Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Marterella Winery Tasting Room: Thanks for the Memories

The blogmasters were saddened to hear the news that Marterella Winery's tasting room, near Warrenton, was forced to close its doors several weeks ago, thanks to a decision (wholly unfair in our opinion) by Fauquier county that the tasting room was allegedly “violating the restrictive covenants." Another winery is less than 1/4 a mile down the road from Marterella, and the two wineries probably complemented each other with visitors (visitors who probably went to both wineries in the same afternoon). Now that only one exists (Mediterranean Cellars), it should be interesting if their patronage declines.

There are many wineries in the Warrenton area to choose from now, and when we launch into VAVINOLAND, we usually select an area where two or more wineries are at least five miles from each other.

We visited Marterella shortly after its opening in 2006, and were immediately taken into the Marterella family, who cooked up a batch of spaghetti in their tasting room (free) for lingering visitors to their tasting room. Kate and Jerry Marterella are consumate hosts and a joy to be around; the forced closing of their tasting room is a sore piece of Virginia Winery history.

According to their website, the wines are still available for purchase online. Marterella Winery has a loyal fanbase and other wineries in the area have offered venues for the couple to sell their wonderful and well-priced wines.

More wineries have opened in the Commonwealth over the past few years than closed, but there have been a few other casualties:

Kluge Estate Winery (closed in 2011): Declared bankruptcy. Rumor has it Donald Trump is interested in buying the land. That will not bode well for the state, in our humble opinions....

Oakencroft Winery (closed in 2010): Owner retired.

Smokehouse Winery (closed in 2010): The name was misleading - he made mead here. Evidently the owner is quite a character and hosted unusual festivals and concerts. We'll leave the rest to your imagination.

Oasis Winery (closed/open again/closed/will it open again??): This is the infamous "White House crashers" winery (the Salahis). Currently the vineyards are overgrown, vines are dead. But the tabloid life seems to be more suited to those people.

Christensen Ridge Winery (closed in 2007): After several admirable attempts, this winery and cabin rental spot near Madison just couldn't pull through.

Farfelu Vineyards (closed in 2007): Owners got tired of the VA winery scene and closed, with the vague hint that they would continue to grow and sell their grapes to other wineries (we were unable to confirm this).

Deer Meadow Vineyards (closed in 2006): This winery was west of Winchester and apparently the owners simply lost interest in growing crop.

Luckily, more Virginia wineries are on the way, but we thought it was time to pay respect for those who didn't make it as a tasting room, whether by choice or not.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Virginia Winery Score List: July 2011

Since the blog on the "Best in Show" wineries in The Commonwealth, the blogmasters have received several inquiries on how other VA wineries ranked.

As much as we would love to admit that we've been to every winery and vineyard in the state, our domestic lives (read: jobs and spouse, in the case of John) do not allow us to get lost in the wonderful world of VAVINO. But for the heckuvit, we'll post our cumulative spreadsheet ranking our favorite wineries, as of July 9, 2011.

"5" is the highest rank, so if there are scores above 5, that means the winery received added points for having a cat and/or a fireplace or firepits, that the winery managers actually use (you'd be surprised to find out how many Virginia wineries have such fireplaces, but never seem to use them).

We haven't been to a Virginia winery that wasn't an overall positive experience. The wineries and vineyards ranked low on the list are there simply because they received low scores for certain elements that the serious wine fan may not care about (tasting room set-up; customer service; outdoor and indoor sitting areas). The final scores were derived from several criteria: Wine quality; Indoor Set Up; Outdoor Set Up; Friendly Factor; Price; Busy Factor; View (and added points for cats and a fireplace that is used). A winery like Linden does make great wine, however they are lacking in some of the other categories. The other categories may not even be important, if it's "all about the wine"; however as a comprehensive blog, we try to evaluate all aspects of a winery.

And we hope to remedy the issue of not visiting the wineries on the eastern side of the state....very soon.

The Rundown, from "Best to OK, but not the best...." (Scores in parens):

First Colony 5.64
North Mountain 5.29
Pollak 5.21
West Wind 5.14
Fincastle 5.07
Fox Meadow 5.07
Twin Oaks Tavern Winery 5.07
Afton Mountain 5.00
Hiddencroft 5.00
Old House 5.00
Cobbler Mountain Cellars 5.00
DuCard Vineyards 4.93
Barren Ridge 4.93
White Rock 4.93
Casanel 4.86
Chateau O’Brien 4.86
Valhalla 4.86
DelFosse 4.79
Desert Rose Ranch 4.79
Dry Mill 4.79
North Gate Vineyard 4.71
Blenheim Vineyards 4.64
Sharp Rock 4.64
Hume 4.64
Narmada Winery 4.64
Philip Carter (old Stillhouse) 4.64
Willowcroft 4.64
Cooper 4.58
Fabbioli Cellars 4.57
Gadino Cellars 4.57
Burnley 4.50
Flying Fox 4.50
La Grange 4.50
Blue Ridge Vineyard 4.43
Cave Ridge 4.43
Hickory Hill 4.43
LeoGrande 4.43
Lexington Valley 4.43
Unicorn 4.43
White Hall 4.43
Veritas 4.36
Lost Creek 4.36
Capitol Vineyards 4.36
Greyhaven 4.36
Rogers Ford 4.36
Wolf Gap 4.36
Zephaniah Farm 4.36
Peaks of Otter 4.29
Stone Mountain 4.29
Wintergreen 4.29
Cardinal Point 4.29
Hillsborough 4.29
Glen Manor 4.21
King Family 4.21
Mountain Cove 4.21
Wisteria Vineyard 4.21
Hidden Brook 4.21
James River 4.21
Marterella Winery 4.21
Mediterranean 4.21
8 Chains North Vineyard 4.14
Rebec 4.14
Sweely Estate 4.14
Veramar 4.14
Naked Mountain 4.14
Chrysalis 4.07
Aspen Dale 4.00
Hill Top Berry Farm 4.00
Keswick 4.00
Lovingston 4.00
Notaviva 4.00
Oak Crest 4.00
Rappahannock Cellars 4.00
Sugarleaf 4.00
Village 4.00
Virginia Mountain 4.00
Delaplane Cellars 3.93
Shenandoah 3.93
Vintage Ridge 3.93
Hartwood 3.93
Belle Mount 3.86
Bluemont 3.86
Chester Gap 3.86
Lake Anna 3.86
Sunset Hills 3.86
Doukenie 3.86
Potomac Point 3.86
Miracle Valley 3.79
Breaux 3.79
Corcoran 3.71
Crushed Cellars 3.71
Bloxom 3.64
Ingleside 3.64
Barrel Oak 3.64
Loudoun Valley 3.57
Swedenburg 3.57
Jefferson 3.50
Paradise Springs 3.50
Three Fox 3.50
Cross Keys 3.50
Gray Ghost 3.36
Piedmont 3.29
Rockbridge 3.29
Prince Michel 3.21
Barboursville 3.14
Chateau Morrisette 3.14
Kluge Estate (closed) 3.14
Pearmund 3.07
Tarara 2.93
Horton 2.64
Williamsburg 2.50
Linden 2.36