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"...

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!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Winding Road Leads to Good Wine and Good Times for the Wine Dogs

Winding Road Cellars
Markham, Virginia

Ecco and Pomeroy stop to wine along the Winding Road
Heading down the winding road to Hume, the Wine Dogs spotted an unexpected "Open" sign and turned in to investigate. They discovered Winding Road Cellars, a new Virginia winery which opened quietly over Labor Day weekend.

The pups entered the charming red wood building and Ecco's nose began to twitch as it filled with the scent of fresh wood.
From floor to ceiling, the tasting room is rich with polished pine, beautifully crafted by Amish builders from Pennsylvania.
The wines are hand-crafted too - by owner Scott Culver, who got his rookie winemaker training at Mediterranean Cellars.

Winding Road currently is pouring six wines, with a surprisingly mature selection for a new winery. The oldest is a Cabernet Franc from 2007, a pedigree year for Virginia wines. Both dogs liked the off-dry Vidal Blanc (2009). Pomeroy gave paws up to the spicy 2008 Chambourcin, while Ecco preferred its semi-sweet sibling, made from a late harvest of the same grapes.

Both Wine Dogs agreed the 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon was the pick of the litter and their choice for the steak they planned for dinner.

The spacious patio is a great place for wining and unwinding, offering sweeping views of the vineyard.
Viognier, Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cab Franc, are already in the ground - along with one experimental row of Pinot Noir. Scott plans to double the vineyard this spring with another 2,500 to 3,000 vines.

The Wine Dogs are glad they followed the Winding Road to Scott and Linda Culver's door, and are looking forward to future visits.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Barking News: Virginia Wine Sales Top Half-Million Case Mark


Here's something to bark about. Governor McDonnell announced today that Virginia wine sales have reached the half-million case benchmark.

While wine sales within Virginia are up, the real story is the growth in out-of-state sales, a reflection of Virginia's growing reputation as a top producer of quality wines and the Commonwealth's aggressive marketing campaign. Paws up!

Governor McDonnell Announces Sales of Virginia Wine Reach New All-Time High

Continued Growth Push Sales Across the Half-Million Case Benchmark 

 As Administration Puts Focus on International Marketing Efforts, Export Sales Increase By More Than 74% 

During a visit to the Eastern Shore's Chatham Vineyards on his "This Commonwealth of Opportunity" tour, Governor Bob McDonnell today announced that sales of Virginia wine reached another all-time high in Fiscal Year 2013, increasing by more than 5 percent from FY2012. Virginia wineries sold over 511,000 cases of wine in FY13 versus almost 485,000, the previous record high, in FY12 according to newly available sales figures compiled by the Virginia Department of Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) and the Virginia Wine Marketing Office. Since FY2010, when almost 415,000 cases were sold, sales of Virginia wines have increased by more than 23 percent.

Speaking about the new sales record while at Chatham Vineyards, Governor McDonnell said, "At the beginning of my administration, I pledged to work with the Virginia wine industry to make the Commonwealth the East Coast capital for wine and wine tourism. Today's announcement is further proof that we're well on our way to reaching that goal. Sales have reached a new record high and tourism to our wineries continues to grow. With the outstanding product being produced by our grape growers and wine makers, it's no surprise that more and more people are buying Virginia wines and experiencing our wineries and vineyards. I'm pleased our administration's focus on promoting Virginia wines and wine tourism both here and abroad is helping the Commonwealth's wine industry to grow and expand. From serving only Virginia wines at the Executive Mansion to marketing them during all domestic and international trade missions, we have taken every step possible to help create new sales and generate more jobs and economic opportunities all across the Commonwealth."

In-state sales of Virginia wine increased by almost 3 percent from FY12 to FY13, while wine sales through Virginia wineries increased by approximately 6 percent during the same period, indicating increased interest in visiting Virginia wineries. Wine sales to distributors outside of Virginia increased by more than 60 percent from FY12 to FY13. Today, Virginia wines are being sold in numerous states including Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Florida, and Washington, D.C., one of the Virginia Wine Marketing Office's top strategic growth regions. In addition, Virginia wineries sold more wine out of state, directly or through a wholesale distributor, and internationally during the most recent fiscal year. Specifically, these sales increased by 69 percent from FY12 to FY13. To continue reading the release, click here.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Virginia Is Top Dog with 29 Golds at Atlantic Seaboard Wine Competition

Virginia dominated the 2013 Atlantic Seaboard Wine Association competition, claiming almost half of the Gold Medals awarded (29 out of 62).

