Holiday Fun at the Vineyards

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Thibaut Janisson My Favorite Gift

Food, Family, Celebrations, Shopping! It’s the holidays and the pressure is on to entertain, so why not make life easy? Here are some ideas of upcoming events at our local Virginia wineries. Beginning with Black Friday ( I prefer Green Friday if you’re hung up on the sales aspect of the season)  at Grace Estate Winery and enjoy the ambience and views in Western Albemarle from the new tasting room. From November 27th-29th and take advantage of the 20-30% discount on three different wines. unnamed

ENTERTAINMENT 

Tired of leftovers? Take your friends for a nice country drive on  Friday Nov 27th 6-9pm where the Beatles cover band Abbey Road Unplugged will be at Glass House Winery,  and Two Brothers food truck will be servin up their fantastic southwestern style eats, so come hungry, too.  You can still bring a picnic if you like, but the food truck is fantastic, just so you know. No cover, no outside alcohol, no reservations.Buy some delicious gourmet wine infused chocolates while you’re there!  Tastings served throughout (noon-5:30).

 BARREL TASTING

Head to Keswick Vineyards and spend some time getting up close and personal with Keswick Vineyards 2015 vintage with Winemaker Stephen Barnard as you get to experience a barrel tasting of this very promising vintage!

Taste exceptional wines including  Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Chardonnay and Viognier as they develop and mature in the barrel. There will be 8 sessions, Saturday, November 21st, Sunday, November 22nd, Saturday, November 28th, and Sunday, November 29th from 10-1pm and from 2-5pm each day. You will also have the opportunity to purchase “futures” of these wines at a discount during the barrel tastings!

SHOPPING and SANTA

On November 28th and 29th “Deck the Halls” at Early Mountain Vineyards To celebrate the holiday season,  from 11:00am to 5:00pm.  On Saturday, Two Wishes  (if you haven’t heard them you’ve really been missing out!), and on Sunday, The Olivarez Trio with our friend Jeff Cheers, will be providing holiday music throughout the event. Enjoy horse-drawn carriage rides, photos with Santa, cookie decorating and shopping for gifts from a wide variety of local artists and artisans .We went last year, it was lots of fun and ran into friends out with their visiting families. unnamed-3 

COCKTAILS and CANAPES at Pippin Hill Farm  

Celebrate the holiday season on December 9th 6-9 p.m.  with Pippin Hill’s Executive Chef Bill Scatena! Learn to entertain with small festive bites great for your next holiday party! Tickets will also include a cocktail demo that will explain how to mix flavors to create the perfect holiday drink!

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MASKS and BUBBLES!

On New Years Eve Veritas will be hosting their annual Masked Ball, an elegant event featuring wine and hors d’oeuvres followed by a five-course winemaker’s dinner at 8 p.m. in Saddleback Hall. There will be dancing until midnight, when the masks come off and the champagne flows! Breakfast follows at 12:30 a.m. So bring your mask and your dancing shoes to have great food, wine, and fun to bring in the New Year 2016. Tickets are $175/person.

For any of these events, please plan ahead, call now for reservations at the links provided.

Cheers to You and your Families as we ring out 2015 and celebrate the New Year 2016, Clink!

Stinson Vineyards: A Family Favorite

StinsonVineyards_Tailgate_ThursdaysWeather forecast on 4th of July: good chance of rain and upper 80’s, almost didn’t leave the house, who needs another muggy day…change of plans and headed to Western Albemarle county…best decision ever!

I hadn’t been back to Stinson Vineyards in quite a while, actually since they were completing their “new” tasting room ( in 2011!) for a wine blending class with Matthieu Finot. Way too long!StinsonVineyards_View

Since we’re real estate agents and sometimes find carving out personal time difficult, we tend towards spontaneity. This spontaneous choice found us on the patio at Stinson, overlooking ripening vineyards and the bucolic valley below the Blue Ridge Mountain skyline. Listening to Charlottesville’s own homegrown New Orleans style jazz band of Chickenhead Blues completed the experience. Recently the musicians have been discovered in New Orleans and a majority of their scheduled gigs are now in Cajun country.

