Blue Valley Winery Opens... Pomeroy is Global Supermodel... International Winery Review "Virginia Wine Has Come of Age"... More VAWine Grapes - Havest Up 17% in 2014... Muse's Clio wins 2015 Gov Cup... Loudoun Chosen to Host 2015 Wine Tourism Conference... VA Wine sales top half-million case mark in fiscal 2014; up 26% since 2010... Barboursville's Luca Paschina awarded Order of Merit of the Italian Republic... VA Has New Master Sommelier - Jarad Slipp w/RdV Vineyards... 7 VA Wines (from Tarara, Linden, and Barboursville) earn 90 ratings from Wine Enthusiast... VA Wine industry doubles economic impact in 5 yrs, new study finds ($747 mil in 2010)...

Sunday, June 21, 2015

A Wicked Afternoon for the Wine Dogs

Wicked? Ask Ecco about the great chicken chase!

Star Tannery, Virginia

Pomeroy surprised his Daddy with a Wine Dog outing to a new venue for Father's Day (it had been a while).

Russell (l) and Randall (r) pouring for customers.
Now in its second full season, Wicked Oak Farms and Vineyard puts the farm in farm winery. Brothers Randall and Russell Anderson saw the land perched high in the Blue Ridge just before the West Virginia border and fell in love with it.

Dogs welcome - on a leash, please! 
Wicked Oak started with chickens, corn and beef  - "a winery was not on the radar," Randall says. But then he  heard about the need for grapes to support Virginia's rapidly expanding wine industry and planted Norton, Virginia's native vine.

It wasn't long before they were bitten by the wine bug. Supplementing the farm's crop with grapes from the Shenandoah Valley and Charlottesville regions, the Anderson boys turned to established winemaker, Justin Bogaty of Veramar Vineyards to make the wine.

Lining up for wine at Wicked Oak.
The result is solid lineup being poured in a simple tasting room, tastefully decorated by the wives and dominated by sturdy wood furnishings.

The whites include the Starlight (a Riesling/Vidal blend) and the Seyval (Paws up from Pomeroy), both with enough residual sugar to make them refreshing on a hot summer day. The pale Rose' was equally refreshing and earned Ecco's enthusiastic paws up when blended with strawberries and sweet tea to produce sangria.

Both pups raised their paws when the Vidal reappeared as a dessert wine (Rondea), balanced enough that the 9 percent residual sugar does not overpower. A unique white Port-style wine is soon to be released, completing the offerings. The reds are dry, and include a blend named Eagle Rock for the rock ledge on the property and a classic Virginia Cabernet Franc.
That's one wicked oak!
While on the subject of names, Randall and his youngest son, Tucker, discovered a massive 300-year-old tree growing out of a rock cropping on the far corner of the property. The boy  exclaimed, "Dad, that's one wicked oak!" and the name stuck.

Local favorite Robbie Limon performs on the patio.
At 250 cases a year, this is a tiny winery in the tiny town of Star Tannery, but the offerings are as immense as the wicked oak itself: farm products (eggs, meat, and poultry) and a nature trail, live music,
Randall, a retired minister, helps guests renew vows.

even Mongolian yurts that can be rented for overnight stays.
Scott Madigan campaigns for Frederick Co. Sheriff.

On the day of the Wine Dogs' visit, a local political candidate set up shop outside to greet people heading into the tasting room.
It's all part of the wicked good hospitality at this new Virginia gem. Paws up, Randall and Russell!

Friday, April 17, 2015

Wine Dogs Sing the Valley Blues

Blue Valley Vineyard and Winery
Delaplane, Virginia

Winery Dog Jill, a beagle, leads
 guests to the tasting room
The latest addition to the Virginia wine family opened its doors today, with Ecco and Pomeroy on hand to provide a dogs' eye view of the celebration. Directional signs were just going up at Blue Valley as the Wine Dogs arrived, but corks were popping and wines flowing as friends and family inaugurated the new winery.

Sweeping vistas abound at Blue Valley Vineyard
Blue (for the Blue Ridge) Valley (for the Shenandoah Valley) Vineyard and Winery stetches across 63 acres in Fauquier County, Virginia. Sweeping vistas are shown to maximum advantage from the tasting room and deck.
Good Omen - A rainbow shines over the vines on opening day

Blue Valley's 20,000 square foot facility is one of Virginia's largest. 
The cavernous winery features over 20,000 square feet of space, making it one of the largest in Virginia. Father John and son Stergio Zissios built most of the building together. Blue Valley marks three generations of winemaking for the Zissios family, a tradition carried forward from the vineyard in Kozani, Greece where John grew up.

