Williamsburg Adagio wins 2014 Governor's Cup; Former Gov. Bob McDonnell "Legislator of the Year"; Ag Secy Todd Haymore "VA Wine Person of the Year"... Winemaker Luca Paschina of Barboursville Vineyards semifinalist for James Beard Awards for "Outstanding Wine, Spirits, or Beer Professional"... Bluemont's Pig (Norton) Claims "Best in Class" in San Francisco; Paradise Spring Norton Wins Double Gold... Glen Manor's Jeff White named VA Vineyard Assn's "Grower of the Year"... Virginia's Luca Paschina and Lucie Morton among "20 Most Admired People in the N American Wine Industry"... Wine Enthusiast 2013 Lifetime Achievement Award to Barboursville Founder Gianni Zonin... Eric Trump (Trump Winery) Claims Wine Enthusiast "Rising Star" Award for 2013... ‎VA Wine‬ sales reach half-million case benchmark in FY 2013!... Keswick's Stephen Barnard & Tarara's Jordan Harris make list of Top 100 U.S. Winemakers... Jordan Harris of Tarara makes Wine Enthusiast list of Top 40 Tastemakers under 40...7 VA Wines (from Tarara, Linden, and Barboursville) earn 90 ratings from Wine Enthusiast... VA Wine Sales at all-time high; exports triple in 2012... VA Wine industry doubles economic impact in 5 yrs, new study finds ($74javascript:void(0)7 mil in 2010)...

Thursday, February 27, 2014

2014 Governor's Cup Case Blends New and Familiar Virginia Wines

Recognizing the top dogs in Virginia Wine for 2014  
Governor's Cup Gala
Richmond, VA

The 2014 Governor's Cup Case will include some familiar names in Virginia wine and some newcomers. This year, 410 wines from 96 wineries competed, with 20 wines earning the coveted Gold. Once again, red dominated the top 12 (predominantly blends, but also two Tannats), joined by a lone white (Chardonnay) as well as a desert wine.

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.

The Adagio, along with the next 11 highest ranking wines in the competition, will be combined in the Governor's Cup Case.  These award-winning wines will be used to showcase the best of Virginia's vines and vintners.

Paws up from the Wine Dogs to Williamsburg and the other case members:

Chief Sommelier Jason Tesauro and the team at Barboursville Vineyard were kept busy pouring with an unprecedented three wines in the top 12 - the 2008 Malvaxia Passito, a dessert wine; the 2010 Nebbiolo Reserve; and the 2010 Octagon (the 2009 Octagon was last year's Governor's Cup awardee).
Barboursville Winemaker Luca Paschina  received national recognition this past year as one of the top 20 winermakers by the James Beard Foundation and Vineyard & Winery Management.
Barren Ridge Vineyards Owner and Winemaker John Higgs with his award winning 2009 Meritage, one of the older wines in the case. "Our wines you have to age," he explained.
The Wine Dogs are  hearing a lot of buzz about Tannat as an emerging red wine grape in Virginia, and it appears the time is ripe. Doug Fabbioli of Fabbioli Cellars will be showcasing his 2011 Tannat in the 2014 Governor's Cup Case
alongside the 2010 Tannat from Horton Vineyards, produced by winemaker Mike Heny. 
For the third consecutive year, the King Family Vineyards has a place in the Governor's Cup Case, with winemaker Matthieu Finot's 2011 Meritage.
Vicki and Mark Fedor of North Gate Vineyard produced an award-winning Meritage at their Leed-Gold certified winery, finished with estate-grown Petit Verdot.
Rockbridge Vineyard owner/winermaker Shep Rouse produced a classic. His 2008 DeChiel Meritage is a mature wine that is aging with grace.  
Sunset Hills Vineyard's Scott Spelbring pours the 2010 Mosiac. The Meritage blend is making a return appearance in the Governor's Cup Case.
The only white to appear in the Governor's Cup case in two years is the 2012 Chardonnay produced by newcomers Brad and Theresa Robertson of Two Twisted Posts Winery, which will be opening on March 15. Talk about starting off with a bang!

Friday, January 3, 2014

Virginia Wine Dogs Year in Review

2013 brought new wine dogs, new wineries, new wine grapes and new wine club memberships while Virginia's reputation for quality wine continues to spread.

January - Introducing Ecco

Little Prosecco joins the Virginia Wine Dogs in January, adding a bit of sparkling to the pack. Barely a year old, the Yorkie girl quickly begins sneaking a taste here and there (under parental supervision of course) – and takes to the vine like a pro.

February - Ecco Makes Her Winery Debut


Pomeroy decides Prosecco is ready to begin her training as a Virginia Wine Dog. First stop, Potomac Point Vineyard and Winery. The 2009 Richland Reserve Heritage is the Wine Dogs’ pick for enjoying in front of the fireplace - and the judge's choice for the Governor's Cup Case in 2012.
Later in the month, 2013 Governor's Cup winners are announced and Potomac Point's 2010 vintage again makes the case, while Barboursville's 2009 Octagon is top dog in Virginia. 

