Barboursville Wins 2021 Governor's Cup for Paxxito... Lost Boy Cider Nabs Best-in-Show Cider Honors... Carrington King (King Family Vineyards) named 2021 "Grower of the Year"... Shenandoah Vineyards 2017 Petit Verdot wins 2020 Shenandoah Valley Wine Trail Competition 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... 2019 Governor's Cup Goes to Horton Vineyards; Doug Fabbioli Top Dog in Loudoun... VA Wine Sales Up 6%; Cider taking off... International Winery Review "Virginia Wine Has Come of Age"...

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Wine Dogs DIg Up Gold at Ingleside

Oak Grove, VA

The Virginia Wine Dogs are hot on the trail - the Gold Medal Wine Trail that is - sniffing out the 47 wineries, cideries and meaderies that racked up gold in the 2021 Governor's Cup Competition. First stop, Ingleside Vineyards in the Northern Neck of Virginia (the George Washington Birthplace American Viticultural Area - Washington's birthplace is just down the road).

Ingleside numbers itself among the pioneers of the modern Virginia wine industry - opening in 1980 with the first wave of post-prohibition wineries. Doug Flemer planted his grapes on the historic estate that had been in his family since 1890. Today, the winery's focal point is a European-style brick courtyard, surrounded by old farm buildings transformed to serve as the tasting room, winery, event space and museum (filled with antique wine bottles, Native American artifacts and Chesapeake waterfowl decoys). 

Ingleside is a three-time Governor's Cup winner (1983, 1984, and 1986) and claimed a spot in the 2017 Governor's Cup Case). The winery earned gold in this year's Governor's Cup Competition for two of its whites - the 2019 Albarino and the 2018 Chardonnay Reserve. The Albarino is available on the white tasting flight (which also includes the 2019 Pinot Grigio, 2019 Viognier, Coastal White, and 2019 Chardonnay Reserve). The 2018 is available only for purchase, so of course, we did.

Ecco was grateful the flight came with a proper tasting glass, allowing her to fully appreciate the peach on the nose of the Albarino and nectar on the palate. We've been hearing quite a bit of buzz about this Spanish grape's promise in Virginia lately (most recently on Frank Morgan's Open that Bottle of Virginia Wine Night). Ingleside's Albarino certainly impressed - Ecco gave it two paws up. 

Score another paw up for pet friendliness, Ecco was made to feel right at home throughout her visit and even met a new friend, Winnie, a three-year-old Nova Scotia Duck Trolling Retriever (kind of a mini-Golden). Winnie is clearly a devoted wine dog - note the grape colored leash and harness.

There is a charming gift shop in Ingleside's tasting room, lovingly stocked by Nancy Flemer. As much as she enjoyed the wine, Ecco couldn't resist bellying up to the Doggie Tasting Bar. Suffice it to say, she loved her visit to Ingleside.

Ingleside's unique take on Virginia's LOVE sign.

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Wine Dogs Count Down to the 2021 Virginia Governor's Cup Reveal

Alexandria, VA

The Virginia Wine Dogs have been following the Governor's Cup for more than a decade. As we prepare for tonight's 2021 Governor's Cup Reveal, we look back at past postings on Virginia's Top Dog of Wine.

COUNTDOWN 2010: Open less than a year, Paradise Springs Winery may be just a pup in Virginia's growing kennel of top wineries but they're demonstrating show quality - claiming the Governor's Cup at Monticello on Wednesday night for their 2009 Reserve Chardonnay. This is the first time since 1991 that a Chardonnay has won the cup. Munchkin and Pomeroy extend their congrats to Jane Kincheloe and Kirk Wiles and all our friends in Paradise.

COUNTDOWN 2011: Munchkin and Pomeroy popped into Fox Meadow Winery on Sunday to give give their neighbors a personal "paws up" and pick up a bottle of the 2011 Governor's Cup winning Le Renard Rouge (2008) to taste for themselves. Grrrr-eat! Congratulations to our Blue Mountain neighbors, Dan and Cheryl Mortland. The award was announced at the Virginia Wine Expo on Friday Night. Sixty Virginia wineries submitted 196 entries in this year’s cup competition. This was the pups' first actual view of the Governor's Cup.

COUNTDOWN 2011 (Part 2): Munchkin and Pomeroy headed to New Kent Winery in October to congratulate the winery on winning the 2011 Governor's Cup for White Wines. The 2009 Reserve Chardonnay was judged best from among 162 wines entered from 52 wineries. Notice something different about the award? In 2011, the Governor's Cup competition was divided between Red Wines in the Spring and White Wines in the Fall.

