Thursday, June 16, 2022

The One About Wine Part 2

 Time for another update! It's summer which means I have some down time and I love to treat myself, especially the first week or so of my break. One of my latest traditions is continuing to explore the over 300+ wineries in VA and I've been adding to my original 60 list that I wrote about last year. ( I did not go to 60 wineries last year. That list had been 2-3 decades in the making! I did, however, add these next wineries to my list over the past 6 months this year). 

Wine is just a hobby of mine since I moved to Northern VA in my 20s. I've since re-located to Central VA and have been continuing to scope out the Northern and Central VA wine scene. I even added an Eastern shore one this year!

In general, I like drier, full bodied wines that tend to come from the more mountainous areas like Charlottesville or Fauquier County here in VA. However, I am not so much of a snob that I can't usually find at least 1 wine to drink at any winery. 

Below are the 10 wineries I've added to my original list (see above link) so far in 2022. Please enjoy and I hope that you make a visit to some VA wineries as well sometime soon!

Chatham Vineyards on Church Creek- This is the Eastern Shore winery that I added to the list this year when my friend and I went to Cape Charles for a weekend in early April. I wasn't sure what to expect as Cape Charles is not near mountains but very near lots of water. I wasn't sure how the grapes and wine would be or the atmosphere. This winery does well with what it has. I believe that they import some of their grape as well, which makes sense. It was still kind of cold and windy at the time when I went there so I started outdoors, but moved inside to do my tasting. The tasting room is basically their cellar/warehouse and its a small space, but if you don't mind sitting amid wineboxes, they made it cozy. Again, I think I was pleasantly surprised with this winery given its not in a necessarily typical wine region. Would recommend if you are out that way. 

Delfosse Vineyards and Winery- This one is a little out past Charlottesville and had been on my list for a while. I came out here on one of my first weeks of summer and found it quiet and enjoyable. The tasting room is a little dated (the sliding glass doors reminded me of my childhood in the 80s) but the tasting room is decent sized and all glass so you can see the views of the mountain on the property. There was some nice outdoor seating as well. This place is tucked away from busy roads which is nice and very green. The wines were all very drinkable. I had a Viognier, Grand Cru, their red blend and Petit Verdot. This winery recently changed ownership, but as been in existence since 2002/2003. The older vines definitely make a difference. My only complaint is that their serving glasses for the tasting were narrow- more like beer tasting glasses- which seemed odd. I prefer the tastings in round glasses to let the wine breathe, but that is definitely not a reason to skip this place. Good wines, decent views- give it a try!

Firefly Cellars- This place is a new one in Northern VA off Route 9. Very close to 8 Chains and some of the Hamilton, VA wineries I mention in my original post. I think this one is worth adding to the Route 9 list. The vibe is a small barn with lots of outdoor space. There was live music and a very casual, fun feel. The wines were decent and drinkable. There is also an Air B n B house that you can rent on the property right next to the winery which a lot of wineries are doing now and I think is cool. Definitely add this place to your Route 9 stops!

Grayhaven Winery- This place had been on my list for a while, too. This is between Richmond and Charlottesville and not too far from Fifty-Third winery. If you are looking for a winery that's not too far from Richmond....I would send you to Fifty- Third winery instead. This place is not sophisticated and has really weird grounds with an old 1970s rusted playground? This place had come recommended because they serve South African wines (the owner's husband is from South Africa) but as I mentioned in my original wine post, when places don't serve their own wine, it's usually a flag to me that their grapes aren't good. So half of the tasting menu are their imported South African wines which were decent and the other half are the ones they make. The only one I found drinkable of their own wines was their blend called the Trekker but it wasn't worth ordering a full glass to stay at their weird grounds. The server was very nice but not super knowledgeable about wine. Pass. Sorry!

Jolene Family Winery- This winery is another one on the East side of Richmond which always gives me pause as, again, I like to go West towards the mountains for my wine. I will say, though, that this winery is my favorite of the "east of Richmond" wineries that exist. The property has a little lake and some tents that you can reserve which is a nice touch since the winery is somewhat off of a busy road and not necessarily the most scenic of wineries, but they do well with what space they have. They have some nice indoor tasting spaces in addition to the nice outdoor space. The wines are also all very good. I believe they import some grapes but make their wine there. If you are looking for a close-to-Richmond winery, this is one I recommend. 

