.#VAWines capture 80 medals; 7 double golds @SF Int. Wine Competition... MV@MV - Muse Vineyards at Mount Vernon... Ducard Vineyad Wins VA's First Norton Challenge... Cave Ridge Fossil Hill Reserve 2019 Wins Shenandoah Cup... Cana Vineyards Wins 2022 Governor's Cup with 2019 Unité Reserve... Atlantic Seaboard Recognizes VA's Sharon Horton and Joy Ting... Bluestone Houndstooth 2017 Claims Shenandoah Cup... Loudoun Museum Opens Exhibit on Cultivation of VA Wine Industry... Barboursville Viognier Makes Wine Enthusiast List of Top 100 Wines in the World... Wine Enthusiast names Paradise Springs' Kirk Wiles as "40 Under 40 Tastemaker"... Gabrielle Rausse named Southern Food Legend by Southern Living... VA Wine Sales Up 6%; Cider taking off... International Winery Review "Virginia Wine Has Come of Age"...

Thursday, March 24, 2022

Governor's Cup Case Showcases Spirit in Virginia's Wine Industry

Wine Dog York awaits reveal of the Virginia's top wine
Main Street Station
Richmond, Virginia
"There is a spirit in our wine industry, a very special spirit,"  said Governor Glenn Youngkin as he revealed the winner of the 2022 Virginia Governor's Cup competition. The Commonwealth is currently home to 315 wineries, and has claimed its place as one of the top producers in the country - and in the world - as is evident from the quality of the 12 wines comprising this year's Governor's Cup Case.

The 2022 case stands out as one of the most balanced in the competition's history - both in the variety of wines and the wine-producing regions represented. 

A few observations about this year's competition:

Women Winemakers Take Their Place
Three of the wines in this year's Governor's Cup Case were crafted by women winemakers, including the top dog, Cana's 2019 Unite' Reserve, produced by Melanie Natoli, who aptly observed that two years ago, there were no women standing among the makers of Virginia's top 12 wines. 

Regional Variety
Six wines from the Monticello AVA found a home in this year's case, which should bring a smile to Mr. Jefferson's face. But the Middleburg AVA is top dog and claims two additional spots in the case. Loudoun and the Shenandoah Valley also are represented.

White Wines Finish Strong
While whites have struggled in past years to make the cut, this year's case features a diverse and refreshing mix of  white varietals, including Chardonnay, Vermentino, Albariño, a sparkling and a dessert wine.

Blending Rounds Out the Reds
All seven of the reds in this year's case are Meritage-style blends, although the dominant grape varies. 

2019 Delivering on Its Promise
Even though the wines are still young, 2019 is clearly delivering on its promise to be a great year for Virginia wine. Half the case is comprised of 2019 red blends, including a Petit Verdot-dominant blend from Wisdom Oak Winery named simply Nineteen. 

Jay Smith of Wisdom Oak Winery which pays homage to an excellent year with its Nineteen blend.

Not only did Cana Vineyards and Winery win the Governor's Cup for the 2019 Unite' Reserve, but Cana is the only winery to claim two spots in the case with their 2019 Le Mariage. And Tasting Room Manager Alison was quick to point out Cana is for Canines, offering a very dog-friendly environment.

Winemaker Jason Burrus helped 50 West Vineyards win a spot in the case with the closest thing to a Cab Franc in the winners' circle. The 2019 Ashby Gap is 75 percent Cab Franc and 25 percent Cab Sauv, with grapes coming from the Middleburg and Shenandoah Valley AVAs.

The Governor's Cup Case would not be complete without a wine from Barboursville Vineyards. This year's representative is a very refreshing 2020 Vermentino Reserve, the youngest wine in the case, displayed by the Palladio's Somm Alessandro Medici. Barboursville brought home a total of four golds from the competition.

A second refreshing white in the case is the 2020 Albariño from Maggie Mallick Wine Caves, which also picked up a gold for Maggie's Tempranillo. Tasting Room Manager Krista confirms dogs are welcome at Maggie Mallick, which hosts DockDog events at their pond.

Michael Shaps may not be big on having his picture taken with Wine Dogs, but he sure knows how to rake in the gold. Seven golds in this year's competition for Micahel Shaps Wineworks, including the 2019 Chardonnay which made the case. An additional two golds for his Shenandoah Vineyards wines, with the 2019 Reserve Red making the case, shown here by Cellar Master Jason Greer. Magnificent nose - the Wine Dogs give it two paws up.

Pollak Vineyards won four golds in this year's competition, with a spot in the case going to the 2017 Meritage (60 percent Cab Franc). Winemaker Benoit Pineau says 2019 produced fruit so dry and concentrated, he couldn't even make Rose'.  Earned a gold next year and should mature beautifully.

The good folks at Rockbridge Vineyard are real dog lovers as well as wine lovers. While owner Jane Rouse gave York a hug, John explained how they brought two big dog beds into the tasting room for guest dogs. Rockbridge won two golds this year, with the 2018 V D'Or (a dessert wine) claiming a spot in the case. 

The winemaking team of Nathan Vrooman and Rachel Stinson at Stinson Vineyards produced a case-worthy wine with their 2017 Meritage. Love the label which features daughter Wells, also a 2017 vintage.

Cheers to Trump Winery, a top producer of sparkling wine. Winemaker Jonathan Wheeler produced another case-winner with the 2015 Brut Reserve and took home four golds in the 2022 competition.

Women in Wine Come of Age in Virginia; Cana Claims Governor's Cup

Cana is Top Dog in VA Wine and super dog friendly! 
Main Street Station
Richmond, Virginia

This year the Virginia Governor's Cup Celebration occurred in March, which happens to be Women's History Month; coincidentally, Melanie Natoli made history as the first woman to win the coveted award. Her Cana Vineyards 2019 Unite' Reserve beat out 614 wines from over 100 wineries to earn best-in-state honors. 

