Saturday, November 7, 2009

Keswick Vineyard: Where I purchased my first expensive bottle of wine

The drive to Keswick Vineyards was beautiful despite the clouds and rain of the day. Ever wonder how the other half live? I certainly did while passing the gorgeous homes and horse farms that line the drive through Albemarle County. I don’t ride horses, but I did suddenly picture myself learning to ride while living in an amazing estate, dressed in classic preppy tweed blazers and riding pants. And if you are a history buff, take the time to visit their website and read about the historical events which have occurred on this property dating back to 1727.

In terms of their wine, I knew very little beforehand. Fortunately, we had an enthusiastic knowledgeable pourer. Overall, I preferred their red wines to white. I was particularly impressed with their 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine is the 2009 title holder of the Virginia Governor’s Cup. The actual cup is prominently displayed in the tasting room and roughly resembles a smaller version of the Stanley Cup. This was their most expensive wine at $60.00 a bottle. While normally, I would prefer to stay within a lower price range, I decided it was time to splurge. This wine is good now, but they recommend “laying it down” for about 3-5 years. They only bottled 250 cases, so I feel privileged to say I own one. I am excited about opening this wine, but trying to save it for a special occasion or at least sharing it with fellow red wine lovers.

Another interesting wine we discovered was their 2007 Consensus. This was my second favorite wine and somewhat unique in the fact that the winemaker invites member to a blending party to taste and rate various blends. The highest overall score is bottled as their “Consensus” wine for the year. This sounds like an amazing opportunity to not only learn more about the process, but to be involved in the process. Another distinctive feature found at this winery is their wine infused chocolate sauce and it pairs wonderfully with their wine. The tasting room is rather small, so consider going during the week for a more personal experience. I highly recommend adding this vineyard to your stop on the Virginia Wine Trail.

Sans Soucy Vineyards & Backroad Adventures in Campbell Co.

Boasting as the first and only vineyard in Campbell County, Sans Soucy is located in close proximity to my childhood hometown. Through my pre-research, I was surprised to see on their website extended summer weekend hours until 9pm. I would not be arriving into town until late afternoon and since everything that one reads on the internet is true, I knew this would be a great start to our Monticello Wine Trail weekend. Armed with an open mind and my father’s GPS we set out on the country roads that lead towards Brookneal VA. This community is oddly situated in Campbell County as it seems to neighbor more closely with Charlotte and Halifax Counties. The scenery of this drive is quite rural; so much so our GPS often lost satellite connection.

As we approach the entrance to the winery, it was clear that they were not open for business. A woman greeted us in the driveway and we proceeded to explain how we had purposely driven all the way to their winey assuming they would be open. She kindly pointed to the hours of operation as posted on their sign. These types of things really do not upset me, but rather I see them as a nuisance. We chalked it up to a poor business decision on her part to not at least offer us a quick tasting or the opportunity to buy some of their wine as we had already planned to do so. Despite failure to update their website, I can say that the actual vines looked really great. And while very rural, there was something rather charming and quaint about their facility. My sister would later return to the vineyard during operating hours to discover the staff as friendly and inviting. And she very much enjoys their Oak N Berry wine which is a combination of their blackberry wine and Petit Verdot.

The real adventure occurred after our brief visit to Sans Saucy. On the main road to the vineyard, we passed a historical marker which indicated that we were a mere five miles from Patrick Henry’s grave site.

Realizing that we had not been to the home of Patrick Henry on any of our school field trips, we decided to continue onward towards Red Hill. With our handy GPS, surely, it would be easy to find. All true, unless your GPS gets confused and you have naively placed all faith in said GPS. To describe the area as rural would be an understatement at this point. We were on the road to BFE with no historical plantation in sight.

As we dutifully followed the directions, we veered right at a fork in the road and began to pass some rather sketchy houses. As we drove deeper into the unknown we came upon a “Road Closed Ahead” sign. At the end of the road stood two gentlemen outside their cars discussing what we could only assume was very important, very private businesses. Not wanting to interrupt, we politely waved and quickly turned around. As the sun began to set, we knew our chance of seeing this historical landmark would have to wait for another day. Instead we returned to bright city lights of Altavista to enjoy a nice California wine on the front porch and learn more about Patrick Henry’s plantation in a civilize, safe way…via the internet.

I will one day return to San Soucy, so stay tuned for a “San Saucy Revisted” blog entry.