Breaux 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!

It’s Regional Wine Week – Drink Local!

And with wine produced in every state of the U.S., we can all participate!

Regional Wine Week is the sixth annual celebration of the growth of the U.S. wine industry beyond the West Coast. As co-founder and Washington Post wine writer Dave McIntyre said this week in his article, “It is sponsored by Drink Local Wine, an effort formed in 2008 to draw attention to the impressive wines being made right around here — wherever “here” happens to be.”

While “here” for me is Virginia (I’m enjoying a White Hall Vineyards 2009 Merlot as I write this), on Monday at Siema Wines Portfolio Tasting I was able to taste a great selection of wines from the lesser known wine states with Andrew Stover of Vino 50.

Vino50™ celebrates American winemaking at its best, with a focus on eclectic and unknown American wine regions. Thanks to Andrew’s Vino 50 many of the great wines across the U.S. are getting out there. In addition to tasting two of my favorite Virginia wineries at the event, Breaux Vineyards & Boxwood Estate Winery, I tasted from Missouri, Texas, Colorado, New Mexico and New York. There were many great ones among the 20+ but here were my two favorites…

Sawtooth Winery Tempranillo 2009

  • Variety: 100% Tempranillo from Snake River Valley, Idaho
  • Aroma: Plum, hints of spice and cigar
  • Taste: Medium bodied red with nice balance of black cherry and oak
  • Price: $25.00
  • My thoughts: Who knew? Wine in Idaho AND Trempranillo!? Sawtooth has a great line up and this was one of my favorite tastings.

Stone Hill Winery Blanc de Blancs 2008

  • Variety: primarily Vidal grapes
  • Aroma: Toasty
  • Taste: Crisp, soft with hints of floral and vanilla
  • Price: $18.99
  • My thoughts: Yum! Bubbles from Missouri! This sparkling wine is made in the traditional French method. And is a big award winner! Stone Hill Winery has a great story…”Nestled among the rolling hillsides of the Missouri River, in a countryside reminiscent of Germany’s Rhine Valley, is the little town of Hermann. Perched prominently on one of these hills, with a commanding view of the village, is Stone Hill Winery. Established in 1847, Stone Hill grew to be the second largest winery in the United States. The wines were world renowned, winning gold medals in eight world’s fairs, including Vienna in 1873 and Philadelphia in 1876. By the turn of the century, the winery was shipping 1,250,000 gallons of wine per year. Then came Prohibition…” Check them out.

Cheers to great things happening across the U.S. in regional wine!

New Summer White Grape Favorite: Seyval Blanc

As the end of July approached, I found my usual favorite summer white wines, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio, growing a bit tired on the palette.

Then at a wine tasting in Virginia wine country, Early Mountain Vineyards turned me on to a white variety I haven’t had much of…Seyval Blanc. The 2012 Lovingston Winery Seyval Blanc, while similar to a Sauvignon Blanc, had more floral and citrus notes.  So now I’m out trying more.

Seyval Blanc is a hybrid grape variety, meaning it’s the breeding of other ‘parent’ grape variety vines. Seyval Blanc was originally released in 1921 in Saint Vallier, Drome, France, where it was known as Seyve-Villard, named for its creators, Bertille Seyve and his son-in-law Villard.

Seyval Blanc has characteristic citrus aroma and tastes, but also more minerality making it similar to a white Burgundy from France.

While today the European Union does not allow hybrid grape variety wines, you’ll find Seyval Blanc grown mainly in England and the east coast of the United States in New York’s Finger Lakes region and in Virginia. Some refer to it as “East Coast Chardonnay.”

Last weekend at Breaux Vineyards in Virginia, I tasted their Seyval Blanc and bought several bottles for home.

Breaux Vineyards 2012 Jolie Blond

  • Variety: 100% Seyval Blanc
  • Aroma: Citrus, white floral
  • Taste: Crisp, dry white grapefruit with nice body and floral notes
  • Price: $18
  • My thoughts: The name, Jolie Blond, is nod to the Breaux family’s Cajun roots, meaning “pretty blond.” It’s a great white wine for summer’s favorite dishes, like the barbecue chicken I’m enjoying tonight.

Cheers to a new end of summer white, Seyval Blanc!



It’s Regional Wine Week: Drink Local!

This week marks the fifth annual Regional Wine Week. It’s a week put together by Drink Local Wine encouraging wine writers to write about wines from the Other 47 States (wines that aren’t from California, Washington or Oregon…the biggest wine producing states in the country) to encourage you readers to drink wines from the Other 47!  With wine now produced in all 47 states, everyone has options.

Drink local for me means Virginia. If you’re looking for some Virginia wine to explore this week, here are some of my recent posts for recommendations.

There’s also a great event this Saturday, the Thomas Jefferson Wine Festival at Mr. Jefferson’s personal retreat Poplar Forest, where you can sample from fourteen Virginia wineries and meet Gabrielle Rausse, the father of modern Virginia wine.

Cheers to the other 47! What’s your favorite?

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!