6/28/2008

Carafe Wine Makers: Make Wine in Old Town Alexandria!

Hello Friends,

Ever dream of making your own hand-crafted wine, with your very own personalized label? Well, dream no more, friends. Carafe Wine Makers in Old Town Alexandria lets you make your own personal batch of wine, bottle it, label it, cork it, and then enjoy it! Whether you are new to wine or a budding wine enthusiast, producing your own wine can be a pretty fun adventure, right? And don’t worry, Carafe’s expert staff will be there along the way to guide you through the process to make sure the end product is one that you will thoroughly enjoy!

Carafe Wine Makers

A little on Carafe: Carafe Wine Makers is a franchise micro-winery that started in Canada. The popularity and appeal of this grape experience has reached Old Town, and other areas of the Old Dominion. Technically speaking, Carafe is a Virginia winery; however, there are no Virginia grapes involved (at least not yet), not even a vineyard. When you enter Carafe, your first stop will be to the tasting bar to sample Carafe’s current offerings. From that point you can enjoy the free tasting and call it a day, or purchase a bottle of Carafe’s already made wine, which ranges from $7 to $13 per bottle, or opt to make your own wine based on a wine you tasted or a grape you might be fond of. I would venture to say that most customers choose the latter.

Tasting Bar

The wine making process at Carafe starts with juice from grapes that are boxed and shipped from wine producing regions like Spain, Chile, and Italy, etc. In a nutshell, once you choose your juice, yeast and other special ingredients are added and fermentation begins. After fermentation your wine is racked, filtered, and then it's bottling time! You will bottle your wine, add your own custom label, which can be made from any .jpg file, cork it, and seal it. This process takes about six weeks and one batch produces about 30 bottles of wine. The total cost is fairly reasonable, considering the finished product comes to about $6 to $9 per bottle. The only thing left now is to enjoy your hand-crafted creation.

Owner Lamar Brown assisting customers

Personally speaking, the process appears very much cookie cutter and stripped down, but at the same time fun, reasonably priced, and gaining popularity amongst those new to wine, hobbyist, restaurants, businesses, etc. Your very own personalized bottle of wine makes giving a gift a little more personal and fun, and can be quite the conversation piece at parties and corporate events. Don’t just think about being a winemaker, stop by Carafe Wine Makers and make your own wine now!

Info: Carafe Wine Makers, 111 S. Alfred Street, Alexandria, VA 22314

Stay tuned friends ... More to come !!!

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    Dezel



    Dezel's Virginia Vine Spot © 2006-2008. All rights reserved.

    6/22/2008

    High Gas Prices: That’s Alright, Plan Local!


    Hello Friends,

    With oil and gas prices continuing to set record highs, it is no wonder why most of the emails I have received of late have been from wine lovers from the Tri State area of Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, who are looking for a little assistance with local vacation planning. With gas prices exceeding the $4 mark, many vacationers appear to be ditching the (once) friendly skies and long family drives in the gas guzzling SUV, and keeping close to home. Lucky for us that Virginia is a great destination for historic landmarks, fine restaurants, fun shopping, nature preserves, outdoor activities, picturesque settings, mom and pop shops, family farms, and a burgeoning young wine industry. Some, if not all of these fun-filled activities, can be found in a number of small towns throughout the Old Dominion. For starters, try Loudoun or Albemarle County (Charlottesville in particular) – these are two counties with a number of wineries in close proximity to each other that's surrounded by beautiful views, as well as many other exciting things to keep you entertained and busy.

    High Gas Prices: That’s Alright, Plan Local!

    For example, I visited Luray for two days, stayed at a wonderful B&B, visited four wineries, and went horse back riding, sightseeing, perused the local downtown shops, and enjoyed some of the towns dining options – which were mostly small, intimate, family run restaurants with great food and oodles of southern hospitality. So if high gas prices are curtailing your long-distance travel plans – think local this summer and enjoy some of the small historic towns Virginia has to offer. Below are a few ways to get started, friends.

