a quality and charming producer in Charlottesville that Vine Spot enjoys visiting.

Great..Tannat is not in the Scrabble dictionary (lol)

I encourage readers to check the First Colony events page, as they host festivals, wine dinners, cooking classes, etc. When you do decide to jump on the Monticello Trail and visit First Colony, please let them know you read about them on Virginia Vine Spot.

Happy Sipping!



Seasonal Warmth at Oakencroft Vineyards

Taking advantage of yet another beautiful day, we decided to jump back on the Monticello Wine Trail and visit a few local wineries before returning home. I had the notion this sunny and warm Autumn weather would not last long, so it was more of a motivating factor to stay in the area and enjoy the gorgeous views and sip a little more Virginia wine. As local Virginians know, Jack Frost has recently made his nippy presence known.

Approaching Oakencroft Vineyards

We decided to revisit Oakencroft Vineyards, located in Charlottesville , VA to secure a few bottles of their award winning Viognier 2005 that we enjoyed the last time we visited. If you recall from my previous review, Oakencroft is situated amongst green rolling hills and has spectacular views of the surrounding countryside, which is also another reason why we enjoy visiting Oakencroft.

Tasting Bar Shot

We were pleasantly surprised to learn from chatting with tasting associate, Alexis, that there were a few offerings available that we did not try the last time we visited. Oakencroft produces about 14 different wines, namely from European varieties, and tasting usually consists of about 6 to 8 wines, pending availability and what is opened. We opted to taste the reds that were not available when we visited a few months ago. The following Oakencroft wines were poured: Cabernet Sauvignon 2005, Merlot 2005, Chambourcin 2005, and lastly the limited production, Petit Verdot 2004. Rather impressive lineup of reds, huh? Indeed so.

We enjoyed the Merlot 2005, which is done in a fruit forward, lighter and easy drinking style. It displays a nice cherry and currant nose with red fruit and toasty oak flavors on the palate. A fan of Chambourcin, I enjoyed the Chambourcin 2005, which is purple in color, elegant in style, and offers mixed berry flavors on the palate and a nice lingering finish. The Petit Verdot 2004 is a fuller bodied wine with dark fruit aromas and velvety tannins. On the palate are flavors of subtle dark fruit and nicely integrated oak with a smooth medium finish. Oakencroft's red wines are for the most part soft enough to sip on their own, and full enough to pair with your favorite dish.

Beautiful and Serene Pond View

After our tasting, we had the pleasure of chatting with a few out of town guests who were in area visiting. We also did a little Christmas shopping in the gift shop; you can find some nice stocking stuffers there. Afterwards we enjoyed a glass of the award winning Merlot 2005 and walked about the beautiful grounds. We later found comfort in these two relaxing chairs and soaked in the seasonal warmth by the nearby calming pond.

Elsie bids Vine Spot a Good-Bye & See You Later

In closing, Oakencroft is one of Virginia ’s pioneering wineries and the oldest in Albemarle County . We have enjoyed recent visits to the winery and encourage readers to pay a visit, enjoy their wines, and maybe do a little Christmas shopping for your wine loving friends. When you decide to visit, let them know you read about them here on Virginia Vine Spot.

Happy Sipping!



Loudoun Valley Vineyards Reserve Chardonnay 2004

Loudoun Valley Reserve Chardonnay 2004

Last week I won a bet with a fishing buddy and became the beneficiary of some prime tuna fillets. Anxious to season and sear these fillets, I whipped up some garlic dill potatoes and green beans to make it a meal. For my wine pairing, I visited the wine fridge, where I hold oodles of wine bottles hostage, and spotted a Loudon Valley Reserve Chardonnay, which I purchased early this year when visiting the winery.

The Loudoun Valley Reserve Chardonnay is barrel fermented in french oak and displays a nice yellow gold color. The bouquet offers vanilla and smoke with subtle tree fruit aromas. On the palate are muted tree fruit flavors of apple and pear, framed in oak with vanilla and spice nuances, ending with a slight pinch of sweetness. The Loudoun Valley Chardonnay paired quite well with my meal, and hopefully I can win another bet with this fishing buddy so I can do it all over again.

Loudoun Valley Vineyard’s Late Harvest Gewürztraminer 2003

For dessert, we enjoyed the Loudoun Valley Vineyard’s Late Harvest Gewürztraminer 2003, which is fruity and pleasingly sweet, with spice, fig, and honeyed flavors on the palate. It would pair well with cheese cake or vanilla crème brûlée. We opted to cut some calories and enjoy this tasty dessert wine on its very own.

Do stay tuned!

  • More Monticello Wine Trail visits
  • Wine Reviews
  • More, more, more ...

Happy Sipping!



Good Times at Cardinal Point Vineyards

With the day now growing old and the sun going down, there was still one winery left on our list to visit. Located in Afton, Virginia and situated amongst the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains sits Cardinal Point Vineyard and Winery.

