Stadium Sip: Williamsburg Winery Governor’s White

Hello Friends,

Last Sunday Dezel brought along the good luck charm, Virginia wine, to the Redskins pre-game tailgate party; however, those darn Redskins fizzled out toward the end. Like a coworker jokingly said, “What can you get out of a dollar that you cannot get out of the Redskins?” Answer, 4 quarters! But, let’s not flog the burgundy and gold so soon since it is early in the season and they are, well, 2-1.

Williamsburg Winery Governor’s White

Enough about the loss; lets talk about a win-win situation - one of Williamsburg Winery’s most popular wines. Although, I have not visited Williamsburg Winery (yet), I have had a number of their wines, from the unpretentious and inexpensive, to their reserved and premium wines. For those who do not know, Williamsburg Winery is one of Virginia’s largest producers and accounts for a large percentage of Virginia’s total wine production. With an enticing mélange of history, grace, and a number of diverse and reasonably priced wines, Williamsburg Winery is well-known and has a large dedicated customer base. Their popularity does not solely rely upon their premium and slightly pricier selections, but, a large part of their appeal is due in part to their lineup of “young ...fruit forward…drink me now wines”, which are priced as low as $7. These reasonably priced, simple, yet very drinkable and thinkable ‘winemaker’s blends’ are your everyday value wines for just about any fun-filled or laid back occasion. In this lineup of red and white wine blends the ever popular, crowd favorite, Governor’s White makes Dezel’s Stadium Sip.

Review: The Governor’s White (Cayuga, Muscat, and Vidal Blanc) is a fruity and bright, semi-dry blended white wine clocking in at 11% alcohol with a nice color and inviting aromas. Light citrus notes mingle with candied fruit flavors and (two) pinches of sweetness in this popular fruit forward blended wine. Serve this well chilled and try pairing it with Asian or Indian cuisine, seafood, or as a cocktail aperitif. The Governor’s White is pleasing to the palate and pocket; if you are looking for a good $7 fruity quaffing wine then give it a try- It is fun, fruity, and easy drinking with a good quality to price ratio. Locals, you can find this wine at the source ->, Williamsburg Winery, or Total Wine, some local Target stores, World Market, etc.

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32nd Annual Virginia Wine Festival 2007 – Great Wines, Good-Times, and Plenty Sunshine!

32nd Annual Virginia Wine Festival 2007

Hello Friends,

This past Sunday Dezel attended the 32nd annual Virginia Wine Festival – “The Granddaddy of them all,” as it is called. Where does Dezel begin? This is the most popular wine festival in Virginia, and featured were 60 award winning wineries, a number of local art and craft vendors, excellent food, educational and enlightening seminars, and toe tapping, finger- snapping live entertainment. Mother Nature blessed the Old Dominion with picture perfect weather, which was a delight to the many who attended – Thank You Mother Nature, may we please have another? With so much offered, let’s dive right into the red and white fun as I highlight a few of my finds. Although I missed a number of wineries (shame, shame), I made it to many, and highly recommend attending both days next year if you really want to experience all this fun-filled mega fest has to offer.

Let the 'pours' begin !!!

Every year when I attend the local wine festivals there are always new and aspiring wineries looking to merge into Virginia's blossoming wine market. I found three at this festival, and can you believe - one is situated in one of my favorite ‘hot spots’, Loudoun County.

Sunset Hills Vineyards

Sunset Hills Vineyard, expected to open in 2008, is located in western Loudoun County and was on hand pouring a clean and crisp Chardonnay 2006, as well as a fuller and creamy textured example, and a nice Cabernet Sauvignon 2005. Next to the 2002 vintage, 2005 is a good vintage for Virginia reds so secure some while you can. Owned by Mike and Diane Carney, Sunset Hills also grows Viognier, Cabernet Franc and Merlot, so look for a nice selection of wines offered when they open for tasting. The tasting room will be housed in a renovated 1870’s barn, and for further information about this new addition to the Loudoun County wine trail, visit their updated and informative website.

?????????? Vino Curioso ??????????

