Clearly one of the main reasons forty wine writers came together for Taste Camp 2012 in Loudoun County, Virginia, DC’s Wine Country, was to swirl, sip, spit, taste Virginia wine. Throughout the 48 hour journey across this wine country, we had the opportunity to taste wines from 28 wineries, either at their winery or at Grand Tastings.

A special thank you to ALL the wineries that came out to pour for us or hosted us at their winery…

In total, I tasted from 26 wineries, about 113 wines. Of those, I’ve narrowed it down to 11 stand outs to share with you. Let’s start with the wineries that I tasted for the first time at Taste Camp…

Ankida Ridge Vineyards Pinot Noir 2010

  • Variety: 100% Pinot Noir
  • Aroma: Cherry and blackberry
  • Taste: Delicious blackberry and raspberry red fruits with nice balanced tannins
  • Price: $35 (only 92 cases made so get it while you can!)
  • My thoughts: People say Pinot Noir can’t be done in Virginia but Congratulations to Ankida Ridge! Their first vintage is showing very nicely. This winery was one of my treats of the weekend. Sitting an hour south of Charlottesville in what they are calling “Virginia’s Little Burgundy,” they are growing only the Burgundy classics, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Ankida, an ancient Sumerian word meaning ‘where heaven and earth join,’ the lovely Vrooman Family was pouring their wines for us and I can’t wait to get down to see them!

Stinson Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc 2011

  • Variety: 100% Sauvignon Blanc
  • Aroma: Crisp floral and grapefruit
  • Taste: Passionfruit, grapefruit with grassy notes
  • Price: $21.99
  • My thoughts: “One concrete egg and two stainless barrels.” That’s what Rachel Stinson, winemaker, said the recipe for the delicious crisp Virginia Sauvignon Blanc was. Love it! This was another great new winery find of Taste Camp. Located in a historic spot in Crozet outside Charlottesville, the unique farm store tasting room is open for visitors and a tasting with Rachel and her fabulous line up of wines is worth the visit.

Zephaniah Farm Vineyard Chambourcin Reserve 2010

  • Variety: 100% Chambourcin
  • Aroma: Bouquet of berries with hints of violet
  • Taste: Rich red fruit and plum
  • Price:$27
  • My thoughts: The Hatch family farm for 62 year finally planted grapes on the land and had their first vintage in 2007. With only 800 cases per year, according to Bill Hatch, they are focused on getting the quality right first. The Chambourcin was a great example!  This is definitely the first time I’ve tasted this grape, made as a rich red wine and liked it! Nice work to Bill Hatch and his son Tremain.

Vint Hill Rosé 2011

  • Variety: 100% Chambourcin
  • Aroma & Taste: Strawberry bouquet
  • My thoughts: Vint Hill Craft Winery was founded in 2009 by veteran Virginia winemaker Chris Pearmund of Pearmund Cellars. It was great to meet Chris and taste his wines including this nice one made at the ‘custom crush’ facility near Warrenton in the historic barns at Vint Hill Farms Station. I’m a big fan of rosé and this one made of Chambourcin, a great use of the grape, is yummy!

Rappahannock Cellars Viognier 2011

  • Variety: 100% Viognier
  • Aroma: Citrus and floral
  • Taste: Fruity peach and orange with hint of oak
  • Price: $23
  • My thoughts: The Delmare Family came to Virginia from California with wine making experience and have now been producing Virginia wine for 10 years. Located between Front Royal and Flint Hill in Huntly, Virginia, the family was drawn to this spot at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The three wines we tasted were very nice, especially this example of Virginia’s official grape, Viognier.

In my next article, I share stand outs from many of the wineries I’ve covered before.

Cheers to these new Virginia finds!