VA Wine Strike Gold in SanFran (7 double golds; 2 best of class)... VA Wine Sales Up 6%; Cider taking off... Keswick Wins 2016 Governor's Cup...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... 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

Sunday, January 15, 2017

VA Wineries Strike Gold in San Francisco

San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition
San Francisco, CA

Virginia wineries brought home a treasure trove of medals from the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, including two Best-in-Class and seven double gold medals (three for Petit Verdots).

The competition, hailed as the largest competition of American wines in the world, drew 7,000 entries from 28 states.
Ecco and Pomeroy visit Lost Creek, maker of the 2015 Best of Class Chardonnay
Best of class honors went to:
Double Gold winners (awarded when all five judges rate wine as gold):

In all, 23 Virginia wineries claimed 65 medals. Among them, Effingham Manor Winery, which has been in a holding pattern on opening since October but continue to rack up awards.

Ecco visits Pearmund Cellars, one of Virginia's three Double Gold winners for Petit Verdot. 

Monday, October 10, 2016

October is Virginia Wine Month: Wine Dogs Share 5 Pawsome Ways to Celebrate!

Each October, Virginia celebrates our grapeful heritage with Virginia Wine Month. Ecco offers her suggestions for joining the fun.

1. Visit a local winery. Virginia boasts 283 wineries making some of the best wines in the world. With the harvest complete or wrapping up and the fall leaves beginning to turn, October is a perfect time for a visit.
Ecco and Uncle Jeff enjoy the view at Rappahannock Cellars.
Linda Claynier welcomes Ecco back to Desert Rose Ranch & Winery.
Worried about drinking and driving? Take Uber and receive discounts on tastings, merchandise and wine at participating wineries near Leesburg, Richmond, and Charlottesville. . 

2. Attend a festival. A twist on winery hopping, festivals allow you to sample several different wineries all in one convenient location. This weekend was the Fall Festival and Sunset Wine Tasting at Mount Vernon - always a sold-out event. Coming up is Loudoun County's Epicurience. Check here for more listings. NOTE: Not all festivals are pet friendly; best to ask in advance.

Pouring wine for Philip Carter at the Mount Vernon Wine Festival.

3. Wine and Dine at a local restaurant. With the locavore movement taking hold, more restaurants are featuring Virginia on their wine lists (what better to pair with locally-sourced food?). allows you to sniff out restaurants in your area. Some, like L'Auberge Chez Francois in Great Falls are hosting special events in celebration of Virginia Wine Month, including a wine tasting on October 1 and a dinner on October 19. 

Claude Thibuat (Thibaut-Janisson) and Toni Kilyk (Granite Heights)
share their award-winning wines at L'Auberge Chez Francois.

4. Host a Virginia Wine-Tasting Party. Invite your friends and show off  your favorite Virginia wine. Or have everyone bring a bottle to share - with so many delicious wines to choose from, you are bound to discover a new crush.

Guests to the sunset wine tasting on Blue Mountain in Linden brought wines from nearby Fox Meadow as well as Corcoranm, Rappahannock Cellars, and Miracle Valley.
5. Stock up Virginia Wine at your local ABC. In honor of Virginia Wine Month, Virginia ABCs are offering a 10 percent discount on all Virginia Wine and spirits. Ecco picked up bottles from Barboursville, Trump, and Williamsburg on a recent visit.

How will you celebrate?

Friday, August 14, 2015

Finger Lakes Wine Region: Wine Dog Preview and First Impressions

From left to right or right to left, Ecco agrees!
Corning, New York

Prosecco is making her debut at the 2015 Wine Bloggers Conference (WBC15), held this year in the Finger Lakes region of New York. This is the third conference for the Wine Dogs.

And guess what Virignia fans? Corning, the Southern gateway to the Finger Lakes, is a reasonable five-hour drive from Northern Virginia - closer than some wine regions in the Old Dominion.

Brudder tells the Wine Dogs all about the Finger Lakes
Ecco and Pomeroy got a preview of the region when they met up with the region's famous chef , Brud "Brudder" Holland, while visiting Marterella Winery in November. Note to Wine Dog friend KK - Corning is known as a Foodie Town and Brudder is considered the "Mad Scientist" of the Finger Lakes culinary scene.

Brudder told the Wine Dogs that there are more wineries in the Finger Lakes than they will have time to see. Indeed, the region has over 300 wineries (compared to just over 250 spread across Virginia). He highlighted several stars - many of whom had their wines on display at the WBC15 opening reception.

Meghan makes it 4 generations at
the winery her great-grandfather started
Dr. Konstantin Frank, an immigrant from the Ukraine, is considered the godfather of the Finger Lakes wine region. Like Virginia's Gianni Zonin of Barboursville Vineyards, Frank was one of the first believers that vino vinifera (European wine grapes) could be grown successfully in the Eastern United States.

The old vines are producing excellent fruit today for the Dr. Konstantin Frank Winery. Dr. Frank's great-granddaughter, Meghan, proudly poured the storied wines for the bloggers. Ecco enjoyed the dry Riesling from 1957 vines and gave paws up to the Pinot Noir from 1958 vines - the second oldest planting of Pinot in the country. She also enjoyed a very soft Gruner Veltliner - an Austrian varietal also grown at North Mountain in Virginia.

Carolyn introduces Ecco to Ravines wines.
Riesling is the region's signature grape, and a variety were on display at the opening reception. The 2013 Dry Riesling from Ravines Wine Cellars is a standout, and earned a top 100 spot from Wine Enthusiast. 
Len Wiltberger of Keuka Spring.
Len Wiltberger and his wife, Judy, started Keuka Spring Vineyards in the 1980s, at the beginning of the region's renaissance. He poured a refreshingly crisp and dry Rose from a blend of Cabernet Franc and Lemberger grapes. Ecco also enjoyed the Gewurtztraminer - a Finger Lakes staple whose name, literally, means "spicey grape from the town of Traminer."

Another staple of the Finger Lakes wine scene is Heron Hill, which dates back 37 year. Tasting Room Manager Tambi Schweitzer gave Ecco her first taste of Blaufrankish as a varietal (Lemberger by another name). She also discovered that Cabernet Franc is the number one selling red in the Finger Lakes (and we thought it was a Virginia phenomenon).
Nikki &Adam Folts recently opened
Vineyard View.

A new kid on the block, Vineyard View Winery opened only a year and a half ago. But the Folts family has been growing grapes in their vineyard for more than 100 years. Only a small part of the 125 acres go into their own wines - and some of their grapes even make their way to Virginia, where demand for fruit is outstripping supply. Again, Ecco was impressed with the Blaufrankish and enjoyed the Pinot and dry Riesling.

Ecco was surprised to learn that our Northern neighbors can produce grapes that have difficulty ripening in Virginia. The deep lakes have a tempering effect on the climate.

Overall, Virginia's little Wine Dog is getting a great introduction to the Finger Lakes at WBC15. She loves discovering the region's varietals, which draw heavily from Germany and Russia, and looks forward to her first taste of Saperavi.

The Finger Lakes' stars were out for the opening reception at WBC15.

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!

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