Cardinal Point was conceived by Paul and Ruth Gorman, who first planted vines some twenty years ago and sold their fruit to local producers. In 2002 a winery was built on the property and children, Sarah and Tim Gorman, who were mere teenagers when this dream originated, are now instrumental in vineyard, winemaking and tasting room duties. As a matter of fact, next to a wonderful family story of pursuit of passion, Tim’s awesome Wine Blog, which details vineyard and winery activities piqued our interest to journey to Afton and visit the winery and taste their wines.

What a Handsome German Shepard

We arrived at the winery and were warmly greeted by staff and a handsome German Shepard named Winston, who was enjoying vacation, since chasing off ‘grape loving’ deer is all but over for the year. Even though we arrived thirty minutes before closing, there was no hurry or rush and I had the pleasure of conversing about Virginia Wine with Sarah, who made us feel welcomed and at home. Sarah recognized us from our blog and called Tim, who was working in the vineyard to join us. Blogs are awesome; they sort of connect the dots of common interest persons to draw a picture of a pretty wine bottle in our case. Tim, Sarah, staff and I had a wonderful time talking about Cardinal Point and other wine related topics. Tim Gorman could definitely teach the subject if he chose to, but for now let’s keep him making those great award winning Cardinal Point wines! After much laughter and chatter it was time to taste Cardinal Point’s offerings.

They did not hear me say CHEESE!!

Wines offered for tasting were the following: Barrel Select Chardonnay 2005, A6 2005 (Viognier and Chardonnay blend), Viognier 2005, Quattro 2005, Rockfish Red 2005, and Reserve Cabernet Franc 2005. All of these wines were quite tasty and we were more than happy to take home a little of this and a lot of that. The Cabernet Franc was one of my top picks, displaying nice fruit flavors, complexity and refined, yet firm tannins. This wine could definitely stand up to a nice red meat dish. The A6 2005 Chardonnay and Viognier blend is nicely done with pleasant aromas and ripe peach flavors and notes of apricot on the palate. Looking for a nice pizza wine, everyday sipper, or even a wine to pair with that tasty 5 Guy Burger? Try the Rockfish Red 2005. This is a fun and fruity Cabernet Franc based wine that is light in body and offers a wealth of nice fruit flavors on the palate. Newly introduced, and released alongside the ever hyped Beaujolais Nouveau 2006, is Cardinal Point’s reasonably priced Red Nouveau 2006. This selection was not released when we visited, but from what I gather it is a fun and fruity Cabernet Franc based wine that would pair well with pizza, and red sauce dishes and other light fare. Not to late for a purple tongue party people!

Following our tasting, we continued chatting a bit, until we all realized that it was well past closing time. I personally had a wonderful time talking with Sarah, Tim and staff, and would like to thank Sarah for making our time spent at Cardinal Point enjoyable.

This man says ... “Come try our wonderful wines”

In closing, Cardinal Point has a nice cozy tasting room with ample space for visitors to gather during the colder months and enjoy nibbles and Cardinal Point’s fine wines. There is also a video for visitors to view documenting year-round activities in the vineyard and winery. Want a little more of Cardinal Point? Dezel suggests you check out this entertaining and highly informative podcast of winemaker Tim Gorman being interviewed by local radio WNRN. Cardinal Point is definitely a must visit if you are on the Monticello Wine Trail. When you decide to visit, give Winston a nibble and let them know you read about them here, on Virginia Vine Spot!

Stay tuned!

  • More Monticello Wine Trail visits
  • Wine Reviews
  • More, more, more ...

Happy Sipping!



Twisted Oak Chicken visits FedEx Field

Twisted Oak Chicken @ FedEx Field

Last Sunday we visited FedEx Field to cheer the Washington Deadskins Redskins onto victory. Like all good fans, we like showing up a few hours early for the ever popular tailgate party. If you recall, the last time the Twisted Oak Chicken visited Vine Spot we enjoyed the pleasing Canterbury Vineyard Viognier 2005. This tasty example is somewhat oak driven, displaying a fair share of nuttiness, sweet oak, vanilla and nicely integrated fruit on the palate.

This time the Twisted Oak Chicken met us to cheer on the local team and delivered a more fruit driven Viognier. The Twisted Oak Calaveras County Viognier 2005 displays a nice lemon yellow color with an aromatic bouquet that is abundant with peach, citrus fruit, and floral aromas. On the palate, this medium bodied wine is nicely integrated with flavors of peach and grapefruit and hints of nuttiness and vanilla from subtle oak aging. This wine went particularly well with our chicken sandwiches and side dishes, not to mention, my IPOD, that’s full of Thin Lizzy hits.

The Twisted Oak Chicken then made it into the stadium with us where we all witnessed a miracle. The Washington Redskins defeated the playoff hopeful Carolina Panthers 17-13. The Chicken is now the good luck charm! Tomorrow the Chicken and Vine Spot will visit FedEx Field to watch the Redskins play the Atlanta Falcons. If the Redskins are victorious I have made a pact with the Chicken to take him to Popeyes for lunch.

Can you imagine the looks I get sporting a Thin Lizzy shirt and a rubber chicken in my hand? Entertaining, but I'm sure you will find the Twisted Oak Blog more amusing; I do.

I have also updated my WineLog with these selections and notes.

At any rate, let’s go Skins!

Happy Sipping!


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