Lovingston Winery: Nestled in Nelson

Hello Friends,

I recently jumped on the Monticello Wine Trail to pay a visit to Lovingston Winery in Nelson County, VA. Lovingston is a boutique-styled, family-owned and operated winery located about 35 miles south of Charlottesville in the picturesque countryside of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Lovingston is owned by Ed and Janet Puckett. Ed serves as the vineyard manager, maintaining the family’s five acre estate vineyard. Winemaking duties are headed by South African winemaker Riaan Rossouw, formerly of Oakencroft Vineyards, with assistance from the Puckett’s daughter, Stephanie Puckett Wright.

Arriving at Lovingston Winery

During my visit, I had the pleasure of meeting with Stephanie and learning more about their family farm operation, as well as tasting through their wines. Before making Virginia their home, the Puckett family maintained a small vineyard in Georgia, selling their fruit to local producers. After deciding that their site in Georgia was not ideal for the wine grapes they wanted to grow, the family moved to Charlottesville where both Ed and Stephanie had previously attended the University of Virginia. In 2003, the family planted a five acre vineyard consisting of four acres of Merlot and one acre of Cabernet Franc. Lovingston Winery opened its doors in 2006 and has since added vine plantings of Pinotage and Petit Verdot, with future plans of planting other grape varieties suited to their site. To note, Georgia is currently making great strides with producers like Montaluce Winery and Black Stock Winery, as well as a number of other passionate producers in the rolling hills of Dahlonega leading the way towards raising the wine bar.

Lovingston Wines (a pretty nice line-up of sips!)

Lovingston Winery specializes in small lots of hand-crafted wines. Being a small producer (2,000 cases) allows the winery to have an intimate, hands-on approach from vineyard to bottle. In the vineyard, a dense-planting configuration is used, which limits the number of grape bunches per vine and results in improved fruit quality. Additionally, Lovingston Winery uses a gravity flow design, which is a gentler system for handling the wine. One thing I really liked about Lovingston was their business approach and overall attitude. They really push competitive pricing, establishing strong customer relationships, and brand building through customer satisfaction.

Pours of Joy at the Tasting Bar

Now let’s get to the red and white delights. The wines I tasted through started off with an off-dry and refreshing Petit Manseng 2008. Next, we moved to a deep, almost opaque - colored Cabernet Franc 2007 that offered rich black cherry and currant aromas. Stephanie commented that this would be the last vintage of Cabernet Franc for Lovingston. While the Bordeaux grape variety generally does very well in Virginia, it has not been a consistent performer in the vineyard. That being said, the '07 is going out with a bang due to a good vintage year, so try some before it’s all gone. We moved on to a smooth sipping Rotunda Red 2007 (%80 Chambourcin %20 Tannat) red wine blend, followed by a nicely done Merlot 2006 that is 100% estate grown, offering red fruit, spice, and soft toasty aromas with a lush mouth-feel. Next up was a Merlot Reserve 2006 - produced from the best fruit in the vineyard and refined with velvety tannins and a soft lingering finish. The tasting ended with a Pinotage 2007. Pinotage is a cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsaut and is native to South Africa. The Lovingston example does not share the varietal characteristics of a typical bottle of South African Pinotage, but is a nice wine, offering cherry, spice, and violet-like aromas with a good balance of structure and flavors.

With Stephanie at the Tasting Bar following a very nice tasting

Lovingston is another young up-and-coming small family-run operation in Virginia that is getting it right. In my humble opinion, Lovingston offers some of the best QPR (quality-to-price ratio) wines in the state, with several nice everyday wines priced from $12 to $14. There are also no tasting fees associated with your visit – simply taste, listen, ask questions, enjoy, and buy if you like the wine. You have to like the fact that there is a strong emphasis on product quality, customer satisfaction, and brand building through community and establishing consumer relationships. Lovingston operates by appointment only, so when you visit plan ahead by calling them at (434) 263-8467. Please be sure to let the kind folks at Lovingston know you saw them here on Dezel’s My Vine Spot wine blog. Enjoy your tasting experience, friends!

Info: Lovingston Winery, 885 Freshwater Cove Lane, Lovingston, VA 22949, Tel: (434) 263-8467

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