10/28/2010

"Discover Monticello" : The Secret’s Out!


Hello Friends,

When I first started planning “Discover Monticello”, the first ever Virginia wine tasting event held on the Twitter Taste-Live platform, I felt the results would be very positive. That said,  my pretty high expectations were far exceeded by the overwhelming show of support and steady stream of honest and positive comments (tweets) about the six Monticello AVA grown wines tasted. If I had to sum the tasting event up in one word, it would be “extraordinary”! As a wine enthusiast who swirls, sniffs, and sips wines of the world alongside Virginia wine, there was no doubt in my mind that Virginia wine could hold its own in terms of wine quality. I bring this up because when planning a first time event with the high visibility of Twitter Taste-Live, one might consider it a slight risk to have wine bloggers and tasters participate who are not familiar with Virginia wine. But that’s exactly what I wanted for this event – a good mixture of ½ and ½ - a blend, so to speak, of people familiar with Virginia wine as well as people discovering Virginia wine for the very first time. We were not necessarily looking for fans of Virginia wine. Instead, we were looking for genuine wine lovers who know good wines and could share an honest and open opinion. At the end of the day, I felt the wines could stand on their own merits and capture the palates and interest of the participants. In that process we hoped to recruit a few new Virginia wine fans. And guess what? It worked!

"Discover Monticello" Wine Lineup


Virginia wines are generally more European in style and typically defined by balance, brightness, and moderate alcohol levels. Virginia red and white wines are very food friendly and also sip nicely on their own. For a number of event participants, “Discover Monticello” was their introduction into Virginia wine, and judging by the positive and glowing tweets, it will not be their last. A few out-of-state participants were already tweeting about planning their next trip to Monticello wine country. "Discover Monticello" was a great way to close out what has been an exciting and successful Virginia wine month. Aptly named by the Virginia Wine Board, the 2010 Virginia wine month theme – “Discover Your Local Crush,” had so much meaning to the Taste-Live event, because that’s exactly what took place on 10/25 – panelists, non-panelists, wine bloggers, and average consumers, discovered their local crush - and it didn't hurt that the crush was on Virginia wine! There were people I noted that only had one or two of the wines and signed up on Taste-Live solely to be a part of this ‘Twitterrific’ tasting event. There were also people who just had a great time following the tweets – and there was oodles of them – over 140 pages worth! Additionally, during the event, “Viognier” became a trending topic on Twitter and the event was picked up by a local Charlottesville news station (CBS19) who recorded at Mountfair Vineyard’s tasting room. How cool is that! "Discover Monticello" was a night of firsts on many levels that will long be remembered. Through social media one of Virginia’s best kept secrets is slowly being uncorked and unscrewed and shared with people all across our great land. Such a tasting event couldn’t happen without the support of Annette Boyd and Amy Ciarametaro of the Virginia Wine Marketing Office and Cailyn and Joel of Taste-Live. I extend a big “Thank You” to you ladies and gent as well as the wonderful panel of wine bloggerswho participated. These social media savvy wine writers blog as an outlet, a hobby, and a passion -- all in the name of good wine and they pursue it like it's a full-time job!

"Discover Your Local Crush..."


The true shining stars, and there are six of them,are the small family-owned and operated Monticello farm wineries who took a chance on my wild-eyed idea to put on the first ever Virginia wine Taste-Live event in celebration of Virginia wine month. These ladies and gentlemen, farmers and business people, work hard year-round to grow the best possible fruit and craft limited quantities of premium wines reflective of the state’s varying growing seasons. I extend a grateful tip of the hat to each of you and a sincere “Thank You” for sharing your bottled efforts with us. Follow these producers on Twitter (see below along with a few tweets), visit their beautiful tasting rooms, and enjoy their delicious Monticello grown wines! Plan a weekend trip to the Monticello Wine Trail and enjoy its historic sites, natural beauty, fine dining establishments, B&B’s, and over twenty award-winning wineries. I don’t think Jefferson would have it any other way!

The Six Stars of the "Discover Monticello" Taste-Live Show

LINK: Afton Mountain Vineyard  Twitter Account: @AftonMountain
Wine: 2009 Gewürztraminer
  • MichaelGortonJr ~ The lime finish on the Gewurzt has me making this my favorite of the night so far.
  • elizabethdehoff ~ More #vawine makers should try Gewurz if their efforts will turn out anything like @aftonmountain's did. Delish!
  • WineReview ~ 09 Afton Mtn Gewurztraminer #VA a perfect food wine the acidity in each sip makes each bite of food a new tasting delight!

