Virginia is For (Wine) Lovers!

Sorry, low hanging fruit there in the title. We don’t stock many Virginia wines here at the store for a variety of reasons (you can read a little more about why here). Even so, when you live so close to an emerging wine region, it seems almost criminal not to visit. So, last week I spent a couple of days visiting Virginia wineries to get to know the producers we work with a little better, and to visit a few wineries whose wines I am less familiar with. It was a wonderful mini-adventure, and I can’t wait to go back and explore more!

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On Thursday, I headed over to Barboursville and met up with Fernando, their vineyard manager. The staff was so apologetic that their general manager was busy, but this ended up being my favorite visit, because Fernando was *awesome.* We hopped in his truck right away, which was so filthy that it made me feel better about my own messy car. He drove me all over the property, and we checked out the Muscat, Sauvignon Blanc, and some of the reds – the Muscat is almost ripe!

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Much of it stays under netting to protect it from birds. Fernando has been managing vineyards in California and Virginia for almost 30 years, and his love for the land he takes care of is infectious. Being around someone so passionate about what they do is such a joy, and getting a personal tour of Barboursville’s vineyards was so educational and fun.

After a few sips of an already bottled Sauv Blanc (very refreshing, kind of like green melon and fresh flowers) and a walk through the barrel room, it was time to leave for Early Mountain.

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Early Mountain was a completely different, and much fancier experience. CEO Peter Hoehn gave me a tour of the whole, grand facility, from the wine library to the gorgeous, airy tasting room and even the airstream trailer they bought to take their wines on the road!

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Early Mountain is committed to featuring wines from all over Virginia in their tasting room. After I was finished tasting through their current offerings (the delicious Foothills Red was just as good as I remembered!) I had a glass of the vibrant, toasty Thibaut Janisson’s Blanc de Blancs. There are usually 8-10 wines from other Virginia wineries being featured at the tasting bar at any given time, and the selections rotate often. As I was leaving, Peter and the rest of the team were setting up for a tasting group that they hold with other Virginia winemakers so they can taste and discuss each others’ work. Super cool.

The next day was rainy, foggy, and damp, and up in the Blue Ridge mountains at Glen Manor, the fog looked so beautiful and mysterious wrapped around the vineyards.

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Their Sauvignon Blanc is so good we often shelve it in our regular white wine area instead of keeping it with the other Virginia wines because we don’t want anyone to miss it! The 2014 is bursting with juicy grapefruit flavors and a mouthwateringly dry finish. The Petit Manseng I tried, with its electric sweet-tart balance, didn’t hurt either.

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Then it was on to Linden, another producer in Front Royal, known for its wines made with minimal intervention. Jim, the winemaker, showed me around his property, and I loved seeing how stripped-down and broken in all the equipment was, like this old German press from the 1950s. So cool!

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The wines were all beautiful, but the single vineyard Sauvignon Blanc had a wonderful weight and chalky texture, with bright lemon flavors. So refreshing and perfect for summer.

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I can’t recommend visiting our local wineries enough – whether you want a luxe experience at a place like Early Mountain (the charcuterie plate was to die for!) or something with a real small-production, lo-fi feel like at Linden, there’s something for almost every wine lover right here in our home state.

–Diane

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