Barboursville Vineyards

Wine Pairings for Thanksgiving Dinner

It’s that time of year. Thanksgiving dinner shopping and choosing wines to serve with it. There’s lots of advice out there this week on-line so thought I’d share my pairing guidance.

Whether you chose red or white wine, I recommend serving both, the general advice is pair simple wines (lighter and less complex) with complex meals (meaning rich foods, heavy spices and herbs) and pair complex wines with simple meals. Thanksgiving dinner is a little of both so totally up to you! I’m going with simple wines for our big dinner at friend’s house…probably a bottle or more of each category below.


Any special meal should start and end with bubbles! You could go high-end Champagne or serve a bottle of Prosecco or other sparking wine.

Red Wines

Red wines with low tannins are suggested for Thanksgiving so a lighter bodied fruity wine to go with the richness of the meal.

  • Beaujolais: Beaujolais Nouveau, a red wine made in less than 10 weeks from the Gamay grape in Burgundy, France, is meant to be enjoyed immediately upon its release last week (always the 3rd Thursday of November). It’s a light bodied fruity, easy to drink wine. Georges Dubouef’s is the classic you’ll see everywhere ($11). Or you could go with a fuller bodied Beaujolais-Village from Dubouef or Louis Jadot (either $14).
  • Pinot Noir: Another great option is go American with Oregon’s red wine specialty, Pinot Noir, made of ripe red fruit for lots of berry and juicy flavor. Last weekend I discovered Lachini Vineyard‘s amazing Pinot Noir wines. Their 2008 Estate Pinot Noir was full of raspberry and white pepper with taste of sweet fruit, floral and dark chocolate ($40). King Estate is another great option…their namesake Signature Pinot Noir ($30) or their Acrobat ($19).

White Wines

White wines with bright flavors are perfect for Thanksgiving dinner.

Snooth and are great resources for your wine ordering online.

Cheers to Thanksgiving week with great wine and food!

“Napa is for auto parts and Virginia is for wine”

That’s what Virginia’s Governor Robert McDonnell said at Thursday night’s Virginia Wine Month celebration hosted by the Virginia Tourism Office and Virginia Wine Board at Lincoln Restaurant in Washington, DC. 🙂

Unfortunately I was out of town so couldn’t attend but luckily Virginia Wine TV covered it so I was able to catch the highlights thanks to their great coverage!

The event featured four great wineries you can put on your list for this last weekend of Virginia Wine Month…

The Governor’s remarks also included…

  • Virginia wine sales increased +13% last year and this year already up +11%.
  • Virginia is taking it internationally not only with sales in the UK but shows in Europe last year, Asia this year and India coming up.
  • The newest vines in Virginia are in his backyard with 10 Chambourcin vines.
  • Even though Virginia is #5 in the country in wine production, look out #1 California here we come!

All in all a fun evening celebrating the continued growing success of Virginia wine now up to 200 wineries.

Virginia is for wine lovers. Cheers!

Lots to Celebrate this Virginia Wine Month

Virginia Wine Month kicked off yesterday 1 October and with almost 200 wineries now in the state, there are lots of ways to celebrate.

Virginia Wine’s website features all the ways to ‘discover your local crush,’ this year’s theme:

No matter what part of the state you’re in, there are wine festivals going on with the backdrop of autumn’s foliage. Virginia Tourism’s website has a comprehensive list.

And don’t miss Virginia Tourism’s Virginia is for Lovers oversized LOVE artwork at Blenheim Vineyards outside Charlottesville. They beat out 22 other Virginia wineries to feature the LOVE. Snap your photo on the sign and enjoy the fabulous Blenheim wines in their tasting room. In celebration, Blenheim Vineyards’ winemaker Kirsty Harmon will offer 10 percent off all wine purchased in October if the customer mentions the LOVE campaign.

Cheers to Virginia Wine Month!

Nine Virginia Wines Worth the Sip

My goal at Sunday’s 36th Annual Virginia Wine Festival was two part…1) Buy a few great examples of Virginia wine for my upcoming girls’ weekend, and 2) Discover a few new Virginia wineries I haven’t tried.  Success on both fronts!!

The two-day event held in Centreville, Virginia (about 30 miles west of Washington, DC) brought together 40+ wineries sampling wine, workshops and seminars presented by the Atlantic Seaboard Wine Association, and 100 artisans and vendors. Sunday was a great day to attend … smaller crowds = tasting table waits.

After visiting 12 winery tents and tasting 75 wines, I bought 9 bottles to share with my girlfriends. The wines below should give them, many who are skeptical about Virginia wine, a great taste of our state’s offerings. This is also a great list for those of you new to Virginia wine!

* Montdomaine

This was a great new discovery….a winery with a long Virginia history re-introduced in 2008. The wines are made by Michael Shaps of Michael Shaps Wines and Virginia Wineworks.

  • 2009 Chardonnay: Citrus aromas and taste, minimal oak, a result of the old French Oak cooperage. $20

* Breaux Vineyards

  • Equation Merlot “X”: This Merlot blend with 12% Cabernet Sauvignon and 4% Petit Verdot is a fabulous wine! Red fruit aromas followed by a dark red fruit taste that’s round and smooth. $15

* Horton Vineyards

  • 2008 Cabernet Franc: Aromas of violets pair with spicy, peppery, cassis flavor. $15

* Barboursville Vineyards

It’s hard to showcase Virginia wine without the great wines from Barboursville so I had to pick up some of their festival offerings.

