Did you ever think you could live in a place too long? Too long from the perspective of taking for granted a beautiful purple Phlox covered countryside with vineyards, mountains and history just a short drive down the road from… Super Walmart? Thanks to my friend and social networking mentor, Lewis Nelson, blog writer of Family of Five, he arranged an afternoon outing with Fernando Franco, viticulturist at Barboursville Vineyards. It was a reminder and welcome opportunity to stop and appreciate the beginnings of Spring in Central Virginia.
Lewis, his lovely wife Holly and precious daughter Gwen introduced me to their friend , Fernando who is not only a highly esteemed viticulturist but a salsa dancer and V.P. of the Charlottesville Salsa Club. With a resume of 30 years of growing grapes and a disarming knowledge of Agronomy, we had a real expert to explain the intricacies of wine making. Originally from El Salvador, Fernando spent over a decade at Prince Michel and in Napa as a vintner and viticulturist before taking over the vineyards at Barboursville thirteen years ago. Fernando opened up the conversation by hospitably pouring us a glass of Sauvignon Blanc followed by a delicious Viognier. Most of my experience has been with Barboursville red wines and their dessert wines, Phileo and Malvaxia, but I would have purchased either one of the whites we tasted.
Our tour started in the large tasting room, a double-sided fireplace separating it from the gift shop. Souvenir shopping is fun here with lots of wine related novelty items that are easy to pack in a small carry-on suitcase. The Octagon room has Octagon wine barrels on the floor and a photo history and memorabilia on the surrounding walls. At the center of the room is a table set with a floral display flanked by bottles of their signature award-winning Octagon wine, a meritage of the winery’s finest Bordeaux varietals.
Octagon represents the eight sided architectural style used in the central hall designed by Thomas Jefferson for James Barbour’s plantation house. Unfortunately the home burned in Christmas 1884 and we are left with the ruins to contemplate a bygone era in Virginia history.
We then passed into a long hall of stainless steel vats. Immense vats, especially in comparison to our smaller boutique wineries in the Charlottesville area. This is definitely the granddaddy of vat rooms in our area! We tasted some red blends straight from the vat including a Cabernet Franc that was excellent!
Afterwards, Fernando offered us a ride to the newest area being cultivated at Barboursville, the Goodlow Mountain vineyard. Hopping into his vehicle, we drove off the property and back on to the south end, passing by some of their oldest vines.
36,000 New Vines
The 2011 plans for the vineyards call for 24 acres with 36,000 new vines to be planted which will increase the total planted acreage by 20 percent! 3 acres will be devoted to their newest varietal, planting 4,600 vines of Petite Syrah. The conditions of Goodlow Mountain vineyard are similar to those found in the northern Rhone Valley of France where the Petite Syrah thrives. Fernando knows his vines and feels “this site maybe the most perfect site developed so far.”
Completing our tour and my friends off in their own directions, I was left to wander the grounds on my own, exploring rooms and ruins on a sunny afternoon. The following are some of my favorite photographs. If you are in need of a classic backdrop for a photo shoot, this is definitely the location! Brides, pay attention!
Look for a future post about Palladio, the Five Star Restaurant at Barboursville!
Good Bye Barboursville, We’ll be Back! Hopefully, you will be too!