Looking back, it’s really been quite a year. I started out by saying that 2018 is about the journey, and then I chronicled the journey as of October.
As I see it, I’ve now been to something like 18 new to me vineyards this year, and I still have a few I’d like to visit before the year is out. The want to get to list features:
and then I want to get back to RdV to gather data for a blog post (and spend a lovely, luxury afternoon with Wine Friend 1 that will also include a spa afternoon at the Salamander – maybe that will be our xmas present to each other!).
On Saturday I have the Greenhill open house and club pickup, and I’d like to see what that has to offer, I may hit Boxwood after that. I would also really like to go back to Linden, as they do library tastings on December weekends, so you can check out some of their older vintages and (as I love to do) hear from the winemaker about the growing year and what makes these wines unique. I’m very interested in Jim Law’s perspective on his wines, given his long involvement and crucial role in the growth of Northern Virginia wine.
So by the end of 2018, I expect I will have visited almost 20 new-to-me wineries and have about 25 or 26 Virginia wineries that I’ve visited overall (including from years ago Horton, Barboursville, Veritas, Chateau O’Brien, Barrel Oak, Winery at Bull Run, and Paradise Springs). In 2019 it may be time to branch out a bit as several folks have mentioned or written about Big Cork vineyards in Maryland too.
As it stands now, if you ask me for recommendations, I’m sending you to:
Arterra – solid wines and very easy going atmosphere, with an opportunity for a lot of education about the wine or just a nice relaxing afternoon.
Two Twisted Posts – like Arterra, a very laid back atmosphere with some very solid wine to drink, and this winery will grow.
Greenhill – more of an upscale experience with good wines and a very nice atmosphere. There will be a winemaker change from Sebastian, who went to the West Coast (fired? not clear), to Michael Shaps in the coming months, so the wines will change significantly I expect from the French style they’ve featured to whatever Michael Shaps does there. I actually don’t think I’ve had any of his wines, but he is massive in Charlottesville, so it will be interesting to see his influence. He also bought Shehnandoah, and his influence will continue to spread.
What I’ve learned about my taste and preference profile is that I really like wine grown in rocky soils, on granite and mountainsides, more so than wines in the valley or from sites with poor drainage – the more water the grapes take up, the lighter and more diluted the wine becomes, and I prefer the bolder, sharper characteristics coming out. Light wines are ok as sipping wines, but when the depth comes in and you can get the strong earthy/ mineral qualities from the wine, that is where I get to my happy place. My sense from talking to some of these winemakers is that they are focusing more on the influence of the soil / “terroir” than on chemical processes to bring out characteristics in the grapes, and this is making Virginia exciting.
So, as we go along on this journey into 2019, and the geography of our journey expands, don’t hesitate to comment and share your thoughts on the wineries, make suggestions, or come along!