Imagery Estate Winery

Imagery Winery has a welcoming atmosphere as their walls and wine bottles are adorned by colorful pieces of art by local artisans. We didn’t have nor need a reservation and came quite late in the date but were served at the tasting bar that fills the center of the main room.

The staff was very interesting and eclectic which pairs perfectly with the brand and the wine. The tasting includes 5 samples of small production wines that are  and costs $15. The server gave us a walk through the history of the winery and the wines on the tasting menu and also gave us a taste of a few additional such as the comparison of the Malbec and the Code Blue which is a blueberry wine that they pair with a chocolate covered blueberry.

The wine was quite unusual but very drinkable! The most enjoyable part was the wine that has an artists painting as the labels. Each were very unique and intriguing. They also sell the artwork within the tasting room along with trinkets labeled with the art.

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Tasting:

2014 Wow Oui

2015 White Burgundy

2014 Mourédre

2015 Malbec – Upper Ridge

2015 Malbec – San Lucas Vineyard

2014 Petite Sirah

Code Blue (Blueberry wine)

To Sum It Up:

  1. Unique wines
  2. Great outdoor space
  3. Tons of artwork

Ledson Winery

Oddly before I went to Ledson winery I have not yet heard of it. Upon arrive I realized what I’ve been missing. The winery grounds are stunning, acres of grapes surrounding this massive estate reassembling a castle. Who knew Sonoma had so many Castle like wineries. We didn’t have a reservation so we headed to the wine tasting room which was very rich with ornate wood and crown molding all around. We decided against doing a tasting and opted to purchase a few bottles and have a picnic. There is a store within the winery that has tons of picnic snacks and other fun wine related goodies.

In the back of the estate there is more vines, big trees that shade a few picnic tables. We sat there for over an hour eating, drinking and enjoying the fresh air.

As for wine I tried their:

2014 REDWOOD VALLEY ‘RICETTI LANE’ ZINFANDEL: $32

Stunning aromas of fresh ripe blackberry and raspberry draw you in. The palate is broad with warm blackberry, notes of vanilla, and a hint of cocoa, reminiscent of a delicious homemade berry pie. Leather and peppery spice give it a robustness with a unique, bold, and velvety finish.

2016 SONOMA VALLEY ‘FREY FAMILY VINEYARDS’ CHARDONNAY -$28

Brightly colored, it exudes pronounced aromas of Meyer lemon and white peach. Guava and green apple spill over the palate with a pure, bright mouthfeel and lengthy, refreshing finish of green apple and nectarine with a hint of biscotti.

Ledson for me was a hidden gem. It’s definitely a place I will visit again and bring friends and family so they can have their jaw drop too when arriving and seeing its beauty.

Prettiest Rosé in the Garden

Given we are just beginning rosé season I thought I’d share some beautiful rosé wines to drink this spring & summer or if you are willing to share they make the best gifts. I know your not “supposed” to judge a wine but it’s label however sometimes it’s just best of both worlds scenario and they are blessed with looks and taste. Enjoy the following list of rosés that I personally thought were some of the prettiest out there:

Summer in a Bottle Rosé 2017 by Wolffer Estate Vineyard – $25

This unique shiny coppery rosé gold color stems from its blend of 51% Merlot 23% Chardonnay 9% Gewürztraminer 8% Cabernet Franc 5% Cabernet Sauvignon 4% Riesling. This isn’t called summer in a bottle for nothing. It’s the bright fruit, melon and lychee that make you feel like you are drinking summer. Made and bottled in New York!

Gerard Bertrand Cote des Roses Rose 2016 -$15.99

This peachy Rosé is from Languedoc-Roussillon, France.  

The bouquet releases aromas of summer fruits, cassis and redcurrant. Floral notes of rose along with hints of grapefruit complete the picture. The finish is fresh, offering notes of candy. On the palate the impression is fresh and full, with great aromatic persistence and balance.

