Fruits of the Virginia Vine

Wishing you aMemorial Dayfilled with pride, warmth and togetherness. (4)

Sometimes my mama and daddy like to get out fancy glasses and drink old juice out of them. I have yet to understand this. I just know it’s not for little boys, which is perfectly fine with me. Whenever my juice sits out for just a day or two, they make me throw it out. But apparently their juice sits for months in big wooden or steel barrels and they think it’s great. They think that it’s so great, they spend time carefully choosing all kinds of old juice to put on the restaurant menu: old white juice, old red juice and old….pink juice. And then they talk about what meals go nicely with the different kinds of old juice. Actually, we have scheduled two special events to showcase the old juice alongside daddy’s cooking….Wine Dinners they’re called. Since this seems to be important to them, I figured I would learn a little about all of our old juice suppliers and share it with you. I hope you like it!

Although Captain John Smith offered an optimistic initial report when he first landed at Jamestown, the early colonists did not have much success with cultivating grapes and the wine making that followed. The problem seemed to be the European varieties for later in the seventeenth century, cellars were being stocked with native varietals like muscadine. Of course, we know that Thomas Jefferson tried his hand at producing Virginia wine with limited success. The mid-1800’s brought the discovery of plant grafting which enabled European varieties to grow here, protected from native pests and disease. By 1890, Virginia was producing 461,000 gallons of wine and was the fifth largest producer in the country. After prohibition, the wine industry recovered thanks, in part, to several laws intended for its growth. In the 1990’s, the first Viogner was bottled, which would become the state grape of Virginia. There are now over 230 wineries in the state and this number is expected to continue growing. We currently feature seven of these on our Virginia Wine Menu and hope to expand that list over time.

Located in LaCrosse, close to the North Carolina border, lies Rosemont of Virginia. This 450 acre estate has been in Rose family since 1858. Since 2003, they have planted 32,000 grape vines on 22 acres of the land. Rosemont is truly a family-run business from growing to wine making, from management to sales. All of their wines are made from grapes grown on the estate. The vitner’s taste runs to drier wines, which offers a great opportunity to try some varietals in a way you may never have had before. We offer their Rosé and Pinot Grigio.

Prince Michel Winery is close to Culpeper in Leon. Founded in 1982 by two Parisians, today’s wines still retain some of the “old world” feel while the new owners focus on hospitality and creating a great wine experience. It has become one of the most distributed labels in Virginia and along the east coast. Very fruit forward wines are great for novice and experienced wine drinkers alike. We offer their Viogner and Cabernet Franc, two grapes that grow especially well in Virginia.

Open daily for tastings, like most of our suppliers, Barboursville Vineyards offers something extra special on the weekends. In Library 1821, you can taste rarer vintages paired with small bites created by their chef. This 18th century estate, situated on 900 acres, has a climate that offers wide success across many different grape varieties, offering different yields from year to year. With a founding owner from Italy, Barboursville has an expert team of growers and vitners. We carry their 100% steel-aged Chardonnay.

CrossKeys Vineyards is located in Mt. Crawford within sight of Massanutten Mountain. Where a dense forest once stood, 30 acres of vines were planted in 2001. Boasting twelve different varietals, 100% estate grown, they opened in 2008 and have only grown from there. They pride themselves on hospitality and giving back to the community and have raised $200,000 for St. Jude over the years. We carry their oaked Chardonnay, Joy White, Fiore and Petit Verdot.

Located on 45 acres in Markham, in a strikingly beautiful tasting room, you will find Howard O’Brien, owner of Chateau O’Brien Winery and Vineyard. He loves to connect with his guests and share his passion for wine with them. Production began in 2005 and continues in small lots in order to best showcase the characteristics of the grapes grown there. We offer their Petit Manseng.

Rockbridge Vineyard is located in Raphine, just off I-81. They have 17 acres of vines there and use grapes from surrounding counties as well. Carrying twelve white wines and twelve reds, they offer some unique varietals not commonly seen elsewhere. They are also the proud winners of various awards, including medals from the Governor’s Cup. We carry their Reisling and Pinot Noir.

An hour south of here, in Clover, sits Hunting Creek Vineyards. Opening in 2009 with 180 cases, they have stayed small, focusing on excellence in growing and wine making. They specialize in several luscious red blends. We carry their 100% Merlot and semi-dry Repentance.

Well, I think that about covers it. That’s all I have to say for now about Virginia wine….I mean, old juice. Our Wine Dinners will be on June 28th and August 8th, five courses with pairing. Call (434) 352-7532 soon for reservations. For now, cheers!

Virginia wine


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