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.