Enomatic – Insert, Press, Enjoy – So Simple, even a Caveman can do it!

Hello Friends,

After several months of procrastination, Dezel finally made it to the Whole Foods – Fair Lakes store location to visit their new state of the art wine tasting room. I was joined by friends and fellow bloggers Matt and Mary of $10 Dollar Wines and Chris of Northern Virginia Luxury Living. The high technology tasting room is located in the rear of the store near the wine sales area, up a flight of stairs, and overlooks the stores shopping area. Somewhat secluded and off the beaten path, much like the beautiful Virginia wineries and vineyards Vine Spot visits on a regular basis.

High Technology Wine Tasting Room

Upon entering Enoteca Ottanta, or more simply, the tasting room, Dezel felt like a kid in a candy store just after a generous allowance. After all, these Italian designed Enomatic wine dispensing robots have aroused a lot of buzz and are still a rarity, and I was surrounded by a myriad of these advanced wine servers. The only contact with a humanoid you will experience is exchanging dollars for a debit-like Enomatic card; I suppose the humanoids do not quite trust the robots with the money yet. With card in hand, it is now time to have a little fun!

Surrounded by Enomatics - Beautiful!

As the subject suggests, insert card, press button, enjoy wine – So simple even a Caveman can do it! Now let’s talk about the automated wine system, which gives a new meaning to wine tasting. Here is how the system works: Upon entering the tasting room you will secure your Enomatic debit-like card and grab yourself a wine glass; if you wish you can have a clean glass for every taste. Next, you will select 1 of 80 available wines, accompanied by tasting notes and choose a pour size of 1 ounce (tasting size), 3 ounce (1/2 glass), or 6 ounce (full glass). After inserting your Enomatic card and selecting the wine and pouring size, the machine deducts the amount from your card and pours the wine in your glass. On every table in the attractive tasting room are shoe string crackers, a copy of Karen McNeil’s Wine Bible, pens and blank tasting cards. Swirl, sniff, sip and enjoy! Guests can also purchase cheese and fruit platters and other gourmet fare to enjoy with the fine selection of wines available, whilst overlooking the busy shoppers in what I call the Walt Disney of grocery stores.

So simple friends, even Dezel can do it - Insert, Press and Enjoy!

So what is so special about the Enomatic you ask? The Enomatic is indeed an exceptional wine server who pours with care and precision. After all, the price of each machine roughly equates to a brand spanking new Dodge Neon. The down-side of the wine robot is no befriending the Enomatic and hoping for an extra ounce or two like in some human run tasting rooms. The Enomatic plays by the rules and is unbiased. Whole Foods currently has 10 Enomatic wine dispensing machines, so there are always 80 fresh wines on tap for your sipping pleasure. The highly regarded wine dispensing system shines in the areas of ensuring the control of quality, quantity and temperature of your wine. Very important factors! The Enomatic system prevents air, thus oxygen, from contacting the wine, and uses a pressurized food grade nitrogen gas (argon) system to ensure the continual freshness of the wine. This translates into every pour being as fresh as the very first pour; it is essentially as if the bottle was never opened. With such a system the bottle can remain consistent for weeks without change. Wow! Let’s talk about a few of the wines that were available for tastes.

1 0f 10 Enomatic Stations

First things first, there were 2 Virginia wines amongst the 80: Pearmund Cellars Cabernet Franc 2004 and Breaux Vineyards Viognier 2005. Yummy! The reaming 78 were from numerous wine producing regions and priced from $20 per bottle to 600$ per bottle. The great thing here is you can opt for a taste of a $400 bottle for under $20 if you so wish. Overall, most 1 ounce tastes range from $1 to $6 and there is a nice mix of white, red, dry, off dry, sweet – fortified and ice wines for your sampling pleasure. For $20 I enjoyed the following wines in 1 ounce pours:

$3 Taste - Domaine Chene Condrieu 2004 (Viognier) - Tropical, lush, dry, mouth filling. $45

$4 Taste - Chateau De Beaucastel Chateauneuf-Du-Pape 1996 – Complex, baked fruit. $90

$1 Taste - Fairview Shiraz (South Africa) 2003 – Dark berry, mineral, floral, very nice.

