Last week 300 wine bloggers met in Charlottesville, Virginia, for their 4th annual conference and spent three days learning how to be better wine bloggers, while at the same time discovering Virginia wine and wine country. What better way to learn about Virginia wine than to visit nearby wineries?
On Saturday the 300 wine bloggers were wined and dined at wineries on the Monticello Wine Trail. Each wine blogger boarded one of seven buses that trekked the bloggers out to two wineries for a day of touring, tasting, and feasting on appetizers and a gourmet lunch. The bus we boarded took us to two very interesting and wonderful wineries on the Monticello Wine Trail, Pippin Hill Farms & Vineyards and Veritas Vineyards. Here is a brief description of the two wineries we visited.
Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards
This tasting room and hospitality center opened about nine months ago on the beautiful hillsides of the Virginia Blue Ridge Mountains. The views are fantastic and the countryside so green, and full of grasslands and forests. Homes and other wineries are few and far between, with acres and acres of open space to enjoy.
The owners of Pippin Hill are the husband-wife team of Dean Andrews and Lynn Easton Andrews, and they spared no expense in putting together this fantastic facility. The hospitality center is done in a farmhouse and barn style, designed to fit in perfectly with the Virginia landscape. The building is as green as can be with cellulose used for insulation, geothermal heating and cooling, and rainwater collected and used for irrigation. The vineyards are farmed sustainably. The winemaking is done at another facility nearby and offers custom crush services to other wineries. The vines surrounding Pippin Hill were planted a little over a year ago and won’t produce sufficient fruit for another few years. In the meantime, the winery is sourcing its fruit from local growers.
It is all about food and wine at Pippin Hill. There is a full-time chef who prepares small tasteful delights to be paired with each specific wine. When visitors arrive, they are encouraged to choose a menu of wine and food pairings. We enjoyed four wines, each paired perfectly with a different food item. The most curious pairing was the Cabernet Franc and a mini chocolate cupcake. Lo and behold, we were startled to find how well this pairing worked.
Doctor Andrew Hodson his wife Patricia Hodson established this winery in 2002. What we liked about this winery was the friendly and cozy atmosphere provided by the owners and staff. It was easy to see that everyone in the crowded tasting room was having a great time and enjoying the hospitality at Veritas. It is so magical here that the winery draws in 50,000 visitors per year. It is truly a family affair, as daughter Emily Pelton has taken charge of the winemaking duties. Although Dad still thinks he calls the shots, it is Emily that works behind the scenes to make the wines so enticing and flavorful.
In Virginia the two most popular wines are the Viognier and the Cabernet Franc. At Veritas both are done very well. The Veritas Cab Franc was lighter and much reminded us of a Pinot Noir. We also enjoyed a delicious sparkling wine made with 100% Chardonnay and an utterly fantastic dessert wine made from the Petit Manseng grape.
The other bloggers that we talked to that night had all enjoyed their visits to different wineries along the wine trail.
If you are ever in this area of Virginia, we highly recommend a visit to a few of these wineries on the Monticello Wine Trail. You will enjoy them just as much as a visit to any winery in the Napa Valley or Sonoma County, maybe even a little bit more.
chocolate cupcakes and a cabernet…sounds good to me!