Following a pleasant tasting experience at James River Cellars, Vine Spot set out to the small and restful town of Louisa to visit Cooper Vineyards. Along the way, we enjoyed the sights of rural flatlands, open fields, trees and farms; the drive took all of about 35 easy minutes. Vine Spot has seen Cooper Vineyards at several Virginia wine festivals and have also enjoyed their festive wines at those fun filled events, but this would be the first visit to the winery.
Arriving at Cooper Vineyards
Cooper Vineyards is owned by Geoffrey Cooper, who like others, saw a hobby and passion grow into a fully operational Virginia winery. Cooper Vineyards is also one of a number of small Virginia farm wineries producing small batches of handcrafted wines that are for the most part estate bottled wines. Cooper Vineyards has 12 acres of vine plantings consisting of Chardonnay, Vidal Blanc, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Norton, etc. and produces somewhere in the neighborhood of 5000 cases per year. Winemaker, Graham Bell, of Lake Ana Winery consults with Cooper Vineyards and as stated on their web site, “Produces wines worthy of your consideration”. Vine Spot need not consider, let’s enter the tasting room and try Cooper’s wines.
Amy of Cooper Vineyards at the Tasting Bar
The tasting room is currently setup in a small rustic house that is filled with charm and coziness on the inside, exemplifying country living. There is also a fair amount of unique and nice gift items to check out in the tasting room. Is pink your favorite color? For the ladies there are some nice new pink gift items including handbags, shirts, etc. that I have not seen anywhere else. Cooper Vineyards also plays host to 2 handsome dogs that are featured in the Wine Dogs, USA Edition book; unfortunately for Dezel, the 2 dogs were asleep, but hopefully we can make friends next time.
Moving right into our tasting, we were warmly greeted by Tasting Associate, Amy, who was very informative and told us all about the wine selections and upcoming events at Cooper. The wines offered were as follows: Chardonnay 2005, Coopertage Blanc 2005 (Chardonnay and Viognier blend), Cabernet Franc 2003, Merlot 2004, Syrah 2005, Norton 2004, Rhapsody (Vidal Blanc, Chardonel and Viognier sweet blend), Vida (Vidal Blanc ice styled dessert wine), Sweet Louisa (Native grape sweet blend), Noche Chocolate (Norton ice styled wine with a pronounced chocolate flavor).
Vineyard View of Cooper Vineyards
The wines tasted ranged from dry to sweet, fun and festive, to complex and elegant. A few of Vine Spot top selections with spring right around the corner kicked off with the $12 Chardonnay 2005. This colorful wine is estate bottled and fermented and aged in stainless steel, retaining the grapes freshness and fruit characteristics. On the taste, this wine is clean, crisp with bright acidity and would pair well with seafood and light hord'oeuvres. The once, ‘work-horse’ grape of Virginia, Norton, does good things in the bottle at Cooper Vineyards. The award winning Norton 2004 displays a nice deep ruby color and offers fresh dark fruit and spice flavors along with exceptional balance, ending with a lasting and lingering finish. Does Vine Spot have any Merlot lovers in the house? Try the Merlot 2004, which offers soft red, cherry fruit flavors framed in subtle vanilla and spice with good balance. For the sweet ending, try the $10 Rhapsody; as the name suggests, it is filled with bliss, honeysuckle, tropical hints and makes one heck of a spring time companion.
Mardi Gras Man pouring Cooper Wines
Following the tasting, Amy told us about an event that would be going on at the winery the following day, Cooper Vineyard’s annual Mardi Gras festival – jambalaya, king cake, the whole 9 yards. Although Vine Spot could not attend this year, Dezel received word and an accompanying picture of the event from a reliable source and wine pal, Frank Britt of Wine Lovers who left a description that will certainly get Vine Spot there next year.
Speaking of events, Cooper Vineyards participates and hosts a number of fun filled wine events. I suggest you check out their events page and plan on visiting this rising winery for some fun, wine and all that goes along with it. When you do set out for the small town of Louisa to taste Cooper Vineyards wines, be sure to let them know you read about them right here on Virginia Vine Spot!
Happy Sipping !