Sunday, June 17, 2012

6 Wineries 6 Personalities

For Memorial Day weekend we headed west to Staunton. During our trip we stopped at 6 Virginia wineries in the Monticello AVA region. We were inspired to seek out a few new (or new to us) Virginia wineries during a recent trip to The Roosevelt. The Roosevelt only serves Virginia wine. While I have had some decent Virginia wine in the past, I've also had some horrible pisswater, too. My motto: "Taste it before you buy it." Virginia wine over the years has been inconsistent at best with weather being a key factor. But winemaking talent and eclectic owners have also contributed to the less-than-stellar reputation. At The Roosevelt, we took a chance on a Pollak Meritage (a true unknown to us) and were pleasantly surprised. We were ready to explore.

We visited 6 wineries. All of the wines we tasted were drinkable. Some were good. A couple were stunning. We were pleased at our findings. Each location had a different personality. The trip was a lot of fun and we came back with three cases of wine to enjoy.

Virginia Wineworks/Michael Shaps: A no-frills operation. The tasting room is in the midst of the barrels and tanks. Shaps sources all of his grapes from the local area and only selects the best of the bunch for his high-end wines. He also is a consulting winemaker to many other Virginia wineries. Located south of Monticello at the end of a gravel road. We brought home Michael Shaps Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot.


Michael Shaps Barrel

Bleheim Vineyards: Part of the celebrity wine trail. Owned by Dave Matthews and situated next door to Trump Winery. Inspiring Americana setting with a white barn, sweeping vistas, and a cool label for their Painted Red series. We purchased Cabernet Sauvignon and Painted Red.

Clematis and Barn

Green Expanse

Blenheim Painted Red

Green Ford Truck

Pollak Vineyards: A large operation producing a series of polished wines in a pastoral setting with vines, mountains, and pond. Pollak grows all of their grapes which is totally opposite from the Shaps approach. For home consumption we carried back Viognier, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Meritage.


Pollak Pond

Stinson Vineyards: An up-and-coming site with baby vines planted all around. They use a combination of locally grown grapes plus their own production. The also have a cool ceramic vat for winemaking. We purchased the Meritage Red.

Vineyard View

Ceramic Vat

Mountfair Vineyards: Hands-down the best winery we visited from the wine view point. Located down a dirt road, this little place only produces red wine. Everything we tasted was hearty and wonderful. They also taste out Thibaut-Janisson sparkling wines. We bought Belated, Engagement, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and a bottle of the Thibaut-Janisson Blanc de Blancs.

Mountfair Vineyards


Glass House Winery: The best place to drink a glass of wine. Choose between the balcony overlooking the pond or the tropical greenhouse conservatory. Both wonderful settings. Handmade chocolates are also available along with a chocolate dessert wine utilizing cocoa powder during winemaking process. Glass House also had a healthy sense of humor. We took home the Twenty-First, a red blend and Meglio del Sesso, the chocolate dessert wine.

Glass House

Tropical Setting

Pay No Attention To The Dog's Eyes

The trip made us appreciate Virginia wine a bit more. We recognized that over the last 10 years new places have popped up that are making seriously nice-drinking options. Places are figuring out what grows better in the region and branching out to embrace the unique Virginia terroir. Some have honed their skills on a few stellar grapes. I hope they keep up the good work. I now want to explore other new-to-me Virginia wineries.

But in the end "Taste it before you buy it" still reigns supreme. On the way home we stopped at the Greenwood Gourmet Grocery in Crozet. They carry a ton of local wine. And I was taken in by the name - Well Hung Vineyard. I bought a bottle of Verdot-Merlot, untasted. Once we opened the bottle and tasted it we had a new name: Strung Up (and I was strung along). Oh well. Wine, no matter where it comes from, can be good or not. At least 6 Virginia wineries are making a reputation for the Commonwealth and are leading the way to putting Virginia on the global wine map.

1 comment:

Bonoca said...

Love your photography. The one discouraging feeding the pooch is hilarious! Thanks for sharing.