THE WINE TOUR:
Central Virginia, rented a limo and surprised her husband with an additional guest - their son who is attending school in the area and one of the main reasons for celebrating in this part of Virginia.
Some wineries were favorites of the birthday couple and some chosen after watching the documentary "Vintage: The Winemakers Year" - a new film about the Virginia wine industry - specifically the Monticello wine region in Central Virginia - that traced the 2008 vintage from winter pruning through harvest. Considering these two factors, our first stop was to the Kluge Estate Winery Vineyard (which was founded in 1999, featured at the Clinton Wedding and is, unfortunately, in foreclosure) Our day was picnic perfect which made for a fine, sippable time outside
Our next stop was right up the road at "Veritas Winery", a family owned business that opened in June 2002."Although their name derives from the Roman historian, Pliny the Elder's observation: “In Vino Veritas” ~ “In Wine There Is Truth” - they believe that the truth in their wine is in their grapes." Our wines of choice for the day were:
Saddleback Chardonnay ~ modeled after the old "world" style from Chablis, France. The nose is clean showing aromas of ripe apples, honeydew melon and quince. The palate is medium bodied, layered with ripe tree fruits and the soft impressions of toast and spice from oak aging. Saddleback Chardonnay finishes with a backbone of minerality and balanced acidity.
The Harlequin Reserve Chardonnay ~ “Harlequin” is the multicolored symbol of fun, music and laughter that characterizes of Reserve Chardonnay. This wine is barrel fermented and barrel aged for 6 months which helps to create layers of ripe fruit tones with a wonderful mouth feel. Delicate aroma of candied apples, pears, grapefruit and honey balanced with nuances of vanilla and butterscotch. The palate is consistent with the nose yet bringing on subtle flavors of clove and lightly toasted oak. The finish is full and creamy and perfectly balanced with acidity helping to provide a grin of true satisfaction.
Cabernet Frac Reserve ~ Cabernet Franc Reserve is a wine that shows beautiful intensity of fruit while maintaining elegance and refinement. Ripe black cherry, cassis and hints of black pepper dominate the flavor with undertones of red currant and plum. The 18 month maturation time in French oak adds complexity in the form of caramel and vanilla. The wine has an elegant mouth feel with well integrated tannins and a long balanced finish.
The grapevines are within a stones throw from the wine shop and outdoor seating area. Since a walk after drinking and eating is always a welcome digestible idea, the setting is perfect for such an activity.
Afton Mountain Vineyards, one of Virginia's pioneer farm wineries with their oldest vines dating from the 1970's. There was a cancellation for a wine tasting so we were able to slide right into this canceled spot for a wee sip and a very small lesson on their vintages. At Afton Vineyards we were joined by another guest - my son - who is also attending school in the area, and who just recently become of drinking age. For this tasting we choose a bottle of Afton Petite Verdot ("which is aged a full 12 months in new French Oak. This 2009 dry red has subtle tannins, big dark fruit and black pepper. It is ready for drinking now but is suitable for aging as well. 100% Petit Verdot; a Bordeaux varietal typically used for blending, but is gaining favor as Virginia's best red") and a bottle of their Steel Chardonnay ("Fermented and aged in a stainless steel tank to show off the true taste of the Chardonnay grape. It is delicate, fruity, and crisp, with a citrus finish.")
The Ivy Inn Restaurant
after William Faulkner, a Southern aristocrat and distinguished University of Virginia “writer in residence.” In 1815, a fire destroyed the original Inn, which was built in the early 1700’s. A year later Jesse Pittman Lewis rebuilt the estate, adding several outbuildings including the present structure which now houses the Ivy Inn Restaurant. The kitchen, located in the back of the house, was formerly a tollhouse where weary travelers rested from their journeys between Richmond and Staunton. The University later acquired the several outbuildings and the Faulkner estate for guest housing and dining facilities. In 1893 the house was sold for only $3000 to James Kiblin, who was also granted 11 ¼ acres as part of the bill of sale. In 1901 it was sold to William H. Barlow, an attorney and engineer from England. The Barlow family owned the property until 1939 when William’s youngest son sold it to a University of Virginia professor of biology. Between 1940 and 1965 the house sold two more times and in 1973 the Ivy Inn restaurant was established in order to provide the community and visitors with a richly historical and elegant atmosphere for dining."
Our dinner here was AMAZING. The chef and owner, Angelo Vangelopoulos ~ uses the finest ingredients available from the central Virginia region and around the world, Angelo thoughtfully composes a daily menu of Locally-Inspired Seasonal American Cuisine, showcasing his classical training and cooking heritage. Angelo has developed wonderful relationships with many of central Virginia's fine farmers and growers, and helps to promote the idea of sustainable farming. I highly recommend a stop here if you're ever in the Charlottesville, Va. area.
HANDMADE THANK YOU GIFT FOR THE HOSTESS & HER BIRTHDAY BOY:
As a little thank you gift for the hostess and her birthday boy I drew and painted a pottery portrait plate which they can display or use as a serving piece on future wine tours. Inspiration provided by a photo of them in the limo.
A FEW RANDOM PICTURES FROM THE TRIP: