BARKING NEWS:

2017 VA Gov Cup goes to Barns at Hamilton Station; Veritas' Emily Pelton Wine Person of the Year; King Family's David King Recognized for Lifetime Achievement... Jim Law (Linden) & Diane Flynt (Foggy Ridge) James Beard Award Semi-finalists... VA Wine Strikes Gold in SanFran (7 double golds; 2 best of class)... VA Wine Sales Up 6%; Cider taking off... International Winery Review "Virginia Wine Has Come of Age"...

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

MUNCHKIN’S HOLIDAY GIFT RECOMMENDATIONS FOR WINE LOVERS

Your favorite Wine Dog Blogger, Munchkin, has put together a list of gifts from Virginia Wine Country. No matter your taste, you’ll find something here to set any wine lovers’ tail a waggin’.

SIGNATURE RED: 2005 Estate Series Cabernet Franc, Fox Meadow Winery, $27
Cab Franc is becoming a signature Virginia wine, and there’s none better than this gem from our neighborhood winery on Blue Mountain. The peppery FMV Cabernet Franc took Best of Show at the Atlantic Seaboard Wine Competition this year… not bad for a winery that opened its doors last May.

SIGNATURE WHITE: 2005, 2006 Viognier, Rappahannock Cellars,
Virginia’s signature white is the Viognier, and nobody does it better than Rappahannock. After claiming the 2006 Governor’s Cup (and a host of other awards) for the 2005 Reserve, Rappahannock earned double golds this year for its 2006 Viognier.

CLASSIC WHITE: 2006 Reserve Chardonnay, Miracle Valley Vineyard
Mom and I checked out this new addition to Virginia Wine Country just before Thanksgiving (loved meeting Turbo, their Jack Russell). The Reserve Chardonnay is fermented in both Hungarian and then American oak for a truly rich, smoky flavor that was wonderful with turkey.

ROBUST RED: 2006 Ameritage Reserve, Pearmund Cellars, $29
As in “American Heritage,” this rich red wine is produced by blending the vineyard’s best Bordeaux grapes, including the scrumptious Cabernet Sauvignon from the barrel owned by Pomeroy’s dad. Just out this month, this is a full-bodied wine that will warm your toes (good thing, ‘cause it knocks your socks off).

MULLED WINE: 2006 Chambourcin, James River Wine Cellars, $14
Visited this winery with Uncle Jeff and discovered a perfect wine for cold winter nights. This sweet but dry spicy red makes a lovely mulled wine without any fuss. Just warm it on the stove (or even in the microwave) with a dash of cinnamon or cloves and enjoy!

SPARKLING WINE: Monticello Brut, Barboursville Vineyards, $16.99
Toast the New Year in style with the best little bubbly in Virginia. Barboursville created this classic sparkling wine based on Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, using the "Charmat" style of Thomas Jefferson, father of the Virginia wine industry (the Octagon at the Barbour estate was designed by TJ himself).

DESSERT WINE: Vin de Sol, Pearmund Cellars, $25
This aptly named “Sun Wine” is created by aging late harvest Vidal in glass jugs on the winery’s roof (the old Spanish style for producing Sherry). The result is a golden liquor with nutty aromas and dried apricot flavors. Great for sipping after a meal, or pour over ice cream in a pastry shell.

COMMEMORATIVE WINE: Spirit (White, $20), Voyage (Red, $20), Courage (Port, $25), Horton Vineyards
Wine collectors and history buffs alike will treasure Horton’s special commemorative wines marking Jamestown’s 400th anniversary. The labels depict the Susan Constant, Godspeed and Discovery on their voyage to the New World to establish the first permanent English settlement.