$3 Taste – AP Vin Kanzler Vineyard Pinot Noir 2005 (Santa Barbara) – burgundy like $56

$3 Taste – Heitz Cabernet Sauvignon 2002 (Napa) Rich, full flavored, structured - $42

$2 Taste – Hendry Block 28 Napa Zinfandel 2003 – Aromatic, dark fruit, rich, spice $35

$1 Taste – Crivelli Ruche Di Castagnole Monferrato 2005 – Easy drinking, Pinot qualities $21

$3 Taste – Rare Wine Company Historic Series NY Malmsey Special Reserve Madeira $41

As you can see, I was feeling sort of red, but not a bad tasting selection for $20 considering the wines poured. I plan on visiting again this weekend and enjoying some of the premium wines which includes the following, but not limited to (1 ounce taste are $4-$22 for these wines): Stag’s Leap 23 Cabernet Sauvignon 1999 $199 per bottle, Domaine De La Romaine Conti Echezeaux $599 per bottle, Leoville Barton (2nd Growth) Bordeaux $239 per bottle, Harlan Estate “ The Maiden” 2001 $269 per bottle, Chapoutier “La Mordoree” Côte Rôtie 2000 $149 per bottle, Dominus (Napa Cab blend) $95 per bottle, and a plethora of other nice selections.

The Purple Pen will be back for another Enomatic Experience!

In closing friends, Dezel highly recommends a visit this state of the art tasting room if you have not already. The Enomatic Wine-Bots ensures perfection and customer satisfaction with every pour. Where else can you sample up to 80 wines at your leisure, from good, great to super premium? Perhaps an International Wine Festival, but this is a more restrained and relaxed venue. Bring a game, a book, your laptop or grab a few friends and enjoy a step into the future of self serve wine tasting rooms. I would say tell the Enomatic’s Vine Spot sent you, but who knows what language those Wine-Bots speak!

  • Stay tuned friends! Want to know which Virgnia winery has the oldest Chardonnay vines?

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    Best Virginia Winery Poll - Rock the Vote!

    Get Out and vote for your favorite Virginia Winery!

    Hello Friends,

    The 32nd Annual Virginia Wine Festival 2007 is conducting a poll that you are sure to want to participate in. Dezel is pretty sure that there is one, if not more Virginia wineries where you love the wines and enjoy the hospitable service and knowledgeable staff, as well as the relaxing ambience.

    Well, vote for that winery so they can be crowned at the Virginia Wine Festival as “The People’s Choice” Virginia Winery. Dezel hears that the winning winery will be presented with a nice large plaque to hang on their tasting room wall for all to see. Rock the VOTE and make it happen for your top wine producer friends!

    CLICK HERE to VOTE for your favorite Virginia Winery!

    Also VOTE for Dezel below - Pretty Please with a smidgen of Viognier on top : )

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      Virginia, we have a Pinotage!

      Hello Friends,

      When Dezel first heard through the grapevine that a varietal Pinotage had been produced in Virginia, it was not difficult to figure out who might have bottled this red wine grape variety that is altogether unique to South Africa. My initial and correct guess was that of the wine lover and Virginia wine pioneer who brought Viognier to the Commonwealth and whose willingness to experiment with a myriad of grape varieties paved the way for less adventurous growers in Virginia. So who is Dezel referring to? Well, none other than Dennis Horton of course, owner of Horton Vineyards located in Gordonsville, VA, where there is something for every palate preference – trust me!

      Before diving into the Horton Vineyards 2005 Pinotage, it is important to first have a basic understanding of Pinotage, as some people may not be familiar with the grape variety. Pinotage is a cross developed in the mid 1920’s by a professor at Stellenbosch University who sought to combine the best qualities of the Pinot Noir grape, such as complexity and finesse, with the resilience and hardiness of the Cinsault grape variety.

      In my humble opinion, it is fair to say that Pinotage is to South Africa what Zinfandel is to California. The flavor and aroma profile of each of these grape varieties are unique to their region, their terrior and expresses qualities and properties in the glass that cannot be duplicated elsewhere, even amidst the technological advancements of the New World.

      Horton Vineyards Pinotage 2005

      For fear that my nose will grow, I must be honest and say that I am not a raving fan of Pinotage, but it is an interesting and complex enough wine to keep one engaged. Many people often associate South African Pinotage with the term “rustic”, and it is a term that defines most inexpensive to middling South African examples fairly well. Most South African Pinotage examples are medium-bodied wines with refreshing ripe fruit flavors up front, including red fruit and banana-like flavors with earthy and rustic notes mid palate, ending in a smoky, hickory sort of bacon fat finish that is accompanied by friendly tannins.