LINK: Blenheim Vineyard Twitter Account: @BlenheimWines
Wine: 2009 Seven Oaks Merlot
  • SwirlGirls ~ Somebody stop her! @swirlgirldry is sticking her nose into the merlot! And she's smiling!
  • Unemployed_Mom ~ Loved the Blenheim merlot. As tasty as I remember from my visit about a year ago! When I think of a VA merlot, this defines it!
  • creativefurnace ~ Now that this Blenheim Merlot has had a chance to open up, it's becoming luscious. Really impressive!

LINK: Jefferson Vineyards Twitter Account: @th_jefferson
Wine: 2009 Reserve Chardonnay
  • TheOther46 ~ Reserve Chardonnay... Green apple, just enough oak, hint of spice, pear, and vanilla
  • SuzieLin ~ Delicious! A surprise for me being that I'm not a Chardonnay fan but enjoying the 09 @th_jefferson Res. Chard.
  • RobBralow ~ Finding apple, cinnamon, pear, and maybe some clove on the nose of this Chardonnay. Very pleasant to smell.

LINK: Keswick Vineyard Twitter Account: @keswickvineyard
Wine: 2009 Viognier

  • WineReview ~ 09 Keswick Vineyard Viognier #VA a knock out! perfect fruit balance terrific food wine asian to turkey you will win w/this wine
  • amateurwino ~ This viognier is a different take on the variety than I've gotten from Rhone or CA wines, I appreciate the uniqueness.
  • robwineconsigliere ~ It is delicious. I did not know about VA Viogniers until now!

LINK: Kluge Estate Twitter Account: @KlugeEstate
Wine: 2007 SP Rosé

  • myvinespot ~ I keep hearing, "the Kluge Estate SP 07 is growing on me!"
  • WineReview ~ 07 Kluge Brut Rose #VA great flavors crisp I got some raspberry notes at first but now get lots of bread and mineral notes.
  • vawinetime ~ Kluge Estate 2007 SP Rosé-Pale pink color, lively bubbles, some bread on the nose, tart apple and maybe strawberry.

LINK: Mountfair Vineyards TwitterAccount: @MfVvinotweets
Wine: 2008 Wooloomooloo (Petit Verdot based blend)

  • WineReview ~ 08 Mountfair Wooloomooloo Blend #VA #wine this wine it is like a SOPHISTICATED lady it dosn't have 2 show off it knows its great.
  • SwirlGirls ~ Oh my! This is an excellent way to finish an evening! Very ripe and juicy.Sink into this wine and leave me alone for a night
  • swirlgirldry ~ Shout out to @mountfair Wooloomooloo. My fave from #vawine #ttl - funny name but serious juice. Best proof of the night that vawine contends.

"Discover Monticello" Posts

The Unemployed Mom ~ Monticello Wine Trail TasteLive


Travel, Eat, Love ~ Virginia is for (Wine) Lovers

Virginia Wine Time ~ Taste Live Event


Local C-Ville News CBS19 Coverage ~ at Mountfair Vineyard

WineCompass ~ Discover Virginia Wine (The Monticello Trail)

Running Wine Girl ~ Great Wines, Great Friends, Twitter Gathering

The Other 46 ~ Discover Monticello

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10/19/2010

Taste Live meets Thomas Jefferson's Backyard


Hello Friends,

Thomas Jefferson, justifiably America's first wine connoisseur, had a vision that Albemarle County and the surrounding Charlottesville area could one day grow and produce wine just as good as the wines he enjoyed while visiting the famed wine growing regions of Europe. In 1773, Jefferson met with Fillipo Mazzei, an Italian doctor, merchant, and horticulturalist, who was interested in producing wine and other goods. Jefferson and Mazzei established a vineyard on land adjoining Monticello, site of the current day Jefferson Vineyards one year later. While pests, vineyard disease, and other problems curtailed their efforts, Jefferson did in fact champion the idea that Monticello and nearby Charlottesville had the soil as well as climate to successfully grow classic European wine grapes.

Monticello


“We could in the United States make as great a variety of wines as are made in Europe, not exactly of the same kinds, but doubtless as good.” - Thomas Jefferson

Today, Jefferson’s vision is what we proudly call the Monticello Wine Trail. Enriched with an abundance of history and natural beauty, the trail consists of over twenty unique wineries located in picturesque settings. The Monticello AVA is growing some of the top wines in the state of Virginia.