As far as selecting wine, we chose the 2012 Meritage, which would have been perfect on a cooler day or in the evening with a steak, but in accordance with the warmish weather we moved on to the Sauvignon Blanc. I now have a new favorite Virginia wine and since have encountered other wine lovers who feel the same. Father and daughter winemakers, Scott and Rachel Stinson have invested in, not one, but two concrete eggs to ferment wine in and this wine is done in a combination of stainless steel and the concrete egg, achieving  a delicious grapefruity, white peach flavor followed by a mineral finish for a refreshing result. The concrete egg is a whole other storyStinson Vineyards Concrete Egg Fermentation

It’s been on my calendar to make it for their  Tailgate Thursday nights event held weekly until September 3rd, and we’re running out of time to take advantage of the TWO Big Green Eggs and Weber grill. Bring your own meat for grilling, grab a blanket or chairs and picnic in a family, dog friendly venue and kick off the weekend early. No time for grocery shopping? Local meat from The Rock Barn and Free Union Grass Farm can be purchased and thawed by calling ahead.IMG_5413 Now, pick your favorite wine to pair and it’s a cookout. Can’t get too much easier than that.

Starr Hill Has A Heart

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It’s been a bit since I’ve posted but this is the perfect cause to get back in to the swing of blogging. Last time I was at Starr Hill Brewery was when the earthquake hit on August 23rd, 2011 in Louisa while  we were sampling the strongest stoutest brew on tap. The building began to shake and we thought, Wow that was a robust beer!!  The manager thought it was the train that runs directly behind the building, but moments later Tweets were out with the Richter scale reading 5.8.

In August (and starting tonight!) for every pint of beer sold , Starr Hill Brewery will donate  $ ONE DOLLAR $ to our local American Heart Association throughout the rest of the month. This is  a cause literally near and dear to my heart and the financial support  stays local. This is an ongoing program that Starr Hill does benefitting different charities and this month #CheersforCharity is focusing on heart health. Get a little cardio in by raising a glass (or mug) and lower your blood pressure while supporting research that will benefit someone in your life, maybe even you!

Starr_Hill_Tap_RoomSo here we are , four years later in August, and not expecting the earth to shake but would love to see a roar of support for this charity!  I’m looking forward to seeing the changes made in the last year to Starr Hill as well.

Thanks in advance to all who plan to support The American Heart Association in our area.

Hope to see you there…

2015 Early Mountain Oyster Festival or I Want the T-Shirt!

Early_Mountain_Vineyards_WineryWho loves Oysters??

I just did a casual poll in my office, 100% in favor of the rocky little mollusks! Disclaimer: several people were away from their desks or at lunch. Whether or not you’re an oyster lover is a moot point, this years Oyster Festival at Early Mountain Vineyards strikes a nice balance, offering alternatives for those who pass on bivalves. Last year the event was a fixed price for all you can eat oysters, this year is structured a little different and in my opinion, better. All food is priced a la carte and for those with shellfish allergies or are not fans of oysters, there’s always wine!  Raw & steamed oyster, crab cakes, and Barcat chowder will be served in addition to the excellent selection of wine. A limited alternative menu will be available in the Market Place in the winery.  Bonus!  A free souvenir stemless EMV glass and wine tasting are included in the ticket price.

Gotta get the T-Shirt!

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If you’ve never visited Early Mountain Vineyards you’re in for a treat, the staff is well trained in making your experience pleasurable and no doubt you’ll want to return. The facility is gorgeous, allow enough time to see how artfully designed this venue is and the blends and contrasts of textures from the pillows on the sofas to the course brick walls and tables to the smooth polished wood tasting bar.Early_Mountain_Vineyard_Cville_Uncorked_03

Come out and enjoy the sounds of Folk rock band, Mercy Creek from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Admission is $12 in advance, $10 for EMV Wine Club Members, and $15 at the door.

Under 21 are admitted free and Early Mountain Vineyards keeps a stock of fun games for the family. Hope to see you there!

Check out more photography by Lumina Boston!unnamed

Everyday is a Good day for Virginia Bubbly

Virginia_Sparkling_WineWhile the Champagne region of France claims the name, other countries including the United States of America are establishing their own reputation using traditional Chardonnay grapes as well as Pinot Noir to make sparkling wine. The average bottle of Champagne contains enough carbon dioxide to potentially produce 49 million bubbles, some say even more. Watching the bubbles shoot upward is quite mesmerizing,  recalling childhood memories of bubble lights on Christmas trees.  This has sparked a new tradition in our family of opening gifts with a chilled bottle of Champagne or a Brut Rosé from Soter in the Willamette Valley of Oregon (very welcome gift from my sister).

