Barboursville Vineyards

Virginia Wine Country: Washington Post Travel Feature

Today’s Washington Post Travel section is all about Virginia Wine Country! What a treat to see, and about time in my opinion. If you still have the chance, grab it as the photos are beautiful and there’s lots of great info. If not, here’s a list of the articles with links to enjoy online.

The articles calls out many of the great ones, including some of my favorites…

And here’s a handy chart they included to help in your Virginia Wine Country exploring.

Cheers to all the great things Virginia Wine Country has to offer!

Virginia Governor’s Cup Gold: Best Wines of Virginia Named for 2013

Virginia’s top wines were named a few weeks ago with 2013 Virginia Wineries Association’s Governor’s Cup top honors going to Barboursville Vineyards’ 2009 Octagon 12th Edition. Virginia currently ranks fifth in the number of wineries in the nation with 230 and 93 of the wineries submitted 377 red and white entries for this year’s competition.

Barboursville Vineyards 2009 Octagon 12th Edition is a Bordeaux-style Meritage (70 percent Merlot, 15 percent Cabernet Franc, 10 percent Petit Verdot, and 5 percent Cabernet Sauvignon) that’s made in only the best vintage years. It’s the fourth Governor’s Cup that Barboursville’s won, but the first for the Octagon, which Governor McDonnell called “one of Virginia’s most iconic red wines.”

Governor Bob McDonnell presented the award at the Virginia Wineries Association’s Governor’s Cup Gala. Governor McDonnell championed major changes to the Virginia Governor’s Cup competition in 2011 that made it one of the most stringent and comprehensive wine competitions in the United States.

The 2013 Virginia Governor’s Cup Competition was conducted over two weeks of tasting. The preliminary tastings were held over ten days at the Capital Wine School in Washington DC, while the final round of tastings was held at the Jefferson Hotel in Richmond. The Governor’s Cup award winner was selected from the 2013 Governor’s Cup Case, the top 12 scoring wines of the competition. The other 11 wines…

Cooper Vineyards: 2010 Petit Verdot Reserve
King Family Vineyards: 2010 Meritage
Lovingston Winery: 2009 Josie’s Knoll Estate Reserve
Philip Carter Winery: 2010 Cleve
Pollak Vineyards: 2009 Cabernet Franc Reserve
Potomac Point Vineyard and Winery: 2010 Richland Reserve Heritage
Rappahannock Cellars: 2010 Meritage
RdV Vineyards: 2010 Rendezvous
RdV Vineyards: 2010 Lost Mountain
Sunset Hills Vineyard: 2010 Mosaic
Trump Winery: 2008 Sparkling Rose

Accepting for Barboursville Vineyards was Luca Paschina, Barboursville’s General Manager and Winemaker. “It has been a pleasure and a reward to follow the evolution of the 2009 vintage of Octagon. Since harvest I took notice of its promising characters, and I was not shy to share with many that it was destined to be among the best wines I will ever produce in my life,” said Luca. “The Virginia Governor’s Cup award is an honor and further validates the character of a wine that has already won 90 points at Wine Enthusiast, the Gold Medal of the Beverage Testing Institute in Chicago, of the Winemaker’s Challenge and Critics Challenge in California, and the Platinum Medal of the Sommelier Challenge, also in California.”

Barboursville Vineyards is located in the Monticello American Viticulture Area of Central Virginia, in and around the Charlottesville region. The historic Virginia winery is located on the estate of James Barbour, former Governor of Virginia, in Barboursville. The winery was founded in 1976 by Gianni Zonin, a prominent Italian winemaker whose family has roots in Italian viticulture going back to 1821. The Zonin Group is based in Vicenza, Italy. Barboursville is Zonin’s sole American venture.

Noticeably missing from this year’s winner list…white wine and Virginia’s offiical white variety, Viognier. There’s been much talk about it online. Frank Morgan of Drink What You Like spoke to Virginia Governor’s Cup competition head judge, Jay Youmans, MW on the topic. Jay said, “It is not that Viognier has performed poorly; it has more to do with the fact that many of the reds simply reflect the strength of the 2007, 2009, and 2010 vintages. While Viognier may perform well in Virginia, it is not as commercially important in the global market as full-bodied red blends.”

Gold Cup winner 2009 Octagon 12th Edition, along with the other 11 highest scoring wines above, will comprise the Governor’s Case, and serve as drinkable marketing ambassadors for the local industry throughout the year.

The Virginia wine industry continues it’s unprecedented growth. Sales of Virginia wine reached a record high in fiscal year 2012 with more than 485,000 cases, or more than 5.8 million bottles, sold. Virginia is also the nation’s fifth largest wine grape producer. According to a recently released economic impact study, the Virginia wine industry employs more than 4,700 and contributes almost $750 million to the Virginia economy on an annual basis.