Monticello Wine Map


"Good wine is a necessity of life for me." ~ Thomas Jefferson


As part of Virginia Wine Month and with the support of the Virginia Wine Board, Taste Live meets Virginia wine for the very first time on 10/25/2010! For those who don't know, Taste Live is a popular online wine tasting community that utilizes social media (namely Twitter) platforms to bridge the gap between consumers, wine bloggers, press, etc., and wine growers, wine makers, and industry professionals for a unique and engaging tasting experience. On 10/25, a select panel of “distinguished” wine bloggers, many of whom will attend WBC11 (Wine Bloggers Conference 11) in Charlottesville, will engage in a virtual tasting and discussion with six of the Monticello Wine Trail's top producers. One of Virginia's best kept secrets is getting out through social media and I'm elated that we can share that secret by uncorking and unscrewing a fine selection of Monticello wines with genuine wine lovers that have an interest in this young and emerging wine region that’s on the cusp of something big!


See the listing of participating Monticello wineries below, friends. These are small, family-run and operated farm wineries that produce limited quantities of hand-crafted premium wines. Almost 100% of the work is done by hand from ground to glass and due to popular demand by the locals many of the best Virginia wines don’t get out of the state!

LINK: Afton Mountain Vineyard 2009 Gewürztraminer

Twitter Account: @AftonMountain

Afton Mountain Vineyards is one of Virginia's pioneer farm wineries with our oldest vines dating from the late 1970's. Our vineyards lie on the southeastern slope of the Blue Ridge in a place of unparalleled beauty and excellence of terroir.


LINK: Blenheim Vineyard 2009 Merlot

Twitter Account: @BlenheimWines

Blenheim Vineyards is a family-owned and operated winery dedicated to making high quality wines that reflect the climate, soil and beauty of the landscape. Founded in 2000 on the historic Blenheim estate in Albemarle County, the goal at Blenheim Vineyards is to bottle wine from single vineyards and small parcels to capture the distinct characteristics of each site. Designed by owner and rock star Dave Matthews and master craftsman William Johnson, the winery at Blenheim Vineyards provides a unique and intimate setting for tasting wine. Its great windows allow visitors to gaze out over vineyards to Jefferson's "sea view" beyond. Paneled glass floors provide a bird's-eye view of the wine production facilities below.


LINK: Jefferson Vineyards 2009 Reserve Chardonnay

Twitter Account: @th_jefferson

Since 1981, Jefferson Vineyards has produced Virginia's finest wines, from Thomas Jefferson's original 1774 vineyard sites, one mile South of his home, Monticello. The wines we offer you are entirely of Virginia. The grapes are grown here on our property and in select sites across the Commonwealth. We do not buy fruit from outside Virginia, nor do we use any commercial concentrates or additives to intensify our wines. These choices are consistent with our values, and we believe they are true to Jefferson's original vision of winemaking in Virginia. Further, we believe these choices create a better bottle of wine.


LINK: Keswick Vineyard 2009 Viognier

Twitter Accounts: @katschornberg and @keswickvineyard 

Keswick Vineyards is a 400 acre winery built on Edgewood Estate, a property rich with history dating to 1727. The hard work, dedication and skill of the team headed by winemaker Stephen Barnard has garnered repeated awards for our wines most notably Chardonnay, Viognier and Heritage. Stephens philosophy is "Aim for quality not quantity and develop the best wines possible". To ensure this goal our wines are produced from all estate-grown fruit that has been hand picked and hand sorted. Keswick's tasting room is reminiscent of a grand horse-country barn with stunning views. We invite you to come relax in our tasting room or courtyard and enjoy a tasting by our friendly and knowledgeable staff.


LINK: Kluge Estate 2007 SP Rosé

Twitter Account: @KlugeEstate

Founded in 1999, Kluge Estate Winery and Vineyard is located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, near Thomas Jefferson’s historic home Monticello, where Virginia winemaking began, and James Monroe’s AshLawn-Highland. In addition to being rich in history and scenery, the rolling hills of Kluge Estate boast superb terroir and four seasons. Kluge Estate’s stable of classic Virginia wines reveals the breadth and depth of the winemaking team and the terroir. Kluge Estate’s wines span four brands and show the diversity of the land, the varietals, and the talent in the field and in the cellar.


LINK: Mountfair Vineyards 2008 Wooloomooloo

TwitterAccounts: @MfVvinotweets , @benatmountfair , @mountfair

Located on the eastern slope of the Blue Ridge Mountains near Charlottesville, Mountfair Vineyards is a small artisan winery specializing in red Bordeaux-style blends. Our mission is to produce superb wines that respect the relationship between the land, the winemaker, and the consumer.



Link: The Virginia Wine Board Marketing Office

Twitter Accounts: @vawine and @Ringwoodboyd

Funded through the Virginia Wine Board, the Virginia Wine Board Marketing Office handles the board's education and marketing efforts on behalf of all Virginia wineries. The office manages the development and execution of a continuous and integrated marketing program, which focuses on advertising, public relations and promotions. Collectively the efforts communicate a clear and positive message on Virginia wines, encourage visits to the state wineries and help increase sales of Virginia wine.