  • Barboursville Brut: This was my first time tasting their sparkling wine. A very nice blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes. Fruit aromas and a great pear taste. $18
  • 2010 Chardonnay: This wine is aged in stainless steel creating a crisp Chardonnay with apple aroma and flavor, and a touch of pear and lemon. $11
  • 2010 Chardonnay Reserve: This is a great contrast to the regular Chardonnay as its aged seven months in barrel creating a rich and complex Chardonnay with heavier apple aroma and flavor now adding pear and vanilla to the mix. $15
  • 2010 Pinot Grigio: True Italian style…aromas and flavor of apple, pear with a touch of pineapple. $15
  • 2009 Viognier Reserve: Great example of Virginia’s official grape. Smooth tropical fruit and floral aromas and flavor.$22
  • 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve: This wine is only created in the best vintages. Strong berry aromas combine with pepper and currant flavors. $30

(I’ll also take a few Virginia bottles from my wine rack this weekend…Blenheim Vineyards, Virginia Wineworks and Breaux. More to come after our tasting!)

Tomorrow an overview of the informative Wine Judging Seminar I attended at the Festival.

Proud to be a Virginia Wine Lover: 2011 Wine Bloggers Conference Highlights

Last weekend I was extremely proud to see my home state of Virginia roll out the red carpet as host of the fourth annual North American Wine Bloggers Conference in beautiful Charlottesville, Virginia (also home of my alma mater University of Virginia). The three-day event brought together wine bloggers and wine industry leaders giving them the opportunity to see there’s lots of wine to love in Virginia, the fifth largest wine producing state in the U.S. with over 193 wineries.

This was my first year attending the conference and I had some great experiences. My highlights from the 2011 Conference…

* The Wine

As you can imagine the wine was plentiful! Over the three days, I sampled 126 wines, at least that’s how many I captured in my notes.

My favorite wineries continued to be my favorite…Blenheim Vineyards, Barboursville Vineyards, Horton Vineyards, Virginia Wineworks and King Family Vineyards in Virginia and King Estate Winery in Oregon. It was great to see others enjoying them as well!

I also discovered some new favorite wines…

* The People

Mixing and mingling, networking… there was plenty of it from morning until late into the night! It was very cool to hear from and meet wine speakers/authors I regularly read like Jancis Robinson (even got her to sign my World Atlas of Wine), Eric Asimov of the New York Times, Dave McIntyre of The Washington Post. They shared insights and tips for those of us in the wine writing/blogging world.

It was also cool to meet and/or reconnect with people that work with or make some of my favorite wines…

  • Kirsty Harmon, the super cool, knowledgable Winemaker and General Manager of Blenheim Vineyards,
  • Luca Paschina, the famous Italian Winemaker from Barboursville Vineyards,
  • @Kobrand_Wine, @aburich, @fermented, @RachelTaylor Chi, @NewHorizonWines, @gwendolwine, @camilaxavier, @TheGoodWineGuru, @epicureanways, @ReverseWineSnob, @1WineDude, @DrinkWhatULike, @WCWineGuy, @winecompass, @OddBacchus, @suburbanwino, @vitisdivine, @GregoryDalPiaz, @Diane_Letulle, @Tabarrini, @WinebowWine, @WineHarlots, @VaWineInMyPkt, @Stevenraye, @mariepayton, @SwirlGirls, @palatepress, @WinesofCroatia, @melanie0, @krischislett (used their twitter handle so you can check them out),
  • and I was THRILLED to meet Gabriele Rausse, Father of Modern Virginia, and drink his wine with him!

* Into Wine Country

Charlottesville is the center of the Monticello Wine Trail, one of 22 in the state, and the Monticello appellation. It is here that it all started for Virginia wine with Thomas Jefferson planting his first grapes in 1807 at Monticello. So it was only appropriate that Friday evening’s Virginia Wine Reception was held at Monticello. We sampled wine from 32 Virginia wineries on Jefferson’s lawn (he even made an appearance 😉 ) and checked out his newly reconstructed wine cellar. (We also did a lot of sweating in the 100+ degree heat.)

On Saturday morning, attendees boarded numbered buses not knowing their destinations to visit one to three wineries on the Monticello Wine Trail. I got on Bus 3 … the BEST…with a great group of people AND the chance to visit two of my favorite wineries, Virginia Wineworks/ Michale Shaps and Bleinheim Vineyards, who gave us the royal treatment, and a new discovery in First Colony Vineyards.

* Aromas of Wine

In this interactive session we learned ways to sniff out the differences in wines from different regions through a blind tasting of Winebow Wines. Sheri Sauter Morano MW talked to us about how our sense of smell is much more acute than our sense of taste and in wine there are thousands of scents to uncover. I’ll write a full post on this cool session.

* Live Wine Blogging

This was a first for me. It’s like speed dating…you stay at one table for one hour and 12 wineries come by your table for five minutes each to tell you about their wine. It was a lot of fun. Check out my posts on the two sessions… Live Wine Blogging on Reds…it’s like speed dating! and Live Wine Blogging on Whites & Rosés…ready, set, go!

A BIG thank you to organizer Zephyr Adventures and premier sponsors Virginia Wine Marketing Office, Virginia Tourism Corporation and Charlottesville/Albemarle County Convention & Visitors Bureau. And thank you to my sponsor Snooth, a revolutionary web-based social wine shopping experience, who held a Wine Itinerary Writing Contest for conference attendees that I won!

In upcoming posts I’ll share more on my favorite wines, wineries, our wine country tour and the Aromas of Wine seminar.

Cheers to Virginia!