Twelve states were represented in the competition, which included 588 wines produced by 116 East Coast wineries. Virginia wines brought home Best of Category honors for 14 wines, including two wines each from Barboursville, Cooper, and Ingleside.

Paws up to all of Virginia’s gold medal winners (Best in Category winners in bold):
  • 2011 Meritage by 868 Estate Vineyards, VA
  • 2008 Malvaxia Reserve by Barboursville Vineyards, VA
  • 2010 Octagon by Barboursville Vineyards, VA
  • 2012 Sauvignon Blanc by Barboursville Vineyards, VA
  • 2011 Cabernet Franc by Barrel Oak Winery, VA
  • 2011 Viognier by Bluestone Vineyard, VA
  • 2010 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon by Casanel Vineyards, VA
  • 2010 Fossil Hill Reserve by Cave Ridge Vineyard, VA
  • 2011 Cabernet Franc by Cedar Creek Winery, VA
  • 2011 Norton Reserve by Cooper Vineyards, VA
  • 2010 Petit Verdot by Cooper Vineyards, VA
  • 2009 Trio by Flying Fox Vineyard, VA
  • 2011 Ranger Reserve by Gray Ghost Vineyards, VA
  • NV Freedom by Horton Cellars Winery, VA
  • 2012 Pinotage by Horton Cellars Winery, VA
  • 2012 Reserve Syrah by Horton Cellars Winery, VA
  • 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve by Ingleside Plantation Vineyards, VA
  • 2007 Merlot Reserve by Ingleside Plantation Vineyards, VA
  • 2010 Petit Verdot by James River Cellars, VA
  • 2010 Cabernet Franc by Lake Anna Winery, VA
  • 2012 Viognier Reserve by Potomac Point Vineyard & Winery, VA
  • 2010 Cabernet Franc by Rosemont of Virginia, VA
  • 2010 Kilravock by Rosemont of Virginia, VA
  • 2012 Cabernet Franc by Sunset Hills Vineyards, VA
  • 2012 Vineyard #1 Chardonnay by Sunset Hills Vineyards, VA
  • 2012 Viognier by Sunset Hills Vineyards, VA
  • 2012 Lily's Viognier by The Winery at Bull Run, VA
  • 2010 Petit Verdot by Veritas Winery, VA
  • 2012 Rose' by Veritas Winery, VA
These silver medalists were best in their categories:
  • 2011 Petit Manseng by Granite Heights Winery, VA (Other White Vinifera Varietals)
  • NV Zephyr by First Colony Winery, VA (White Interspecific Blends)
  • 2012 Declaration, Reserve by Democracy Vineyards, VA (White Vinifera Blends)

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Reds Make the Case for Virginia Wine

 
Representatives of the wineries producing the 12 highest ranking wines in the competition -- the Governor’s Cup Case
 
Virginia Governor's Cup Gala
Richmond, Virginia

The results are in from the 2013 Virginia Governor’s Cup.  This year, 377 wines from 93 wineries competed; 20 won gold. Reds, especially blends, dominated the competition claiming 11 of 12 spots in the Governor's Cup Case.

The 2013 Governor's Cup goes to the 2009 Octagon, a Merlot-based blend with 15% Cabernet Franc, 10% Petit Verdot, and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon.

Munchkin and Pomeroy at Barboursville
It was produced by Wine Dog Pal Luca Paschina, general manager and winemaker at Barboursville Vineyards, outside of Charlottesville. 
The Octagon, 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, including use by Governor Bob McDonnell on international marketing missions and other events to promote Virginia wine and winery tourism, including the Governor's upcoming trip to California..