For more information on all the winners, here’s a great site from Virginia Wine.

Congratulations to the 2013 winners!

It’s Virginia Wine Month: A Look at Virginia’s Official Grape, Viognier

It’s Virginia Wine Month! With nineteen days left in October, there’s still time to discover your local Virginia crush…which one of the 210 wineries AND which grape variety?

One of my favorite grape varieties is Virginia’s official grape, Viognier. A grape and wine variety originating in the French region of Condrieu in Northern Rhône, Viognier grows very well in Virginia’s climate and soil. Typically a dry or slightly off dry white wine with a lovely bouquet of tropical fruit, pear and honey in nose and taste. Horton Vineyards helped put Viognier on the map in Virginia with its first vintage in 1992 which received many accolades.

At last week’s Virginia Wine Summit, there was a panel discussion about Viognier…why this grape makes a great wine in Virginia and what the characteristics are. Wines represented on the panel were all lovely with slight variations…

Overall sentiments from the panel, which included Jennifer Blosser (Director of Sales and Hospitality at Breaux Vineyards), Matthieu Finot (winemaker at King Family Vineyards) and Stephen Barnard (winemaker at Keswick Vineyards), were this…

  • Viognier in Virginia tends to be closer to the French Old World style of the wine than the often heavier New World California style.
  • Aromatics express themselves very nicely thanks to Virginia’s climate and soil.
  • There’s lots of variation with the variety based on the year’s conditions which is a great thing for Virginia.
  • One of biggest challenges with the grape is acidity. Achieving balance in Virginia’s climate is tough, and all wineries agreed, they acidify the wine if needed. As Luca Paschina, Winemaker and General Manager at Barboursville Vineyards, attending the discussion said, “Why not add acid if the wine needs it? It’s like a chef that adds salt or lemon juice to a recipe if it needs it.”
  • Viognier is a great example of how Virginia wines are a bridge between West Coast wines and European wines.

Tasting the wines and listening to the discussion, you could see, taste and hear why this is a great official grape for Virginia, a distinguishing variety for the state.

As Jennifer Blosser put it best, “Viogner is like Chardonnay with perfume and heels.”

Get out their and discover your local crush!

It’s Virginia Wine Month: Recommendations from the Locals

It’s October which means it’s Virginia Wine Month! With 210 wineries and 31 days in the month, there’s lots to explore.

To celebrate this 24th annual event, I’ll be sharing Virginia wineries and their wines with you throughout the month.

Let’s start with recommendations from ‘local winos,’ including myself, as collected by Northern Virginia Magazine for their October issue, all about Virginia wine. Check out all the others in the magazine and online.



Cheers to Virginia Wine Month!


Virginia Wine Evening with the President

Our Founding Father President Washington and his wife Martha opened their lovely Mount Vernon Estate this weekend for their annual Spring Wine Festival & Sunset Tour. Friday night was the perfect evening for a celebration of Virginia wine with a fruit and cheese picnic overlooking the Potomac River.

President Washington opened the evening from the piazza with a toast to what has been 200+ years in the making in our home state of Virginia, the burgeoning wine industry, now over 200 wineries strong. Seventeen wineries were on hand under the big tent to pour for the crowd…AmRhein Wine Cellars, Barboursville Winery, Barrel Oak Winery, Chester Gap Cellars, DelFosse Winery, Desert Rose Winery, Fabbioli Cellars, Fox Meadow Winery, Gray Ghost Vineyards, Hiddencroft Vineyards, Horton Vineyards, James River Cellars, Philip Carter Winery, Prince Michel Winery, Rockbridge Vineyard, Veritas Vineyard & Winery and Wintergreen Winery.

Guests also had the chance to see Washington’s rarely open basement and root cellar where wine was stored (not quite as impressive as Thomas Jefferson’s 😉 ).

I sipped some of my favorites as we hung out on the lawn for the evening…Veritas Winery Rosé and Sauvignon Blanc, Horton Vineyards Sparkling Viognier (Virginia’s official grape) and even had a chance to taste Barboursville Vineyards new 2011 Vermentino!

Fun new wine discovery of the evening was the only one-year old Desert Rose Ranch & Winery attending their first Virginia tasting event with a few of their wines like Hitch Hollow 2010 and Ole Moo Moo 2010. Very promising wines! And the folks couldn’t be nicer. They grew up on a large cattle ranch in the high desert country of Eastern Oregon where homemade wine making was part of their family tradition. I really look forward to getting down to Hume to visit them.

Cheers to wonderful Virginia wine evening with old and new friends!