Have a question about this post, friends? Feel free to leave a comment or send me an e-mail at myvinespot@yahoo.com, and as always, Happy Sipping! Stay tuned friends ...More to come!

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10/15/2010

Revisiting: “Is That A Virginia Wine?”


Hello Friends,

In celebration of the third annual Regional Wine Week hosted by the good folks over at DrinkLocalWine.com, I have decided to revise a video blog I posted a few months ago titled, ‘Is that a Virginia Wine.” I’m doing this to present it in an easier to read blog post with visuals and to clarify “County” versus AVA (American Viticultural Areas) percentages. The video blog I posted focused on helping local consumers determine if their Virginia wine was indeed a Virginia grown wine or a Virginia wine "in name only." The post generated a lot of questions from local consumers who had long made the assumption that a Virginia wine had to be, well, a Virginia wine.

I say: "Make Mine 100% Homegrown Virginia Wine!"


If we’re celebrating Regional Wine Week as well as Virginia Wine Month, I want to make sure that consumers and Virginia wine lovers alike can quickly review a Virginia wine label and identify a home-grown wine. As a young up-and-coming wine industry we should take pride in the wines grown and produced right here in our backyard. The majority of the Commonwealth’s small local farm wineries have little reason to go outside the state to purchase fruit. The pictures presented in this post serve as examples. This is not meant to target any particular producer, because most producers who augment their production with out of state grapes also bottle 100% Virginia grown wines too.

TIP: Identify producers you can trust to deliver 100% VA wine


So, why would a Virginia producer use non-Virginia grapes in their wines? Two words for you, friends – “catastrophic conditions.” If you look at Virginia’s 2003 vintage which saw record rainfalls during harvest as well as the late spring frost of 2010, then you can see that a producer can lose a large percentage of their wine crop. In the end, a winery is a business and if a winery has lost a large percentage of their grape crop they may have to cross state lines to purchase fruit for their wines that year. Another reason not related to catastrophic conditions is profit, and is usually associated with a handful of Virginia’s mega-producers who can’t grow or buy enough local fruit to satisfy their staggering production totals. For the record, just because a Virginia wine is a Virginia wine "in name only" does not mean the wine is not delicious – many are. Additionally, you can typically find these wines at attractive prices since they generally serve as a producer’s lesser label and the cost of production is generally less expensive. The point here is not to single out these wines or frown upon them, but to ensure that consumers who want a Virginia grown wine are getting the very thing they desire and pay for.

Note "Virginia" right out front on the bottle


Looking at this nationally, any grape grown in the United States can pretty much be labeled as "American" wine. We’re looking at this at a state level and that’s where U.S. wine regulations come into play on the label. If a producer wishes to label a wine as a Virginia wine, then at least 75% of the grapes must come from Virginia. This means that the fruit source can be anywhere from within the state of Virginia – north, south, east or west. See the picture above and below for an example of what to look for on the wine label.

Note "Virginia" on the front of the bottle


If a producer wishes to use the name of the county, such as Orange County or Loudoun County on the label, then 85% of the grapes must come from that county. So as a consumer if you are interested in tasting Loudoun County, Rappahannock County, or Fauquier County wines this is your key. See the picture below for an example of what to look for on the wine label.

Note "Loudoun County" on the front of the bottle


Virginia has six AVA’s with another on the horizon in the Middleburg area. An AVA tells you that a wine-producing region has been recognized by the federal government as having a distinct terroir and producing wines reflective of those distinguishing features. If a producer wants to put the name of the AVA on the wine label then 85% of the grapes must come from that AVA. For example, if you want to sample wine from the wine-growing region that America’s first wine connoisseur, Thomas Jefferson, chose as the site to plant his vineyard, you will look for bottles with Monticello on the label – which represents the Monticello AVA in Charlottesville, Virginia. See the picture below for an example of what to look for on the wine label.

Note the AVA "Monticello" on the front of the bottles


If a producer uses more than 15% of grapes grown outside of Virginia, then the wine has to be labeled as “American,” “Red Table Wine,” or something along those lines. When looking at the label you will be hard pressed to find the word “Virginia” - outside of the producer’s address. While these wines “may” contain some local fruit, they are not 100% homegrown, and Virginia, a Virginia County, or a Virginia AVA cannot appear on the label (with the exception of Virginia in the address). See the picture below for an example of what to look for on the wine label.  NOTE: Some producers have either the state, county or AVA in their name (e.g. Virginia Wine Works, Loudoun Valley, Rappahannock Cellars, etc.). Dismiss a producer’s name and address when looking for the items discussed in this post.