The Wine Dogs salute Barboursville and the other case members:

Jeff and Karen Cooper of Cooper Vineyards toasting their gold medalist, the 2010 Petit Verdot Reserve. 

King Family Vineyards winemaker Mathieu Finot produced a Gold Medalist with the 2010 Meritage. King Family was a Governor's Cup winner in 2010 for their 2007 Meritage. 

Ed and Jane Puckett of Lovingston Winery celebrate their gold medal winning 2009 Josie's Knoll Estate Reserve, another of the Virginia Meritages in the Governor's Case.

Philip Carter Strother and teammates Jeremy Ligot and Dat Metzger are taking home gold for Philip Carter Winery with the 2010 Cleve, a distinctive blend of Petit Verdot and Tanat. Visit Cleve Hall and say hello to wine dogs Fairfax and Cortoman.

For the second year in a row, Potomac Point Winery's Heritage Reserve is a gold medalist -- this year it's the 2010 vintage happily displayed by owner Cindy Causey . The Wine Dogs recently visited this impressive, dog-friendly winery and enjoyed the 2009 vintage.

Owner John Delmare pours a glass of Rappahannock Cellars 2010 Meritage, a Gold Medal winner in the Governor's Cup competition.

2012 Governor's Cup winner Jeff White samples RdV Vineyard's two Gold Medal winning Meritages -- the 2010 Rendezvous and the 2010 Lost Mountain. 

Scott Spelbring, Assistant Winemaker at Sunset Hills Vineyards, was pouring the gold-medal winning 2010 Mosiac, a Meritage blend.
 
The Governor's Case wouldn't be complete without some bubbly -- Trump Winery's Sparkling Rose'.  Cheers!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Octagon Is Top Dog in Governor's Cup Competition


Governor Bob McDonnell presents the 2013 Governor's Cup to Luca Paschina for Barboursville's 2009 Octagon
Richmond, Virginia

Virginia's vibrant wine industry celebrated its own as the results of the 2013 Governor's Cup competition were announced.  The night's big winners: Barboursville (Guv Cup), Mary Beth Williams (Wine Person of the Year), Willowcroft's Lew Parker (Lifetime Achievement), Del. Dave Albo (Legislator of the Year) + 12 Gold Medal Wines for Governor's Cup Case (a total of 20 wines were awarded gold).

Dr. Jeff Cooper (Cooper Vineyards) chaired the Governor's Cup Committee and served as the night's emcee.  "We wanted to create the premiere wine competition in the U.S.," he explained, going over the major changes adopted in 2011 that have made the Virginia's Governor's Cup competition one of the most stringent and comprehensive wine competitions in the United States.

Willowcroft Founder Lew Parker received the Gordon Murchie Lifetime Achievement Award, recognizing the extensive time he has devoted as an active proponent of the growth and vitality of the Virginia wine industry. 

Mary Beth Williams, Virginia's "Wine Lawyer," was recognized as "Wine Person of the Year" for her contributions to the industry, helping wineries, vineyards, and future winery owners navigate the ABC and other laws.

"The world is your market," Governor Bob McDonnell told the winery representatives, adding that "The advancements in Virginia winemaking are on display in every bottle we have here tonight."  First Lady Maureen McDonnell (whose tireless efforts promoting the industry earned her the 2012 Wine Person of the Year honors) then revealed the 2013 Governor's Cup winner was Barboursville's 2009 Octagon. It is a record fourth time Barboursville has claimed the Governor's Cup.

Luca Paschina, Winemaker and General Manager of Barboursville, noted that 2009 was a fine vintage, calling the 2009 Octagon "probably one of the best wines I every made in my life" -- adding that he is 50 and has been making wine since he was 14.  The 2009 Octagon, which has also claimed a 90-point score from Wine Enthusiast, gold medals form the Beverage Testing Institute in Chicago, and the Winemaker's Challenge and Critics Challenge in California, and the Platinum Medal of the Sommelier Challenge in California, will be released August 1.
This year's competition attracted 377 wines entered by 93 wineries.  The 12 highest ranking wines will be combined to comprise the Governor's Cup Case and used to showcase the best of Virginia wine - including the Governor's trip to California in April. 
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