March - Let Them Eat Steak 

Ecco enjoys her first steak dinner. Pomeroy shows his Virginia wine expertise pairing the grilled T-Bone with a 2007 Ameritage Reserve from his Pearmund Cellars' barrel.
Also in March, Virginia wines fetch 61 medals San Francisco, including golds for Barrel Oak (2), Barboursville Vineyards, Gray Ghost Vineyards, and Narmada Winery. PAWS UP! 

April - It IS Her First Rodeo 

Wine Dogs celebrate Desert Rose Winery's second anniversary with Bob and the gang and sneak a taste of the Covert Cabernet, one of the new varietals debuting across Virginia in 2013.

Chateau Morrisette Winery adds to growing international reputation of Virginia Wine, signing 5-year agreement with China's Tianjin Commodity Exchange Company. Inaugural shipment of more than 1,150 cases coincides with Governor McDonnell's Asia trade mission. Go Dogs!

May - The Hills Are Alive

Wine Dogs check out Granite Heights and Morais then catch up with Robbie Limon at North Mountain where they are introduced to Gruner-Veltliner, produced for the first time in Virginia as a tribute to John Jackson's Austrian heritage.

Wine Enthusiast recognizes Jordan Harris (32) of Tarara Winery in its "40 Under 40" list of rising stars who are changing the way the world drinks while three Virginia Wines earn Double Gold at the International Finger Lakes Competition: Pearmund Cellars 2011 Late Harvest Traminette; Pollak Vineyards 2010 Merlot; and Sunset Hills Vineyards 2012 Sunset White (Traminette).

June - Dog Days and Summer Camp

The Wine Dogs take in a foster sibling, Scottie the Yorkie, who is awaiting his forever home through Paws for Seniors. Pomeroy leads the pack to Wine Boot Camp with Donna and Carl at Little Washington Winery.
The well schooled Wine Dogs kick off the Dog Days of Summer with Northern Virginia Magazine at Naked Mountain.
Virginia's Governor and First Lady commemorate the 200th anniversary of Virginia's Executive Mansion with release of 1813, a blend bringing together the best winemakers and grapes from around Virginia, including Chambourcin harvested from Executive Mansion vines. 

July - Your Table's Waiting

After being treated to top dog hospitality by Jeff and Laura McCarthy Louden, Ecco joins the Cobbler Mountain Wine Club. A new tasting room is in store for 2014.
The New York Times business section features Virginia wine, reporting that grapes are reshaping agriculture in Virginia. Keswick Vineyards 's Stephen Barnard and Tarara Winery's Jordan Harris make the Top 100 list of influential U.S. Winemakers. Pawsome!

August - Wine Dogs Make a Splash

Ecco and Pomeroy high-tail it to the beach for some well-deserved R&R. Governor McDonnell announces that Virginia wine sales reach half-million case benchmark in 2013.

 September - Check Out Our Clubhouse

Swedenberg reopens as Greenhill Winery and Vineyards and the Wine Dogs' Uncle Jeff is one of the first to join the club based in the estate's historic stone manor house. The Wine Dogs spot another new winery along the Winding Road. 
What's a little rain when Grillin' (and wining) for a Cause? The Wine Dogs spend a wet but enjoyable afternoon at Unicorn Winery with great BBQ and Virginia wine to benefit Hospice Support of Fauquier County.

Wine Enthusiast Magazine's 2013 Lifetime Achievement Award goes to Barboursville Founder Gianni Zonin. Eric Trump is named magazine's Rising Star for 2013.

October - VA Wine Month Turns 25

Ecco and Pomeroy enthusiastically celebrate the silver anniversary of Virginia Wine Month. The Scavenger Hunt takes them on a 2,000-mile trek, leaving tiny paw prints in five different wine regions across Virginia. 
En route, the Wine Dogs discover several new wineries including the Maggie Malick Wine Caves and neighboring Cardamon Family Vineyards, as well as Front Royal's first urban winery, the Miller Winery and even take in a polo match at the King Family Vineyards. Pomeroy joins the wine club at Ingleside Vineyards.
Virginia holds its first Wine Summit, featuring Oz Clarke, one of the world's pre-eminent wine writers, who dares Virginia to be bold: "Great grapes that the mainstream can't or won't produce are the grapes that make Virginia unique and will make Virginia famous."

November - Sippin' Cider

Virginia celebrates Cider Week for the first time, highlighting the eight cideries now operating in the Commonwealth. The Wine Dogs provide a preview with a visit to Virginia's first modern cidery, Foggy Ridge Cidery.
With the harvest in, the Wine Dogs get mixed reports about the 2013 crop. John Delmare at Rappahannock Cellars says he may have the best Chardonnay vintage ever. Good wine in the barrel, but many wineries struggled with bugs, critters, and frost. Almost everyone is planting MORE GRAPES. 