Note "American" not "Virginia" on the front the bottle


A gray area, at least for me, is that even if a wine is made from 75%-85% homegrown fruit, the door is still left open for a small amount of out-of-state fruit and the wine is still labeled as Virginia, a Virginia County, or a Virginia AVA. Typically, if Virginia is on the label the wine is 100% homegrown – no worries. There just isn’t any oversight that I’m aware of. Did you know? To put California on a wine label 100% of the grapes have to be grown in California. This makes sense to me for all states, young or mature in their respective wine industry, if the name of the state is to be put on the label. One of the best ways to ensure you are getting 100% Virginia grown wine in your glass is to get to know your local grape growers and producers. Fortunately, there are a lot of dedicated wine-growers in Virginia who share a passion and philosophy about this industry and take pride in growing and producing 100% Virginia wine. While young, Virginia is an emerging wine region recognized nationally and internationally for the quality of its wines. Some of the best wines crafted here in my humble opinion are 100% home-grown and reflective of our varying growing seasons and wine-growing sites.

POP QUIZ: Which is a Virginia home-grown wine and which is not?


Have a question about this post, friends? Feel free to leave a comment or send me an e-mail at myvinespot@yahoo.com, and as always, Happy Sipping! Stay tuned friends ...More to come!

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10/12/2010

Getting the word out through Social Media


Hello Friends,

A fair number of Virginia wine producers have signed up for popular social media platforms such as Face-book and Twitter, but a small percentage of them have put their accounts to good use. Jen Breaux, of Breaux Vineyards in Purcellville, Virginia, was one of the first Virginia wine producers to actively utilize Face-book and Twitter to connect directly with current customers as well as potential customers, brand build, and promote events. A handful of Virginia wine producers are currently implementing social media to promote and market their business and engage potential consumers. Kat Schornberg of Keswick Vineyards is staying fairly active on Twitter and Face-book and getting Keswick's name out there in the webosphere. Kat is the wife of award-winning winemaker Stephen Barnard and the daughter of Keswick Vineyard’s owners, Al and Cindy Schornberg. I’ve asked Kat, who wears many hats at the winery, to tell us how she uses social media to get the word out about their Charlottesville winery and to discuss the results she’s seeing from investing time on Twitter and Face-book.

Kat Schornberg "Tweeting" at a recent Virginia Wine Dinner


Guest Post

Getting the word out through Social Media by Kat Schornberg:

I started off using Facebook for the winery as a way to easily share pictures from our events with everyone who attended. Since then, I think it has grown to be a really big part of our communications. We use Facebook and Twitter to update our friends, fans, and followers of what is going on at the winery and what events we have coming up. We also continue to post a lot of pictures and videos to our Facebook pages as well as have customers posting pictures and tagging us in them, which is great!

Keswick Vineyard's Tasting Room


I think we have definitely seen an increase in attendance at our events because we are able to spread the information about them to a lot more people than we reached before using Facebook and Twitter. I also think they help us build brand loyalty with customers because they get to know the inside scoop on everything that is going on here and get to feel more like part of the family, which is ultimately what we want every person who walks in the door to feel like!

 Grape Bunches at Keswick Vineyard


Although we do use some of the other social media sites as well, Facebook and Twitter are definitely what I focus most of my time on and where we get the most community involvement. I think they both have great rewards in different ways. I’ve found that Twitter has been a great way to meet wine bloggers especially, who I think are an integral part of the wine industry, especially here in Virginia. We have amazingly supporting wine bloggers here and it has been so great to be able to meet them on Twitter and later in person! Twitter is also great for monitoring what people are saying about your winery and being able to respond- thanking people for visiting, asking how their visit was, or encouraging people who mention they will be in the area to come and visit! Facebook is great in that we can easily share pictures, videos, and events on there and we get a lot of interaction from our friends and fans on Facebook (confusingly we have both a profile and a page, which makes it a little harder to stay on top of, but I think they both have their advantages so I have been keeping them both for now). In fact, last harvest we had our Facebook friends actually help make one of our wines! Stephen, our winemaker (and my husband), made a short video at each step of the winemaking process explaining the different options and then our friends voted in a poll as to what we should do. They chose everything from when to pick the grapes, what barrels to age the wine in, and what to label the wine. The wine is 100% Cabernet Franc and the label they chose was “Friended Franc”. We’ll be having a release party soon for our Facebook friends, but I got a sneak peak at how the wine turned out (has to be some benefits of being married to the winemaker ;) and it is really great!
Twilight View of the Pond


I think being involved in social media is really important for wineries, especially in Virginia where most of our wine is sold through our tasting rooms directly to consumers versus through distribution. Anything you can do to help keep your customers more involved and let them know how much you appreciate them is crucial. I hear people complain about the time it takes, and it is true, it takes a lot of time to stay on top of it. My husband has definitely given me a hard time every now and then for always being on my phone on Tweetdeck and Facebook! It is a lot of fun as well though, and I think it is an important tool to help build relationships- and relationships are an important part of this (and I think every) industry!