Another newer winery that was a big attraction, partly due to their clever marketing strategy, which includes trendy wine labels and catchy wine names such as Franc the Tank, Snake’s Den and 954, is Vino Curioso. Once drawn in by the large question mark sported on their banner, you will find that this newcomer has some tasty wines - a nice Viognier, a good naked (unoaked) Chardonnay, an exceptional Cabernet Franc, and a well done Sangiovese, which is a grape variety I found to be done consistently good among several producers at the festival. I’m not sure if Vino Curioso conducts regular wine tasting out of a tasting room or not; however, if you’re curious about Vino Curioso wines you can visit their website for additional information.

Watch out for the Meteor shower .....

Following similar suit is White Fences Vineyard and Winery, who uses the name Meteor as the name of their wine series. Located in Irvinington, VA, the fine folks at Meteor say that on a beautiful night you can see meteor showers over the vineyard, hence the name and wine label. Meteor has 4 estate bottled selections that are decent wines with a lot of character. I recommend the Meteor Bright Red 2005 – a Chambourcin and Merlot blend with good upfront fruit, baked blackberry cobbler and toasty notes. Visit their website for further information on what is going on at White Fences Vineyard and Winery.

Fabbioli Cellars

There were also several other newer wineries such as DuCard Vineyards and West Wind Vineyards present at the festival and some of these young wineries are coming out the gates with some rather appealing wines. Despite the talk about Virginia’s erratic climate and shorter growing season, grape growers are producing quality fruit in the Old Dominion and winemakers crafting casual to premium wines, and the list of wineries continues to grow.

Challenging the erratic climate and short growing season is Fabbioli Cellars, who are committed to only producing high quality red wines. Doug, Colleen and company were on hand pouring their recently released Cabernet Franc 2006 and Chambourcin 2006; two excellent selections. Also offered were the Tre Sorelle 2005, their flagship wine, and their famous Raspberry Merlot. I recommend all you red wine lovers seek out Fabbioli Cellars in Loudoun County – ask about the Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 – great stuff!

A beautiful day for enjoying Virginia Wine

Can you say Viognier? Let us try again … Vee-On-Yay – Good you got it! Now grab these: Wintergreen Winery’s newly released Viognier 2006 was the 1st of several examples that in my opinion were nicely done and true to the charter of the noble French white wine grape variety of Condrieu. Aromatic, honeysuckle, stone fruit, and citrus notes are all words that can be used to describe this pleasing selection.

Cooper Vineyards

Additionally, Cooper Vineyards also offers a very nice Viognier 2006 that fits the aforementioned descriptors, as well as a pretty tasty Norton 2005 wine for those of you who crave Virginia’s own red wine grape variety.

A must try is Corcoran Vineyard’s (formerly Waterford) newly released Viognier 2006. Inviting aromas and bountiful fruit characterize this excellent offering. I also had the opportunity to check out Corcoran Vineyard’s new wine labels, which are highly attractive and elegant, and are sure to catch your eye. As for their wines, they are sure to catch your palate! Visit their website for additional information on their wines and upcoming events. Other good Viognier examples to note from wineries that were in attendance are Chrysalis, Horton (the pioneering winery that introduced Viognier to Virginia), First Colony, and Williamsburg Winery.

Attractive label or what?

Other things to note in no particular order are as follows:

Fiona, of Doukenie Winery in Loudoun County was on hand pouring a very nice Sauvignon Blanc 2006, and a barely naked (lightly oaked) Chardonnay 2006 (good balance and fruit flavors) that were both really nice wines. In addition, Doukenie was also pouring their newly released Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 that is a nice example of what the grape variety can do here in good vintage years. Look for a Cabernet Sauvignon / Merlot blend from the award winning winery, and be sure to visit their web page for upcoming event information.

Doukenie Winery

Old House Vineyards recently released a tasty Cabernet Franc based blush wine, and popular selections like the Chambourcin based ‘Wicked Bottom’ and Vidal Blanc were crowd favorites. Owner, Pat Kearney informed me that he would be releasing a sparkling wine in the near future and reminded me of the Chili cook-off next month; be sure to visit their web site as Old House hosts a number of events on their beautiful Culpeper farm.