December - Wine Dog of the Month 

Exciting news for Ecco - she will be the January Wine Dog of the Month at Three Fox Vineyard, (where Pomeroy studied winemaking), wrapping up an eventful first year on the circuit.
Virginia Wine honors continue to pour in with Virginians Luca Paschina and Lucie Morton named among Vineyard & Winery Management’s “20 Most Admired People in the North American Wine Industry”

Sunday, October 13, 2013

In-Cider Scoop on Foggy Ridge from the Wine Dogs

Foggy Ridge Cider
Dugspur, Virginia

Taking a break from their usual weekend wining, Ecco and Pomeroy decidered to check out Virginia’s blooming hard cider industry.  And where to start but Virginia’s first modern cidery – Foggy Ridge Cider.
Yes, it is indeed a foggy ridge.
Diane Flynt - the First Lady of Virginia Hard Cider – planted her orchard in 1996 and fermented her first vintage of cider in 2005. Today, Diane’s Garden of Eden outside Floyd, Virignia, grows 30 different varieties of apples, spread across 200 acres and produces 4,000 to 5,000 cases of cider a year.  
Don't expect your grocery store variety of apples – cider apples are tart and tannin: “They call them spitters for a reason,” Cider Slinger Connie told the Wine Dogs were told during their tasting.
It’s a different story after the apples spend 6-8 weeks in steel tanks and are transformed into delightful sparkling beverages that left the Wine Dogs be-cide themselves with joy.
The walls of the cidery are replete with article of accolades for Foggy Ridge from local and national publications (will we see the Wine Dog review on our next visit?).
We loved the quote from Virginia Wooff:

Connie poured four distinct hand-crafted ciders.
The Serious Cider reminded the Wine Dogs of a Brut Champagne (or Virginia Sparkling Blanc de Blanc). Three ingredients go into the cider – apples, carbonation, and yeast.
Serious Cider is made from Old English apple varieties, including Roxbury Russets which are found just across from the cidery.  The Wine Dogs found it paired well with cheese as they enjoyed a bottle at a table overlooking the orchard.

Foggy Ridge's First Fruit cider blends early season American heirloom apples – grafted from Thomas Jefferson’s trees at Monticello. This is a rich fruity cider with lively acidity.

Little Ecco gave her “Paws Up” to the Sweet Stayman – a crossover cider with 2.3 percent residual sugar. The Cider blends Virginia Stayman apples with heirloom varieties like Pink Lady and Grimes Golden. The result is a lightly sweet cider.
The older and more sophisticated Pomeroy gave his enthusiastic two Paws Up to the Port-style cider, Pippin Gold. The cider is blends Newtown Pippin hard cider with apple brandy from Laird and Company, America’s oldest distillery, making Apple Jack since 1780. 

There are currently eight cideries in Virginia – chances are you’ve passed signs for one or two as you wine your way across the Commonwealth.
The Wine Dogs note that one of our fav local wineries, Cobbler Mountain, released a wicked sparkling hard cider of its own over Columbus Day Weekend, which earned a “Paws Up” from both pups.

Check them all out during Cider Week Virignia!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Miller Time for the Wine Dogs

Front Royal, Virginia
A new winery - actually a microwinery - opened in downtown Front Royal last week, and Ecco and Pomeroy simply had to poke their heads in to bring you the scoop.
The Wine Dogs found a freshly finished tasting room in the back of what was the Old School House -
and the Millers, Jason and Amber.
Amber and Jason’s passion for wine started in 2002, when they purchased a cabin in the Shenandoah Valley, a jumping off point for touring Virginia Wine Country. Four years ago, Jason graduated to home winemaker and in 2012, he teamed up with Erik Bandzak, who pioneered urban city micro-wineries in Baltimore with Aliceanna Winery.

The back of the house includes the winery - housing several Italian stainless steel tanks and two carboys where the Millers make wine in batches, 60 gallons at a time. Total production is 2,000 bottles (yes, bottles, not cases). The plan is to double production next year, adding Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Chambourcin.

There is also an office/production room for packing and shipping. Jason already has expansion plans to bring the winery out to the front of Royal Street, with outdoor café tables looking out at the Warren County Courthouse.

Everything at Miller Winery is done by hand – from corking the bottles (Pomeroy learned how intensive that is when our own Miller hand-corked the Wine Dog wine) to the bags, which Amber hand-stamps with the Miller label.

The Miller Winery opened with Jason pouring four wines. The fifth, the Chardonnay, is awaiting label approval – apparently delayed by the government shutdown. “We tried to come out the door with something that hits everybody’s palate,” explained Jason. “Something” includes two whites – a German-style Riesling and a Seyval Blanc – and a pair of reds.

The first – aptly named LOL - was an amusing wine made from Concord grapes, with a Welch’s jelly nose accompanying a more sophisticated taste that still remains sweet on the palate. Ecco lapped it up.
(Gotta love the Miller humor).
Pomeroy preferred the smooth, rich and slightly peppery Hunter’s Red – made from the Noiret grape, a disease resistant hybrid developed at Cornell.

While the current run of wines are made from grapes purchased out-of-state, the Millers will be producing true Virginia wine. They have planted a 5-acre vineyard (managed by Jason’s parents) in Bumpass, Virginia (near Lake Anna).

The urban winery concept appealed to these Wine-Dogs-about-Town, a welcome addition to the flourishing Virginia industry. Yep, it's the right time for Miller Time!

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