      South African Pinotage is somewhat of a love \ hate affair, even amongst the locals. South Africa knows however, that this grape is unique to their terrior on one side of the coin; on the other side of the coin it is not popular enough, or more appropriately, sophisticated enough for international acceptance. Elegant examples of Pinotage are produced, but like some of the more elegant Norton examples found here in Virginia, are more the result of what the winemaker can do to make these wines un-Pinotage like or un-Norton like.

      Lastly, South Africa is a rapidly surging wine producing region with rock star quality examples of Syrah and several other European varieties including Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc at very reasonable prices. No matter how great these wines are however, when one thinks of South African wines, Pinotage will always be at the forefront – It’s just that important!

      So what type of Pinotage can one expect from Virginia you ask? First, unbeknownst to Dezel, Horton Vineyards has successfully grown Pinotage since the late 1990’s and began using it as a blending grape in their Syrah wines a few years later. The 2005 marks Horton’s first varietal bottling of Pinotage, and to the best of my knowledge, the first varietal Pinotage in Virginia.

      Well, enough of Dezel’s rambling, let us pour and talk about the Horton Vineyard’s Pinotage. The wine is accessible and done in a fruit forward style displaying a brilliant deep ruby color. On the nose are enticing red berry fruit aromas, mild spice and soft cocoa hints. The aromas follow through on the palate with an abundance of upfront fresh red berry fruit flavors, namely raspberry. Well balanced and substantial, 17% of Tannat is added and provides a solid tannic structure that comes across on the taste as velvety. This wine for me is of an easy drinking, fresh fruit style that is thinly framed in soft spicy oak with a medium length finish.

      In closing friends, this is a nicely made wine, however not the rustic, bramble berry and smoky characteristics found in quintessential South African Pinotage. Perhaps Pinotage is indeed suited to its native South African terrior to capture its true expressionism. But, lets not be fooled, this Virginia Pinotage is a very good wine that I recommend readers seek out. This is a rare find in Virginia and exemplifies what the Pinotage grape variety can do in Virginia’s soil type and climate. Try this on its own or with red meat dishes, spicy foods and even traditional barbecue. When you try this wine friends, drop Dezel an email, as I would love to hear what you think about it.

      For more on Pinotage, I recommend readers visit Peter May’s blog – The Pinotage Club. Peter is a true and loyal devotee to the grape variety and his site contains a lot of information, as well as, excellent tasting notes on the many examples he has tasted through. Excellent site!

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        Marterella Winery: A Symphony of Fine Wine & Spectacular Surroundings

        Hello Friends,

        Last weekend Virginia Vine Spot saddled up and rode into the town of Warrenton to visit one of Fauquier County’s most recent additions to the wine trail, Marterella Winery. Nestled in the rural countryside amongst horse farms, perfectly manicured green lawns and rolling hills, Marterella Winery provides wine seekers with a generous amount of picturesque and tranquil surroundings and fine wine.

        Entering Marterella Winery

        The tasting room sits atop a hill of vine plantings and fronted by a scenic and relaxing pond. An outdoor patio, complete with an Italian wood-burning oven and babbling fountain, provides a nice respite for those looking to pack a picnic lunch and enjoy Marterella wines outdoors. Before making our way to the tasting room we were greeted by two friendly Border Collies, Lover-Boy and Godiva, who in dog talk said, “Thanks for coming and enjoy your stay.” Dezel responded with a few head scratches, which is his way of saying “Thanks, You are welcome,” and we entered the tasting room.

        Marterella Winery

        Upon entering the tasteful and nicely decorated tasting room, we were warmly greeted by Tasting Associate Gus, who told us a few things about the charming boutique winery and the wines they produce. Marterella Winery is the culmination of owner Kate Marteralla’s passion, effort, and desire to make small lots of handcrafted wines in Virginia. From establishing and managing the vineyard, designing the wine labels, to the attractive indoor and outdoor décor, and making the wines, Kate is responsible and intimately involved in every step of the winemaking process. I must mention that Kate even trained those two wonderful four-legged door greeters to ward off grape craving deer and other animals from the vineyard. After all, the fruit is meant to be enjoyed in the glass, right?

