Pollak Merlot Harvest







5 Reasons to Visit Pollak Winery

DSC02627Seriously, do you need more than one? I certainly don’t! I noticed a video on NBC 29 in Charlottesville about horseback tours of vineyards and I wanted to share this information with all of you horse-wine-outdoor- photographer-romantic types. Check out the video below and the read why you should set aside some time for a visit to Pollak:

Horseback Vineyard Tours at Pollak, King Family & Glass House Wineries

#1 Reason to visit Pollak Vineyards The Wine! The wines are fabulous and you really need to try some of the award-winners like the 2012 Rose which won a Double Gold Medal .


#2 It’s harvest time and the scenery couldn’t be more beautiful in Central Virginia – except during peak Fall foliage ūüôā With a Blue Ridge Mountain backdrop and a picture postcard lake just below the winery, Pollak is one of my favorite patios to soak up the views.


#3 The weather is glorious-ask anyone today and I bet they’re outside, except for me and I’m heading out in a couple of minutes!


#4 You can horseback ride through vineyards? Awesome! Indian Summer Guide Service offers these tours at Pollak, King Family or Glass House for a real down to earth experience, then stop in and sample a Virginia Viognier. The Pollak 2012 Viognier won Gold, Best of Category at the Atlantic Seaboard International
and Gold in the Monticello Cup!


#5 Buy Local, Drink Local! See you at the Vineyard!

Save the Date: Fluvanna Wine Fest


Learn About Hard Cider at The Lodge in Old Trail


National Model Aviation Day Event Benefits Wounded Warriors

75003_10201054856107400_944762312_nOur friend Bill Sykes, (you may know him as the Wings Over Wine Country Ambassador¬†for the Wildlife Center of VA) has now taken the initiative to help fund raise for The Wounded Warrior Project as well. This is a little out of my normal realm but I’m passionate about our Veterans and supporting this charity. Bill, a Navy veteran as is my husband, combines his hobby of making model airplanes ¬†(the kind you can really fly but shouldn’t because they’re just too darn beautiful to crash) and his support for the military to help create a fun event benefitting those who’ve served our country! ¬†This event should prove to be not only fun but an opportunity to eat great food and win some generous raffle prizes! Wonder if any wine is raffled?Father_s Day Exrtravaganza 2013 002

Model Aviation Celebration Fly-in

On August 17th, 2013, join the pilots of the Fluvanna County Radio Control Flying Club (FCRCFC) as we celebrate National Model Aviation Day and raise funds for the Wounded Warrior Project (WWP).  The club field is located at 11176 West River Road, immediately north of the Fluvanna County Landfill.

  • 9 AM to 4 PM with flying all day – big planes, small planes, scale planes and awesome aerobatic demonstrations!¬† Come help us celebrate and ‚ÄúGet the Bug‚ÄĚ for model aviation J
  • Pilots‚Äô Landing Fees of $10 will be donated to the WWP
  • Guests admitted free with lunch (sandwich, side, and drink) provided by Two J‚Äôs Smokehouse in return for donation to the WWP.¬† Please donate generously!
  • Additional food/drinks available for purchase
  • Raffle with GREAT PRIZES donated by local businesses and 100% of raffle proceeds donated to the WWP.¬† Drawing at 2:30 PM

Grab a lawn chair and some sunscreen and come on out to the field to catch some great flying, learn about model aviation, and help raise money to support the Wounded Warrior Project! Hope to see you there!

Too Busy for Virginia Wine? Grace Estate Winery is a Cause to Pause

Grace_Estate_VinesCool breezes, crisp mountain air, Peach trees and Redbuds blooming, Dogwoods lacing the fringe of new Spring growth and we’re too busy to pause in the moment! One of the perks of living in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains is reveling in the natural beauty that surrounds us, unique to each season. We have celebrations and festivals competing for our time. So much to offer but our schedules demand our attention.


Last weekend, we made an appointment for ourselves…with each other! ¬†Bob and I headed out to take a peek at the most recent winery opening on the Appellation Trail, Grace Estate Winery, neighboring already established Stinson Vineyards and White Hall and just down the road apiece from Mountfair and Glass House wineries. If you judge someone by the company they keep, we have another winner in Western Albemarle County. ¬†Jake Busching, formerly known for bringing attention and awards to Pollak Vineyards, has taken Mount Juliet Farm and Grace Estate to a new height (be sure to check out the silo, speaking of height). ¬†His experience in farming and wine making goes back to Jefferson Vineyards, as well as Keswick and Horton. ¬†The fruit at Mount Juliet will be kept for local use in wine making, thus remaining true to the terroir (still have a hard time saying that word!).


