A Virginia Wine Virgin No More

Virginia is home to some of our country’s early history, 8 US presidents (including 4 of our first 5), Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, a strong military ship yard, beautiful beaches, and some of the most amazing Fall scenery in the U.S. With some of our countries earliest history of wine, Virginia is not just for lovers, it is for wine lovers.

38 years ago I was born among the hills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, in Roanoke, Virginia. The childlike fondness I have from living there for 10 years remains with me. While we occasionally go back to VA to visit my mom’s side of the family, it’s been eight years since I’ve been back. Apart from a small sip from Sean Sullivan a few months back, I’ve yet to experience the wine of my forefathers…and mothers, and aunts, uncles, and cousins.

I was recently invited to participate in an online wine tasting of six Virginia wines. Needless to say, I was excited. For me, this was a chance to connect with the wine my family drinks and a little family heritage. Sadly, shipping was delayed and I wasn’t there to receive the wines the day of the tasting. Over the days that followed I casually made my way through the six wines (three whites, two reds, and a sparkling wine).

*Note to distributors and representatives, when introducing new wines and wine regions to a group of people, please include winery information and winemaking notes.

Since I tasted these wines a few weeks ago, I’ll share my brief notes and my overall impression of the wines that I received. The 2011 Wine Bloggers Conference is in Charlottesville, VA July 22-24. You can count on me being there and then enjoying a nice return visit with my family in Roanoke. If you are interested in learning more about Virginia wine, I suggest you check out the following blogs.

The Virginia Wines


2009 Afton Mountain Vineyards Gewurztraminer

The 2009 Monticello Gewurz had medium flavor but lacked a strong acidity which left the wine lingering in the mouth. A hint of sweetness is present on this mostly dry wine along with average flavors of peaches and stone fruit. Overall a nice first impression. The winery web site prices this wine at $19. 3/5

2009 Keswick Vineyards Viognier

Wow! My notes indicate that I really enjoyed this wine. 14%ABV, 420 cases, combination of oak and barrel fermentation. Awesome flavors of melons and pears coupled with a great acidity make this a pleasant sipping wine or paired with food. At $22, I will definitely keep my eyes out for this wine on the trip back east! 4/5

2009 Jefferson Vineyard Reserve Chardonnay

This wine didn’t do much for me. It came across a little flabby, light in flavor and heavy handed on the oak. The label leaves a little to be desired. At a retail price of $23, I would give it a test sip before you commit. 3-/5

2009 Blenheim Vineyards Merlot

This Seven Oaks Merlot is a little thin on fruit and comes across very young, green and under ripe. Flavors start smooth but then move to a little tartness on the palate. The finish is rough on the edges. 75% of the wine is aged 10 months in French and American oak. $18, 3/5

2008 Mountfair Wooloomooloo

60% Petit Verdot, 30% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc – This is a very dark and moody wine with colors of dark plum and black. Good aroma of flowers and fruit jump out of the glass getting me very excited for the sip. In the mouth the wine is slightly gamey along with deep fruit flavors. Under-ripe bell peppers and a slight minerality make the mid-palate slightly disjointed. Really enjoyed the layers of flavor. $25, 3/5

2007 Kluge Brut Rose

95% Chardonnay and 5% Pinot Noir – Lively bubbles that race to the top of the glass. Good aroma of strawberry toast and yeast. While the wine is made dry, there is a nice hint of sweetness on the front palate. I’m not a sparkling wine expert, but this was a very tasty wine that went down very quickly. With only 12%ABV, the bottle was quickly empty. $28, 3+/5

Overall, I was most impressed with the Viognier and the Sparkling wine. I look forward to exploring more Virginia wines in a few short months to see what else is coming out of the region. A few of these wines were rough around the edges, and the whites were better than the reds, in my opinion.


Owner of Nectar Tasting Room in Spokane, WA. (@nectarwine) Publisher of Spokane Wine Magazine (@spowinemag), author, speaker, consultant and internet marketer with Nectar Media (@nectarmedia)

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