        Dezel, chatting and sipping the day away with Gus

        The tasting room is a step into modernism, brilliant and bright with large windows allowing an ample amount of natural lighting to fill the room and offering stunning views from every direction the eye can travel. For the cooler months, warm up by the elegant and cozy fireplace, and be entertained by the wall mounted television that hangs above. Being an 80’s Rock & Roll fan myself, I enjoyed the Sting concert that was playing during my visit. After chatting with Gus about the wine world at large and other delightful subject matter, we decided it was time to pour and taste Marterella wines.

        Tasting Room

        The tasting fee at Marterella is $5 per individual, and tasters receive a standard pour of the following selections: Vidal Blanc 2005, Chardonnay 2005, Merlot 2004, Cabernet Franc 2004, Meritage (Merlot based blend), Rosalie’s Rosé, and two dessert wines aptly named, Sweet Nothings (NV) and Grace (NV).

        Rosalie’s Rosé

        The Vidal Blanc 2005 is a crisp and refreshing wine with good acidity that would make for an excellent spring and summertime sipper. Unlike a number of examples found locally that contain some residual sugars, this one is pleasingly dry. Done in a crisp style, but nicely rounded and integrated, is the Chardonnay 2005, offering soft tree fruit with slight toasty flavors. This is a nice drinking Chardonnay on its own, or pair with seafood or light hors d'oeuvres. Moving to the red wines, Virginia’s flagship grape variety, Cabernet Franc, shows well here. The Cabernet Franc is estate-grown and made from 6 year old vines. The wine is 100% Cabernet Franc and displays the common varietal characteristics of violet, spice, slight herb and red fruit, which are found in well made examples. The mouth feel is on the lighter side of medium and is just as good on its own as it would be with lamb or braised veal. Another fine red, the Merlot 2004, contains a splash of Petit Verdot for structure and is silky smooth with friendly tannins, and done in more of an easy drinking, fresh fruit style. The label I found most aesthetically charming was the Rosalie’s Rosé; this wine is a Merlot based blush style wine with a sprinkling of sweetness and brilliant and bright flavors of red fruit, dominated by strawberry, with good acidity. What is so cute about the label this summer time deck sipper sports, is that the dated picture of the beautiful southern belle on the label just happens to be Kate’s mother. How sweet! Speaking of sweet, for the sweet ending, the 100% Chambourcin dessert wine, Sweet Nothings, topped my list with good fruit flavors, sweet but not cloying, and paired nicely with the chocolates we were offered. Overall, the wines tasted displayed good varietal character, aroma and flavor profiles, and are very approachable.

        On the patio

        Following our tasting, we had the opportunity to meet Jerry, Kate’s friendly husband. Jerry was outdoors utilizing the Italian brick oven and had just entered the tasting room with a fully cooked marinated tenderloin, that like the wine, offered lovely intense aromas. Dezel kindly accepted a sampling, which required a glass of Meritage, the more voluptuous of the reds, and it was a savory and sensory experience. Yummy! Dezel must get the recipe on the next visit.

        Enjoy your Visit, View, and Vino Friends!

        Afterwards, we chatted with Gus, who is a pleasure to talk to and taste with, and secured a few bottles of Marterella wines. Be on the lookout for three Marterella upcoming releases – Pinot Gris 2006, Barrel Select Chardonnay 2005 (limited production), and a Sangiovese and Merlot blend 2006 in the fall. Sounds like a tasty future to me!

        Godiva - Isn’t he a Cutie?

        On the way out, Godiva, the brown dog followed Dezel to get one more head scratch and to say “Good-Bye, See you again.” Dezel assured Godiva that he would return with a picnic basket, doggy treats, and more head scratches to enjoy the day on the patio while taking in the wonderful views surrounding Marterella Winery. When readers visit Materella Winery, and Dezel strongly suggest that you do, tell them you saw them here on Virginia Vine Spot!

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          Monticello Wine & Food Festival - April 21st, 22nd

          Hello Friends,

          Dezel was reminded by Liz Bryant of Alliance Group of the upcoming fun filled Monticello Wine and Food Festival held in the splendor of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Fine Virginia Wine, Local Musicians, Gourmet Fare, Seminars and Arts & Craft – what more could one ask for? Liz, recommends visiting the below highlighted web site for tickets and information. Dezel says "Be safe and have fun on the Wine Trail friends!"

          Taste some fine Virginia Wines and Have Fun!

