Ten Tips on How to Enjoy Yourself at a Winery

wine--monk sneaking a drink(Even if  nobody else does.)

We went to two local wineries on a rainy  Saturday afternoon.   We observed many of the following behaviors at both wineries.

1) Invite at least 8 or more of your BFFs.  (If your group is not large enough to reach critical mass, then why make the effort to show up?)

2)  While you are at the winery, make sure each of you enjoys every bit of wine to whichpour-wine large you are entitled. The whole purpose of tasting wine is to make sure you taste enough to know whether you like it or not.

3.  On a rainy afternoon where everyone wants to be inside or outside on the roofed patio, make sure you gather enough chairs and tables for your entire possee.  Then stare at  the people who arrive after you to let them know that they should have arrived earlier. (After all you did.)

4.  Since you elected to patronize the winery, make sure people know you are there.  Dress to be seen and speak loudly enough so that your entire group can hear your bon mots and witty asides.  Laugh frequently (preferably in loud, shrill tones) so that no one can miss out on this scintillating conversation.

5.  Since practice makes perfect, you need to visit several wineries to perfect you technique.

6. You are a responsible group, so it’s much better to arrive in a limo or a bus.  You are not driving while impared, take up fewer parking spaces, and arrive in a large group simultaneously, which makes it better to have your presence felt.

7.  Take as much space as you need when going tasting at the bar.  The other customers will notpouring wine into a glass mind crowding up to give you the space you deserve.

8.  Unless the winery, specifically prohibits it, bring lots of food to share with your possee.  Picnic baskets, plastic bags, large coolers, serving dishes and utensils, multiple courses with appropriate garnishes, and enough paperplates and plastic ware show that you know how to enjoy yourselves in style.

9.  When you leave, don’t bother to bus your tables.  That is what the winery staff is for and if the next people really want to sit there, they will clean the tables for you.

10.  Get back on the bus, complaining loudly how no one understands the effort your group has made to enjoy themselves on a rainy day.

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Aspiration Sunday

“Before you search for inspiration outside, dig for aspiration within.”

-The Little Mermaid, MMXIX

The Little Mermaid posted this on her blog today.

In Central Virginia, today is a bright sunny day with temps that will soar from the mid 30s to the mid  60s.  Spring is steadily advancing with birds singing, flowers blooming, and tree pollen rising (along with the temps).

What do you aspire to today?  I aspire for peace and contemplation.

Cardinal Point logoI want to sip wine outside in one of my favorite wineries, Cardinal Point.  Maybe their Green wine will be ready.  Green wine  is from the Portuguese Vinho Verde  (literally ‘green wine’)  that originated in the historic Minho Province in the far north of Portugal.  It is not a St. Patrick’s day wine (white wine colored green) but is wine made from young grapes. Picked before the regular wine harvest, it provides fresh wine that is drunk soon after bottling before the other wines are available.  It’s a perfect wine to sip on while enjoying the warm Spring sunshine.

If we have no love for ourselves then we have none to give others.  At what point does self love become hedonism? Is it when the ego rear’s its head, thumbs its chest and starts proclaiming how wonderful  it is?  Or is it when our love for ourselves or our needs tramples the love or concern we have for others?  Is spending the afternoon sipping a light wine  outside in a beautiful environment aspiration or hedonistic?

The day will evolve from soaking up the sun to soaking in some peace.  Our church is initiating a new service this evening, Taize Eucharest.  “A Taizé worship service involves sung and chanted prayers, meditation, a period of silence, liturgical readings, and icons. There is no preaching.”  It is ecumenical in nature.

 

Heroine

Jane Whitney, my friend and sommelier at Glen Manor Winery near Front Royal, Virginia, died unexpectedly on February 5, 2019.  The area was just coming out of a deep freeze.

That Tuesday, Jane’s friend, Nancy Border Forest stopped by Jane’s house in Bentonville.  Nancy was taking her golden retriever with her to pick up another dog at the groomers.  Nancy never arived at the groomers.

The surmise is that the golden retriever escaped onto the half frozen pond on Jane’s property and fell through the thin ice.  Both women went out to try and rescue the dog.  All three were found dead the next day by Warren County sherrifs.

