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.

IMG_5967 (Free tasting glass with the tasting, having too much fun a broke mine, oops!)

To sum it up:

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

Kunde Family Winery

I’ve been told for months from fellow wine lovers to go to Sonoma and visit Kunde. Last weekend I finally made my way over to Sonoma and stopped by for a walk-in tasting. Kunde is a beaut with its rolling hills with perfectly lined vines surrounding the spectacular estate.

I was unaware how big of a deal Kunde is. The winery was established in 1904 as Wildwood Vineyard and in 1989 was reestablished as Kunde. It is currently one of the largest family owned wineries in Sonoma with over 1,850 acres. Also fun fact: Bottle Shock, a movie explaining the story of how Napa/Sonoma were put on the map by the Paris blind tasting, was filmed at Kunde. Many familiar scenes right there on the premise.

I enjoyed the stories the staff member told us during our tasting and I appreciated the passion she has towards the wine. My husband and I each got a tasting and we each picked different wines so we could try each others.

Tasting:

There are quite a few tasting options. We walked in and found a place at the inside tasting bar but if you wish to do a different tasting I would suggest making reservations as it can get crowded.

“Tastings are $15 per person for our Main Bar Tasting, $30 per person for our Kinneybrook Room Tasting, complimentary for Wine Club members (up to 4 people) and $50 per person for our Mountain Top Tasting, $30 for Wine Club members up to 4 people.”

We strayed a bit from the $15 tasting menu with trying some of the reserve wines and I do suggest trying and comparing.

My Favorites:

2014 Meritage 202 – The blending of five Bordeauxvarieties forms a distinct nose of dried cranberries, nutmeg and walnuts. This pleasing bouquet is enhanced by opulent, full mouth flavors of black cherry, red currant and cinnamon.

2014 Dunfillan Cuvée – Named after the original winery built on the Kunde Estate in the late 1800’s, our Dunfillan Cuvee is a bold Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah blend.

Wine Club Exclusive Cinnamon, dark chocolate and blueberry aromas meld with flavors of cassis, mulled spice and lavender.

1904 Dessert Cuvee– my favorite part about this was it went so well with the dark chocolate and sea salt they give you to pair with it. It’s a match made in heaven

Sum it up:

  1. large spacious winery with 360 views of hillside vines and mountains in the distance
  1. Club membership
  2. Awesome passionate staff

Grgich Wine Estates

Last weekend my best friends visited from DC and South Carolina. Unaware the heat wave was going to be at its peak on Friday, we decided to head to Napa. We arrived in the valley around 10 am and it was already in the 80’s. We did a tasting at my usual V. Sattui and Mumm Napa. We were heading south on St. Helena Hwy and decided to make one last stop at Grgich Hill. It was too hot to roam around for longer than a few minutes so we heading straight into the tasting room to get down to business. The tasting staff was busy but we had a nice VERY enthusiatic guy wait on us.

He was very excited to tell us about the wine and was very a very animated fella. We decided to go with the Summer Flight because it was the most refreshing wine options.

I was really surprised by the history of Grgich Hills. I have heard about the “Paris Tasting” of 1976 but I was unaware the winemaker Miljenko “Mike” Grgich crafted the Chardonnay that won! Mike Grgich is known by many in the wine world as a legend. He is currently 94 and still passionate as ever about wine.

While visiting I saw their Grape Stomp area and it was super tempting. Here is some details:

Grape Stomp-August 18 until Oct. 29

You’ll create a unique keepsake by putting your grape-stained feet on a white “I stomped at Grgich Hills” t-shirt. All guests 21+ will also enjoy a glass of Grgich Hills Estate wine in a monogrammed GoVino wine glass that you can take home as a souvenir.

In 2017, grape stomp is available August 18 to October 29 daily from 10 am to 4:00 pm.

  • Cost is $35 per person
  • $25 for wine club members
  • Minors/non wine consuming stompers: $25
  • Reservations required for groups of 8 or more. Cost is $40 per person.

Tasting:

 

Summer Flight– $25

2016 Rosé

2015 Napa Valley Essence, Sauvignon Blanc

2014 Fume Blanc, Napa Valley

2014 40th Anniversary Chardonnay

Paris Tasting “Commemorative” Chardonnay

My Favorite:

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2014 Paris Tasting Commemorative Chardonnay

This wine is $94 because this wine is priced for Mike Grgich’s age. He is 94 today and going strong and each year he grows older the wine will increase one dollar in price. Get it while its cheapest.

This wine is a copy cat of the the winning  1973 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay. This wine makes your mouth very happy with flavors of cooked apple, butter and a mineral character. Its a layered with flavors that coat your mouth in the perfect way.

