While many visitors may have been deterred, we decided to focus on the wine, as we’ve never really had a chance to try Virginian wineries.
By the time we arrived, around 11 in the morning, things were already busy. A dozen families waited to climb into the back of a monster truck for rides, the lawn in front of the historic farmstead was packed with picnic blankets for families listening to the live music, and the lines at the tasting tables were half a dozen deep.
The tastings were a wonderfully relaxed atmosphere. Families and groups of friends filtered into the horse paddock that served as the tasting area to spread out picnic blankets. Groups wandered from table to table under the large tents, quaffing wine in a manner more akin to a party than any sort of formal tasting. While there was little chance to chat with the vendors to learn the subtle nuances in their wine, there wasn’t anyone on the farm not enjoying themselves. And while plenty of wine was being drunk, no one was falling down by the time we left in the early evening. This is a good thing.
With 25 wineries offering up to six tastings, we couldn’t even scratch the surface of what was available. We did take away some important things from the day, however:
- High winds mean no hot air balloons.
- The best wines we tasted were blends. To me, this says that while Virginia is a newer wine region with younger vineyards, skilled winemakers are hard at work, and waiting for their vineyards to mature to full potential.
- The fall festival atmosphere of the event brought in a diverse crowd, and made for an interesting tasting. People of all ages, ethnicity, class distinctions, and an equal number of men and women enjoyed wine under one unified tent.
- Infusing wine with herbs brings a different sort of flavor to a wine. Sweet Sofia from Rebec Winery uses a Bulgarian recipe to make wine taste like a pairing unto itself.
- Fruit wines can come in more flavors than just berry. Just ask Peaks of the Otter Winery. Hot peppers make for some interesting wines, and pair amazing well with spray cheese or followed with a chaser.
- Chardonnay like the ones from Stone Mountain Vineyards and Cabernet Franc like those from North Mountain Vineyard were the wines of the day. Chardonnay is actually the #1 grape grown in Virginia.
- Lawn mower racing is a real thing, and is entertaining. Lives can be ruined by just one too-wide turn.
It was a great day to explore a new wine region, and try some wines from some quality small producers. We’re looking forward to finding some more Virginian wines!