COZY ACCOMMODATIONS: Hot Tub Heaven Properties
For a convenient place to stay while picking up your wines, or to give someone a relaxing weekend in Blue Ridge wine country, you can’t do better than Hot Tub Heaven. Each of the four well-appointed vacation chalets and cabins is comfortable and homey and feature hot tubs. Of course, they’re pet friendly. Tell Tom and Deneanne that Munchkin sent you.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Just Call Us Lucy and Ricky... Wine Dogs Stomp Grapes

FOX MEADOW VINEYARDS AND WINERY
Linden, VA
It was a perfect Saturday afternoon for the Harvest Festival at Fox Meadow, aka the Wine Dogs' "Local Cheers Bar" because we have a house on the same mountain so everybody knows our names.

Fox Meadow is a realtively new winery. Owners Dan and Cheryl Mortland opened their tasting room just a year ago last May. And they're already producing award winning wines. The 2005 Cabernet Franc won "best in show" at the Atlantic Seaboard Wine Competition (just like Munchkin's great great grand-daddy at Westminster!). The wine is a family fav, rich and warm with a touch of peppery spice. Can't wait for the 2007... Munchkin and Pomeroy inspected the grapes dripping heavy from the vines, although Cheryl says they're hoping to wait til November to pick.

Add a killer view of the Blue Ridge Mountains (the winery stays open til sundown in the summer so everyone can enjoy the dramatic display as the sun sinks into the valley)... and regular entertainment on a spacious deck (catch my good friend, Robbie Limon, who plays a mean guitar with seventies music when he's not playing Hank Williams or Buddy Holly at the Wayside Inn).... and it's easy to see why Fox Meadow has quickly become a popular destination for locals and weekend wine warriors alike. We, or course, are Friends of the Fox.

This particular weekend, the music was provided by Con and Cash, a talented pair whose repertoire is a little bit country, a little bit folksy, with a touch of bluegrass. There was lots of good paw-stompin' stuff, and Con kept up a great banter with the audience.

Chow-hounds that we are, Roy and I woofed down more than our fair share of the brisket. Catering was provided by the Apple House - exit 13, a must stop when heading out to Blue Ridge wine country.

It was a full house, including Norm and Judy, who were celebrating their anniversary and practicing their tango for their upcoming trip to Argentina.

But we all really started kickin' it into high gear when Dan poured a ton of Merlot grapes into a big vat. Everyone took turns jumping in. Don't know how Roy's Dad ended up in there with Norm, but finally the wine dogs got our turn.

If you've never stomped grapes, be warned. Those little critters get real slippery, and their skins looked like little leaches stuck to mom's legs.But it was a real fun time. And just in case you're wondering, the juice was dumped. There will be no Chateau La Feet 2007 from Fox Meadow.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Wine and Gin (Cotton)

SANCTUARY VINEYARDS AND CELLARS
Jarvisburg, NC

The big red Cotton Gin store on NC Route 158 seems an unlikely place for a winery, so we were dubious when Mom pulled in and said we were going to stop for a tasting on our way to the Outer Banks. Surprise! We found a quaint and growing winery with very tasty vintages surrounded by a vineyard heavy with grapes that were sweet and bursting with flavor… some of which were scheduled to be picked the next morning.

Half hidden in our smuggle bags, Roy and I made our way on Mom's and Dad's shoulders through the Cotton Gin's many twists and turns. We passed through room after room of enticing goodies, inviting linens, and charming country crafts before finally stepping down into our Sanctuary in the guise of a small rustic tasting room in what was originally part of a working cotton gin. Hint… park in the south parking lot.

Winemaker John Wright, whose family has owned and farmed the property for seven generations, served as our host. He was very gracious, although he did note Roy looked like he had already had one too many before we even started tasting. When he observed how much I enjoyed my tastes, he suggested they might start marketing "wine for the emerging dog market." Uncle Jeff enjoyed his sense of humor.


John told us his family started the winery in 2001, as a way to preserve the
family's farmland - once used for cotton, then tobacco. They started producing wine in 2003.
He let us taste a wide variety of wines from Sanctuary as well as the other two North Carolina coastal wineries - Moonrise Bay and Martin Vineyards, the oldest of the three. Most popular by far were the fruit wines - the blackberry and raspberry were just released, and locals kept coming in to pick up a bottle or a case.