    Click on this link for starters. This is the link for the Virginia Bed and Breakfasts and Country Inns. Just about all B&B web pages have a full listing of attractions in the surrounding area with accompanying links. Additionally, most B&B’s have a good relationship with all the nearby wineries, restaurants, stables, spas, tour services, etc. If you tell them what you are looking to do, they can point you in the right direction. For example, I have been to some that have offered complimentary tasting passes for all the wineries in the area, and others that were very helpful in planning day time activities and making evening dinner reservations. Another good resource is the winery. Wineries like Jefferson Vineyards in Charlottesville, have a “During your Visit” link, which I have used a few times that lists nearby inns, attractions, and dining options. Most wineries do not provide this type of information on their web pages, but I have found calling and asking questions to be just as effective. In closing, I hope this leads you to some of the many things to do right here in our own backyard. High gas prices don’t have to stop you from enjoying valuable vacation time with family and friends.

    Stay tuned friends ... More to come !!!


      Click Here to vote VA Vine Spot as your favorite wine blog - You can vote 1x per day!

      Happy Sipping Friends - Tell your friends about the blog and thanks for your support and kind emails !

      Dezel



      Dezel's Virginia Vine Spot © 2006-2008. All rights reserved.

      6/15/2008

      Let’s Get Passionate About Pinotage


      Hello Friends,

      Whether you are a fan of Pinotage, or have never heard of the grape variety, I would like to point you to a blog that is passionate about Pinotage - and for the latter, it just may make you passionate about Pinotage too! For the wine drinker who has never heard of Pinotage, Pinotage is a cross between Pinot Noir (ahhh, heard of that one haven’t you?) and Cinsault that was developed in 1925 at Stellenbosch University, in South Africa. This red wine grape variety was bred in an effort to combine the best qualities of Cinsault (robust and hardy) with Pinot Noir, a grape of high quality and fineness that the South Africans found difficult to grow. After almost three decades, Pinotage started gaining recognition and winning awards, and became the face of South African wine. Today, popular and well known varietals like Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz, to name a few, can be found at a great quality to price ratio, so the face of South African wine is being redefined.

      Now, I’m like most people whose first experience to South African Pinotage was mixed, but memorable (in a good way). A $9-$12 bottle of South African Pinotage, for me, has always been a unique bottle of smoke, earth, game, rusticness, and subtle mixed berry fruit. Some examples, even today, can be sharp and/or harsh, but for the most part these are 'somewhat' easy drinking wines. In a blind tasting, this sort of Pinotage tells on itself rather well, and has some very distinct characteristics, which makes it uniquely South African in that respect. I doubt you taste this type of Pinotage from any other wine producing region.

      Pinotage Grapes

      Nowadays, Pinotage is being grown in California and New Zealand, and improved techniques in the vineyard and winery has lead to more elegant and smooth examples – not a rustic drip in these bottles. Pinotage is also grown here in Virginia. Horton Vineyards, Grayhaven Winery and Lovingston Winery all do a varietal bottling of the wine. That’s pretty experimental, and at the same time impressive given the grape’s short history, and it should be of some interest to you as a wine lover to see what the Pinotage grape can do here in Virginia, as well as South Africa.

      That said, if my tidbit about Pinotage has piqued your interest, then head over to my pal Peter May’s wine blog, The Pinotage Club – where Peter May is passionate about Pinotage. Peter can tell you all you ever wanted to know about Pinotage and where to find the best bang for the buck. He has also reviewed all the Virginia Pinotage examples, and has recently posted an entry about my visit to Grayhaven Winery. Be adventurous, tilt your glass, and try some Pinotage, friends!

      Peter May is the founder of The Pinotage Club, an international cyber-based fan club for wines made from the Pinotage variety Peter is a wine writer, educator and author. His books are Marilyn Merlot and the Naked Grape.


      Stay tuned friends ... More Q&A and lots more to come !!!