For years, local Crozet and White Hall residents have driven past the mature vineyards at Mount Juliet Farm and now, we have access to enter the property and admire the vines up close. ¬†White varietals are Viognier, Chardonnay, Petit Manseng, Sauvignon Blanc, and Vidal; red varietals are Merlot, Malbec, Petit Verdot, Tannat, Cabernet Franc, and Cabernet Sauvignon. ¬†Personally, I’m looking forward to Pinot Gris which are planned for the future! All of the wines are made from Grace Estate grapes and Jake plans on keeping it that way.

Reflections in the Silo
The winery, otherwise cleverly referred to as the Barnery is rustic and farmish, flanked by a large silo and now furnished with benches for casual reflection and sipping. The wines we tasted were all quite impressive, Bob really liked the Baril which is French for barrel and is a lighter hued Bordeaux blend ¬†of 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Cabernet Franc and 20% Petit Verdot which belies the complexity and spice fruit flavors. I’m not embarrassed to admit that I still love Chardonnay and the 2011 was creamy with pear over tones ¬†but not oaky. ¬†I think the overall best wine was the 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon and it appeared Jake was pleased with this ¬†result himself. The vintage was excellent and blending 80% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Merlot was a masterful combination especially having been aged for 16 months in French Oak. Buy this!
Looking for something to do? Head west out Garth Road and visit Grace Estate and their lovely neighbor, Stinson Vineyards.

Grace Estate Winery Mount Juliet Farm 5273 Mount Juliet Farm Crozet, VA 22932 tel & fax: 434-823-5014 web: http://www.graceestatewinery.com

Ankida Ridge & Cross Keys Vineyards- Opposite Sides of the Appalachian Trail

photo-7With one toe still wedged in the doorway between 2012 and 2013, ¬†I reluctantly find it is time to take down our beautiful Christmas tree ¬†(after all it is Valentine’s Day) ¬†and start a new year of wine blogging. ¬†My own mini-vacation, a touch of procrastination, added to an already ¬†busy early Spring real estate market; the days speed ahead and we approach March! ¬†I find drinking ¬†wine easy, hanging out at a winery listening to music with friends certainly no rough task, ¬†but describing it in print ¬†requires a little effort from the grey matter that is already tinted a touch ¬†purple.

Reflections of Winter 2012

We wrapped up 2012 with a memorable tree trimming  Christmas Party at Ankida Ridge and a delightful note to end the year.  The famed Pinot Noir that the Vroomans are already known for was served along with their newest  label, Rockgarden Cellars.


Sourced from grapes grown in neighboring Virginia vineyards that¬† have made the journey up 1800 feet to become ¬†‚ÄúThe Voyager Series,‚ÄĚ and in keeping the French theme, we are calling this ‚Äúgreen-style‚ÄĚ ¬†spritzy white wine ‚ÄúVoyage (voy-AJH) de Vert‚ÄĚ and the red blend of Merlot, ¬†Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc ‚ÄúVoyage de Rouge.‚ÄĚ ¬†We really enjoyed the Rouge as well as the family style sing along and many, glass in hand, headed further up the mountain via a tractor-pulled hayride. Here’s a little snippet of Christine Vrooman’s talented niece, Jessie Rogowski, leading the carols:

Keep your eyes on this boutique winery in the Amherst region of Virginia. ¬†They have an active intimate wine club and visits to the winery are arranged by appointment¬†or scheduled events, next one is St. Patrick’s Day 3/17.


Early 2013


For Valentine’s, our celebration was highlighted by opening a Port wine saved after a visit with friends to Cross Keys Vineyards. It lies a little south of Massanutten in the Shenandoah Valley¬†in Mt. Crawford. Cross Keys commands a rather regal presence over the valley with its palatial architecture. A perfect locale for weddings and grand photo ops that would please any bride. Move over Kate Middleton ūüėČ


Cross Keys does an excellent job by teaming up with Massanutten Resort, the Shenadoah Park Hotels and local B&B’s to provide dining, tastings and special events for vacationers. ¬†We stepped in midway through a tour and due to the number of visitors, extracted ourselves up to the tasting room and beat the crowd. Aren’t we the clever ones! ¬†Typically, port style wines don’t intrigue me, but this 100% Touriga Nacional was so aromatic with dark cherry fragrance and a slight orange scent, I had to bring it home for my husband. ¬†Aged for two years in French and American Oak, garnet red in color, with a smooth round velvet mouth feel, I felt it the perfect choice to set the mood for a romantic evening.

Cheers to a happy and prosperous, healthy New Year!

