Last night family and friends gathered at Horton Vineyards to honor and celebrate the memory of Stone Mountain Vineyards’ winemaker, Chris Breiner. Guests were asked to share a favorite story about Chris and raise a glass to his life. I had met Chris a few times and on my last visit to Stone Mountain Vineyards, chatted with him at length about the direction they were going with on-tap wines. He seemed very proud of this venture and am sorry that his life and enthusiasm were cut so short. The idea of a scholarship to help students of the wine industry is an ideal way to remember him and his contributions to the Virgina wine community.
In memory of Chris, the Virginia wine industry has created a need-based scholarship for students in the Piedmont Virginia Community College Viticulture & Enology Certificate Program.
Chris supported this useful program every year since its launch in 2005, teaching the bottling class at Stone Mountain and helping with the wine marketing class. Make a donation in any amount to the scholarship in his name at this event or online at the PVCC web site at www.pvcc.edu/giving_to_pvcc/.
A friend, Mark Simpson attended and had commented below:
The Hortons certainly paid a fine tribute to Chris. Chris’ family was there as well as many tearful friends. His distributor is donating $20 to the Chris Breiner scholarship @ PVCC for each case some SMV wines sold in March 2012. Other wines will garner $10/case. The scholarship is intended for students seeking a viticulture career and not for those who only want to take one class. If you donate, be sure to indicate on your check or online donation that it is for the “Chris Breiner Scholarship.”
RePost from Neil Williamson
Contact: Neil Williamson The Trellis Group 434-962-0847
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Winemaker Chris Breiner Remembered
DYKE, VA – Chris Breiner, Winemaker and Managing Partner
at Stone Mountain Vineyards, died on February 14th, 2012. In addition to his work at the winery, he also managed the family law practice in Alexandria. An innovative winemaker with a wry wit, his tireless promotion of quality Virginia Wine led his peers to elect him as Vice President of the Virginia Wineries Association and as past Chairman of the Jeffersonian Grape Growing Society/Monticello Wine Trail. Well respected throughout the wine community, in 2009 he was selected as a Knight in the Brotherhood of the Knights of the Vine.
Dennis Horton, founder of Horton Vineyards and a long time friend said, “Chris was one of the good guys in the Virginia
Wine industry. You knew where you stood with Chris and he always, always, did exactly what he said he would do. I will miss him tremendously.”
In a statement the Breiner family said, “Stone Mountain Vineyards is truly a testament to the vision and hard work Chris, and our late father Al, put into their collective dream. Both men had an abundant love of agriculture and of the land. They saw the vineyards and winery as a perfect vehicle to keep the rural mountain land preserved in productive agricultural production. The family remains committed to this shared family vision. The tasting room will reopen, as scheduled, on March 2nd and regular winery operations will
continue; Chris would have wanted it no other way”. Services and interment will be private.
Stone Mountain masqueraded as “Snow Mountain” on October 29th & 30th for the 12th Annual Stone Mountain Vineyards Open House. “Bacon Holloween” at Stone Mountain Vineyards drew a nice crowd of leaf peepers, snow seekers and wine sippers. The winery is situated on the side of the mountain above Bacon Hollow, an area known long ago for moonshine and revenue agents. Last Saturday brought an unusual dusting of the white stuff adding a sugar-coating on pumpkin and scarlet colored leaves. Visitors enjoyed private tours of the wine cave and sampling directly from the barrel with winemaker Chris Breiner and tour guide, Brian Taylor. Vertical tastings were also available. We found Gabrielle Rausse pouring tastings of his own wines at a separate bar. Surprised to see Gabrielle, I inquired about the reason for his presence. Winking, he explained that he considers himself Chris Breiner’s life coach. In fact, he does coach Chris on winemaking and in return, periodically showcases some of his own signature labeled wines at Stone Mountain.
Wine on Tap
A new venture for the owners is serving wine on tap. Stone Mountain Vineyards wines are featured on tap, yes, on tap at Aida Bistro Wine Bar in Columbia, Maryland. Aida installed a new Wine on Tap System with 20 Wines on Tap. Based on customer acceptance and demand, they are increasing it to 30 Wines on Tap by Fall 2011. Their Wine on Tap System is the largest in Maryland and second largest in the U.S! They feature Stone Mountain 2010 Pinot Grigio, 2010 Chardonnay and 2008 Cabernet Franc and Aidatage. Aidatage is a special blend the staff created at the winery with
their 2009 Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvigon and Petit Verdot. According to Chris, the
staff had a lot of fun creating the Aidatage and in turn presenting it to
their customers. I wish I had tasted that one. My husband and I have brought friends to Stone Mountain Vineyards numerous times and after a little apprehension about the drive up, they conclude it is well worth the trip. With the vineyards sloping just below the back deck they have found the Autumn views unrivaled by any of the other wineries in our area. Sited at a 1700 foot elevation, the vantage point provides expansive views of Greene County and Northern Albemarle County.
On this particular visit we selected a bottle of Chardonnay rather than going through a complete tasting. It was an ideal afternoon for relaxing on the deck and taking in the scenery, albeit a bit chilly. Later, we joined a small group for the barrel tasting guided Brian Taylor. We sampled 3 Cabernet Francs, 2007, 2008, 2009 and one Chardonnay from the barrels. The 2008 was my favorite and given some more time, should be excellent!
The 2008 Chardonnay was delightful, with ripe green apple flavors aged in 100% stainless steel for a full but crisp mouth feel. I particularly liked the die-cut label with the Blue Ridge Mountains cresting the top. If you have friends who haven’t developed a taste for wine, the Maquillage (Make-up in French) has 3% residual sugar and is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Sangiovese, Cabernet Franc, and Chardonnay. Fruity, it pairs well with cheeses and lightly spiced dishes. Naming wines can be quite fun and a few give a humorous nod to the history of the “hollows” of Greene County, especially the Bacon Hollow Revenuers Select.
Stone Mountain’s log cabin style winery hugs the mountainside below a tumble of large rocks, hence the name. The natural heart pine wood tasting room is spacious, rustic and cozy. I had so many pictures that I’ll close with a mini gallery of scenes to entice you up the mountain. Part of the fun of Stone Mountain is the approach, passing streets like Mutton Hollow, Bacon Hollow, Brokenback Mountain and finally arriving at Wyatt Mountain Road. Another tidbit- the tasting glasses for collectors have the logo for Stone Mountain and on the back, the Chinese Year, this one being the year of the rabbit. Helpful hint: Drive slowly up the mountain and stay right, it is only one lane and after rains can be quite bumpy. Still, it’s worth the effort. Definitely have a DD for the ride back down!
Climb the Mountain, see how a positive change in altitude,
brings a positive change in attitude..
Winery Hours: Open March 9 thru December 18, 2011 – Fridays, Saturdays & Sundays and Federal Holiday Mondays 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. (Closed Easter Sunday).
From Charlottesville area (approx. 30 minutes)
Take 29 North to Ruckersville, VA.
Take Route 33 West to Stanardsville
Turn left onto Route 810 (Dyke Road) to Dyke, VA. (Intersection Route 810 & 627 – Bacon Hollow Rd.) Turn right onto Route 627 (Bacon Hollow Rd.) and proceed 3.6 miles