Old House Vineyards

Kent Marrs, owner of Village Winery in Loudoun County is doing so well with his Elderberry wine that he informed me at the festival that he is considering making syrup out of the native fruit. A little Elderberry drizzled on a hot stack of pancakes sure sounds good to me. Yummy! Kent is also doing very well with his Cabernet Franc Rosé, dry Apple wine, Cabernet Franc, and several other selections. Visit Village Winery’s web site for further information and look for Village Winery kiosk at Leesburg Outlet Mall.

General Manager Chris Breiner of Stone Mountain Vineyards, the winery located at an elevation of approximately 1700 ft. atop the Blue Ridge Mountains was on hand pouring a nice Pinot Grigio, a nicely done stainless Chardonnay, and an oak aged Chardonnay, as well as a pleasing Cabernet Franc and several other good selections. I have heard from many on the wine trail that Stone Mountain Vineyards also offers awesome views, which I’m eager to see for myself. Check out their website for information on the winery and their wines.

Cabernet Franc, Norton, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon … these are reds that you are subject to find at most Virginia wineries, but how about Sangiovese. Yep, Sangiovese; I know you think of Italy when you hear Sangiovese, and you very well should. However, there were several local wineries on hand pouring their signature brand of Sangiovese at the festival that are definitely worth seeking out. These examples are more fruit forward, easy drinking in style, middling acidity, and were all consistently good wines. If you are accustomed to Italian examples, you may not get that earthiness, but you will get to experience what this long lived grape variety can do in the Old Dominion. Wineries to look at for Sangiovese wines are Ingleside, Barboursville, Vino Curioso and Afton Mountains.

Some other notables that received the purple pen star were Mountain Cove Vineyards for their signature Skyline White off-dry blend, as well as their Norton blend, which goes by the name of ‘Tinto’. By the way, Mountain Cove Vineyards was founded in 1973, and is Virginia’s oldest operational winery – wow!

Willowcroft Vineyards

Willowcroft Vineyards poured a beautifully scented Traminette 2006 and a flavorful Merlot 2002. Willowcroft also hosts a number of entertaining and educational events at their Loudoun County winery so be sure to visit their website for further information.

North Mountain Vineyards

North Mountain Vineyard poured a really nice Claret that received a purple pen star, as well as a fruity Cabernet Franc that has Thanksgiving written all over it. For the sweet ending, I really enjoyed Athena Vineyards Sweet White; a late harvest white wine blend that pairs nicely with chocolate, or sipped on its own. The long…very long finish of the day award goes to Bright Meadows Farm in Nathalie, Virginia. When the tasting note of the Halifax Red said “assertive” and “strong finish” I should have took heed of this full bodied concord based wine. This is a unique wine, so it piqued my interest. I will say that like Norton or a rustic Pinotage it does take some getting used to. The finish on this young warrior stayed with me for nearly 35 minutes, and was the last wine I tasted – young warrior leaves a lasting impression! For lovers of fruit wines and native varieties check out Bright Meadow’s Apple, Blackberry, and other fruit wines.

Athena Vineyards

While that aforementioned strong finish was still working on me I decided to attend an educational seminar that was hosted by Virginia wine enophile and President of the Vinifera Wine Growers Association Gordon Murchie and supporting members. It is always great hearing Gordon speak, especially about the history of Virginia wine. Great job VWGA! Also, after Virginia voted for their favorite winery, and there were over 9500 votes, Pearmund Cellars took home the Peoples Choice Award. Congratulations Pearmund! And congrats to Savoy-Lee winery, who kept the race close to the finish and was the second place winner.

Virginia Wine of the Month Club

Ever wanted Virginia wine delivered to your front door? The Virginia Wine of the Month Club can make that happen for you, friends. Along with the wine you will receive tasting notes, and information on the producing winery + more! Visit their website for additional details.

