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; Mitzi Batterson (James River Cellars) Named VA Wine Person of the Year; Jim Corcoran Recognized for Lifetime Achievement... Michael Shaps Claims 22 Golds in 2019 VA Gov Cup Competition... Doug Fabbioli Top Dog in Loudoun... VA Wine Sales Up 6%; Cider taking off... International Winery Review "Virginia Wine Has Come of Age"...

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Wine Dogs Get a Taste of Texas

Texas Hill Country AVA, TX

Your favorite Virginia Wine Dog is reporting from deep in the heart of Texas where the wine is flowing in a region that "feels like Napa in the 1960's" - growing fast and producing some really good wine according to Dave Bryant, 4.0 Cellars new General Manager who comes from the vaunted California region. Sound familiar, #VAWine fans?

Similarly situated to Virginia’s Monticello AVA, the Texas Hill Country AVA begins just west of Austin where the University of Texas is located and spreads across 22 counties. At 15,000 square miles, it is the second largest AVA in the country. Wine Enthusiast named it one of the Top 10 Wine Travel Destinations in the World in 2015.

Wineries line the highway along U.S. 290 (aka Wine Road290), where Ecco’s tour began. There are some 88 wineries between Fredericksburg and Johnson City, not to mention the breweries and distilleries.

Ecco managed to take in four during her two-day visit:

Becker Vineyards, the big dog, produces more than 100,000 cases of wine a year. Check out the vintage log cabin and the estate’s lavender field (the Lavender Festival is the first weekend in May).

4.0 Cellars represents the marriage of three solid High Plains producers who combine forces in a tasting room in Hill Country. The modern facility showcases wines from McPherson Cellars, Brennan Vineyards, and Lost Oak Winery.

Barons Creek Vineyards opened in 2016 by Chase brothers Mike, Chris, and Marc. The dramatic tasting room opens onto a spacious back courtyard framed by villas which are available for rent.

Duchman Family Winery lies off the 290 Trail in Driftwood. Founded by Drs. Lisa and Stan Duchman in 2004, the winery showcases Italian varietals and was featured on HGTV as one of the one of the 20 most picturesque wineries in the country. Ecco was enchanted by the 2015 Tempranillo, recently awarded a double gold and honored as the Best Tempranillo at the San Francisco International Wine Competition.

The Virginia Wine Dogs left with a few observations.
  • Most Texas Hill Country Wineries use grapes grown in the Texas High Plains. Tempranillo shone among the reds; Roussanne was a favorite white.
  • Pets are generally welcome on the patio but not in tasting rooms (seems that Texas law is behind Virginia, where a 2018 law made it the winery's choice on whether dogs can visit tasting rooms). 
  • Don’t want to drink and drive – take the 290 Wine Shuttle from downtown Fredericksburg or one of 18 wineries on the loop. 
  • Many wineries also operate storefront tasting rooms in the town of Fredericksburg. 
  • Tastings tend to be pricier than in Virginia.

No visit to Texas Hill County could be complete without a stop in Luckenbach, Texas. 
Feeling no pain!

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Wine Dogs Meet the Briede' Bunch

Briede' Family Vineyards
Winchester, Virginia

Always on the trail for a new adventure, the Wine Dogs set out to explore Briede' Family Vineyards and loved the hospitality!

Built in an old horse stable, the tasting room is small but delightfully decorated with a French country flair. Owners Paul and Loretta Briede' purchased the property in 2000 then decided to start planting and established the vineyard in 2013.

Paul's pride and joy is the Arandell, with Briede' being the only place in the world it is produced. The grape's tiny red-black clusters create an inky wine that delights the palate. Ecco gave the 2017 vintage, produced by Matthieu Finot of King Family Vineyards, an enthusiastic two paws up. The entire crop was lost in Virginia's devastating 2018 season - but a good harvest this year means Arandell will return in 2020, this time teaming up with Nate Walsh (Walsh Family Wine).

The flower that adorns the label was painted by neighbor and local artist Janis Smith.
A second unique grape in the Briede' lineup is the Cayuga, used to produce the Verde, a clean, crisp, slightly effervescent white. The vines are still recovering from 2018, but about 30 cases are expected from the current harvest. Coming attractions not often seen in Virginia include Marquette, Pinot Meunier, and La Crescent.