Unite' is a red blend dominated by Petit Verdot (65%) and finished with Cabernet Franc (29%) and  Merlot (6%). All of the fruit comes from Cana's Middleburg estate.

Governor Glenn Youngkin presents the 2022 Governor's Cup to Cana's Melanie Natoli
Natoli came dressed for success in a blue suit, having observed that two years prior all of the winemakers on stage were men, most of them were wearing blue suits. "It is a great honor to take this home, not just for myself, but for all the amazing women winemakers we have here in the industry," Natoli said, adding " We may be few in in number but we are mighty in passion and skill."

Virginia's Women in Wine - Maggie Malick, Melanie Natoli, and Rachel Stinson
Three women winemakers are represented in this year's Governor's Cup Case (the top 12 wines in Virginia). Natoli has two wines: Unite' and Cana's 2019 Le Mariage (also a Bordeaux blend). Rachel Stinson contributed another red blend, Stinson Vineyards 2017 Meritage, and Maggie Malick won a spot for her namesake winery's 2020 Albariño.

Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Matt Lohr presented the award for the top cider in Virginia to Albemarle Ciderworks for its 2019 Virginia Hewes Crab. 

In all 127 wines, ciders and meads won gold in the competition and were showcased at the Celebration, with special recognition given to the top 12 (including the Cana Unite'), which will comprise this year's Governor's Cup Case. Read about them here

Friday, December 3, 2021

Wine Dogs' Virginia Wine Experince

The Homestead Resort
Hot Springs, Virginia

The Wine Dogs were very excited when they learned the venerable Homestead Resort was opening the Virginia Wine Experience, a new venue that "showcases the history of winegrowing in Virginia from the founding of Jamestown in 1607 through today." So when an unrelated event brought them to The Homestead, they put "The Experience" at the top of their activities list.

The Experience has a dedicated site across from The Homestead's Wine Cellar. The seating area offers  spectacular views of the mountain retreat from floor-to-ceiling full length windows. 

Inside is an impressive collection of Virginia wines, selected by consulting project manager Fred Reno, (Thomas Jefferson Wine Company). The selections lean heavily toward the Monticello AVA, although Chrysalis and Linden were also among the available wines. Sadly, Virginia wines were notably absent at the Homestead's bars and restaurants.

Trevor and Mary were attentive and enthusiastic hosts in the Wine Experience room. Eager to learn, they will be excellent ambassadors for the industry.

The regular "experience" consists of either flights (four choices of five wines each - White, Red, Reserve, or Virginia Hybrid and Native American Wines) or wines by the glass. The flights are pricey, but the pours are generous. Ecco chose the Red Flight, and enjoyed a solid lineup: the Early Mountain Foothills, Rosemont Syrah, Barboursville Cabernet Franc Reserve, Michael Shaps Petit Verdot, and Blenheim Merlot. The flights could be better curated (the tasting sheet does not even include vintage).

The larger experience is the monthly dinner with featured winemaker. In December, that is Michael Shaps. The date is December 11 event in the Jefferson Dining Room. 

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Bluestone Vineyard Claims Shenandoah Cup

Ecco congratulates Curt and Lee Hartman of Bluestone Vineyards
Bluestone Vineyard
Bridgewater, Virginia

A big wine dogs Paws Up to Bluestone Vineyard and the Hartman family, winner of the 2021 Shenandoah Cup. The 2017 Houndstooth (great name!) is a rich and satisfying Bordeaux blend. Bluestone also made this year's Governor's Cup Case with its 2019 Petit Manseng, and their 2019 Chardonnay also earned gold in the Shenandoah Cup competition. 

Ecco is excited to note that Bluestone welcomes furry visitors: "Friendly dogs on a leash are always welcome at Bluestone. Dogs are welcome in the Tasting Room and outside around the Tasting Room." The Shenandoah Valley is a top emerging wine region in Virginia and an especially charming place to visit during the fall leaf season. 
Winemakers representing the 11 Gold Medal wines in the Shenandoah Cup competition.

In addition to Bluestone, nine wines from six wineries earned gold:

Briede Family Vineyards claimed gold for the 2019 Tannat. Look for unique hybrids in Paul and Loretta Briede's Winchester tasting room - they were the first in the country to plant the Arandell grape,
Paul Briede with the 2019 Tannat

Winner of the 2020 Shenandoah Cup, Cave Ridge Vineyard earned two golds this year - for the sparkling Blanc de Blanc and the 2019 Fissel Hill, a blend of Petit Verdot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc.
Cave Ridge General Manager Megan Phillips and Becky Smith 

Also doubling down on the gold was CrossKeys Vineyards, with the 2019 Meritage (a Right Bank, Merlot-based blend) and 2019 Petit Verdot.
CrossKeys founder Bob and son Babak Bakhtiar, the marketing manager display the 2019 Meritage

The 2017 Muse Clio continues to shine, adding Shenandoah Cup gold to the gold in the 2021 Virginia Governor's Cup competition (the 2009 won the Governor's cup in 2015).
Muse's Sally Cowal, a former U.S. Ambassador turned wine ambassador

Rockbridge Vineyard took home two gold medals - for the 2017 DeChiel White Riesling and the 2017 Vd'or, a dessert wine which also earned a place in the 2020 Governor's Cup Case. 
Rockbridge's Shep Rouse has been making wine in Virginia since 1986 

Check out these and other outstanding wineries (cideries, breweries, and meaderies) along the Shenandoah Valley Wine Trail, which stretches from Winchester down to Lexington. 

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