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Virginia has now placed itself on the sparkling wine map courtesy of Claude Thibaut and his Thibaut Janisson sparkling wines. Originally from Champagne, Claude has traversed the globe popping coks, perfecting his dosage and selecting only the best grapes and juice for his wines. He brought his expertise in the “methode champenoise” to  Kendall-Jackson, Jordan and Iron Horse wineries in California as well as Champagne Veuve Devaux, Bar sur seine, France and Yarra Bank, Victoria Australia, where his wines were voted “Best of the Best” in the 1995 Australia and New Zealand Wine Guide. He partners with Manuel Janisson of Janisson et Fils, a well know family of Champagne makers in Verzenay, France. Claude originally was enticed to Charlottesville by Patricia Kluge of Kluge Estate Winery and is  now owned and operated by Donald and Eric Trump. I am particularly fond of Claude’s latest T-J Extra Brut!

We were recently gifted with a bottle of Barboursville Cuvee 1814 Brut wine which was excellent. Side note: after pouring the wine there seemed to be very few bubbles and within a short period of time an explosion of bubbles occurred. The wine was well received by all! I look forward to serving it again.

Following traditional holidays like Christmas, New Year’s Eve and Valentine’s Day, Champagne drinking may hit a slump but any time is good for serving sparkling wine. It’s like the slogan, Orange Juice, It’s Not Just for Breakfast Anymore! Watch these three wineries (Trump definitely included) as well as other Virginia wineries for  future vintages!

Silverback Distillery Adds a Different Spirit this Christmas in Nelson County

Silverback_Distillery_Spirit_Lineup I Love Christmas! And as excited as I am about spending the holidays with the ones I love, there’s always the question as to what to give or what to do with our out of town guests. Well here’s a a different type of spirit that makes for a fun “get out of the house”  trip and even get some Christmas gifts or  stock up the bar for New Years Eve.Gorilla Juice

Chest thumping enthusiasm is palpable as wine drinkers and beer lovers “fall off the Brew Ridge Trail” and into the new tasting room of Silverback Distillery in Nelson County. Curiosity tempted us away from apple butter festivals and past some of the wineries and breweries dotting 151 in Nelson. Just a short drive south of 250 and Afton is the newest attraction, opened the end of August by partners in life and business, Christine and Denver Riggleman and close friend and operations manager, Blake Rhodes.

DSC04021  The distillery bears Denver’s nickname of Silverback (gorilla of course) because he had grayed prematurely, lifted weights and is actually quite gentle unless provoked.Silverback Distillery

We arrived shortly before closing and within a small window of time that allowed us to connect with the Silverback himself, Denver, for a quick but thorough tour of the distillery. Proud of not only the design and the process thoughtfully chosen by the couple, we were treated to  a brief chemistry lesson in spirit production. Silverback_Distillery_StillThe  two stills used would make Willy Wonka want to switch to Bourbon,Gin and Vodka. Sleek and sparkling in the sunny room, the contraptions rest above a hidden geothermal system for heating and then shock cooling the spirits to achieve the best flavor possible. Teflon lined fireman’s hoses transfer the mash to the stills. The stills are Denver’s million dollar plus babies, don’t quote me on this but I remember the dollar figures astounded me.DSC04022

The motto which reflects their commitment to safety, fun and the environment is

PRODUCE RESPONSIBLY. DRINK RESPONSIBLY. DISPOSE RESPONSIBLY ™Seriously...

Monkeying AroundI won’t steal their thunder, head to 151 in Nelson and take a tour, there’s an encyclopedia of information about distilling spirits and the bourbon to come at Silverback. You can even  shop for some fun non-alcoholic gift items  for tea-totalers.

Love these Bottles

Hours are:

Monday: 12:30-6
Tuesday: CLOSED
Wednesday & Thursday: 12:30-6
Friday: 12:30-7
Saturday: 11-7
Sunday: 1-6

* Special Note * Closed the same days as ABC stores-early closing on Christmas Eve, Closed Christmas and New Years Day.

A Taste of Monticello with the Winemakers

A Taste of Monticello

Virginia wine fans, join us for a live tasting with three winemakers on Virginia Wine Chat

There is still plenty of time to order for this weekends special event!
Virginia Wine Chat – 3 Bottles of the finest Monticello wines

Virginia wine fans, join us for the September edition of Virginia Wine Chat, Saturday, September 27 at 7:30pm, presented by DrinkWhatYouLike.com, Virginia Wine Marketing Office, and The Virginia Wine Club:

A live tasting and interview with Emily Pelton (Veritas Vineyard), Matthieu Finot (King Family Vineyard), and Jake Busching (Grace Estates Winery ) moderated by wine writer Frank Morgan. The educational tasting and panel discussion will be streamed live via the Virginia Wine Chat UStream Channel. Participants watch the live panel discussion/tasting via UStream and can ask questions via Twitter by using the #VAWineChat hash tag.