Info: Keswick Vineyards,1575 Keswick Winery Dr. , Keswick, VA 22947, T(434) 244-3341

Click Here to follow Keswick on Twitter.
Click Here to friend Keswick on Face-book.


Have a question about this post, friends? Feel free to leave a comment or send me an e-mail at myvinespot@yahoo.com, and as always, Happy Sipping! Stay tuned friends ...More to come!

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10/11/2010

Quick Sip: Tempering Tannat

Hello Friends,

Tannat has long been treated as a bit player in the game of wine, being used primarily as a blender in the Madiran region of southwest France where it traditionally produces very tannic and rustic wines that require extended cellaring. Enter Uruguay, a small country located on the southeastern coast of South America that has brought Tannat to the forefront as a varietal wine - tempering its rough edge and making a softer and more approachable style.

Winery at La Grange


In Virginia, there are small plantings of Tannat and a handful of producers are making a varietal wine out of the obscure red grape variety. One in particular, Chateau O'Brien Winery and Vineyard, is a leader in growing and producing Tannat - bottling both a Limited Reserve Tannat and a Late Harvest Tannat. These tasty treats will cost you cost $69 per bottle, but I’ve heard they are very delicious wines. A few other local producers making a varietal Tannat wine are: Fabbioli Cellars, Chrysalis, and Hillsborough.

2007 Tannat


On a recent trip to Winery at La Grange in Prince William County, I met up with wine friends to grill outdoors, sip wine, and enjoy the beautiful fall day. At the end of the day, the overall consensus was that everyone enjoyed the 2007 Tannat; therefore, it makes this week’s “Quick Sip.” The Winery at La Grange’s Tannat is on the fuller side of medium-bodied with dark fruit, black cherry, cedar, and spice aromas. On the palate the wine is balanced with moderate acidity, a nice mid-palate and rounded texture, a subtle tannic structure, and a medium-length spicy finish. The fruit for the Winery at La Grange’s 2007 Tannat was sourced from Honah Lee vineyard in Orange, Virginia. The finished wine is 100% Tannat, has a real cork enclosure, clocks in at 13.5% ABV, and retails for $26. Do you have a favorite Tannat wine from Virginia, Uruguay, Argentina, France, etc.? If so, please share your picks with us.

Have a question about this post, friends? Feel free to leave a comment or send me an e-mail at myvinespot@yahoo.com, and as always, Happy Sipping! Stay tuned friends ...More to come!

Info: Winery at La Grange, 4970 Antioch Road, Haymarket, Virginia 20169, T (703) 753-9360

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10/07/2010

Follow-up Post: “What works best for Virginia?”

Hello Friends,

Jason Burrus, winemaker at Rappahannock Cellars in Rappahannock County responds with a follow-up post on which red and white wine grape works best for Virginia. Many Virginia wine consumers think it to be Viognier and Cabernet Franc, while some in the industry would just as soon take Chardonnay and Merlot. In this follow-up post, Jason continues to make the case for Chardonnay and Merlot.

What works best for Virginia?



(Guest Post) Follow-up: "What works best for VA” by Jason Burrus:
 
There is an emotional resonance that many of us, including myself, have with Cabernet Franc and Viognier. No doubt we should continue to pursue these varieties in Virginia. It makes us unique and stand out in the market place. However, in reference to the original question "What works best for Virginia?" my thought is to put as many bottles of Virginia wine into the hands of those that have never tried it. Yes, we can continue to hand-sell unique varieties. And yes, they will continue to impress those few that taste them. But this seems to be the fastest road to remaining a boutique industry. I want to see bottles of Virginia Cabernet Franc and Viognier on the supermarket and wine shop shelves in San Francisco. I doubt we can achieve that by hand-selling Cabernet Franc and Viognier.

Chardonnay and Merlot


From a business perspective, sometimes being "unique" is the kiss of death. Pioneers make for great editorial content, but most are fantastic failures. Let's make what we're already critically successful with and what's already selling: Chardonnay and Merlot. Let's blaze a trail to mainstream wine culture without reinventing the wheel. Then, when we're successful, we can promote those unique varieties that we've developed an affection for and know makes great wines. If this is the direction we want for Virginia wine, then I doubt there's any other way we can do this. This formula has already worked before. Would we care about Chilean Carmenere if it weren't for their Cabernet Sauvignon? How about New Zealand Pinot Noir without their Sauvignon Blanc? We love California Syrah and Zinfandel. But there wouldn't be California Syrah and Zinfandel without the Chardonnay, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon as the basis for their industry.