Virginia Wine Lover Magazine Favorite Tasting Room Poll

If you haven’t subscribed to Virginia Wine Lover Magazine, the holidays are a great time to sign up for this publication. It offers wine news, gift ideas, events and information about local wineries to share with your holiday guests.

According to Virginia Wine Lover¬†, the results are in from the ¬†September poll asking readers to vote for their Favorite Virginia Winery Tasting Room.¬† Some 3,000 responses accounted for the top 25 winners selected from Virginia’s 220 wineries with tasting rooms. Selections were made on the basis of Friendliness of Staff (39%), Attractiveness of Location (37%), Staff’s Knowledge of Wine (19%), Proximity (3%) and Price of Tasting (2%). Several of the wineries that are local to our Charlottesville area made the list.

Cooper Vineyards in Louisa County, midway between C-ville and Richmond, took top honors as favorite tasting room. Perfect! Planning our first trip there this weekend which also coincides with their Holiday Open House ( free tastings Sat. & Sun. 1-5). ¬†Many of you may already be familiar with Cooper Vineyards.They were selected for the Cooper staff¬†friendliness, the architectural design of the tasting room and for their fine wines. Cooper Vineyards recently earned the coveted LEED Platinum¬†certification( the highest standard)¬†for excellence in “Green” building technology. They have one many awards already and their Noche¬†dessert wine is extremely popular.¬†¬†Made with¬†Norton grapes and infused with chocolate, Noche¬†is a versatile wine. According to Cooper Vineyards, it has hints of black cherry and raspberry complement rich aromas of cocoa with a chocolate ganache¬†finish. Great for sipping, drizzled as a chocolate sauce over ice cream or combined with nutella¬†for a chocolate fondue. This wine is definitely on my shopping list for Thanksgiving. These recipes can be found on their website or on¬†VWL’s site. ¬†

2nd place honors for best tasting room went to Early Mountain Vineyards.  Agreed!  This winery is a very popular spot, augmented with a most hospitable tasting room staff, offering select wines from the Commonwealth and an attention to detail to create a most enjoyable wine tasting experience. Located in southern Madison County, EMV has already established themselves as a TGIF spot and situated conveniently between NoVA and Charlottesville, a premier wine tasting destination. The event facility rivals Pippin Hill for country elegance and an exquisite wedding venue.

Prince Michel nabbed the 4th favorite tasting room for its Madison County location. Prince Michel¬†was chosen as the exclusive winery to produce the official 250thanniversary commemorative wine for this year-long celebration. The¬† two wines chosen to pay tribute to this historic occasion are Prince¬† Michel‚Äôs award winning Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. Both wines are¬† made from grapes grown in the Monticello appellation of Virginia.¬† Embellished with the custom designed commemorative label, these wines¬† will be available in over 200 locations around the area. They will also¬† be available April 21 for tasting and purchase at the First Annual¬† Monticello Wine Festival at the pavilion on Charlottesville‚Äôs downtown¬† mall. Prince Michel also has a tasting room on Carter’s Mountain with beautiful vistas over ¬†Charlottesville extending down to Nelson County.

Barboursville Vineyards, ¬†Glass House Winery, ¬†Keswick Vineyards, Horton Vineyards, Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards and ¬†Pollak Vineyards made the top 20 tasting rooms in Virginia. ¬†Each winery is unique in its own right offering a little something different from the others. Barboursville for its history, longevity, and 5 star restaurant, Palladio, serving award-winning¬†wines like Octagon and Nebbiolo. Glass House lends an atmosphere of the tropics with its glass conservatory and warm welcoming tasting room staff. ¬†Top that off with Michelle Sanders’ gourmet chocolates and you could wrap up Christmas gifts right there. ¬†Keswick Vineyards¬†is a cozy tasting room in the heart of hunt country with a beautiful backdrop of historic plantations. With this many delightful wineries to choose from, it’s no wonder Charlottesville has become such a great weekend destination. I think you’ll need more than a couple of weekends to get a real taste of Thomas Jefferson’s wine country.

As a real estate agent, I’m finding more and more people choosing the Charlottesville area as their home. Parents who have adult children graduating from the University of Virginia are building homes here after becoming acquainted with all Central Virginia has to offer. The wine industry, education, the arts, temperate climate, health care and more are inspiring weekend visitors to purchase second homes within driving distance from New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, D.C. If you’re interested in viewing homes for sale in the area, please call or email to schedule a visit. We’d love to welcome you to Charlottesville!