This Wine Package will include one bottle of each of the following:

Veritas 2013 Viognier
King Family 2012 Meritage
Grace Estate Winery 2012 Cabernet Franc

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” Bras for a Cause ” Charlottesville Breast Cancer Benefit

bras_for_a_cause_Charlottesville_Breast_Cancer_FundraiserMany of you may have already  attended this benefit in the past, but in case you’ve missed it, let me share  a bit about Bras for a Cause. The fashion show is highlighted by male models (since men can get breast cancer too) cavorting in the specially designed bras. Past themes have been Virginia Tech, University of Virginia, Golf theme, and the Wizard of Oz.  Just as almost everyone has had an encounter with breast cancer, whether  yourself, a family member or a friend, hearing the diagnosis is a life changing event.  The Blue Ridge Chapter of Women’s Council of Realtors ( which has male members also) is hosting the 4th Annual Bras for a Cause event in an effort to provide funds to help Flourish, the positive image boutique at The Emily Couric Cancer Center in Charlottesville, Virginia and raise Breast Cancer awareness in our community.

Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate III Breast Cancer Survivor Bra
Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate III Breast Cancer Survivor Bra

At Flourish, stylish products are made available to those facing Cancer.  Flourish is located on the main floor of the UVA Emily Couric Clinical Cancer Center.  Supported by the UVA Hospital Auxiliary,  funds generated by the boutique help the UVA Cancer Center to provide additional resources for cancer patients. Mastectomy garments, skin care products, wigs and scarves,  clothing and accessories are some of the products available. It’s a great place to buy gifts for someone that you care about including stylish and affordable jewelry, cancer awareness books and other inspirational gift items. With private fitting rooms, a Certified mastectomy fitter can help women while giving them the privacy, respect and concern so needed during this time. It also features Ramona’s Room, offering free wigs, scarves and caps for those who are un- or under-insured.

The Liberty Bra and freedom form Cancer-Angus Arrington BHG Real Estate III
The Liberty Bra and Freedom from Cancer-Angus Arrington BHG Real Estate III

Come out and join in the merriment with our local Realtors (and affiliated real estate folks including mortgage brokers)  hoot and holler at the brave male models showing off their “themed bras”,  not making light of the disease but laughing together as we attack it! Many of our Realtors have or are going through this right now and can use the support. 

Please join us Friday, September 19, 2014 – 7:00 – 10:00 p.m.
Elk’s Lodge, 389 Elk Drive, Charlottesville, VA

Hors D’oeuvres, Cash Bar & Live Auction.
 Tickets now on sale at ‘Flourish’ UVA Emily Couric Cancer Center for $20.00 (or $25.00 at the door). 

Virginia Winery Music Events Fall 2014

IMG_3735Cool weather is around the corner and Autumn is  always a busy time around the grapevines. Harvest speaks to our soul and smells of burning leaves and pumpkin patches;  cinnamon and juicy fallen apples perfume the air. It draws us out of air-conditioned homes and cars to reconnect with the earth.  I thought it might be nice to share some of the upcoming events ( certainly not all) that might piqué your interest.

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Grace Estate

Music at the Vineyards

Grace Estate Winery is one of our newer wineries with older vineyards and widespread views across western Albemarle County. Located nearer  the White Hall area in Crozet on the Mount Juliet Farm, music this Friday begins at 6 p.m. until 9 p.m. with Hot Twang and catered by Kitchen Catering

September 5th (Friday): 6-9 pm
Abbey Road “Unplugged” The Beatles Tribute Band

Abbey Road “Unplugged” will be performing in our Friday night sunset series, with their acoustic 395348_328889153823381_157852272_nBeatles melodies, Check them out here! Bring a chair, a picnic blanket, or come early and grab a table and enjoy some classic southern style soul food, award-winning wines, and awesome Beatles tunes while the sun sets over the vineyard.

Foodtruck service by: Black Jack’s Mobile Soul Food

Beleza_Brasil_Glass_House_WinerySinger Songwriter Event Benefitting The Wildlife Center of Virginia at  Glass House Winery  is coming soon, meet some of the winged raptor ambassadors from the Wildlife Center and listen to the music of  ‘2 Wishes’ – Joy Kuhar and Mike D’Antoni and musicians
Genna Mathew,  John Kelly  and Justin Storer. Event begins at 6 p.m. and donations of $10 is suggested but any amount is appreciated.

With so many wonderful wineries in the Charlottesville area, you may want to plan ahead so you don’t miss some of your favorite musicians this Fall.  Sippin into Sunset at Early Mountain Vineyards has managed to secure Beleza Brasil, my favorite duo for Samba style soulful music, for two different dates in September.