Viognier and Cabernet Franc


Finally, I want to address the idea that the industry is saturated with Merlot and Chardonnay. I suppose it is. But then again the alcohol industry in general is saturated with wine. For many of us with a business perspective, breaking the mold is the only way to the mainstream. It's been done before. If we can't do it, then we should get comfortable with always remaining a boutique industry. There's an unspoken feeling from our counterparts on the west coast that we pursue off-beat varieties because we can't compete with mainstream varieties. Let's prove them wrong.

Have a question about this post, friends? Feel free to leave a comment or send me an e-mail at myvinespot@yahoo.com, and as always, Happy Sipping! Stay tuned friends ...More to come!

Info: Rappahannock Cellars,14437 Hume Road,Huntly,VA 22640, T(540)635-9398

Click here to visit Jason's vintner's blog.

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  • Please Click Here to vote Dezel's My Vine Spot as your favorite wine blog - You can vote 1x per day!
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Dezel's My Vine Spot © 2006-2013. All rights reserved.

10/06/2010

Making a case for Chardonnay and Merlot


Hello Friends,

During a recent Northern Virginia winery tour hosted by Virginia First Lady Maureen McDonnell, a huge proponent of the Virginia wine industry, I had the opportunity to discuss Virginia wine with Jason Burrus, winemaker at Rappahannock Cellars in Rappahannock County. When I asked Jason for his opinion on the red and white wine grape that works best for Virginia, he answered, “Chardonnay and Merlot.” Many Virginia wine lovers in and out of the business would probably say Viognier and Cabernet Franc – or the up-and-coming Petit Verdot. Personally, I feel Virginia has the potential to make very good Chardonnay, but quality isn’t always pushed. Additionally, Merlot plays a big role in our Bordeaux-style blends and also makes an exceptional varietal wine in good vintage years. In a small wine producing region where Viognier, Cabernet Franc, and the new “buzz” varietal, Petit Verdot take center stage, Rappahannock Cellar’s winemaker Jason Burrus shares his thoughts on Chardonnay and Merlot!

Rappahannock Cellars Winemaker Jason Burrus 


(Guest Post) Making a case for Chardonnay & Merlot by Jason Burrus:

Virginia’s climb into mainstream wine culture is not unlike winning a battle in any modern day war - we must “win the hearts and minds” of the population. The wine drinking public is, unfortunately, an opinionated one. This is a trendy industry where opinions are set by a few vocal critics who are resistant to sing the praises of anything unfashionable. Right now, Cabernet Franc and Viognier are not those fashionable varieties. Yes, they make great wines. But in this business it is not good enough to make great wines, they must be great wines in the minds of those who will never taste them. Case in point: how many times have you promoted a great Cabernet Franc to someone who remarks (before even tasting it), “isn’t that just a blending grape?” We can retort that Cabernet Franc is prominent in the two most prestigious estates in Saint Emilion (Chateau Cheval Blanc and Chateau Ausone), or how Loire Valley Cabernet Francs are all the rage in Parisian wine bars, but these arguments will inevitably fall on deaf ears to most American connoisseurs that became wine savvy drinking Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. If we want to play this game, why not play to win?

First Lady Northern Virgnia Winery Tour (Dezel and Jason)

Virginia is already successful with two well-known and well-regarded varieties - Merlot and Chardonnay. In fact, we grow three times the amount of Chardonnay as we do Viognier, and Merlot comes in a close third place to Cabernet Franc in terms of the amount grown. It seems the game we need to play is to create the most awareness for Virginia wine in the shortest amount of time.

Beautiful Picture Window at Rappahannock Cellars


The direction of Merlot would certainly not be at the sacrifice of Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. Many of Virginia’s best Meritage blends are Merlot-based blends of these varieties. We have the best of both worlds with this direction: a popular variety as the base and two locally well-regarded varieties as blenders to provide a unique Virginia-style blend. Chardonnay has such widespread name and critical recognition that it would be short-sighted not to capitalize on this, and Virginia has the climate to properly ripen high quality Chardonnay on a yearly basis.


Have a question about this post, friends? Feel free to leave a comment or send me an e-mail at myvinespot@yahoo.com, and as always, Happy Sipping! Stay tuned friends ...More to come!