Top Life Lessons I’ve Learned While Blogging

ImageIt’s been two years now since I decided to start a blog. My first post was a sentimental post on the anniversary of my fathers passing. ¬†Now I’ve reached that point in time for reflection, analysis and renewal.¬†The most frequent question that I get from people is Why? Why do you blog? And what really IS a blog? I started blogging as a creative outlet, a place to post pictures and to be perfectly honest, as a real estate agent, it was highly recommended for Search Engine Optimization. Oh…and of course, because it was an excuse to drink good wine =). Which I have certainly done.¬†So, after two years, why do I continue to blog? I think it can be summed up in one word, Discovery.

Reflect and Write it Down

Basically, a blog is a computerized journal published to share with others. Many friends over the years have told me that they “journal”. I really didn’t understand why. Now I do. It is a release, an opportunity to be introspective and it also, as a bonus, enhances lazy verbal skills. I think one of the greatest benefits is the ability to read back what you have written and see the growth and progression in your life. Where you¬†were, where you are and where you are¬†headed. In Conclusion, this is a good venue for personal growth and I believe anyone can derive satisfaction from this type of effort. Discover yourself.

Find Your Passion!

Start with something you love doing and through it you’ll find your passion. I love wine, luscious grapes in ¬†any color, grapevines, clean air and being outdoors (unless I’m indoors by the crackling fire). But through visiting wineries and vineyards, I discovered a passion for photography. Now I want ¬†to develop that skill and learn everything I can about that!

Change up your Environment!


“Oh, the places you’ll go!” (Quote from my fav M.D., Dr. Seuss). We’ve had opportunities to visit some breathtaking vistas that we never would have seen sitting home watching NFL football on a Sunday afternoon. We’ve visited beautifully appointed tasting rooms, rusticly elegant wineries and sipped wine with friends on fabulous decks, patios and conservatories. So, I encourage you to get up, get moving, charge up your camera and discover this beautiful world we live in! It’s right there outside your front door.

The People You’ll Meet!

And when you finally set out to explore, discover, and find your passion; you’ll meet ¬†many interesting people that you never would have encountered. People with similar passions, different personalities, unique individuals from all walks of life. You’ve now broadened yourself and gifted yourself with new friends. A double discovery! And guess what? You continue to grow.


Final Lesson, It is the People that Matter the Most!

This year, it’s been six years since my father passed away. What have I discovered? That the faces in the pictures are more important than the most scenic landscape, waterfall or sunset. When you flip through a photo album, what to do you seek? The faces of loved ones. I’ve now come full circle because my father’s passions were people, travel and photography. Hmmm, I think know where it comes from and blogging helped me realize that….and that is why I continue to blog.

I love you Dad!


September 26, 1932   Р September 14, 2006


Pairing Oysters and Virginia Wines, A Winning Combination

Great minds drink alike!

My husband and I recently had the pleasure of being invited to a mid-week patio dinner party. Hosted by Bill and Joyce Sykes, to christen their new stone patio and inspired by the quadrifecta (a term coined by Bill) of fabulous food, wine, friends and weather. We were accompanied by our camera buff and fellow oenophile friend, Paulette Musselman and joined by the Sykes’ award winning architect Fred Oesch, new friends Henry & Laverne Chandler¬†and Two J’s Smokehouse’s, Joshua and Megan Ball. ¬†The common denominator was a fondness for excellent wine, bubbly, and support of the Wildlife Center of Virginia…oh, yes…and dining al fresco!

The wine that received a startling reaction was ¬†Chatham Vineyards Church Creek Chardonnay causing a simultaneous applause for best choice to kick¬†off the evening. I’ve written about this wine before, having enjoyed it at least four different times at Early Mountain Vineyards. Apparently each of us had experienced this wine separately and unanimously found this Chardonnay to be the exception to most Chardonnays, having been fermented in steel tanks and ¬†resulting in a slightly creamy but crisp refreshing wine. Described as below by Chatham Vineyards:

100% Dijon clone 95/96 Chardonnay fermented and aged in stainless steel. With delicate hints of pear and green melon, crisp acidity and mineral elements, this unoaked Chardonnay, at a sensible 12.5% alcohol, recalls Burgundy more than Napa. This is a pure expression of the varietal and Eastern Shore terroir.

Excellent with oysters, clams, and seafood pairings. (Agreed!!)

The highlight on the menu was the magnum of Janisson & Fils Champagne brought back from a recent trip to France by the Sykes. I believe we all were a little greedy about refills ūüôā We missed Claude Thibaut and wife Pamela Margaux at the party but savored the Thibaut-Janisson sparkling Cuvee’ d’ Etat Blanc de Blanc. Heavenly!

We’ve reached that “delicious” time of year in Virginia for pulling on a warm sweater, early leaf changes, football and fire pits. Why not grill some seafood and toast Autumn with a Virginia wine?