I’m Dezel, see you on the wine trail, friends!

In closing, this years Virginia Wine Festival was another great grape experience that I would recommend to anyone. The picture perfect weekend weather and beauty of the Loudoun countryside provided the perfect setting to enjoy a number of award-winning Virginia wines, local arts and crafts, live entertainment, and delicious foods. The organizers of this popular event did an excellent job this year, and everyone I asked was highly pleased with all facets of the fun-filled festival. It was great seeing old friends, and meeting new, and I look forward to the 2008 Virginia Wine Festival already.

Attend the festival? Feel free to share some of your favorite selections as well.

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Dezel's Virginia Vine Spot © 2006-2007. All rights reserved.


Wine Blogging Wednesday #37: Go Native !!

Hello Friends,

When Dezel received word that the good doc, Doctor Vino, was hosting WBW #37 – 'Go Native' wine blog theme, my interest was immediately piqued. Sweetening the deal was when I found that participants would receive major bonus points for drinking a varietal wine in the place where it is grown. With this tidbit of information, I had a very good idea what indigenous American grape variety I was going to feature in my post. After all, I not only drank my WBW selection from the place where it is grown, but purchased it from the place where it is grown. Any guesses friends? If you guessed Norton, then you are correct! Read on as I roll out the red purple carpet for Horton’s Norton.

I intentionally chose to highlight Horton Vineyards brand of Norton wine because Dennis Horton is in fact the pioneering Virginia winery owner that first re-introduced Norton to its long lost home, Virginia. Additionally, giving credit where credit is due, before we jump into Norton, Dennis Horton is also the first in Virginia to produce a Cabernet Franc varietal wine, and the first to successfully grow such varieties as Viognier, Malbec, Petit Manseng, Pinotage, Rkatsiteli, etc. in the Old Dominion. Pretty impressive achievements indeed!

Horton Vineyards Norton 2003

As for our purple carpet star, Norton, winemakers and tasters alike would agree that Norton is the best of the indigenous American grape varieties for making a dry red table wine. Would you Norton lovers agree? Norton is one of Virginia’s more hardy grape varieties, is disease resistant, does not require the constant spraying that the vinifera varieties do, grows vigorously, and is well suited to Virginia’s soil and climate type. Sounds like home sweet home to me for our ‘Virginia Seedling’, right? Most local Norton examples are deep and rich in color, almost opaque, with inviting jammy aromas and intensely flavored. Now, Norton can exhibit overt grapey flavors and high, even sharp levels of malic acid, which is inherent in the variety. This characteristic is usually controlled by a good winemaker, and is one of the reasons why Norton wines have a long cellar life. We will stray away from the mystery that surrounds Norton’s origins and whereabouts and jump right into Horton Vineyard's Norton 2003.

Review: The Horton Vineyards Norton 2003 is an intense and dark colored wine that clocks in at 13% alcohol by volume. On the nose are inviting fruit-filled aromas of plum and berry fruit with subtle 'concord' grapey hints. This wine is big in flavor, especially up front, mellowing out mid-palate with 'meet ya' at the door (firm) acidity and friendly tannins. The finish is medium length with a spicy kick, and at $12 per bottle is a good entry level to intermediate offering. In my opinion, this wine is a better match with foods such as poultry, beef and game dishes, than sipped on its own. For $12, you may just find a new grape to fall in love with!

If you have never tried Horton’s Norton, visit the winery and grab a bottle and taste what the buzz is all about for yourself. If you are out of state give the winery a call at 800.829.4633 and check out Horton’s Norton. While checking out the Norton, you might as well check out the Viognier as well – the 06 is pretty darn tasty. Remember, Horton usually has over 35 wines to sample, no tasting fees, and is one of Virginia’s largest and oldest pioneering producers.

Horton Vineyards - 6399 Spotswood Trail, Gordonsville, VA 22942, Phone: 540-832-7440

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Fruit Wines & Redskins: Call Dezel Superstitious, but ….