Jane, the owner of at least three rescue dogs, died as she lived–helping others.  In addition to working at Glen Manor Winery, Jane also volunteered and was on the board at the Front Royal Women’s Rescue Center and Blue Ridge Hospice.

She was from England, becoming an American citizen in 1979 when she married Scott C. Whitney and moved to the United States.  She was a lawyer in England and had met Scott when they were both teaching at Exeter  University Law School.

Jane was a lady of wit and wisdom.  When my friends and I visited the winery, she always took time to chat with us and catch up on what was going on in each others lives. She would talk about her many trips to the Charlottesville area when she drove a friend down there for medical treatment at the UVA hospital.

We first met Jane back in the 1990s when she worked at Linden Winery in Linden, Virginia.  We were very happy to re-make her acquaintance when Jeff White opened Glen Manor winery about 2009.  (Jeff planted his vineyard in 1995 and originally sold wine through Linden before opening his own wine some years later.)

 

 

National Drink Wine Day-Feb 18

wine--monk sneaking a drinkNational Drink Wine Day is celebrated annually on February 18 across the United States.

The purpose of National Drink Wine Day is to spread the love and health benefits of wine.  Wine has played an important role in history, religion and relationships.  We embrace the positive benefits of wine such as new friends, reduced risk of heart disease and the enhancement of food and life.

Bottle of wine, fruit of the vine, when you going to let me get sober?

Red, red wine, goes to my head,
Makes me forget that I
Still need you so

You come on like a dream, peaches and cream
Lips like strawberry wine 
You’re sixteen, you’re beautiful and you’re mine

A Taste of Honey by Tom Jones
“…honey, much sweeter than wine”
Best of My Love by the Eagles
“wasting our time on cheap talk and wine, left us so little to give”

All Along the Watchtower by Bob Dylan
“Businessmen, they drink my wine, ploughmen dig my earth”

Cracklin’ Rosie by Neil Diamond
“Cracklin’ Rosie, you’re a store-bought woman
You make me sing like a guitar hummin'”

Happy Chardonnay Day

chardonnay grapes“International Chardonnay Day traditionally falls on the Thursday before Memorial Day (May 25th, this year), but there’s nothing “traditional” about this stalwart summer staple when it comes to flavor: crisp and fruity unoaked versions are beginning to win over the pinot grigio crowd, while the familiar buttery-cream oaked ambrosia is still in high demand.”

What type of Chardonnay do you prefer?  In the winter, I like the oaky Chardonnay, but in the summer, I prefer the unoaked type.  If it is really hot, I actually like sauvignon blanc, but don’t tell Chardonnay I wrote that.

NV-Carneros-Chardonnay-2015-onward-205x763I was at one California winery in 2016, Dulzura Vineyard and Winery in San Diego County, that oaked their wine by putting a string of quarter sized oak chips in a barrel of wine.  The oak influence was so light as to be nonexistent.  Most other California wineries are known for the huge oakey Chardonnays.  Rombauer is my favorite in the category.

Although Viognier is the official white grape of Virginia, a number of wineries do make excellent Chardonnay.  Some of my favorites include Linden, White Hall, Barboursville, Pollack, Naked Mountain, and, Veritas to name a few.  Probably the most unique Virginia Chardonnay I have tried is Cardinal Point’s Hopped Chardonnay.  It works for a lot people and is certainly unique among any Chardonnay I have ever tried.  Since I am not a beer drinker or a hops fan, it is about the only thing at a Cardinal Point wine tasting that I generally pass on. From the Cardinal Point website: 2017 Hopped Chardonnay
This unique wine made with estate grown Chardonnay and estate grown cascade hops has pleasing herbal and lemon grass notes, mostly from the hop influence. The mid-palate is fresh and light, with a long finish. We love this wine with fresh trout, pan fried or on the grill.

 

April is Virginia Vineyard Month

Because of our chilly spring, most vineyards have not yet had bud break.    Typically this occurs sometime around the middle of April–exactly when varies by type of grape, weather, location of the vineyard, etc.  Despite the fact that we have had a damp, chilly month, many of the Virginia wineries have found ways to celebrate the month with special events, barrel tastings, new vintage releases, and of course, regular tastings.