Sparkling wines also feature prominently on Briede's tasting menu, and they recently debuted their own Sparking Winchester made from the Cayuga grapes. A portion of the proceeds go back to the community - most recently $1,000 to support Shirley's Angels Animal Rescue.

The Wine Dogs November 10, 2018, visit was an afternoon as unique as the Briede's wine - the electricity went off but the show went on, including a performance by singing duo Chuck and Sherrie.

Paul and Loretta believe in sustainable agricultural practices, including an insectary on the property for resident "good bugs." They also have two resident wine dogs, aptly named Chardonnay (yellow lab) and Bordeaux (black lab).

Friday, March 15, 2019

Pawsome Wine Events Springing Up in Virginia

Virginia Wine Country
Linden, Virginia

With the warming weather, Pawsome wine events are starting to sprout. Two of special note to Wine Dog fans this weekend.

Saturday, March 16, from 11-3, the Humane Society of Warren County is hosting a pet adoption event at Philip Carter Winery  Word has it that they are bringing adoptable animals and baby bunnies will be on site. And PC will have crockpots with stews, soups and chilis to chase away the last of the winter blues.

Also on Saturnday, March 16, from 6-9, Barrel Oak Winery is hosting Barks & Barrels. This is the spring fundraiser for the Animal Welfare League of Arlington, which is celebrating its 75th Anniversary. Tickets include two complimentary drinks (wine or beer), an AWLA 75th anniversary "Paws off my wine" wine glass, delicious vegan snacks, and, best of all, the proceeds from each ticket sold will directly benefit animals in need at AWLA! Barrel Oak Winery will also donate 10% of all additional drink purchases to AWLA. Tickets can be purchased here.

Of course, just about every winery will be wearin' green this weekend.

Hope you find your Pot of GOld on the Wine Trail!

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Horton Hears a Hoo-Whee!

Main Street Station
Richmond, VA

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.

The Horton Petit Manseng is 100 percent dry, finished with a touch of Viognier and Rkatsiteli (5 percent each) to produce an aromatic wine with intense flavors. The wine is modestly priced at $25.
Sharon Horton, who runs the agricultural side of the venture, called the entire team up to celebrate Horton's Governor's Cup Victory.
Horton Vineyards is one of the pioneers in the modern Virginia wine world, currently celebrating its 30th Anniversary. Founder Dennis Horton passed away last summer, but his legacy lives on in his wines and wines throughout the Commonwealth. It was Horton who brought Petit Manseng to Virginia in the late 1990s. He also is responsible for bringing Viognier (now the official state grape) to Virginia in 1989.
Caitlin, Shannon and Dennis Horton in 2017 with Virginia's signature Viognier, the only dry white to make the Governor's Cup Case that year.
Two other pillars of the Virginia wine industry also were honored at the Governor's Cup Gala. Mitzi Batterson of James River Cellars was recognized as the 2019 Virginia Wineries Association Wine Person of the Year. Batterson is a former President of the Virginia Wineries Association and has been a leader in revamping the Governor’s Cup Competition and starting the Virginia Wine Co-op.
Mitzi Batterson of James River Cellars receives the Wine Person of the Year award from Justin Rose (Rosemont of Virginia), President of the Virginia Wineries Association.

The Gordon Murchie Lifetime Achievement Award went to Jim Corcoran of Corcoran Vineyards and Cidery (Wine Dogs Ecco and Pomeroy had a wonderful visit to Corcoran in 2014). Corcoran was instrumental in creation of the Virginia Wine Distribution Company and has chaired the Virginia Wine Council. Since 2010 he has served on the Loudoun County Chamber Board of Directors, representing the Virginia Wine Industry in the county that today boasts the largest number of wineries in Virginia. 
Jim Corcoran receives the Gordon Murchie Lifetime Achievement Award from Wine Board Chairman Kirk Wiles (Paradise Springs Winery),
All 68 Gold Medal wines from the competition were showcased at the Gala, with special recognition given to the top 12 (including the Horton Petit Manseng), which will comprise this year's Governor's Cup Case. Read about them here
Sharon Horton shares a Governor's Cup moment with York, who was well into his cups by the Gala ended.

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