In Review: 29th Annual Vintage Virginia

Hello Friends,

This past Sunday I attended the 29th Annual Vintage Virginia Wine Festival at Bull Run Park in Centerville, Virginia. I usually opt to attend wine festivals on Sunday since it’s usually less crowded and a golden opportunity to sample Virginia wines from north to south. Additionally, a number of winery owners, growers, and winemakers are available to talk about their wines and invite you to their tasting rooms. And, while some producers only bring their ‘summer wines’, others bring their entire portfolio, including their reserve wines.

Pours of Joy at 29th Annual Vintage Virginia

I state the aforementioned facts because some people view Virginia Wine Festivals as “drunk-fests” or “Carnivals”, as I saw tweeted on Twitter about Saturday’s event. While any wine festival can be a little or a lot of both, I think it is what you make of it. Virginia Wine Festivals are a great way to connect with producers and sample the diverse wines made in Virginia from the good folks down south to my friends up north in Loudoun County.

Horton Vineyards - First in Viognier!

This year, Vintage Virginia featured a “Virginia by the Glass” tasting theme which grouped producers into popular Virginia wine trails. Virginia has over a dozen wine trails so this was a chance to swirl, sniff, and, preferably spit, the offerings from several Virginia wine trails in a single weekend. As with past Vintage Virginia events, hundreds of Virginia wine lovers gathered to enjoy delicious food, arts and crafts, live entertainment, and the headliner – Virginia wine! Below are a few of my noted highlights:

Breaux Vineyards: One of Loudoun's Top Producers

  • Ever heard of Dornfelder? It’s a German red wine grape variety that WindSong Winery grows. WindSong is a new producer in Central Virginia and is the only Virginia producer to grow and make a wine out of Dornfelder. It’s their flagship red and is a unique medium-bodied wine with dark fruit, anis, and smoky notes.
  • Two stems up to the three B’s - Breaux Vineyards in Loudoun County and Barboursville and Blenheim Vineyards on the Monticello wine trail. All three producers were pouring some very nice selections at the event and, if you haven’t visited their tasting rooms yet, I strongly recommend a summer trip. Blenheim’s winemaker Kirsty Harmon was at the festival pouring and talking about her wines and I finally got a chance to taste her Painted Red 2008 red wine blend. Owner and rocker Dave Matthews designed the “cool” label, while Kirsty rocked the delicious wine inside the bottle. If you hit the Monticello wine trail, be sure to put Blenheim on your “must visit” list.
A Rocking Cool Label and A Rocking Good Wine (Blenheim)

  • My friends at Mountfair, who was my “new winery find” at a Virginia wine festival last year, are doing good things with their tasty 2008 Engagement (Bordeaux-style blend) and Brad McCarthy’s Stick Dog Riesling. Riesling and Virginia do not necessarily go hand-in-hand, but Brad’s Riesling has good varietal character and makes for a nice summer sipper. Mountfair is located on the Monticello wine trail and, for a new producer, is making some nice Bordeaux-style blends.
  • For my friends who enjoy wines with a touch of sweetness, check out Chrysalis Vineyards Sarah’s Patio White and Sarah’s Patio Red. These popular wines are priced right and excellent for patio or deck sipping on a warm summer day. Chrysalis is on the Mosby Cluster Trail in Loudon County and specializes in Norton wines and makes a very nice Albari├▒o wine too.
Chrysalis Vineyards Sarah's Patio Wines

  • Loudoun’s Tarara Winery was on hand pouring some of their tasty wines. Tarara kept a pretty good crowd at their booth which is a good sign that the wine must be good! Tarara is located on the Potomac Cluster Trail in Loudoun County and winegrower Jordan Harris is doing good things there. Be sure to check the Tarara Winery website; their summer concert series just started.
  • James River Cellars was pouring a pretty good off-dry Vidal Blanc that would pair nicely with spicy cuisine. Jams River Cellars is located on the Heart of Virginia Wine Trail in Central Virginia. These guys have an ice-styled dessert wine called Divino for $14 that’s pretty good too.
  • Fox Meadow Winery was pouring an elegant, moderately complex 2008 Chardonnay that was pretty nice. These guys are located on the Fauquier County Wine Trail and offer great views and a wide selection of wines.
Cardinal Point pouring their refreshing 09 Quattro

  • Say Hooray for Viognier, friends! Check out the 2009 vintage from Horton, Veritas, and Keswick! All three are swirling, sniffing, and sipping nicely and are great summertime selections. All these guys are located on the Monticello Wine Trail and if you haven't visited their respective tasting rooms, make a date to sip with each this summer.
  • Our friends at Cardinal Point were pouring their popular 2009 Quattro, a refreshing off-dry white wine blend of Riesling, Gew├╝rztraminer, Viognier, and Traminette that’s perfect for a warm summer day and picnic fare.
I'm really not this short, she is that TALL!

In closing, if you missed Vintage Virginia this year, mark your calendars for 2011.  I look forward to seeing you there! I know I missed a lot of good Virginia wines and producers in this post, but that's what next year is for. Have a question about this post, friends? Feel free to leave a comment or send me an e-mail at, and as always, Happy Sipping! Stay tuned friends ...More to come!

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