Info: Rappahannock Cellars,14437 Hume Road,Huntly,VA 22640, T(540)635-9398

Click here to visit Jason's vintner's blog.

Get 1/2 off shipping when you buy Italian wine in quantities of 6 bottles or more with promo code "vine65"
  • Please Click Here to vote Dezel's My Vine Spot as your favorite wine blog - You can vote 1x per day!
  • Friend me up on Face-Book here.

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

Dezel's My Vine Spot © 2006-2010. All rights reserved.





Dezel's My Vine Spot © 2006-2013. All rights reserved.

10/01/2010

“Fall” in Love with Virginia Wine!

Hello Friends,

Today kicks off Virginia wine month, a time when Virginia wine lovers near and far are encouraged to get out and enjoy Virginia wine country at the height of the fall season. Virginia wine country offers a number of exciting wine trails, warm and inviting tasting rooms, and so many delicious wines to taste, that the entire month of October is dedicated to Virginia wine! Hip-Hip Hooray, right? The good news: Virginia wine lovers need little encouragement to enjoy Virginia wine. Most, if not all, enjoy Virginia wine year-around. However, for Virginia wine month, we will enjoy an extra glass or two. No worries!

Fall is in the Air!


So why is October a great time to “fall” in love with Virginia wine? October is a good time to plan a visit to Virginia wine country because of the breathtaking spectrum of fall colors, the cool and crisp temperatures (especially after dealing with the extra-hot and super-sized humid summer of 2010), and all the fun-filled wine events and fall festivals offered this time of year. For the kick-off to Virginia wine month, I’ve compiled a list of Virginia wine factoids below. Get out and celebrate Virginia wine month, friends, and raise a toast to Virginia wine and have an enjoyable and safe time on the wine trail. I would love to know what Virginia wines you are enjoying too, so drop me a line via e-mail, Face-Book, or Twitter.

Spread the word about Virginia wine one glass at a time!


* Virginia Tourism Corp: Virginia Wine Month began in 1988 as a way to support Virginia’s young wine business. There were just 40 wineries at the time.

* In 2000, 64 farm wineries were licensed in Virginia.

* Watch the growth! In 2010 over 160 Virginia wineries are on the books and the number is on the rise every month.

Virginia Wine Lovers!


* Virginia has six AVA’s (American Viticultural Area) with another (Middleburg) to come soon! These six AVA’s are the Eastern Shore AVA, Monticello AVA, North Fork of Roanoke AVA, Northern Neck George Washington Birthplace AVA, Rocky Knob AVA, and Shenandoah Valley AVA.

* It’s a FACT: You meet some of the nicest people while out on the Virginia wine trail – both in and out of the wine business.

* Virginia is “One of five up and coming wine regions in the world.”
~ Travel and Leisure magazine, July 12, 2007

Ask questions, you can learn a lot during a tasting session.



* Virginia is “first in wine.” Since the colonists arrived in 1607, Virginians have been making wine. Back then each Jamestown settler was required to grow and tend ten vines for wine production.

* Virginia has some of the most supportive and talented wine bloggers in the nation. Many people outside of Virginia first hear about wine being grown in the Commonwealth through a wine blog – and that’s a fact. Keep up the great job, friends! For a complete listing, check the left hand column of my blog under "blog roll."

* Virginia is the 5th largest wine producer in the U.S.A.

* Here is a fact: Not all Virginia wines are created equal. Say what, Dezel? Yep. Style and quality are scattered in these here parts. But there are a number of producers making high-quality wines reflective of Virginia’s unique terroir and its vintage. On a personal note: that’s the local wines I enjoy best.

A Collection of Virginia Wine Bloggers (Follow these guys!)


* Virginia's own Thomas Jefferson was America's first wine connoisseur.

* It’s estimated that over a million wonderful people visit Virginia’s wineries annually.

* Last Factoid: If you’re not already a Virginia Wine Lover, keep swirling, sniffing, and sipping the local juice- you will be soon!


In closing, the good folks over at the Virginia Tourism Corporation have numerous fall specials and events posted on their homepage and the Virginia Wine Marketing Office is a good spot to learn more abut Virginia wine. Have a question about this post, friends? Feel free to leave a comment or send me an e-mail at myvinespot@yahoo.com, and as always, Happy Sipping! Stay tuned friends ...More to come!


Get 1/2 off shipping when you buy Italian wine in quantities of 6 bottles or more with promo code "vine65"


  • Please Click Here to vote Dezel's My Vine Spot as your favorite wine blog - You can vote 1x per day!
  • Friend me up on Face-Book here.

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

Dezel's My Vine Spot © 2006-2010. All rights reserved.





Dezel's My Vine Spot © 2006-2013. All rights reserved.