Our pack favorite was the Sangiovese, red Italian grapes that grow well in Currituck's sandy soil. We bought a bottle to take home and enjoyed with grilled steak on Monday night. Pure
fantasy. The bottle is a work of art - each year, the label is designed by a different local artist. This year's is a sunrise collage by Martha Johnson.

Two other ARF-fully interesting wines: The Wild Pony White is a crisp, citrusy, and refreshing sauvignon blanc. You can imagine enjoying it on Corova Beach… and proceeds benefit the Corolla Wild Horse Fund. And don't miss the Sweet Serenity, made from the native muscadine grape - travel logs from the first colonists at Roanoke Island noted grapes growing wild along Carolina's shores. It has a unique and very earthy flavor.

A great start to a great
beach vacation!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Wine Dogs Drink Naked... Well Duh!

NAKED MOUNTAIN WINERY, Markham, VA

A beautiful Saturday afternoon brought us up to the lush fields of Naked Mountain Winery, one of the oldest wineries in Virginia. I think they must have been expecting us at Naked Mountain, because the front door had a sign that said "Attention. Chien Bizarre!"

We had an extensive interview with Phoebe Harper, who built Naked Mountain with her husband, Bob, 31 years ago. At the time, they were one of five wineries in the state... today, Virginia has over 80 and is still growing. With all the awards VA wines are winning, some are calling the Old Dominion State the New Napa.

Naked Mountain's Petit Verdot 2004 won a gold medal in the Virginia State wine competition this year. Because of their inventory, Naked Mountain is able to let their wines age a little longer, and it certainly made for a yummy PV! The wines were so good, in fact, that Pomeroy finally broke down and got a few licks in himself. Usually, I have to drink alone. I guess he heard Naked Mountain wines have been served at the White House. Twice. He's fav was the Merlot.

As you can see, we were both pretty much in the bag after Cousin Drew, the marketing and sales manager, guided us through three whites and three reds... we're not really related, but Drew is a Hauser too, although a bit taller than my side of the family.

We chose the signature Chardonnay to take out to the deck and enjoy... very fruit forward and a great summer sipper. We were entertained by several tiny hummingbirds taking frequent sips of their own from the feeder. We were assured it contained nector, not wine, although the Riesling was very sweet. You could say hummingbirds are the toy dogs of the avian world.

Turns out the true Chien Bizarre was long-time winery dog Freddie, a black lab/hound who went to the Rainbow Bridge in January. But this dog-friendly winery still collects for the Fauquier County Animal Welfare League in his honor..

Friday, July 27, 2007

Three Foxes become Five

July 22, 2007
THREE FOX VINEYARDS, Delaplane, Virginia
A burst of vibrant flowers greeted us as we pulled into Three Fox Vineyards on a picture perfect Sunday afternoon. Wine and winery style are both Italian (owner Holli Todhunter is off to Italy next week), which makes for a charming setting.

Three Foxes lives up to its reputation as a dog-friendly winery. We perrched on the stools for the tasting -- Munchie likes to get her licks in. Ellen and Jake, whose T-shirts proclaim they "work for wine" led us through a flight of five whites, followed by five reds, providing a plethora of good choices.

The yummy bottle of the Allouette Cabernet Franc we bought to take outside opened up nicely during a game of bocci ball. There were plenty of options for outside seating... we chose the catbird's perch at the top of the hill. The sparseness of the new plantings contrasted with the lush mature vines bursting with grapes.

We enjoyed a picnic lunch, then Pom napped while Munchie played frisbee. After a second bottle of wine, we finished with a trip to the creek, where Munchie cooled off and Uncle Jeff enjoyed the comfy hammocks. La dolce vita, indeed!

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