Sunsets at Carter Mountain have been playing music every Thursday evening 6-9 p.m. since May 15th and will continue until the end of September. Look for Lockjaw, a band of local dentists who perform together, and The Local Vocals, an acoustic trio, each member with a long history in the Charlottesville area.

starrynightsseptember14On Saturday, September 13th, 2014, 7-11 pm come on out to Veritas for the last of the Starry Nights for 2014 with The Hackensaw Boys – Raucous Bluegrass
Opening: Jim Waive and the Young Divorcees 
Click Here to Make Reservations

View Menu

Helpful tip: Bring warm blankets, temps can drop quickly, and seating is harder to come by so bring those camp chairs. Picnics are encouraged but not inside the wineries. I did this once, not cool, they were quite nice about it 🙂

EMV Movie Night

A new way of going to the movies, kind of like going to camp or the drive-in, pack up your lawn chair and Early Mountain Vineyards provides a bag of popcorn and it’s cheaper than the theater. Tickets are $6 and you can reserve on-line. The feature will be The Sandlot and    September 25th is usually exquisite weather for kicking back outdoors with a glass of your favorite cool season robust red, perhaps the 2012 Eluvium Cabernet Sauvignon?

 

This should be a good start to fill up your September calendars, look for more venues next week in my Weekend Picks off the Vine post.

 

Early 2014 Harvest at Trump Winery

Trump_Cork

Being first is nothing new to Donald Trump and, in this case, timing is everything.

Known for associating their brand with luxury and the finer things in life, the sound of a popping cork and tiny effervescent bubbles racing to the top are symbolic of this latest of Trump ventures. Trump blew into the Virginia countryside in early October 2011 with a clapping helicopter entrance and media show announcing his arrival onto the Monticello AVA scene and in a flash set in motion the transference of ownership from Kluge Estate to his namesake.

With 95 acres of grapes dedicated to sparkling wines, the 2014 harvest began as  a “crunch to the crush”.  The consumption of Champagne and sparkling wine has been on the rise and Trump Winery was poised to meet that demand. After an unseasonably cool Summer, little rain and hot August days approaching,  the time to pick the Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes for sparkling wines was quickly upon us in the Charlottesville area. Due to their micro-climate, location and a desire to have a more acidic grape desirable for sparkling wines, Trump is one of the earliest vineyards in Virginia to start picking grapes (as early as August 7th).  If we got rain too soon, as was in the original forecast for the 9th and 10th of August, the grapes could become saturated affecting the sugar (brixx) level which is so critical.  Harvesting grapes at night and into the cool morning hours is ideal for a champagne style wine.  Vineyard managers believe that night harvests result in grapes with better sugar levels and  acidity.  It is also easier on the workers who are hand picking without having to labor in the heat of the day.

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On Sunday August 10th, accompanied by my husband and our daughter ( our photographer) we set off for a visit to the Trump Winery tasting room.  The transformation from Kluge Estate was quite apparent with the Trump logo everywhere emblazoned on polo shirts, on chocolate bars looking newly minted in silver and gold and on the black shirted tasting room team attending to the guests.  Even the bathroom fixtures appear gilded!

Business is certainly thriving at Trump and the tasting room filled rapidly, but not before we had quick assistance from lovely Judi Bowers, opening a bottle of the Trump Brut Sparkling Rosé 2009 to taste.  Great choice, Judi!  Armed with our Champagne glasses and an ice bucket we headed outdoors.

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One of the best decisions ( in my opinion)  made at the tasting room since Trump had taken ownership  was opening up the vista off the larger outdoor patio. Previously the outdoor space had been surrounded by trees and dense natural foliage obscuring the view. Now a picture-postcard, artist-inspiring view draws guests out to rough picnic tables with a pastoral scene of vineyards and a lake in the distance.  Just off the patio and tasting bar is a garden smelling ripe with tomatoes.

Charlottesville_Trump_Winery_View The salmon colored sparkling wine paired beautifully in taste and appearance with our selection of a rustic bacon lettuce tomato sandwich and a Caprese salad of heirloom tomatoes. We savored the experience and our glass of Brut Rose before heading out on the hike across the road through the vineyards. As we  approached  the vines seemed to come alive with the rustling  sounds of  invisible workers  hidden below the vines laughing and singing as they selected the best clusters of grapes to clip. Moving rapidly up the rows and bringing in the bunches of grapes was a pleasure to watch.

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Listen and perhaps the next time you pop open a bottle of sparkling wine from Central Virginia  you may  hear some of the laughter and song in the rising bubbles!

 

We hope you enjoy your next bottle of Trump bubbly as much as we did.

 

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