I recently attended the Wine Bloggers Conference in Charlottesville, VA and a highlight was visiting the lovely wineries of Nelson County, with the Blue Ridge Mountains as a backdrop. I had no idea what to expect as far as the wines were concerned, and was thrilled to discover something that they already know in Virgina: there is some really good wine being made there. Here are a few of my favorites from my all-too-brief afternoon in the wine country:
Petit Verdot? From Virginia? Whaaaa? Yup. We started our day at Flying Fox Vineyard and, after a couple of (unoaked and refreshing) Viogniers, dove into a vertical of Petit Verdot: 2006, 2007, and 2008. I was so impressed with the 2006 that I ended up bringing a bottle home with me. The tannins had really smoothed out and and it was drinking beautifully.
Probably the coolest, most unexpected wine came courtesy of the generous, affable Tim Gorman, winemaker at Cardinal Point Winery. How about a 1993 Virginia Cabernet? More than just a curiosity, it was a very tasty, well-aged Cab. Minty. Mellow. Yum.
Tim's a really cool guy. Animated, passionate, and humorous, he poured for us one of my Wines of The Trip: The 2009 Clay Hill Cabernet Franc. Fantastic! Would have loved to try this wine with a nice chill on it. (Especially considering it was 100 degrees in Charlottesville. With soul-crushing humidity, too.) Why didn't I buy one? (Commence hand-wringing regret.)
One last shout-out to the vintage sparkling wine from Afton Mountain Vineyards. (Just checked out their website and dig their motto: "Grapes don't grow in ugly places." The photo at the top of this post is from my visit to Afton Mountain; I trust that vouches for their motto.) Their (hand-riddled!) 2008 Tete de Cuvee, corked just a few weeks prior to our visit, was a lovely sparkling wine with a nice richness. It's a Pinot Noir/Chardonnay blend; thanks to the relative altitude of the vineyards, and one of the only places with a (thankfully) constant breeze, the odds are stacked in their favor to be succesful with Pinot and Chard.
Although clear across the country, and probably little-to-no distribution here in Washington, my trip to Virginia reminded me how lucky I am to live in a state with such a vibrant community of wineries. When you keep an open mind and cultivate a sense of adventure, you never know what you might discover.