When selecting wine, whether at restaurants or from wine shops, we try to subscribe to our local cause of “Drink Local Buy Local”. These are our neighbors, farming the land with grapevines and competing with less costly, large production wineries. We run into our winemakers, vineyard owners and vineyard managers at the grocery store, local events and dining out. It’s a tough, publicly perceived romantic means of making a living and we appreciate what they do.
One of the perks of living in the Virginia wine country is also having the opportunity to try wines outside of our area, smaller wineries in other parts of the country who are getting to appreciate our Virgina wines and we, theirs. On Friday, we were invited to an event by wine distributor Lanterna and Tamara Cavanaugh, formerly of Kluge Estate Winery, in an effort to acquaint us with Fritz Underground Winery from the Dry Creek area of Sonoma, California. We weren’t quite sure what to expect and were so glad we came, the event was held at the Trump National Golf Club in the Great Falls area along the Potomac. Michael MacDonald, General Manager, greeted us and introduced us to the club, the history behind the course, the Tennis “palace” with it’s magnificently lit indoor courts and it’s signature 1st and 18th hole waterfall.
Clay Fritz, current owner of Fritz Winery added his own personal story with a humorous slant during the wine sampling, sharing stories of his entrance into the business by way of his father, hence the winery’s name Fritz. Clay extolled on the virtues and talents of his lovely wife, Natalia and her inspiration to use some of the acreage for olive trees. She now has her own business, Natalia’s Kitchen, incorporating their estate grown wines in mouth watering recipes and products.
The winery itself is underground in the side of a scenic hillside with a living roof. The wine making process is enhanced by employing natural gravity, an energy saving means to transport the juice from the crush pad down to the tanks and barrels, thus eliminating the need for pumps. This also saves the juice from any adverse effects of excessive pulsation and buffeting.
Bacon wrapped scallops, spring rolls, caprese-kabobs, coconut shrimp and paté were paired with the three select wines, a Chardonnay, A Pinot Noir and a Zinfandel. 30% of the wines from Fritz remain for wine club members and sold locally, 70% are distributed nationally and can be purchased at Bill Curtis’s Tastings and are on the menu at The Ivy Inn and The Alley Light in the Charlottesville area. I’ll definitely be making my way to Tastings and The Alley Light, a popular local favorite in Cville.
The 2013 Fritz Chardonnay garners 91 points through Wine Enthusiast and isn’t overly oaked or too buttery but a pleasant bright citrusy taste and great for sipping alone.
The 2012 Fritz Pinot Noir, achieves 94 points, was a resounding hit, a beautiful garnet color with cherry flavor upfront and midrange spicy notes. I believe a popular choice for the holidays and I hope I can find this wine to add to our Fall menus.
The 2013 Fritz Estate Zinfandel followed, more robust in character with currant and dark cherry notes, the time is ripe for this wine!
I hope you get the chance to enjoy these wines and a visit to the winery if you’re in the Dry Creek area of northern California.