Notorious Pink 2016 Grenache Rose   -$ 16.99

This rosé is pale pink in color that exudes floral orange blossom aromas. Made from 100% Grenache from the South of France, we use mature berries to balance the flavors of ripe berries that gives it a wonderful acidity and soft minerality. I received this one from my amor for Valentines Day and truly the bottle is so feminine and pretty. Sleek opaque glass with a glass cork epitomizes class and elegance.

J Vineyards Sparkling Rose    –$31.99

Made in Cali (whoop whoop). This rosé yields aromas of strawberry, nectarine and juicy red apples. On the palate, the wine opens with flavors of cherry, orange, citrus peel and the tropical star fruit that are underlined by a bright acidity that keeps the impression delightfully fresh with a lively, lingering finish. This simplistic design is perfect for anyone you know that has a name that starts with J.

Armand de Brignac Rose –$ 439.97

Made in Champagne, France with a champagne in France price point. A stunning wine, with aromas of strawberries and toast layered over a creamy palate filled with apple tart and fresh berries. Elegant, supple and rich, with a balanced finish and fine mousse. One of the top Champagnes to be found today. This wine is for a very special occasion or if you have money to throw around. Not your average summer pool party rosé.

 

Cavicchioli 1928 Rosé Spumante Dolce is made from 100% Lambrusco grapes. In the vineyard, the vines are raised with a Guyot training system, with spurred cordon pruning, on loose mixed soils. When poured and tasted, white and evanescent foam; fine and lingering perlage; bright and pale pink “candy” color; fresh and fruity aroma; sweet, slightly spicy and aromatic taste with red fruit notes with a lingering aftertaste.

Tsarine Brut Rose NV -$49.99

Aromas of red fruits with hints of brioche; this Champagne brings layers of fruit and creaminess on palate with bright freshness leading to an elegant finish. This twisted glass bottle makes for a elegant gift to a friend worth giving a $50 bottle of rosé. Not your average summer picnic wine.

New Year Resolution: Drink More Wine

As I embarked on my “new year, new me” mentality for 2018, I decided to stupidly not drink alcohol the whole month of January.

It is currently 10 days in and yes I did cheat this week on a Moscow mule and a glass of wine at my friends going away however, compared to my wine consumption per week that is pretty solid.

I do believe the new year brings a lot of chance for change however I regret starting my month long abstinence from the beloved juice I drink almost everyday.

Here are reasons you SHOULD drink wine and not to give it up (unless you fall into the weekday morning wine drinking category then maybe you should):

1. Health benefits alone are a reason to not stop drinking wine. Red wine is known to reduce the follow health conditions:

  • Reduces Heart-Attack Risk
  • Lowers Risk of Heart Disease
  • Reduces Risk of Type 2 Diabetes
  • Lowers Risk of Stroke
  • Cuts Risk of Cataracts
  • Cuts Risk of Colon Cancer
  • Slows Brain Decline

2. A glass of red wine is only 100-300 calories! Just think how satisfying a class of red wine is compared TO ONLY 2 BITES OF YOUR EGG MCMUFFIN. I’d take wine any day!

3. Makes a good day even better and bad day tolerable! Wine can celebrate a win or bring you up from a fail. It will make you look at the glass half full with your glass half full 😉

4) Makes you social and brings people together. Nothing beats meeting up with friends for a drink to catch up on each others lives. Otherwise you would be at home knitting, with your cat on your lap and on Instagram wishing you were out drinking with friends (me right now….).

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5) Makes you “more”. Wine is seriously like mystery flavored candy. Each time I feel a little different. It transforms me or maybe just enhances me. Wine makes me….silly, creative, confident, smile, laugh, sleepy, relax and the list goes on.

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Moral of the post, don’t feel bad drinking wine! There are plenty of good reasons to in “moderation”. So tonight I am going to have myself a nice bold Cab Sauv and hit the sack early!

Horton Vineyards

After our first tasting we headed to our last stop which was Horton Vineyards. Upon arriving there was this awesome sign (see pic below) that showed the distance to Horton from Napa and Rhone Valley.

Horton has deep Virginia roots and has both California and French influence in its wine.