Barboursville Chardonnay Reserve_230x627We began the month at Barboursville Vineyards in Barboursville, in Orange County.  It has been owned by the Zonin family, who also have vineyards in Tuscany, since 1976.  Thomas Jefferson designed the home of Virginia governor, James Barbour.  That house contained a standard Jeffersonian room feature, an Octagon room. (He thought that  an Octagon shaped room with no sharp corners,  allowed more light into the room.) The house burned down on Christmas Day in 1884.  The ruins are still visible today and part of the label design for Barboursville wines.  On the weekends, Barboursville has library tastings in the  Library 1821.  The premier red blend is called Octagon.  We each tried an Octagon flight with wines from 2007, 2010, 2012, 2013, and 2014 for $35.  We paired it with an excellent small cheese plate. An Octagon wine is only made when the vintage warrants the Octagon designation. Anyone can attend the Library Tasting.

 

 

Jeff getting wine for a barrel taster.jpgThe following Friday we went to Glen Manor Vineyards outside Front Royal for a barrel tasting.  The farm backs up to the Skyline Drive with  an amazing view from the adirondack chairs scattered across the winey’s lawn.  Jeff White, the vigneron, is the fourth generation to farm this land which has been in his family over 100 years.  Jeff, started the winery in 1995.

Their tagline “Wine s with a sense of place” suits the winery and the family that makes it.

Today, the estate comprises 212 acres of pastures, forests, and currently 17 acres of vineyard.   Jeff’s cellar tasting focused on the red wines.  They were blended–some had wild yeast while others were fermented with domestic yeast.  You could taste the difference.  Jeff had set up 3 different tasting stations where we tasted two wines at each station.  Each wine had a delicious tidbit to enhance the taste. Jeff said that the 2017 vintage was the best he had had to date (in 23 years of raising grapes and making wine.)  The wine tasted good enough to drink right out of the barrel. (In over 20 years of various barrel tastings, this is the first time I could say that.)  Jeff’s premiere blend,  Hodder Hill, “is a structured red blend (usually Cabernet Sauvignon dominant), focused on the terroir of our mountain farm. The blend of varieties and nuances of flavor change with every season, just as nature gives us different fruit every season, and we allow the best of this bounty to frame our wine.

In the same way that this wine showcases the structure that our vineyards produce, its name showcases the structure of our family; it is named for Raymond Hodder Rudacille, the second generation of our family to farm and live on this land.

The barrel tasting was limited to Case Club members.  (Case Club Membership is limited to people who buy at least one 12 bottle case a year.)

 

 

 

Carinal Point winesThe following weekend we went to Cardinal Point Winery in Afton Virginia.  Cardinal Point was established in 1985, when General Paul Gorman retired from the Army and he and his wife moved to Afton to re-create some of the reisling wines they had known in Germany while being stationed at Bad Kreuznach, Germany on the banks of the Nahe River.  Their son, Tim took over the vineyard management in 1989 and the tasting room opened in 2002.  They sell a variety of red and white wines.  In addition to the regular wine tastings, they had two 2-week old kids from Caromont Farms along with owner/cheese-maker, Gail Hobb Page.  One of the goats really liked to be snuggled while the other goat bleated and tried to escape.  Adults and children were all beguiled by the young goats. The winery offers live music every Sunday.  The event was open to anyone attending the winery that day. Cardinal Point has Wine Co-op that offers free tastings, complimentary tickets to the semi-annual oyster roast and other benefits.

 

.ouLove at Cardinal Point Winery

Septenary wineThat same weekend we also went to a Rose’ release at one of the area’s newest wineries, Septenary at Seven Oaks Farm.  Sarah and Todd Zimmerman (both UVA alumni) bought the farm in 2014, fulfilling a life long dream to own a farm winery in Central Virginia.  The winery owns two distinct properties: Seven Oaks in western Albemarle County (7 acres)  and the Essex Vineyard  near the Chesapeake Bay in eastern Virginia (26 acres). The farm dates back to the 1700s.  It has several historic outbuildings on the property, including the re-located Summer Kitchen.  (The original Summer Kitchen was adjacent to the main house.)  It was relocated some years later.  Although anyone could by the rose wine in the winery, the actual release event at the Summer Kitchen, was open to wine club members only.   The Rose’ wine was accompanied by fresh strawberries and a goat cheese based roll-up  The winemaker, Sabastien Marquet, discussed the new vintage.  The event was open to Wine Club members (where you order a trio of wines each quarter).