The atmosphere is upscale modern.
The tasting room colors are subdued, sepia brown and slate gray with blue accents. The atmosphere is upscale modern, designed as a place friends and family can come, relax, have a conversation and enjoy the wines.

The Wine Cave has a medieval feel.
Below in "the cave" the feel is medieval. High stone walls made of rocks from the property itself dominate. The Zissios are thinking big, with plans for producing 10,000 cases.
Stones from the property line the walls of the Wine Cave
The focus at Blue Valley is on premium wines, produced by the winemaking team of John Levenberg and Tyler Henley. Current offerings lean heavily to the whites (five of seven).
Tasting Room Manager Carrie pours
Ecco raised her paws to the Heritage, a toasty white blend with 50 percent chardonnay grapes. Both wine dogs enjoyed the elegant dry Rose. Tradition, a rich red blend that earned two paws up from Pomeroy.
Additional reds are in barrel for bottling later this month and release in the summer. These first wines are made from fruit from California. The Zissios planted grapes at Blue Valley three years ago (Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Chambourcin and Viognier), and look forward to the first harvest this year.
Ecco's new friend DeeDee helps with marketing

Roy's friend is a Pommie Mommy with two of her own. 
Blue Valley is a pet friendly winery. Ecco and Pomeroy made lots of new friends on their visit. Please note, you must park your paws outside. There will be a tasting bar open on the deck this summer. We hope to see you there!
Pomeroy and Ecco enjoyed a warm welcome from hosts Stergio and Antonia Zissios
The Zissios have a pair of Maltese pups and a Maltipoo.

Friday, October 31, 2014

More Howl-O-Wine Dog Happenings

October 31-November 2

Each week, the Wine Dogs sniff out the most PAWSOME weekend wine events in Virginia, and there's another SPOOKtacular weekend ahead.

Got a lead? Send it to

October 31-November 1, Hall-o-WINE Weekend at Pearmund Cellars. Stop by for a SPELL; pick your poison, red or white; don't forget to dress up to give a fright! Halloween candy and wine pairing, additional $2. Cast your vote for the best employee costume. If you dare, attend in your scariest attire for a chance to win Chris' Witches Brew.

November 1 (Noon-8), HalloWine at Lazy Days Winery. Unique event with Byrd Cellars. Costume contests: Who will have the cutest kid costume, cutest couple, most original, best dressed, look likes (any famous people going to be there?). Live music all day. Party continues until the ghouls chase us out.

November 1, Halloween Bash at BOW. Decorate pumpkins, watch scary movies in the loft (3pm Kid-friendly Halloween Movie; 5pm Rocky Horror Picture Show; 7pm Braindead). Live music all weekend. WAAG Dog Adoption on Sunday. Complimentary wine tastings if you or your pet wear a costume!

November 1-2, SPOOKtacular Wine Weekend at Three Fox. Come out and "haunt" Three Fox. The forecast is a little spooky but sipping mulled wine in the enclosed, heated patios and the tasting room, you'll be nice and toasty warm. Wear a costume and get a 15% discount on wine and merchandise purchases!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Howl-O-Ween Happenings for Wine Dogs

October 25-26 (HOWL-O-WEEN)
Each week, the Wine Dogs sniff out the most PAWSOME weekend wine events in Virginia. We've found plenty of Howl-O-Ween happenings to help scare up a good time in the vineyards.
Got a lead? Send it to

October 25 (1-5pm), Spooktacular Halloween Party at Miracle Valley. “Monster-ously” fun activities include: Halloween Costume Contest, Pumpkin Decorating Contest; live music (Jerry Irwin); complimentary sweet treat (while they last), face painting; and ghoulish games of corn Hole, ring toss, cork toss, or see who can spin a hula hoop the longest.

October 25 (7pm-the witching hour), Ghosting Inn at Desert Rose. Desert Rose Winery along with Entree' Act present a Halloween mystery dinner ($45.00/person, plus tax). Guests are invited to come in costume with prizes awarded for the best, scariest - and perhaps worst so get your imagination working!! This is an interactive murder mystery with guests potentially being among the victims so join us if you dare.

October 26 (11am-5pm) Yappy Howl-O-Ween at Keswick Vineyard. Not to be missed annual pawty includes a Costume Contest Parade at 3pm and the best dressed furry friends will win prizes from phenomenal local businesses. Look for adoptables from Southwest Golden Retriever and including Animal Connection! Ecco and Pomeroy have their costumes picked out! What will you wear?

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