          Monticello Wine & Food Festival to be held April 21st and 22nd
          ~ Don’t miss one of Virginia’s premier epicurean events ~

          Mark your calendar for the weekend of April 21st and 22nd, when you can enjoy a rare opportunity to taste wines from 20 of Virginia’s best wineries all in one spot. In a new location this year – and on a new springtime weekend -- the Monticello Wine & Food Festival promises to combine the best of years past with a few new elements to delight visitors in 2007.

          This year’s 27th annual event will be held at Morris Farm, conveniently located just a mile off Route 29 on Route 33 in Stanardsville. Enjoy the beauty of the rolling countryside while sipping award-winning Virginia wines, indulging in gourmet fare, and experiencing a variety of fine art and music.

          Participating wineries include: Afton Mountain, Barboursville, Burnley, Cardinal Point, DelFosse, First Colony, Gabriele Rausse, Hill Top, Horton, Jefferson, Keswick, King Family, Kluge Estate, Oakencroft, Prince Michel, Stone Mountain, Sugarleaf, Veritas, White Hall, and Wintergreen.

          Advance tickets are $15 and can be obtained at any of the participating wineries or online. Tickets will be available at the gate for $20. The festival will be open Saturday, April 21st and Sunday, April 22nd from 11:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. For more information, or to purchase advance-sale tickets, visit

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          Pearmund Cellars: Everybody Loves Redmund !

          Sounds like a popular long running American sitcom right? Not quite, but everybody does love Redmund – Pearmund Cellars huggable and popular winery dog. So much so, that the cute, soft spoken, nimble Basenji had all his four legged and two legged friends over this past weekend to celebrate the release of his very own wine label. We have enjoyed several visits to Pearmund Cellars in the past, and this fun-filled event would be no different.

          Pearmund Cellars Winery Dog - Redmund

          The majority of Virginia wineries you visit will have at least one friendly winery dog, whose chores in the vineyard and tasting room keeps him or her quite busy day and night. In the vineyard, the winery dog is responsible for warding off deer, rabbits, birds or any other animal (or two legged friend) that might have a hankering for wine grapes. In the tasting room, the winery dog puts on his public relations hat to greet you in the parking lot or front door and welcome you to the winery. Dezel is of the belief that Redmund has excelled in these areas and deserving of what may be the very 1st doggy wine label in Virginia!

          Redmund's Reserve White 2006

          The attractive wine label features a playful picture of Redmund, along with his paw prints, signature and favorite activities. The wine, Redmund’s Reserve White 2006, is a fun, fruity, slightly sweet, unpretentious wine, which is much like the winery dog himself. With the seasonal warmth approaching, this is a nice wine to seek out for picnics and backyard get-togethers.

          Redmund & Seeker - Can you tell who is who ?

          Moving onto the party, there were just as many four legged friends as there were two. While the two legged friends nibbled on cheese, crackers and sipped Pearmund’s fine wines, the four legged friends chased balls, wagged tails and snacked on doggy treats. Redmund’s sister, Seeker was on hand for the festivities with her friendly owners Sid and Sue Sher, who are AKC breeders of Basenjis for anyone interested in one of these attractive and handsome dogs.

          Artist - Linda Hendrickson, displaying a nice painting

          Also there to celebrate wth Redmund, was Linda Hendrickson, the talented artist responsible for the excellent artwork on the label. Linda’s eye-catching work can be found gracing the walls of Pearmund Cellars tasting room. For those looking for something unique and striking, with an artful twist, contact Linda here.

          The sign says it all......

          Moving onto their wines, the recent release of the Pearmund Cellars Sauvignon Blanc 2006 is sure to be a big spring and summer hit. It is a grape variety that you do not see a lot of in Virginia, but Pearmund proves that it can make an exceptional wine here when carefully crafted and done right. Fashioned after a Fumé Blanc, this nicely balanced wine suggests gooseberry bush, citrus fruit with tropical hints. Drinking very well right now is the Petit Verdot 2005, offering richness and elegance with good fruit flavors and supple tannins, landing smoothly with a nice lingering finish. Do note – this is a limited production wine, so act swiftly on it. Pearmund Cellars also produces a full range of wonderful wines, from red to white, dry to temptingly sweet; at Pearmund Cellars there is something for every palate preference.

