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:

IMG_4893

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!

 

Everything’s Kosher at Hagafen Cellars

My in-laws from Maryland were in town this past weekend and I had to plan a outing to Napa. They are small town folk and I wanted to find a place where they would feel comfortable and the farthest thing from bouchie. I googled laid back wineries and somehow stumbled across Hagafen. The Yelp reviews were awesome and the place looked super quaint from all the pictures.

First off Hagafen requires reservations – so the night before, Saturday at 11:00 pm, I emailed hoping I would get an email or call saying they had space for Sunday. I was emailed promptly when they opened that they could accommodate. I called to confirm and let them know we needed to push back a little and they were very understanding.

When we arrived I instantly new I was going to like this place by the vibe I got walking in. The staffed was welcoming and instantly urged us to start tasting and have fun. We decided to do the “Current Release” tasting and they were gracious with letting us taste additional wines if we were curious throughout the 5 tastings.

They didn’t have strict limits on where or what you can and cannot do at this winery. They were very lax. They said please explore between tastings, “we have cornhole, chickens, feel free to walk through the vineyard and to check out the cellar”. This was AMAZING. There was ZERO rush which is uncommon with many wineries.

Also fun fact they are an all Kosher winery and have provided for years their wines to The White House when there are dinner parties where Kosher wines are needed (this was a fun fact).

I highly recommend going here for a laid back experience with tasty wines!

Tasting: 

Current Release and Reserve Tasting flights include 5 wine tastes selected by the guest.
Tasting fees are waived with a 1 bottle purchase from your flight.

Tasting are by appointment via email or calling them- last tasting is 4:15 pm

Current Release $20

Reserve Tasting: $30

Library Wines Flight: $40

My Favorites:

2016 Chardonnay ($30) 

Was very crisp with smells and tastes of citrus fruit such as green apple. Very light oaky tasty.

2016 Riesling -off dry ($24)

With only 2% residual sugar, it holds just the right amount of sweetness balanced by crisp, clean citrus notes of meyer lemon. The nose of this lovely wine jumps out at you with the scents of soft lemon verbena, orange and kiwi. The flavors continue onto the palate and are added to with sweet orange, Meyer lemon and honeysuckle.

Sum It Up:

  1. Extremely laid back
  2. Tasting fee is waved with with purchase.
  3. Smalltown feel in the bustling Napa Valley.

Peju Province Winery

Our last stop was at Peju because we knew it was open until 6 pm. That is late in Napa time as most winery’s close at 4 pm.

Peju is always packed. Everytime I’ve gone it’s a mad house and for good reason. Peju has a wide variety of great wines ranging in all prices. There is also no reservation needed for less than 7 but with that being said it’s always a bit of a wait for you to be ushered to one of 4 tasting counters.

Peju’s outside decor is memorable. It’s a pink stone building and has impeccable trimmed gardens surrounding the vineyards. The most memorable aspect is the 40 ft tall sycamore trees that line the entrance as you drive in. 

My favorite:

It was probably 100 degrees that day and this was my last tasting. So basically I wanted the most refreshing thing they had.

2016 Carnival ($18)

Made with French Colombard

Aromas of dried apricot and honeysuckle complemented by flavors of green apple, passion fruit and lychee.

Peju Province ($23)

Aromas of herbs, violets, nutmeg and tart plum. Plush tannins give Province structure while bright acidity refreshes the palate with flavors of cranberry, ripe raspberry and Queen Anne cherry.

Tasting:

We did the classic tasting for $35 but guess what military is free and we had a bunch of military members!

We first were served both the Sauvignon Blanc and Province before selecting three additional wines that we would like to explore. If you favor reds or whites or maybe both you can make the tasting based off your palate.

Sum it up:

  1. All varietys with prices for everyone
  2. Unique grounds & estate
  3. No reservations required for less than 7 and military is free classic tasting!!!

Bell Wine Cellars

We arrived to Bell 2nd in our trip and we were feeling mighty fine from the many wines at Paraduxx. Bell had a complexly different feel, it was a dark entry way into where all the barrels are stored and a small tasting counter. It was cool, muggy and dark. Which was nice on the 103 degree day.

We had a reservation at Bell for a Cheese and wine tasting with a mini tour of the vineyard and the winemaking process. Our tour guide seemed a bit irritable but this place was much quieter and reserved then our group. Didn’t feel entirely welcomed however she did give a good explanation of the history of Bell Winery and the winemaker, Anthony Bell’s past.

The outside grounds are beautiful and I recommend if going sitting outside on the patio area near the vineyard. Also there is a Bocce Ball court if you would like to sip and play.

Tasting:

We did the following tasting:

GRAPE TO GLASS TOUR & TASTING

Enjoy the ABC’s of winemaking from grape to glass. Stroll through our Yountville vineyard exploring our farming relationship with terroir and climate, followed by a tank and barrel discussion, barrel tasting, and finishing with a seasonal selection of five wines paired with artisan cheeses.

  • Available promptly at 10:30am, 1pm and 3pm daily, by appointment.
  • Fifty dollars per person.
  • Groups of 8 people or more, sixty dollars per person.  We require a credit card to hold appointments for groups of 8 or more guests.  Due to our limited available appointments, all group tastings fees are charged 48 hours in advance of your visit and are not refundable after that time.
  • Two for the price of one for Carillon Club members.

Tasting options:

By appointment daily ONLY, 7 days a week, from 10:00 – 4:00pm

To Sum It Up: 

  1. Beautiful grounds
  2. Quiet and cozy place for either a small group or an older crowd.
  3. Wines are expensive to purchase but they have tons of affordable tasting options to find the one for you.