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Saturday, March 27, 2010

A Veramar-velous Experience for the Wine Dogs

Veramar Vineyard
Berryville, Virginia

A special bloggers tour brought Munchkin and Pomeroy on a return visit to Veramar Vineyards on an early spring afternoon. It is a winery wrapped up in family, and family history - the Bogaty family, that is. As founder James Bogaty says, "Wine is in the family genes -- part of the family code from back in Italy."

His son, Justin Bogaty, welcomed the Wine Dogs and treated them to a private reserve tasting. They were joined by fellow bloggers Christian from Schiller Wine Blog and Alisha "Gut Check" Salazar from Northern Virginia Magazine.

Justin has been making wine at the family winery for 8 years; and his 2007 Cabernet Franc recently was awarded 87 points from Wine Enthusiast, the highest rating given to a Virginia red. Daughters Ashley and Tiffany work in the tasting room and will be opening the family's new enterprise, the Bogati Bodega, in May.

The group tasted six wines - three whites and three reds. Among the whites, Pomeroy was enthusiastic about the Seyval Blanc, while Munchkin really enjoyed the Estate Club Chardonney. Justin explained that part of its distinctive taste is the result of primary fermentation in Virignia oak (coopered in France). Using this process, the wine stops absorbing oak at about 2% alcohol; when it is steel fermented then transferred to barrels, it "soaks up the oak like a sponge."

The reds featured two Cab Francs -- a "free run," meaning the juices were liberated from the grapes without using any mechanical processes, giving it less tanins and more of a traditional French feel and an "unfiltered" Cabernet Franc with a more Virginia nose. The Estate Club Ameritage is a "left Bank" style Bordeaux blend of Cab Sauvignon, Cab Franc, and Merlot.

As the bloggers retired to the deck to enjoy their wine, they were met by the patriarch of Veramar Vineyard himself, who shared generously of his wine and his time.

Jim treated them to a glass of Mouvedre -- a dark, herbacious wine that paired beautifully with colorful tales of his life and Veramar's founding. The Wine Dogs lapped it up.

He led them on a tour of the vineyard, telling how Thomas Jefferson observed the Cherokees making wine from Virginia's summer grapes and hired Dr. Norton to domesticate them, giving birth to Virignia's Norton.

He took them into the barrel room where next year's vintage is aging to perfection.

He introduced them to his wife, Della, and described how he bought the property - sight unseen when she called during an out-of-town trip and declared, "I've found your farm."
He thought it would be a horse farm.

He recalled the rooster the couple spotted walking across the road, an Italian symbol of good fortune which became part of the Veramar seal and the name of their popular red blend.

He told of how the vineyard got its name -- from the North Carolina hotel where he and Della spent their honeymoon. A framed picture from the wedding, the hotel, and the bill $(23 including, dinner) hang on the tasting room wall.

Appropriately, the Bogaty's Veramar is a favorite of brides and brides-to-be. On the day of the bloggers event, Munchkin and Pomeroy found a bachelorette party already in progress, and jumped right in with the high-spirited ladies helping Shana enjoy her final fling.

On their earlier visit in July, the Wine Dogs found Veramar's idyllic grounds set for a wedding, putting ideas in Munchkin's head.

Whatever the occasion, the Wine Dogs promise you will have a Veramar-velous time.

"You leave with an experience you can carry with you as a memory -- and hopefully bring you back."
--Jim Bogaty

(NOTE: Some of the pictures in this blog were taken during the Wine Dogs' July 2007 visit)

Sunday, March 21, 2010

New Winery Has Wine Dogs Singing "You can take me to Paradise (Springs)"

Paradise Springs Winery
Clifton, Virginia

As the Wine Dogs approached the 200 year-old log cabin serves as the tasting room for Paradise Springs, owner Jane Kincheloe immediately began fussing over Munchkin.

History and Yorkshire Terriers reign supreme at Paradise Springs. The winery dog, Foxy, is a 3-1/2 pound, 11-month-old Yorkie. And Fairfax County's first modern farm winery sits on land that has been in Jane's family since 1716, awarded through an original land grant from Lord Fairfax.

Even the name has histroic roots. Paradise Springs was one of the early names of the Clifton area. Now, it is wine instead of spring water that is pouring into the bottles at Paradise Springs.

When she inherited the property from her aunt, Esther Podolnick, Jane knew she wanted to have a winery there. The idea started fermenting 20 years ago when she and her aunt discussed it as a way to save the house and keep the land in agriculture. "As Virginia wines got better and better, I knew it would work," Jane told the Wine Dogs.

It certainly seems to be working. Winemaker Kirk Wiles (Jane's son) already is producing award-winning wines, working with members of the Pearmund team including Chris, D.J. Leffen, and Jef Stebben. The 2008 Norton just claimed a Gold Medal in the 2010 Governor's Cup competition, and the 2007 Reserve Cabernet was awarded gold at last year's Virginia State Fair.

Munchkin and Pomeroy joined a group in the crowded upstairs tasting room as server Ashely offered tastes of these and six other wines.

A second group was tasting down in the cellar below.

Roy was partial to the 2008 Chardonnay and the 2008 Nana's Rose, which Kirk made for his grandmother, who tends roses. Munchkin gave two paws up to the 2008 Viognier and couldn't get enough of the 2008 Norton, barking imperiously to demand another taste. Both Wine Dogs were enthusiastic about the rich red 2008 Cabernet Franc - Munchkin leaping up out of her bag.

The Cabernet Franc vines planted on the estate are expected to produce their first grapes this year (the current vintage is made from Rappahannock Cellars grapes).

The Wine Dogs and their paw-ty took a bottle out to the inviting tables spread along the hillside - just perfect for Yorkies and Poms looking for crumbs. Three new picnic tables were delivered during the the Wine Dogs' visit, and were quickly filled.

There is much speculation about the Paradise Springs label, but Munchkin and Pomeroy found a likely suspect out back, although with 36 acres spread between the park and Bull Run, it's hard to be certain.

One thing is certain -- the Wine Dogs look forward to returning for another day in Paradise.

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