Lovingston Winery- I did this one when I went out to Delfosse as it is only a few miles down the road. I'm so glad I did. This place might be one of my new favorites. It recently changed ownership, but I chatted with the new owner who is a young woman (along with her husband and they live on the property). I did my tasting inside the house on the property, which the top part they rent out as an Air B n B (see Firefly Cellars). The tasting inside the house was classy yet homey which is my favorite kind of vibe for a winery. They also were tucked away from the main road (but not too far) and had lots of beautiful outdoor space as well. I tasted the Seyval Blanc and Chardonnay, both of which I really liked, and I ended up getting a bottle of the Chardonnay. I usually prefer reds, but their Cabernet Franc wasn't my fav, however, I did really like their Reserve blend. I mostly just loved sitting inside essentially a living room and quietly reading my book. The owner said they are still somewhat of a "best kept secret' it seems, but they would love more foot traffic. I definitely recommend adding this winery to your list! Except I don't want it to get too much foot traffic because I love it so much!

Michael Shaps Wineworks- This place was not on my list, but I'm glad that I stumbled upon it. I had set out to visit Thatch Winery (see below) and this one had signage next to Thatch. The workers at Thatch also recommended checking it out so I did. The space was quaint and had an interesting outdoor and indoor space. Interesting in a decent way. The winemaker is from France and the owner apparently also owns a winery in France as well, so half of the wines on the tasting menu were from France and the others from VA. I will let you guess which wines I preferred. The VA wines were okay, but I definitely preferred the French ones. Still, an interesting stop that I'm glad that I stumbled upon.

Mountain Cove-  I wanted to love this one and I did enjoy it but not necessarily because of their wines. This was one I added as it was on the way to Lovingston Winery. It is very off the beaten path and so cute and quaint. Very much a farm winery. They only do tastings outside as the indoor space is just a small office/store. No one else was there besides me and the owner (it was a Wednesday, but I wonder if they get much foot traffic on weekends) and he told me that they are (supposedly) the oldest farm winery in VA. They have supposedly been there 50 years. He was an older gentleman and is looking to sell the property, but they are still growing new grapes as he has had issues with deer. Again, the wines were not great (there were fruit wines, which, if you read my OG post, you know what that means to me. That being said, I think I enjoyed the Blackberry wine best, which is also saying something). But I enjoyed the quaintness of this place and chatting with the owner who clearly cares for the farm himself. Definitely a very different vibe from the more corporate type places around Charlottesville. Worth checking out just to see the space. The tastings were only $5 and free if you bought a bottle which...I could not justify, sadly, though I really wanted to support this guy! 

Thatch Winery- This place had been on my list and I was pleasantly surprised when I rolled up to find a lot of vines on a nice property with a house that had been transformed into this winery space. However, when I walked in, I was told that they were going to be closing at the end of the month. Remember Michael Shaps Wineworks up the road? He has purchased the winery and going to be taking it over. There weren't a lot of people when I was there (it was a Monday) so I chatted with the servers a bit and asked how often ownership had changed hands. It seemed pretty frequently, the last time being 2017. That being said, the space was nice and quaint (homey but classy which you know i love!) and the reds were pretty good. They were doing mad discounts on their wine since they are closing and I bought a bottle of the Meritage. I also enjoyed the Petit Verdot. Sad this spot is closing as I just found it and would be my vibe, but will be interested to see what it turns into. 

Willowcroft Farm Vineyards- This is another older winery that I often went passed in Leesburg for whatever reason but never stopped. I decided to stop this January as I was making my way back from PA after seeing my family. The views here are really beautiful. The wines were...just okay. They have a cute indoor room for their club members and some additional seats in their barn. Even though I was not a wine club member, they invited me to sit in the club room since it was such a cold day. I'm glad that I made the stop, but I'm not sure I would add it to my Leesburg list necessarily. Sorry! I know this place has been a Leesburg staple for a while, but there are definitely spots in the area that are more sophisticated that I prefer. 

And there you have it! #61-70! You know that I will continue to add, but was happy to make more of a dent to my list! Stay tuned as I'm sure there will be more where this comes from. Happy summer!

Willowcroft in winter. The views were beautiful. The wine was...just okay for me. 

Property at Thatch Winery as of June 2022. 

Lovingston Winery is probably my new favorite spot!

Jolene tasting outside by the lake.