2 Local Winners !!!
Hello Friends,

That is correct, call Dezel superstitious, but every time I bring along a Virginia wine to a Washington Redskins pre-game tailgate party, the Redskins cruise, well not cruise, but squeak out a victory. With the seasonal warmth of summer still lingering, a full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, etc. was not what the wine doctor ordered. Instead, a good refreshing, well chilled local fruit wine was what the doctor prescribed. If you have not guessed it yet friends, Dezel is Dezel’s doctor.

Now many people, including sipping pals of mine, have this preconceived notion that fruit wines are overly sweet. That can be true; however, if it is, it is likely the crafting and preference of the winemaker. You see most fruits and berries have lower sugar percentages than ripe grapes. If a deer could talk, it would back me up on this one. As a matter of fact, pure cane sugar is sometimes added to these fruit wines to get the alcohol level to a desirable percentage during fermentation because the fruit does not have sufficient natural sugars to produce a decent wine. A good dry fruit wine in my opinion should showcase the fruit from which it is made in respect to flavor, aroma, and also maintain a good balancing act with refreshing acidity.

Village Winery Apple Wine

So let’s turn our attention to the good-luck charm - Village Winery’s Apple Wine ($12), which was enjoyed during the pre-game party. Next to owner and winemaker, Kent Marrs’ ever popular Elderberry wine, the apple wine is likely the second most popular. If I were to serve this dry fruit wine to you blind, your first, second, and third guess would be Chardonnay. The apple wine offers, what else, good delicate and crisp apple flavors with a desirable and refreshing acidity. Neutral French oak barrel aging rounds the wine out nicely and adds soft, almost undetectable toasty notes to the wine. Nothing complicated here, just a nice easy drinking, knock-it-back and enjoy sort of wine that is perfect for these warm weather weekends. For another good dry apple wine, I recommend trying Chateau O’ Brien’s fine example. For more fruit wines check out Horton Vineyards (oodles of fruit wines here), Peaks of Otter, and Loudoun County’s newest addition, Bluemont Vineyards. Bluemont is rumored to have a unique Pumpkin spice wine for the coming holiday season.

Ingleside Vineyards Blue Crab Red

For the after party, and there was something to party about. After all, the Redskins won their home opener. The Ingleside Vineyards Blue Crab Red ($11) found its way into my glass. The Blue Crab Red is a red wine blend that is featured on their Chesapeake Bay wine label. These wines are reasonably priced, unpretentious, and designed for everyday drinking, picnics, backyard grilling, etc. The Blue Crab Red is a fresh fruit, easy drinking selection with bright red fruit flavors, a pinch of spice and friendly tannins. With good upfront fruit, this selection can be served at a slight chill and enjoyed on its own or try it with pizza, a Fuddruckers burger, or spaghetti and meatballs. For more serious examples from Ingleside, try out their Black Label; that is where you will find their cellared reds and other premium selections.

In closing, Sunday was not a bad outing for the local wines and local football team, right? Stay tuned, as Dezel will put his New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc on hold and bring along two more tasty local selections to another home game. Hopefully, I can deliver good news about 2 winning locals again!

Go Patriots Skins, Go Virginia Wine !!!

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Lost Creek Winery: Summer Sips and Fluttering Butterflies

Hello Friends,

Vine Spot recently took advantage of a nice Friday evening and visited Lansdowne Resort, located in Loudoun County, to enjoy their complimentary Jazz on the Potomac summer evening concert series. Since the concert was not scheduled to start until 5:30pm, there was time to pay a visit to a local Virginia winery. TIP: Not all of your favorite Loudoun County wineries are open M-F, so be sure to call ahead or check their web site when planning your visit during the week. The majority of the wineries are open during the week, however, and the slower paced weekdays are an excellent time to visit your favorite local wineries.

Lost Creek Winery

After viewing the web pages of several Loudoun County wineries, I noticed that Lost Creek Winery had recently updated their home page with current information and an inviting new look. Since it had been a while since I last visited the charming, old-world styled winery, this bit of new information was reason to see what all the buzz was about. Additionally, Tasting Associate, Rose, can always be found in the tasting room and is a pleasure to talk with as you taste through the winery’s offerings.