        Click Here to vote VA Vine Spot as your favorite wine blog - You can vote 1x per day!

        Happy Sipping Friends - Tell your friends about the blog and thanks for your support and kind emails !

        Dezel


        Dezel's Virginia Vine Spot © 2006-2008. All rights reserved.

        6/10/2008

        Summer Sips - Pinot Blanc: An Affordable Alternative

        Hello Friends,

        Although it’s not summer yet, this past weekend’s blistering temperatures felt otherwise. So much so that I was compelled to reach for a summer selection a little early. Out of all the refreshing and light whites I have in the wine fridge, a Pinot Blanc caught my attention. This white wine alternative to Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, etc., makes for a nice summer sipper and can be found at a pretty decent price point – usually $10 - $13 per bottle. This price range will usually land a light, crisp, and easy drinking example and that is what we are looking for. We won’t get into the particular bottle pictured, just Pinot Blanc in general, since it is a lesser known varietal wine that can satiate your thirst on a hot summer day, and can easily be paired with many food dishes.

        Ahhh ... Refreshing


        A little bit about Pinot Blanc: Pinot Blanc is a white wine grape variety that is a descendant of Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris. Pinot Blanc thrives in cooler climate regions and generally produces refreshing wines of finesse and balance with tree and citrus fruit flavors, and sometimes soft tropical notes and subtle streaks of minerality. The wines produced from Pinot Blanc usually range from dry to off dry. Most Pinot Blanc is best consumed young when it’s fresh, fruity and crisp – perfect for the warm summer temperature. Most examples are light to medium in body with minimal to no oak influence. Personally, I prefer Alsatian examples; however, Pinot Blanc is also grown in California, Germany, and Italy, to name a few other places to check out. Try an Alsatian Pinot Blanc served well-chilled as an aperitif wine or pair it with seafood, fish, or white meats. It is also a great wine to take along on a picnic. I have yet to see a Virginia example, however, I believe our friends up north in the Finger Lakes produce Pinot Blanc. If anyone knows of a local example drop me an email. The wine pictured can be found at most local Total Wine store and retails for $12.99. With that said, try a bottle of Pinot Blanc and send me some feedback.


        Stay tuned friends ... More Q&A and lots more to come !!!

          Click Here to vote VA Vine Spot as your favorite wine blog - You can vote 1x per day!

          Happy Sipping Friends - Tell your friends about the blog and thanks for your support and kind emails !

          Dezel


          Dezel's Virginia Vine Spot © 2006-2008. All rights reserved.

          6/06/2008

          27th Annual Vintage Virginia: They Came, They Sipped, They Enjoyed

          Hello Friends,

          This past weekend under sunny skies, that is before the rain came to visit later in the day, I enjoyed myself at the 27th Annual Vintage Virginia Wine Festival. This is the state’s oldest and longest running tasting event and every year it aims to please – and personally speaking, it does!

          Pours Away!

          The weekend-long event was a fine, harmonious blend that featured over 50 Virginia wineries, over 300 different wine selections, live entertainment, local arts and crafts displays, wine seminars, great food, and oodles more. I enjoyed many great sips myself, including popular Virginia varietal wines like Viognier, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Chambourcin, and yes, even some good old Norton – America’s grape.

          Festival Images

          At this fun and hip festival I had the opportunity to chat with a number of Virginia wine lovers, and even bumped into, and tasted with my pal Todd Godbout, founder and writer of Wine Compass blog. If anyone ever wanted to know what “real” Virginia wine lovers look like, check the image below. These ladies were having a ‘grape’ time, enjoying Virginia wine and basking in the fun-filled activities and entertainment. Thanks for smiling for the Vine Spot Cam!

          These are real 'Virginia Wine Lovers' !

          If you missed this event, no problem; Across-the-Way-Productions, who brought us this event, has three more exciting Virginia wine events planned, including the popular Floyd Fest. Click here to visit their site and find out more about these events.

          More Festival Images - Love the Hat!