Sum it up:

  1. Passionate staff
  2. GREAT chardonnay
  3. World renowned winemaker

 

Meadow View Winery

Yesterday I drove vertical up the dirt roads of Moraga, California to find Meadow View Winery. My little Toyota Corolla used every bit of its 4 cylinder engine to make it up there but holy gorgeous, it was worth it. After reaching the top of what seemed like a mountain, I approached the most beautiful vineyard. The vines were cascading down a small hill with a beautiful house behind where two of the wine growers Doug and Isabelle live.

Meadow View - Bill

I was greeted at the gate by two border collies, a kitten, Doug and Bill English, the winemaker, it was quite the welcome party. Walking up the driveway I got to see immediately where all the “magic happens”. There were a few barrels in the driveway with their latest Cabernet Sauvignon that will be bottled in the next few weeks. Bill was cleaning out one of the barrels and a muddled wine and water mixture was flowing down the driveway.

Meadow View -Grapes

It was clear it was a collective operation at Meadow View Winery. All of them have their place in the process. It is a straight vine to table experience. They really leave the wine to do its magic with little to no handling through the fermentation process. Their wines are not filtered nor fined. They have 3 grape varieties growing in Doug and Isabelle’s vineyard, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Sangiovese. The rest of the grapes are spread across 5 vineyards in Lamorinda (If not familiar with Lamorinda AVA read my post on the up & coming wine region). For being a local operation that grows and produces in Lamorinda they have a ton of different grape varieties with the highest of quality wine.

I tasted their 2014 Cabernet Franc, 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon, 2016 Chardonnay and their latest 2015 Cabernet Savignon from the barrel that has yet to be bottled.

Meadow View Tasting

I was literally in awe with how good all these wines were. They all had very distinguishing characteristics that one would hope when drinking the variety. The Cabernet  Sauvignon it smelled of tobacco and roses and tasted of cherries. The Chardonnay was so crisp and refreshing with citrus aromas and flavors that were the perfect balance of tartness and smooth creaminess of caramel. All wines were smooth and easy to drink. These wine would easily compete with California’s largest AVA’s.

I enjoyed hearing Bill, Doug and Isabelle’s stories of how they came to love wine and start Meadow View Winery. You can see the passion and love for wine emunating from them. This is reflecting in their wines. Stay tuned on more posts about the lovely Meadow View Winery.

Cheers!

 

Nailed it: Wine polishes 

I was looking down while typing at work and started thinking, I very much need to take the time to paint my nails tonight. I was thinking of what color I would want to go with and given that Fall is approaching and as a true basic betch that I am (I LOVE FALL). Maybe i’ll get a darker color. Then thought WINE NOT get a wine color. Thus leading me to finding beautiful shades of wine colored/named nail polishes online. (Pictured above is Essie Bordeaux)

OPI – Malaga Wine -$10

transparent-pixel._V192234675_OPI Nail Polish, Malaga Wine, 0.5 fl. oz.

ESSIE – Bordeaux – $9

Bordeaux - Deep Red Wine - Oxblood Red Nail Polish by Essie

 

Zoya – Shop by WINE (A whole page dedicated for all shades of red wine)- Each cost $10

Zoya Nail Polish ZP458  Blair  Red Nail Polish Metallic Nail Polish

 

 

 

 

 

ORLY – Crawford’s Wine – $8.50

 

CRAWFORD'S WINECRAWFORD'S WINE

 

Sally Hansen – Wine Not – $6.59

Necklaces that will bring wine closer to your heart

Today I stumbled across the cutest wine necklace on Pinterest. It is a little rose gold wine molecule! How freaking cute right? For all those science nerds and wine buff’s this necklace is a perfect gift! (See pic and link to buy below).

This led me to search for other necklaces for those wine lovers out there who want to bring even closer to their heart on a daily basis. (Get it since it, since it would be around their neck) Okay I will keep my day job.

Prices and link to purchase below each picture!

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Wine Molecule Comes in a variety of metals. $14.80 on Amazon
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Pour yourself a glass -Sterling Silver (.095) and comes in a variety of lengths. Starting at $48 on Etsy
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Corkscrew 14k Rose Gold $85 at Vinepair
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“Look Ma no hands” wine holder Only in black. $6.99 at Amazon
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Love Wine Pendent Comes in silver and gold. Silver is $56 at ShineOn
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Moonlight Grapes Pendent Comes in different metals, sizes and prices will varies great depending. $495 GST from Georg Jensen

 

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Pop Bottles – Comes with 3 charm options Antique plated silver charm Sterling silver necklace $27.99 on Etsy
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Celebration Time Dangle Charm Sterling Silver charm (necklace sold separate) $50 at Pandora
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Make magic champagne long pendant gold and rose gold plated metal with glass and epoxy stone $104 at Kate Spade