Thursday, September 6, 2012

Winery Spotlight: Grayhaven Winery

Located midway between Richmond and Charlottesville, a few minutes from I-64, Grayhaven Winery is one of the most unique wineries in the state. Unique, not only for its wine (spotlighting intriguing white and red blends), but its location. Driving into the vineyards, you think you've gone back in time to the Woodstock era. The tasting room is a curious little building that you'd see in Lord of the Rings, and it's tight inside, but that adds to the tasting experience you'll have at Grayhaven. You may be greeted by "Jiggy Pig," a French bulldog who won the esteemed "Virginia Winery Dog of the Year" award last year. Deon Abrams, the winemaker from the wine country of South Africa, or his wife, will guide you through a slow-paced, sit down tasting. They have a few typical Virginia offerings - a nicely balanced Chardonnay, a lively Seyval Blanc - but the wines they poured for us were mostly blends with "table wine" labels. And these are not your typical table wines. Every one was unlike anything we've had in Virginia. On the white end of the spectrum, "Voyager" was our favorite, a blend of grapes you're more likely to see in upstate New York, or California: Vidal Blanc, Cayuga White, Golden Muscat and Chardonnel. Evidently the climate and soil in this part of the state allows for growing these varietals. All of their wines are made from grapes grown on the property. On the red side, Grayhaven is rightfully proud of its signature grape, Touriga, a varietal from Portugal and mainly used for Port wines. That should give you an indication of this varietal's richness, and alcohol content. It reminded us of the Tannat offered by Chateau O'Brien, albeit not as complex (or pricey). A perfect prime rib wine. Two red blends were offered: Trekker, with its notes of wild cherry and spice, and Rendezvous, a claret style blend, with less tannins and a lighter body than Trekker. Outside the tasting cabin, you can sit on the patio surrounded by their koi pond, and watch the butterflies and honing in on the numerous flowers (including a potted lime tree). There are horses on the property and the horses are allowed to run free. The large property includes a pond and several benches. There is a rustic vibe here that reminded us of Wisteria Farm Winery near Luray. Ask the owners about a low budget movie made here (or as they told us, "lowest budget"): Attack of the Vegan Zombies. The title describes the plot to a tee so let your imagination run wild. Grayhaven Winery is worth a pit stop on your next drive down U.S. highway 522, which is the easiest way to get there from northern Virginia. Catch highway 522 near Culpeper and just follow it down to the Mineral/Cuckoo area.

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