COUNTDOWN 2012: Governor Bob McDonnell presented the Governor's Cup to a surprised Jeff White, owner and winemaker of Glen Manor Vineyards for the 2009 Hodder Hill, a Meritage blend which the Governor called "“a stunning representation of the best in Virginia wines." It was the first time Glen Manor entered the competition. More than 400 Virginia wines competed. This year introduced a significantly revamped competition led by Master of Wine Jay Yeomans, a requirement that all wines have 100% Virginia grapes, and the debut of the Governor's Cup Case (top 12 wines in Virginia).
COUNTDOWN 2013: The 2013 Governor's Cup winner was Barboursville Vineyards' 2009 Octagon, beating out 400 wines. It marked a record fourth time Barboursville has claimed the Governor's Cup. Luca Paschina, Winemaker and General Manager, called the 2009 Octagon "probably one of the best wines I every made in my life" -- adding that he has been making wine since he was 14.  The 2009 Octagon has also claimed a 90-point score from Wine Enthusiast, gold medals form the Beverage Testing Institute in Chicago, and the Winemaker's Challenge and Critics Challenge in California, and the Platinum Medal of the Sommelier Challenge in California.

COUNTDOWN 2014: The 2014 Governor's Cup was awarded to Williamsburg Winery for the 2010 Adagio. The graceful blend of Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Petit Verdot already has the wine world taking note - earning 94 points in the Beverage Testing Institute's International Wine Competition. It was produced by Matthew Meyer, who has been Williamsburg's winemaker since 2002. This year, 410 wines from 96 wineries competed.

COUNTDOWN 2015: Top Dog in the Virginia Wine World is Muse Vineyards, winner of the 2015 Governor's Cup. The prize went to the 2009 Clio, a Bordeaux blend and one of the first produced from the vineyard by Robert Muse and Sally Cowal. This year, 390 wines from 94 wineries were entered in the competition.

COUNTDOWN 2016: Paws up to our good friends at Keswick Vineyards, winner of the 2016 Governor's Cup for their 2014 Cabernet Franc! Accepting the cup, owner Al Schornberg said: "All we wanted to do was make a great red wine. Dreams come true in Virginia Wine country." Ecco was privileged to inspect the cup at her next visit to Keswick.

COUNTDOWN 2017: The barking news out of Richmond is that The Barns at Hamilton Station in Hamilton, VA, will be taking home the 2017 Governor's Cup. The award-winning wine is the 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon, confirming once again that Virginia can produce a full-bodied Cab. The Barns opened in 2012, a post-government-service project of owners Andrew and Maryann Fialdini. Michael Shaps is the winemaker. A total of 494 wines were judged in this year's competition. York's photo in the Governor's Cup made the Richmond Times Dispatch!

COUNTDOWN 2018: Over 440 wines competed, but only one could be declared top dog in the Virginia Governor's Cup competition. This year's prize went to the King Family Vineyards for their elegant 2014 Meritage. This is the third time the King Family Vineyards has claimed this prestigious honor.

COUNTDOWN 2019: For the first time since the Virginia Governor's Cup Competition was revamped in 2012, a white wine has claimed Best in Show. Horton Vineyards' 2016 Petit Manseng bested over 500 wines from 102 wineries to earn the 2019 Governor's Cup. Horton Vineyards is one of the pioneers in the modern Virginia wine world, currently celebrating its 30th Anniversary. Founder Dennis Horton brought Petit Manseng to Virginia in the late 1990s (along with Viognier).

COUNTDOWN 2020: For the first time in 15 years, a dessert wine claimed the coveted Virginia Governor's Cup. At the 2020 Governor's Cup Celebration, 868 Estate Vineyards in Purcellville won "Best in Show" honors for the 2017 Vidal Blanc Passito, beating out more than 530 wines. And for the first time, Loudoun County can claim to be first in grapes. The award-winning wine is made from from 100 percent Loudoun County fruit. This would be the last event the Wine Dogs attended before the COVID lockdown . 

COUNTDOWN 2021: ?????

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

2020 Governor's Cup: Blending is Golden in the Grape Dominion

Main Street Station
Richmond, Virginia

With more than 300 wineries and 537 vineyards growing over 400 acres of grapes, Virginia has truly become the Grape Dominion. To help shine a spotlight on the top dogs in the industry, Virginia’s Governor’s Cup Competition assembles a distinguished panel of judges under the direction of Master of Wine Jay Youmans.

The winners this year give credit to the maturing quality of Virginia wine. A Wine Dogs “paws up” to each of the 10 wineries whose 12 wines were judged the best in Virginia and make up the Governor's Cup Case.

A few observations from this year’s case.

It’s all about blending. Half the case is comprised of red blends for the second year in a row. The case also includes a Tannat, a Cabernet Franc, and a Petit Verdot.

868 Estate’s Passito is a trend-setter. The first hybrid grape (Vidal Blanc) to win the competition; the first Governor’s Cup wine made from 100 percent Loudoun County grapes; and the first dessert wine to win in 15 years. It is complimented in the case by a second Vidal-Blanc based dessert wine  and a Vermentino.
868 Estate Winery's trendsetters Carl and Delisa DIManno bask in the glory of the evening. 
Although still dominant with seven spots in the case, regions outside the Monticello AVA are asserting themselves. Loudoun is Top Dog, and the case includes a healthy blend of wine from Northern Virginia and the Shenandoah Valley.

