Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Virginia Wine is Well Hung!


When I learned that my professional association was holding a regional conference in Charlottesville, I did my research on local wine shops that might carry Well Hung Vineyard (WHV) wines. Work hard, play hard, right? After a long day of conferencing, I headed down to Barracks Road to the The Virginia Shop. The staff couldn't have been more friendly and had high praise for the bottle I purchased, 2009 Well Hung Everyday Chardonnay.

Slightly disappointed in finding only a bottle of white, I continued on to several other wine shops in search of red to no avail. On way out of town, I randomly stopped at South River Restaurant and Paddock Wine Shop in Waynesboro, Virginia. I knew nothing about the place, other than spotting a small ad which sparked my curiosity. As soon as I walked in the door I spotted Well Hung Cabernet Franc - and only one bottle left. I picked up the bottle for purchase before I was even seated! In addition to a great menu, they have an impressive Virginia wine by the glass selection! This always makes me very happy.

Upon my return home, I shared my bottle of Well Hung Everyday with friends while enjoying a seafood extravaganza of crab legs and steamed shrimp. This was a clean crisp white that I could see enjoying...everyday with anything. I really loved it and wished it easier to find bottles for purchase. If you are a real wine snob, you might hope for more complexity. I found it to be a real easy-going wine with slight hints of fruit. Later in the week, I open the Cabernet Franc. This certainly provides more complexity, but not so self-involved for a novice like me. It has the right level of dry with berry flavor. However, I have to say, overall I preferred the white over the red.

Initially, it's label grabs your attention. And why wouldn't it? It's clever, witty, and well designed. Long before I ever tasted their wine, I had decided I liked this vineyard. The label, of course, made me laugh and it's owned by three clever women. Their story showcases collaboration at its best: design meets science meets business meets WINE. I am so fortunate to work with great visual and performing artists everyday in my job. My role is more administrative, but simply being in the environment is inspiring. I find myself increasingly looking at the influence of art and design in everyday life. You might be reading this very post from your newly purchased i-pad, which has a similar and very effective collaboration of science, design, and business. To me the most fascinating aspect of wine is this infusion of art/science/business. This is a great article on how Well Hung Vineyard's label design was featured in an exhibit at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. If you are looking for inspiring wine, check out Well Hung Vineyard.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Alta Vista wine is WINNING!!!

Ever heard of Grit, Virginia? It's a small blip on the map located in Pittsylvania County, minutes from the glitzy town of Altavista. Grit is home to among other things 1) country singer, Ricky Van Shelton 2) my high school sweetheart 3) the popular Riverside Minute Market 4) and impressive back roads we loved to explore in our youth.

It was with slight trepidation that I decided to trek out to Grit for a taste of the recently discovered Alta Vista Vineyards and Winery. Maybe I was apprehensive because of the somewhat random location or perhaps I simply feared this would be too fruity for my taste buds. Either way, I was glad to have along several experienced research assistants for the adventure.

It's important to drink responsibly, so my not quite 21-year old niece dropped us off for the afternoon. We were greeted by one of the owners and his rescued puppy, a blue tick heeler mix . An instant point in the WIN column for us. As we entered, my sister/assistant said, "They are not too busy today". To which I replied, "Did you really think they would be?" But to my surprise, folks entered steadily throughout the afternoon.

We tasted five wines from 2009: Viognier, Chardonnay, Vista Blanca, Cabernet Franc and Meritage. Among the whites, the Viognier was my top pick and the Chardonnay showed great promise with a somewhat buttery flavor. The Vista Blanca, a sweet blend of white grapes, was my least favorite. I found the reds to be slightly superior to the whites with their hearty Cabernet Franc and impressive Meritage. The Meritage, a blend of petit verdot, cab franc, and cab sauvignon, just won the silver medal at the 2011 Governor's Cup. I think this red wine is well deserving of the honor and in great company with other silver Meritage winners from the likes of Barboursville, Pollak and Keswick. I am excited about their 2010 offerings which will likely be available this fall.

Their facility is really more like a house with a small tasting area. This actually worked well and created a nice cozy atmosphere. We purchased a bottle of the Meritage and relaxed on their comfortable leather sofas.

My guess is one of their biggest challenges will be location. Word of mouth is more valuable than advice from marketing consultants, so they'll do well if they tap into the local and surrounding area niche of wine drinkers. I know will be recommending this winery to friends and plan to make a return trip summer to enjoy their spacious deck with wonderful views. I hope others also find their Alta Vista Vineyards experience to be a winner.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Drinking Goals for 2011

After a brief hiatus of wine blogging, its time to return to my adventures in wine. Don't worry, I've still been drinking lots of wine, just not blogging about it. It's important to have goals in life, so I've decided to outline a few of my drinking goals for this year. There are few Virginia Wines on my radar screen that I would at least like to taste or better yet, visit their winery for further research. I'm also expanding into local spirits as well.

1) Altavista Vineyard
This new vineyard is located near my hometown, Gretna, so I am curious to see what they have to offer. I also happen to know that I will be visiting soon, so I am listing it as a goal mainly to say I met at least one of my drinking goals this year!

2) Well Hung Vineyard
This wine has been on my radar screen for quite awhile. I love the name and I love the label, so I am very excited about trying the wine. This small operation is not open for tours. But it gives me a great excuse to check out the nearest retailer, Roanoke's Tinnell's Finer Foods. I can't believe I didn't know this specialty grocery store existed until now. I can't wait to see what types of wine and cheese selections they carry.

3) Annefield Vineyards
I had hope to visit this winery on last year's SoVa Wine Trail trip, but the day just got away from us. This is a definite excursion for the spring or summer. I am hearing great things about their wine, but I am equally excited to see the renovation of their historic property.

4) Explore Virginia Whiskey
My sister is an avid fan of single malt scotch. I think this is the summer we plan our trip to a Copper Fox Distillery which produces Wasmund's Single Malt Whisky located in Sperryville. Perhaps we can fit in a few others that have been popping up over the state in recent years as well.

5) And lastly...Avoid hangovers, or at least find a decent hangover remedy.