Saturday, June 9, 2012

Jefferson Would be Proud

Yes, Barboursville has ruins, cows and wine. It also has large crowds and a theme park atmosphere
 On our recent trip to Charlottesville, we visited a lot of wineries and tried a lot of wine. This was my first trip to the region, and while I had heard many good things about the wine and the wineries in Thomas Jefferson's old stomping ground, I wasn't prepared for just how different each winery was in terms of atmosphere and ambiance, though I was pleasantly surprised. Since I have already mentioned Barboursville in a previous post, there isn't much more I need to say about it. True, it is big. Their wines are good. Still, I can't help the feeling that they are the Virginia wine industry's circus barker - imploring people to step right up to try wines from the state. The assembly-line atmosphere in their tasting room does little to counter this impression.

All in all, given its reputation, size and location, Barboursville is a good place to start - especially as an introduction to Virginia wines. And there are many other wineries located nearby. The other wineries we went to on the first day were Reynard Florence and Keswick Vineyards. Neither of these had the crowds or chaos of Barboursville. True, they didn't have Thomas Jefferson-designed ruins on the property either, but that's a small price to pay for tranquility.

Another view from another winery. For the life of me, I can't remember which one

Reynard Florence, a fairly new winery, was our second stop, and it couldn't have been more different. It is a small, family run winery. The tasting room feels more like a living room than anything, and we had the place to ourselves. One of the owners was pouring behind the bar. I first heard about Reynard Florence during this year's Virginia Wine Bracket Challenge where its Cabernet Franc was one of the contestants. I remember liking the wine and was impressed by the other wines they produce. They also make a Petit Manseng and a Grenache - both unique for Virginia.

Rounding out our wineries for the day was Keswick, which does a hefty wedding business for good reason. The winery grounds are beautiful. Finishing off a day of wine tasting with dry Rose on a porch in a comfortable chair is never a bad thing.  And, lest I forget to mention it, their wines are quite good, too. I was a fan of their Viognier and their Rose, though their Verdejo is also worth trying given that it is a unique varietal in Virginia.

This trip was also some of our friends' first experience with Virginia wines, and I am proud to say that they have now become fervent fans of Virginia Viognier. A weekend in Monticello will do that to just about anybody.

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