If you are looking to sample Virginia's finest, follow the Wine Dogs' lead and put these on your list.

Afton Mountain Vineyards blends beuatiful views with beautiful wines. The 2017 Tradition is a classic Bordeaux-style blend of Merlot (41%), Petit Verdot (37%) and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Afton Mountain's Jill Schildkamp invites the Virginia Wine Dog team to visit Afton Mountain's pet friendly vineyard cottages.
Barboursville Vineyards earned three golds this year, claiming two spots in the case with the refreshing 2018 Vermentino Reserve (a double gold winner in the San Francisco Chronicle competition) and the 2014 Octagon.
Barbourseville winemaker Luca Paschina treats York to a taste of the 2014 Octagon, making a repeat appearance as a Governor's Cup gold medal winner. 
Another winery with a spectacular view, Delaplane Cellars struck gold with the 2017 Williams Gap, a bold red blend created by winemaker Rick Tagg.
Lisa Christopher, Guest Experience Manager at Delaplane Cellars, tells York about changes with the new management, including a second venue for events.
Wow! Lake Anna Winery's 2017 Tannat is earned two paws up and a wagging tail from Wine Dog York. This 100% varietal from Spotsylvania County made the Governor's Cup with two other Lake Anna wines (Chardonnay and Petit Verdot) earning gold.
Doug Boardway and Trish Lambert were all smiles pouring liquid gold for the Lake Anna team.
Winemaker Michael Shaps continues to rack up the golds in the Govenror's Cup competition. The winemaker extraordinaire made the case with his 2016 Meritage. The 2017 Meritage also won gold, as did six others under the Michael Shaps label plus six wines he crafted under the Virignia Cellars label. The 2017 Shenandoah Reserve Red, from Shenandoah Vineyards, also secured a spot in the case for Shaps, who took over stewardship of Virginia's second oldest winery in 2018.
The team lines up to pour Michael Shaps wines: Jason Greer (Cellar Master), Robin Hurst (Assistant Winemaker), Kevin, and Jason Greer (Associate Winemaker, Shenandoah Vineyards).
Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards, where Michael Shaps is also the winemaker, claimed three golds and earned a spot in the case for its 2014 Petit Verdot. Check out #PippinPups.
It's clear Dave Kamierski and Carolyn Fifer have been pouring quite a bit of Pippin Hill's Petit Verdot.
Pollak Vineyards hauled in a total of five golds in the competition, earning spots in the case for the 2017 Cabernet Franc Reserve and 2017 Smuggler (a red blend). 
The Wine Dogs are good smugglers, but Pollak's Smuggler is exceptional, York tells Aaron Spring.
Completing the case is Rockbridge Vineyard's 2017 Vd'Or, a truly golden wine combining Vidal Blanc, Vignoles, and Traminette pressed from frozen grapes.
Rockbridge's VD'Or is a regular in wine copetitions and earned the Governor's Cup in 1995.

How Sweet It Is: Dessert Wine Wins 2020 Governor's Cup

Main Street Station
Richmond, Virginia

For the first ime in 15 years, a dessert wine claimed the coveted Virginia Governor's Cup. At the 2020 Governor's Cup Celebration, 868 Estate Vineyards in Purcellville won "Best in Show" honors for the 2017 Vidal Blanc Passito, beating out more than 530 wines.

And for the first time, Loudoun County can claim to be first in grapes. The award-winning wine is made from from 100 percent Loudoun County fruit. The Monticello AVA has dominated past competitions; The Barns at Hamilton Station won the 2017 Governor's Cup; but with grapes from the Charlotttesville area.

Gov. Ralph Northam presents 2020 Governor's Cup to the 868 Estate Vineyard Team
Virginia Wine Dog York was on the scene to report, and caught up with an ebullient Carl DiManno. The co-founder and winemaker at 868 Estate Vineyards called the 2017 Passito the culmination of a labor of love. "A lot of love and hard work went into this wine, but it was well worth it," adding "I am thrilled that Loudoun’s wines are getting the recognition that they deserve.”

Three other pillars of the Virginia wine industry also were honored at the Governor's Cup Celebration:

Justin Rose of Rosemont Winery, was named Virginia Wine Person of the Year

Randy Phillips, general manager of Cave Ridge Vineyard won the Gordon Murchie Lifetime Achievement Award
George Hodson of Veritas Vineyards was named the David King Wine Advocate of the Year
All 64 Gold Medal wines from the competition were showcased at the Celebration, with special recognition given to the top 12 (including the 868 Estates Passito), which will comprise this year's Governor's Cup Case. Read about them here.

Virginia Loves Carl DiManno's Passito  

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