“Wine lover and entrepreneur Dennis Horton began his winemaking venture with a small home vineyard in Madison County, Virginia in 1983.  It did not take him long to realize that, although the Virginia summers were warm enough to ripen almost any grape variety, the humid conditions favored growing grapes with thicker skins and loose clusters.  There began the search for varieties that would flourish in Virginia’s climate and had the capacity to produce some of the finest wines of the world.

Dennis’ search concentrated on the warm growing regions of southern France, and before planting any additional grapes, Dennis traveled to the Rhone valley in France.  There he was struck by wines he felt had beautiful texture, grace, and finesse.  In his research, one grape in particular seemed to keep coming up as perfect – Viognier.  It was a grape of wonderful potential – it had a thick skin and loose clusters, perfect for the Virginia climate.  And most importantly, it made some of the world’s finest wines – those of the Condrieu and in particular Chateau Grillet.

In California Dennis learned of only a few producers working with and producing Viognier in limited quantities.  However, new plantings were going in all over the state and enthusiasm was high.  So the decision was made to plant Viognier, along with lesser amounts of Marsanne, Mourvedre, Cabernet Franc, Syrah, and several other grape varieties like the native grape Norton, which enjoyed so much success in the 19th century in nearby Charlottesville.  In the late 1800’s, central Virginia was declared the “Capitol of the Eastern Wine Belt.”  Some of the Norton had survived prohibition in Dennis’ home state of Missouri, and he was intrigued by the idea of reviving this historic grape with its incredibly rich, fruity flavor, soft tannins and inky color.

In 1988, Dennis and longtime business partner Joan Bieda acquired 55 acres for the beginning of Horton Vineyards.  The task of establishing the vineyard was given to Dennis’ wife Sharon, a nurse by trade, whose meticulous nature was reflected in the manicuring of the East Coast’s most unique vineyard.  Utilizing the “open lyre” training system, which promotes ideal ripening, and drip irrigation for ideal soil moisture conditions, the vineyard was established with quality in mind.  In 1991 the first small crop was harvested, and made into wine at Montdomaine Cellars, a noted Cabernet producer.  With his wine aging in the cellars, it was a natural transition for Dennis to take over the management of Montdomaine Cellars, and produce Chardonnay and Cabernet under that label, in addition to his own line of Rhone Varieties.  The 1992 wines were very well received in national competitions and construction was begun on a new underground winery.  Stunning stone underground cellars, views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and a wonderful vaulted ceiling tasting room are the highlights of this beautiful winery.  1993 saw the first crush at the new Horton Cellars and in 1994 additional acreage came into production with plantings of Bordeaux, Portuguese and Spanish varietals as well as additional varietals of the Rhone Valley.  The national success of these wines has demonstrated that if the right grapes are planted for the climate of Virginia the results can be stunning.  In the future, Horton Vineyards will continue to explore new varietals to discover the best that Virginia viticulture can produce.”

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Tasting:

The tasting bar was super small and crowded but it was a Saturday afternoon on what I believe was their Fall Fest. They only had two people to serve which was hard on the servers given there was loads of people. Also you can choose from any 10 in no order so I am sure each group was doing all different. My friends and I stuck to the same 10 to keep it easy and the wine flowing.

It was a $9 for 10 wines to taste. And you get to choose a tasting glass (stemless, stemmed, dog or cat). I am loving the Virginia prices compared to Napa and Sonoma!

My Favorites:

So I can’t put my finger on what I tasted in some of the Virginia reds but it was a almost cheesy or mushroom taste. I didn’t care for it as much as my Napa Cabernet’s but there were some that stood out to me.

2016 Viognier – $20.00- Exotic honey and tropical fruit aromas jump from the glass. Full bodied, viscous mouthfeel. 95% Viognier, 5% Roussanne

2015 Norton – $18.00- Has a dark, rich color and an intensely fruity aroma of plums and tart cherries. Ageing in oak for 14 months has given this wine a long, flavorful, spicy finish.  93% Norton, 7% Touriga Nacional

Rojo Xoco – Red Wine with Chocolate Essence – $16.00 (500ml bottle)-It’s like licking a Raspberry Tootsie Roll Pop!  88% Touriga Nacional, 8% Syrah, 4% Norton with a very small percentage of dark chocolate essence.