          Redmund - The 1st Virginia Dog of Wine

          In closing, we were happy to learn that proceeds from the day went to Redmund’s favorite charity, the SPCA. Dezel told you Redmund was a sweet dog. The next time you visit Pearmund Cellars friends, be sure to say hello to Redmund and let the pleasant staff at Pearmund Cellars know that you read about them here on Virginia Vine Spot!

          • Stay Tuned Friends ! I have loads of great stuff and a visit to Warrenton's latest addition!

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            Weekly Sip: Keswick Vineyards Syrah 2004

            Keswick Vineyards Syrah 2004

            Hello Friends,

            Syrah is a grape variety you do not find a great deal of here in Virginia. The handful of local examples I've tasted have been light, typifying a Northern Rhone everyday drinking style. For those of you most familiar with the Australian style of full, rich, ripe and intense fruit, this will be a different experience for you, but one definitely worth seeking out.

            Syrah is a diverse wine grape depending on where it is grown. It is capable of producing, light everyday quaffing wines, to full bodied fruit bombs, to complex, dense, dark and tannic, age worthy examples. Standard Syrah aromas include, but are not limited to, dark cherry, blackberry, plum, blackcurrant, black pepper, tar and spice with similar flavor characteristics. Let’s take a look at the Keswick Vineyards 2004 Syrah and see what we can find in it.

            Review: The Keswick Vineyards Syrah 2004 is clear garnet in color with subtle blackberry and dark cherry aromas with hints of pepper and oak. The aromas follow through on the palate with slightly earthy and soft toasty flavors. This wine is nicely balanced, with velvety tannins and a medium finish. Overall, a pleasant wine, but quiet and reserved, with enough aroma and flavor characteristics to be interestingly engaging. A nice aperitif wine, or consider pairing with light cheeses.

            The wine retails for $29.95 and was released as a limited production wine. Based on price and quality level, the wine is well worth seeking out to discover what Syrah can do in the Commonwealth. On the flip side of that coin, if you are thinking globally some very nice examples can be found for great values out of France, Australia, California, Washington State, and a surging South Africa.

            I’m uncertain of the availability of this wine, but Keswick Vineyards will release a 2006 Syrah in the near future. This wine will have a splash of Viognier added and suited to a more light, fresh and fruity style. The afforementioned 2004 bottling is 100% Syrah grape.

            For readers who have not visited Keswick Vineyards, it is just east of Charlottesville and situated amongst beautiful rolling hills, horse farms and manicured greens – definitely an ideal place to visit when spring decides to find Virginia. Let's hope that is soon friends we we can all enjoy spring time at a Virginia Winery!

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              A Blooming Good Time at Tarara Winery

              Hello Friends,

              Last Saturday Dezel took full advantage of a beautiful and sunny spring day and paid a visit to Tarara Winery. It is no secret that when the birds are singing, butterflies in flight and flowers blooming, Dezel can more than likely be found at a Virginia winery or some other outdoor event.

              Entering Tarara Winery

              On this visit, Dezel's pal Johnny, from the previously posted tuna story came along, giving up his weekend Australian Shiraz habit to come out and enjoy some Virginia wine. Somehow, Dezel believes Johnny likes this Virginia wine, despite all his Shiraz talk. So off we were to Loudoun County to enjoy a lovely and sunny spring day!

              Beautifully in Bloom - Road leading to Tarara Winery

              On the way to the winery, the gorgeous pear trees on the property boardering the road were in full bloom, only outmatched by the picturesque Shadow Lake, which offers the perfect centerpiece for a romantic picnic or family gathering. Thus the scene was set for a pleasurable spring day of tasting through Tarara’s full spectrum of award winning wines. After chatting with some familiar faces in the crowd, we made our way to the tasting bar for a taste.

              Picturesque Shadow Lake

              Tarara offers two separate tasting options, one featuring your good everyday casual wines and the other is the Winemakers Select tasting, featuring Tarara’s reserved and limited production wines. Winemaker, Rob Warren, has done an excellent job of hand crafting quality wines at Tarara and we were eager to sample their offerings. Hosted by Sandy, we gathered a tasting sheet and pen and began our tasting. Sandy informed us that the Pinot Gris 2005 and Viognier 2005 were sold out, but the 2006 vintage of those varietal wines would be released the week of April 7th. Dezel is curious to find out if the 2006 vintage of the Pinot Gris and Viognier are fashioned after the 2005 vintages (stainless aged, crisp, refreshing), which were really enjoyable dry white wines.

