Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Winery Spotlight: Flying Fox Vineyard (9/28/10)

Flying Fox Vineyard, in the heart of the Monticello/Nelson County wine region, is one of those "look...a winery we didn't even know about!" spots. Their presence at festivals, compared to other big, well-known Virginia wineries in this area of the state (Veritas, Kluge, Cardinal Point, White Hall, DelFosse), is limited due to their production. And Flying Fox hasn't been around as long as the other spots. But they are a must-visit; an utterly delightful little spot that hugs the state highway (route 151) going towards Wintergreen (the resort, and the winery).

The tasting room looks tiny from the outside, but it's more spacious on the inside than many other Virginia wineries we've visited. The winery gets its name from the weather vane on the roof of the tasting building (cottage is a better description). As the owners boast, the fox on the weather vane looks like he's flying after a glass or two, or a bottle or two, of their fine recipes (and we must call them "recipes"--this is Waltons country, after all).

The nicely paced, entertaining tasting allows visitors to try a bit of everything.

Chardonnay, aged in steel tanks (all hail steel tanks!). Crisp and delightful. Viognier: Winner of both Silver and Gold medals at the 2010 State Fair. Dry and hints of pear and melon. Delicious. If you prefer a hint of sweetness, Flying Fox has another Viognier that's also an award-winner: Fox White. Stock up now for sipping during the inevitable Virginia Indian summer that's on its way.

As for the reds, not a mediocre one in the bunch. In addition to the Virginia staple (Cabernet Franc--velvety with just the right amount of oak--oak notes belong in reds, not whites, according to your trusty blogmasters), Flying Fox has a pure Petit Verdot (on that esteemed list of Virginia spots offering a pure Petit Verdot), and two excellent blends: Trio (Cab Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot) and Fox Red (Cab Franc and Merlot). And the prices are right - all bottles under $20. They also have a fruit and cheese plate that is beautifully presented, for $10 (this plate would be $25 at some of Northern Virginia wineries).

The labels on several of their bottles are whimsical and add a fun touch to the wines and the location. Their mascot (a fox), in various modes of air travel. Several years ago, he was in a World War I-era bi-plane. Currently, he's in a hot air balloon. According to our pourer (Becca) during our visit, next year's label will have him shot out of a cannon.

There is a small porch outside the tasting room, but space is limited. If you have your own picnic chairs, you'd be in good shape. The view of the vast meadows and mountains at Flying Fox will make you forget you're a stone's throw away from a busy state highway.

Winemaking is a science. It actually draws on three sciences: Biology, chemistry and geology. The owners, the husband and wife team of Rich Evans and Lynn Davis, are a retired medical doctor and UVA biology professor, respectively. Their quality control measures, along with their winning partnership with their grape growers (family members Jane and Jon Zieman) in the Shenandoah Valley, guarantee fine vintages in a region dotted with large mass producers. So the next time you're pacing back and forth at Veritas or Cardinal Point, patiently waiting for a tasting, hop in your car and drive south for a few miles. The pleasures of Flying Fox await you.


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