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Sunday, November 7, 2010

Wine Dogs Uncover the Naked Truth

Naked Mountain Vineyard and Winery
Markham, Virginia

One of Virginia’s oldest wineries is under new ownership. Randy and Meagan Morgan visited Naked Mountain in February, enjoyed the wines, and then learned the winery was for sale.

Jumping at the opportunity to own their own business and follow their passion for wine, they purchased Naked Mountain from founders Bob and Phoebe Harper in August – just in time for harvest. “We survived,” Meagan said. “The staff were patient, coaching us through it.”

On Sunday, the Virginia Wine Dogs sat down with the young pups for an interview (at 27 and 26, respectively, Randy and Meagan are probably the youngest winery owners in Virginia). While they have plans for taking Naked Mountain on to a new generation, the Morgans see themselves as stewards of a great tradition.

For starters, the barrel-fermented Chardonnay – once served at the White House – will continue as Naked Mountain’s flagship wine. “Naked has a great white wine tradition,” Randy told Munchkin. The new owners intend to maintain the current production level of about 2,500 cases a year, while broadening the selection. One of the first areas to be replanted will be the 35-year-old Chardonnay grapes.

The staff stayed on, including Cellar Master Brooke Walter. She led the Wine Dogs through a tasting of six Naked Mountain wines. Munchkin was delighted to find solid reds in the line-up, including the 2006 Cab Franc and the Scarlet Oak Red (a blend of Syrah, Mouvedre, and Tannat). Pomeroy loved the new Chardonnay/Riesling, an off-dry white with fruit perfectly balancing the 2% residual sugar. “It is the first vintage I was responsible for,” Brooke beamed.

As part of taking Naked Mountain into the next generation, the Morgans plan to update the logo. They also want to open up the tasting room to host more people, while keeping the homey, warm feel of the ski-chalet setting. “Virginia wine crowds are getting bigger and bigger,” Randy said, noting the synergy among area wine owners and the support given to the industry by Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell and his team. “We want people to think of visiting the winery like visiting our home,” Meagan added.

Randy also hinted at an expansion of the deck that overlooks the vineyards and offers a remarkable view of the Blue Ridge, as well as additional parking.

The Wine Dogs were delighted to learn that the famous Naked Mountain lasagna lunches, a mainstay of their winter wining, will continue.


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