              Mr. Shiraz at Tarara Tasting Bar

              Since Dezel has been to Tarara several times in the past and expressed what stood out on the palate in previous posts, Dezel stole asked for Johnny’s tasting sheet to see what an Australian, Shiraz sort of guy, had a preference for. Johnny listed the following wines, and I must note that he was looking for nice spring and summer type wines in particular for the upcoming warmer months. The Cameo 2005 was high on the list for picnics and lawn concerts like at Wolf Trap. The Cameo is a Cabernet Franc based Rosé styled blend that is light and refreshing with fresh red fruit aromas that follow through on the palate with just the slightest pinch of sweetness. This wine would pair nicely with spicy ethnic cuisine, traditional barbeque and light hors' dourves. Moving right along, the Merlot 2004, a medium bodied wine, offers soft cherry, currant and spice aromas with supple tannins and is a well rounded wine that has benefited from French barrel aging and time in the bottle. This wine drinks nicely now and has the potential to develop in the bottle for several years to come; game, duck and red sauce dishes come to mind when tasting this wine. The newly released Vidal Blanc 2006 is an expressive off dry wine, that favors the sweeter side with citrus and tropical aromas standing out – I can see this offering doing quite well for itself at Tarara’s summer concert series and festivals. Another warm weather pleaser is the Wild River Red 2005, which is a Chambourcin based blend that has a small percentage of homegrown blackberries added. This wine is on the lighter side of medium bodied and is a fruit driven wine boasting blackberries (of course), raspberry and red cherry flavors and is best served chilled and pairs quite well with milk chocolate and drinks well on its own.

              Deck View - Tarara Winery

              Following our tasting, Johnny stocked up on an armful of Virginia spring and summer time wine selections and we made our way to the raised deck where a live band was entertaining the crowd. The deck is just outside the tasting room and provides nice views of the Potomac River, back dropped by the Sugar Loaf Mountains in the distance. Outside of the the deck, Tarara’s guest friendly 475 acres consists of wooded walking trails, a volley ball area, tennis courts, and wine cave tours and let’s not forget Shadow Lake, one of the most breathtaking lakes you will find on any Virginia winery grounds.

              In closing, Dezel recommends readers visit Tarara’s web site as they have free outdoor concerts every Saturday on the outdoor deck throughout the month of April and the Winds and Wine Festival the 1st week of May, and many more fun filled events with their award winning wines at the center. So friends, pack a picnic basket or visit the wine shop for fresh French baguettes, a variety of cheeses, spreads and sausage, and enjoy a wonderful day spent at one of Loudoun’s top wineries - Tarara Winery! When you visit please let the kind staff know you read about them right here on Virginia Vine Spot.

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                Happy Sipping and Thanks for your support !



                Northern Virginia Wineries on DVD

                Hello Friends,

                I forgot to mention that while shopping and discovering Virginia wines at The Virginia Shop, I also discovered a DVD titled, “Wineries of Northern Virginia – A DVD Tour”, produced by Impact Video.

                This video tour places the viewer inside the tasting rooms, wine making facilities and barrel rooms at over 20 Northern Virginia Wineries. You will meet the owners and winemakers and get their thoughts and more on Virginia wine, which I found enlightening and insightful.

                This video also covers two other key elements that I call “The Total Experience” that sort of handshakes with Northern Virginia wineries. What are those two elements? Those two elements are B&B’s and Fine Dining; all of which can be found nearby most Virginia wineries. The Wineries of Northern Virginia DVD also features several local Northern Virginia B&B’s and Fine Dining locations and talks with the Innkeepers, Owners and Chefs about their trade. You will discover a number of fine and friendly historic Inns, B&B’s and restaurants in Virginia, so be sure to check out these destinations on the disc as well.

                I would say more, but I do not want too give away too much of this video; it is a must see for anyone interested in Virginia wine and like I moniker it, the “Total Experience”. What I will say is that while I was watching this DVD, I saw myself swirling a glass of wine at a Tarara festival – that was hilarious, as I didn’t expect to see myself. If I knew the camera was on, I would have dressed better that day {Thin Lizzy shirt and a tie}.

                The only little pet peeve I have about the DVD is that the featured option to play-all and list by alphabetical order on the disc does not work and you have to navigate around the Northern VA wine map and select wineries, restaurants or B&B’s individually. I may have a bad disc, but this is the case of two store purchased copies. Despite that, this video is engaging and entertaining and offers some beautiful shots of Virginia wine country – this is the perfect primer to get you up and ready for some weekend wine tasting in Virginia.