          In closing, enjoy the images I captured of the event and see you on the wine trail. As always, Happy Sipping, friends!


          Stay tuned friends ... More Q&A and lots more to come !!!

            Click Here to vote VA Vine Spot as your favorite wine blog - You can vote 1x per day!

            Happy Sipping Friends - Tell your friends about the blog and thanks for your support and kind emails !

            Dezel


            Dezel's Virginia Vine Spot © 2006-2008. All rights reserved.

            6/02/2008

            Notaviva Vineyards: Where Music & Wine Unite

            Hello Friends,

            I recently visited Loudoun Wine Country’s newest addition to the wine trail, Notaviva Vineyards. Notaviva Vineyards is owned and operated by Stephen and Shannon Mackey and is located in the picturesque countryside of Purcellville, Virginia, just up Route 9.

            Notaviva Vineyards

            I was already somewhat familiar with the winery since I had been following Notaviva Vineyard’s development via the Mackey’s winery blog for a little over a year. Yes, they are bloggers too! Because of that, there was a lot of buzz online about Notaviva Vineyards. Stephen and Shannon’s blog allowed readers to follow the progress of the building of Notavia Vineyards, which consisted of a high end tasting room, state of the art event facility, and much more. The blog also offered visuals and details about the planting of the estate vines and the making of their wines. As a matter of fact, the blog is still being updated so be sure to bookmark their page.


            Tasting Room Images

            Notaviva Vineyards fuses fine wine, magnificent music, and an intoxicating atmosphere to create a harmonious, cloud-nine experience – sort of like your very own personal Shangri-La. The tasting room has been designed to be a full sensory experience - highlighted by four HDTV flat screens, a high-definition projector, a high caliber surround sound system, and a very unique performance staging area. Careful attention to detail was paid in the design of Notaviva Vineyard’s tasting room, both stylistically and acoustically, and is an extension of the Mackey’s successful audio engineering background. If you are a music and wine lover like me, you will certainly want to check out their events page and catch a weekend concert and a bottle of vino!

            Looking out from the tasting room

            The multi-level tasting room is spacious and inviting, and provides stunning vineyard and vista views. Currently, the winery offers a Viognier, aptly named Vivace, which is a musical term meaning upbeat and lively. This wine is crisp with citrus notes and a clean finish. The winery expects to have a Cabernet Franc and a different style of Viognier in the tasting room in the near future. Check their site for updates on new wine releases.

            Beautiful Views

            Until that time, the winery is pouring a North Gate Chardonnay 2007, a 8 Chains North 2007 off-dry white wine blend, and several Fabbioli Cellar’s wines. The North Gate offering is an estate bottling that comes from Mark and Vicki Fedor, who previously made wine for Loudoun’s Corcoran Vineyards. The 8 Chains North blend is from Ben Renshaw, who is the vineyard manager at Sunset Hills Vineyards, which will celebrate their grand opening next month. Doug Fabbioli wines speaks for themselves; expressive, good quality, and consistent.

            Enjoy Fine Wine & Magnificent Music at Notaviva!

            In closing friends, be sure to make a date with this unique and exciting winery. It is the perfect setting for a picnic, private party, or corporate event (especially with all the audio/video technology). Also, look for Notaviva Vineyards on the HGTV television network series “Dream House”. When you decide to visit Notaviva Vineyards let them know you saw them right here on Dezel’s Virginia Vine Spot.

            Info: Notaviva Vineyards, 13274 Sagle RoadPurcellville, VA 20132(540) 668-6756

            (click above link to go Notaviva Vineyards web site)


            Stay tuned friends ... Vintage VA Festival images, More Q&A and lots more to come !!!

              Click Here to vote VA Vine Spot as your favorite wine blog - You can vote 1x per day!

              Happy Sipping Friends - Tell your friends about the blog and thanks for your support and kind emails !

              Dezel


              Dezel's Virginia Vine Spot © 2006-2008. All rights reserved.

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