Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Winery Spotlight: Fincastle Vineyard & Winery (9/14/10)

Tucked in the mountains, twenty minutes north of Roanoke, on the The Botetourt Wine Trail (three terrific and rustic wineries in Botetourt County), lies Fincastle Vineyard, a charming family-run B&B and winery. This is one of those "GPS Wineries;" those rural Virginia places far, far away from civilization, where the only sounds are the cows in the distance and the occasional cicada buzzing in the trees. Northern Virginia has a few of these spots. Southwest Virginia wineries are all about this nature vibe. Luckily in the case of Fincastle, the wines are just as great as the natural atmosphere.

Drive up the dirt road at Fincastle, and you'll pass an elegant batch of vineyards. Turn the curve, go up the hill (actually the foothill of a mountain), and you'll see a Virginia home right out of the Waltons, complete with a sipping porch. The tasting room is housed inside their home, and the Bed and Breakfast is on the other side of the house (the owners do a nice job keeping the B&B guests, who may not necessarily be looking for a wine getaway, separate from the winery guests).

David and Georgia, the owners, will welcome you with a smile (David may have a hose or shovel or a bucket of paint in his hands). Their son Richard conducts the tastings and is extremely knowledgeable about the craft of winemaking, but as casual as a drinking buddy.

Fincastle's wines are good to excellent. Their Viognier was a bit too oaky for our tastes, but if you don't mind oak, you will enjoy it. Their stand-outs are their reds: A fantastic Cab Franc (Virginia's red), and a very good to excellent (depending on the vintage) Cab Sauv. Their rose is made for drinking on their sipping porch---a blend of Chambourcin and Vidal Blanc. Drink it cold - the colder, the better. Especially on one of those late summer Virginia nights, with the cicadas chirping at full blast. Their Chardonnay, like the Viognier, was also too oaky. There is a romantic reputation surrounding oaky wines that works for reds, but not quite for whites (at least in your humble bloggers' opinions). Steel barrel all the way for whites---steel sounds like something from Pittsburgh (versus oak from Sonoma), but steel aging brings out the best in white wine, particularly Chardonnay and Viognier.

Despite the oaky quality of Fincastle's whites, their wines are all winners. The porch overlooks a large meadow that the owners use to host festivals. Local musicians (including some from the nearby Galax/Floyd Bluegrass Trail) perform here during the warmer months. And as the case with other "faraway" Virginia wineries, the prices are right. You could pick up a case here and not feel broke.

If you're not on a romantic getaway (that is, you're just a bunch of average straight guys looking for a wine trail on the weekend), check into the Red Roof Inn in Troutville (a truck stop paradise off I-81 north of Roanoke), and visit Fincastle Vineyard and Winery, along with Virginia Mountain Vineyards and Blue Ridge Vineyards (the other two wineries on this wine trail).


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