                Dezel does have a pairing recommendation for you for this DVD – skip the popcorn and coke and pair it with one of your favorite Virginia wines and some fine nibbles.

                NOTE: Disc retails for $19.99 at The Virginia Shop.

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                  Country (Dessert) Wine: Loudoun Valley Poire

                  The warm weather has finally arrived and if you have ever attended a Virginia wine festival on a hot and humid day, then you well know that the country (sweet & fruity) wines always sell out fast – very fast. And understandably so; these wines are inexpensive, light, fruity, sweet, refreshing and most importantly, served chilled, which helps to lift the sun off for a brief time on a warm day here in the Common Wealth. Trust me!

                  My Great-Grandfather made country wines for his own personal use out of cherries and peaches. Country wines are wines made from fruit other than grapes, and Dezel is guessing that it gets its name from people like my Great-Grandfather, who lived in the country and made his wine out of any fruit that grew well in the backyard.

                  Now Dezel admits to preferring a Sauternes or Ice Wine, when given the choice of a sweet wine, but country wines or fruit wines as some call them, has a place in Virginia and sells well. Fruits such as apple, pear, raspberry and peach are popular selections in Virginia for wineries that produce these fruity country wines, which are quite popular with certain crowds.

                  Loudoun Valley Vineyards Piore

                  Loudoun Valley Vineyards makes a popular selection appropriate at or away from festivals, that I have heard many patrons ask for and talk about when I have visited the winery in the past. Loudoun Valley’s Poire – A soft and delicate wine produced from 100% pear is that popular selection. The Poire wine is pale to light gold in color and I suppose we need not guess the aromas should we? The nose is pleasant, so enjoy a swirl and sniff of this one – ripe pear indeed! On the taste this wine is light and refreshing and is in no way cloying, but fruity with light pear flavors running over the palate. Outside of pear, the wine does have a subtle framing of light - very light toastiness like it spent a little time in neutral barrels. I would describe this wine as off dry, and a nice festival, patio/deck sipper that would pair with cheeses and lighter dishes.

                  If interested in a bottle or bottles of Poire, contact the winery for availability. As of last week, Total Wine in Springfield had this selection for under $12.

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                    The Virginia Shop - Local Wine Find

                    Hello Friends,

                    Since I reside nearby Old Town Alexandria, I often take evening and weekend strolls up and down the narrow and quaint roads of Old Town seeking out small novelty stores, knick-knack shops, and of course memorable dining experiences. This weekend, a store displaying a Virginia Wine sign caught my eye. I have searched the Old Town area high and low in times past for local wines, and the few wine stores I have found only stock limited local selections; in other words, very-very few.

                    The Virginia Shop

                    Now, Dezel is not complaining, since shelf space is limited and some stores have to stock what works well for them, which are usually rated wines that are found in popular wine publications. That system will always be here and works well for the masses, but local wine blogs are helping push the local wine cause and it's great to find stores like the Virginia Wine Shop who is also pushing the local wine cause - and not just because it's "local wine", but because it's good "local wine".

                    Many local wines ..

                    Most local wines are usually found in very few places outside of the winery itself, which may not be feasible to visit on a weeknight. I was pleasantly surprised to find a generous local wine selection at The Virginia Shop, located in Old Town Alexandria on 104 South Union Street. As a matter of fact, all The Virginia Shop carries are select local wines. A few of the producers stocked (but not limited to) are: Jefferson, Chrysalis, Breaux, Barboursville, Rockbridge, White Hall, Blenheim, Williamsburg, Horton, Gray Ghost, Stone Mountain, Del Fosse, Pearmund, Prince Michael, Rappahannock, and even some bottles from the now closed Farfelu Vineyards, the 1st licensed winery in Virginia post prohibition. So if you want a bottle of Farfelu wine for your Virginia collection, The Virginia Shop has you covered.

                    And many, many more !!!

                    In addition to Virginia Wine, this two story historic (A circa 1765 structure) shop also carries local jams, spreads, sauces, dips, nuts, candies, unique gift ideas, souvenirs, and many more items. So if you live nearby and craving something local and just cannot get out to the wineries, give the Virginia Shop a try!

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                      Happy Sipping and Thanks for your support !

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