After a delicious dinner at the C-and-O restaurant in Charlottesville and a good night’s rest, we were up bright and early and ready for round two on the Monticello Wine Trail. Just minutes from Charlottesville, in Albermarle County, past beautiful country scenery along twisting roads, sits Blenheim Vineyards. I have been told by friends more familiar than I with the winery, that this is one “rocking” place. I wonder if that has anything to do with that Matthews fellow, huh?
Beautiful Views from the Tasting Room
Since this was my first visit, I was more than eager to check out this “rocking” place and sample their wines. Stepping into the tasting room, the exterior belies the tasteful mixture of spaciousness, style, and grace found on the inside. The environmentally sound, timber framed tasting room exudes rural elegance and comfort, boasting large picture windows, sky lights that supply an abundance of natural lighting, picturesque views from every chair and table in the room, and a glass paneled floor where guests can see the wine making facility on the first floor. Rock star quality, indeed!
Glass Paneled Floor - Check the Wine Facility out below!
We were warmly greeted by Tasting Room Coordinator, Nora White, and Blenheim’s new winemaker, Kirsty Harmon. Kirsty has roots in Charlottesville, making wine in the area alongside notable winemaker Gabriele Rausse. Kirsty expanded her horizons and attended the famed UC Davis viticulture program earning an MS Degree. Kirsty has also worked in France and New Zealand before returning to the Commonwealth to produce small lots of quality hand-crafted wine from Blenheim Vineyards estate fruit.
Winemaker Kirsty Harmon
We kicked the tasting off with Nora, tasting through Blenheim’s array of red and white wines (vintages 03-06), which were made by previous winemaker Brad McCarthy. It made for a great tasting experience sitting in the attractive sun-filled tasting room taking in the spectacular Piedmont landscape as Nora guided us through each swirl, sniff, and sip. The wines from the previous winemaker currently offered are three styles of Chardonnay, two Cabernet Franc wines, a Merlot, Meritage blend, and a nice 2006 Petit Verdot.
Preparing to taste Blenheim wines...
There is a definite contrast in styles from old to new winemaker, as we moved downstairs to sample some of Kirsty’s developing wines from the 2008 harvest. Kirsty wines appeared more fruit oriented, more expressive, and the inky, chewy, concentrated Petit Verdot showed great promise. Kirsty also has a nice Cabernet Sauvignon in the barrel, which is a variety regarded as finicky and difficult here in Virginia, that is developing nicely, displaying good flavors and structure. A floral and perfumed Viognier, which should be bottled sometime soon, is a wine I can see guests enjoying this spring and summer while basking in the sun and enjoying the countryside.
Bring on the "Pours of Joy"
In closing, this is another winery on the Monticello wine trail I recommend you put on your wine radar. Blenheim Vineyards just opened its doors to the public, so hop in the car and enjoy the gorgeous country drive, and find a spot on the outdoor deck this spring or summer to savor the moment – and the wine! This winery has a lot of character and charm, and new winemaker Kirsty Harmon, should have some of her new wines bottled and ready to go by the time the seasonal warmth flows in. Bring a picnic basket and camera, and thank me later. You are going to love this place. When you visit Blenheim Vineyards be sure to tell the kind folks you read about them here on Dezel’s www.myvinespot.com wine blog. As always, Happy Sipping, friends!
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