Sum it up:

  1. Super affordable tastings and you get to keep the glass (a very cute one at that)
  2. Interesting wine assortment. First time I got to try Norton (Virginia grape).
  3. Beautiful grounds to roam around and frolic through the vineyard.

 

 

Barboursville Vineyards and Historic Ruins

I went to a wedding a few weeks back in Virginia and on the wedding day a few of us that weren’t apart of the wedding party was able to brake away before and head to a few wineries near the venue. I have been told about Virginia wine country and how amazing it is but really I was blissfully unaware of how many stunning wineries they have.

Our first stop was Barboursville Vineyards. This winery has some serious ties to history. In fact some presidential ties!

The wine producing estate was founded in 1976 by Gianni Zonin, an Italian winemaker from the Veneto. Part of an affiliated group of wineries owned by Zonin based in Vicenza, Barboursville Vineyards is its only American venture.

The winery is built on the grounds of Barboursville, the home of the 19th Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, James Barbour, on an estate of 870 acres (350 ha) which is divided between Albemarle County and Orange County. The home was built from 1814 through 1822 and is based on an architectural design provided by Barbour’s political ally and friend, Thomas Jefferson, since 1969 listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It draws approximately 80,000 visitors a year.

The estate is the first producer in the new era of Virginian wine history to plant Vitis vinifera since the failed attempts of Jefferson, initially through former vineyard manager Gabriele Rausse. Winery manager Luca Paschina first arrived as a consultant in 1990, now estimated among Virginia’s leading winemakers, has a stated goal to work to achieve quality consistently over several vintages.

Considered one of the leading wineries in Virginia, Barboursville Vineyards wine was selected to be served to the Queen Elizabeth II on her 2007 visit to Virginia.

Visiting:

The tasting room is open for walk-ins:

Monday – Saturday

10:00am – 5:00pm

Sunday
11:00am – 5:00pm

I did the standard tasting which was $7 for 21 tastings….THIS IS NOT A JOKE. 

There are quite a few tours and tasting options worth taking a gander before you go.

My favorites:

I am not going to go through all 21 wines but the highlights were the following:

CHARDONNAY RESERVE (2016) -$18.99- The wine is exploding with rich and complex flavors of pear, apple, and vanilla, a lavishly texured palate.

BRUT ROSÉ CUVÉE 1814– $24.99- 100% Pinot, dry (but not quite brut), nice flavor profile of lighter stonefruit and floral (along the lines of lavender / violets).

Cabernet Franc Reserve 2015 -$24.99- Dark garnet core, brilliant clarity in the glass. Intense, effusively luscious flavors of ripe red berries with caramelised notes of fig, cherry, and plum, elegantly woven together in barrel. Long-finishing and tannically vivid, yet with a remarkably soft palate.

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To sum it up:

  1. High yielding winery with cheap tasting options
  2. Options to suite every palate
  3. Strong historical ties

Totality Awesome Wines to Celebrate the Solar Eclipse

Everyone is gearing up for tomorrows Solar Eclipse. You still have time to run to either Total Wine & More, Trader Joe’s or Bevmo to nerd out and get wine that is out of this world to celebrate. I mean this doesn’t happen often and the next solar eclipse that goes coast to coast isn’t until 2045!!! So a celebration is in order indeed! Many people I know are taking off work for this maybe once or twice in a lifetime experience. My brother is driving down to Nashville and my colleague drove up to Portland. In California we are only going to see a partial eclipse but I think its still pretty neat. People take this seriously and should take their lunar themed wine seriously as well. These wines, beer and spirits will make you feel like a true astronomer:

 

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Valley of the Moon Cabernet- $20

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Moon X Black Pinot Noir – $6.99

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Trade Joe’s has a whole line of moon branded wines – I recommend the Velvet Moon & Honey Moon!

Luna Nuda Pinot Grigio – $14

Luna Nuda Pinot Grigio (750 ML)

Midnight Moon Blackberry- $19.49

Midnight Moon Blackberry 750ml (750 ML)

Sol Cerveza-$7.49

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Cheers & Happy Solar Eclipse!!!!