Rose guiding guest through a tasting

The revised site boasts several upcoming new wine releases. One note of interest on the site states, “Unlike most Virginia Wineries, we make our wines completely from our own grapes, so all our wines are truly estate wines.” This statement got me thinking about the information we find on the local wine labels. A number of local producers make wines from fruit grown on their property, and that same winery may also source fruit in from other local grape growers to make other wines. One thing I find fair, and more so commendable, which Corcoran Vineyards and others are practicing, is giving credit to the growers by listing the vineyard name on the bottle label when and where applicable. After all, good fruit is the absolute basis for a quality bottle of wine, so why not give credit where credit is due, right?

Beautiful Butterfly

Besides bottling only estate wines, as stated on their web page, Lost Creek has completed work on a new banquet room that is just perfect for weddings, events, and parties, etc. The winery has also expanded and added new equipment to accommodate perhaps an increase in wine production. Tours are offered in the tasting room so be sure to ask about viewing the new wine-making facility when you visit. Lost Creek has also brought in a new full-time vineyard manager, Laura Larrick, who comes from a popular Loudoun County winery everyone will know, Willowcroft Vineyards. Laura manages Lost Creek’s 26 acres of vine plantings, and is also the resident local photographer. I think Laura is also responsible for the beautiful summer garden that plays host to multicolored fluttering butterflies. Much like the butterflies were enjoying sips of nectar from the flowers, it was time for Dezel to check out the wine selection.

The purple pen ... coming to a winery near you !!!

Lost Creek usually has about ten wines to taste; however, they were pouring five, and awaiting the release of several new wines before years end or shortly after. The staff at Lost Creek are knowledgeable, warm and friendly, therefore be prepared for a fun and satisfying winery experience. Tasting fees are $3 per individual, and the current offerings are namely off-dry selections that are decent picnic type wines ripe for the remaining summer weeks. Aptly named, the Springtime white wine blend (Vidal, Viognier, Chardonnay, Muscat Canelli) is a nice fruity picnic wine, while the popular Sweet Summer blend (Vidal, Chardonnay, Apple Wine) carries a tad more sweetness and is another warm weather sipper that appeals to a sweeter palate preference. Both of these selections should be served well chilled and enjoyed. For the reds, the Cabernet Sauvignon is a light bodied wine with spice, subtle dark fruit flavors and pinches of black pepper and touches of sweetness. Slightly fuller is the Chambourcin, a popular American hybrid grape variety that does well in Virginia. Lost Creek’s example displays a nice dark color, inviting aromas, friendly tannins and sips nicely, and like the winery suggests, “Pairs nicely with heavy stews and red meats.” For the sweet, and I mean sweet ending, try the Late Harvest “Alyce.” A sweet wine made from Vidal grapes in an ice wine fashion that makes for a palate pleasing after dinner dessert. With Thanksgiving and Christmas ahead, look for the release for Lost Creek’s popular Courtney’s Christmas dessert wine – off-dry but not overly sweet with cranberry hints making it just perfect for those holiday dinners.

Enjoy yourself on the outdoor deck

Lost Creek has a comfortable and welcoming tasting room, so be ready to enjoy a glass of your favorite wine paired with warm French baguettes and artisan cheeses, which is available for purchase in the tasting room. For the cooler months Lost Creek has ample seating and a cozy stone-fronted fireplace to warm up to. On a nice day find respite on the expansive outdoor deck that overlooks the vineyard and garden area. For more seclusion, try the gazebo and relax to the sounds of the babbling fountain. Whatever you choose, you are sure to have a nice time visiting Lost Creek Winery. Also, be sure to visit neighboring Hidden Brook Winery, which is a stone throw away from Lost Creek and owned and operated by the owner’s son and his wife. When you decide to visit friends, be sure to let them know you saw them here on Dezel’s Virginia Vine Spot.

Lost Creek Winery - 43277 Spinks Ferry Road, Leesburg, VA 20176

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