Thursday, July 19, 2012

Fauquier Winery Spotlight: Hume Vineyards

In an effort to support the Fauquier County Wineries, which may be severely impacted by the ordinance passed on July 12, 2012, the Notebook will begin a spotlight on the wineries in the county. Come out and enjoy. These wineries are about 30 minutes further from the more popular spots in Loudoun County, but well worth your driving time (plus you can stop and admire, and photograph, all the cows, horses, sheep and goats that you want! Stick it to the stuffy wealthy land owners in the county!) "A little Virginia winery with big ambition" is the slogan for Hume Vineyards, and that just about sums it up. Located about a mile down the road from Philip Carter Winery, and not far from Naked Mountain, Hume Vineyards opened its doors in mid 2010; a partnership with Breaux got the little Virginia winery firmly established, and now the location has impressive vineyards on both sides of its quaint, rustic tasting cabin. As with most Virginia wineries bordering the Blue Ridge, the views are incredible. The front of the tasting cabin offers rolling foothills, and the rear of the cabin boasts the view of the mountains in the distance. There are ample picnic tables with umbrellas and a covered porch in front of the tasting cabin. The wine is superb. Further proof that Virginia is coming a long way with its reds, Hume focuses on Bordeaux varietals, delicious, bold and earthy: Cab Franc, with its notices of licorice; Cab Sauv; Petit Verdot; and Merlot. For the hot summer days, a bottle of deep red may not be the ticket, so Hume has that side of the spectrum fulfilled: Sauvignon Blanc, a honeysuckle-like Viognier (dry!), and a terrific rosé. Judging from the number of guests during a recent freak hailstorm, word has gotten out about the pleasures of Hume Vineyards. We filmed this storm and will be posting footage of the storm in future Notebook entries. For now, enjoy the introduction to Hume Vineyards:

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Winery Spotlight: Sugarleaf Vineyards

Located off state route 20, south of Charlottesville on the way to Scottsville, Sugarleaf Vineyards is just one of many locations that makes the Monticello Wine Trail so special. An extremely narrow gravel road will take you to a grove situated between giant oak trees, mountains, and a large pond. (This narrow road will test your winery hopping mettle, so as the Boy Scouts once said, "Be Prepared.") Sugarleaf started about four years ago, and their wines at one time were above the norm in price. But now seasoned, the vineyard owners dropped their prices a bit to compete with other neighboring wineries, but their quality has not suffered. This is still the same incredible wine served several years ago in the Obama White House. The chardonnay is crisp with a hint of oak, but not overly oaked. Imagine a dry wine version of butter pecan ice cream, minus the sugar, and you wouldn't be too far off. Their vidal blanc, served extra cold, is full of citrus flavor and perfect for these hot July afternoons. As for the reds, not an under average one in the bunch. Our favorite was the pure petit verdot, with licorice and raisin notes. Don't overlook Sugarleaf on your next visit to the more well-known spots in this area of Charlottesville (First Colony, Cardinal Point, Jefferson). Buy a few bottles, admire the favorite tree of their parted former winemaker Dan Neumeister (who tragically died in a motorcycle crash a few years ago), and stay for the afternoon. Enjoy this video, with a cameo from the Sugarleaf resident dog:

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

A Critical Week for Fauquier County Wineries

To all lovers of Virginia wine: The many wineries of Fauquier County need your help. This week, a new farm winery ordinance is being voted on (Thursday evening, July 12), that could have a severe impact on their businesses. Although apparently the ordinance, if passed, will not require the wineries to completely close their tasting rooms, the new ordinance would limit business hours of operation from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. - similar to the California laws. Weddings, live bands, special winery dinners, and other events will be severely restricted. Many wineries depend on these types of events to recoup their investment. These folks took huge gambles in bringing wine to Northern Virginia, and clearly the powers that be in Fauquier are not as eager to embrace the Virginia Wine culture as nearby Loudoun, Culpeper or Rappahannock counties. According to Dan Mortland, owner of Fox Meadow Winery, Fauquier County is the home of many wealthy, conservative, "old money" residents, who "want Fauquier County to stay firmly in the 1950s." You can't stop progress - or population. The DC area has more than quadrupled in population since the days of Pleasantville, and these long time residents could always pull up stakes and move to southwest Virginia. Dan explained that residents are growing tired of "tourists" taking the winding country roads into the foothills of the Blue Ridge and "stopping at every pasture to take pictures of cows and horses." If the ruling is approved, the following wineries, all favorites in the state, could lose business to the point of having to close their doors permanently. We all know that these wineries are the ultimate "daycation" getaways from the Beltway bustle. Please take a few minutes to show your support for these wineries (these are just a few of the wineries that would be impacted): Barrel Oak Winery, Capitol Vineyards, Chateau O'Brien Winery, Cobbler Mountain Cellars, Delaplane Cellars, Desert Rose Ranch and Winery, Fox Meadow Winery, Hume Vineyards, Marterella Winery, Mediterranean Cellars, Miracle Valley Winery, Naked Mountain Winery, Philip Carter Winery, Three Fox Vineyards. Philip Carter Winery has set up a Twitter page containing a template for a letter that can be sent directly to the county Board of Supervisors. Visit their website for this information. Marterella Winery, which recently re-opened their tasting room outside of Warrenton after a tough four year legal battle with the county, provided a link to an online petition . Hopefully in a few weeks, we will be writing about how victorious these wineries were over the "old money" gruffness in Fauquier.