Ankida Ridge Vineyard – A Winery with Vision

Pinot Noir clone 777 on rootstock 101-14

Ah, where to begin?

It all  started with a dream; a dream that confirmed a vision that became Ankida Ridge – where Heaven and Earth join.  Christine Vrooman had a dream of a serene place to withdraw with her family in the mountains of Virginia.  In her “dream journal”  she described a place that had come to her in her sleep, a piece of land with a little cabin and a fruit tree near a pond.  She sketched it in her journal and forgot about it until she happened on the land near Amherst on Franklin Creek Road.  It was all there,  the cabin, the pond, even the cherry tree!  This was only one of the intimate stories she shared with us on our visit to Ankida Ridge Vineyard., now a part of the new  Jefferson Heritage Trail!

It was my pleasure to be invited by Glass House Winery friends on an outing south to a new and up and coming winery. Our group of wine adventurers( advinturers?)  included ring-leaders Paulette Musselman ( a kindred spirit- wine lover, photographer and knows no strangers) and  Michelle Sanders, chocolatier and owner of Glass House; plus Connie, GH tasting room manager, and friends Nancy and Candace both newcomers to the Charlottesville area.


Nathan Vrooman is the winemaker and supervisor of construction of the new winery.  Greeting us warmly, he guided us into the lower level of the winery. Brazilian music softly filled the vat room and the family dogs, Boom-Boom (Boomer)  and Tonka begged for our attention. I think these two along with their adorable and quirky Bella should definitely be on the list for the next Virginia Wine Lovers Readers Choice favorite vineyard dogs.  Pouring us their chilled 2010 Chardonnay, we shared stories taking in the views of sheep grazing and snow dusted mountains.   Tasting note: I really liked the Chardonnay even though it is being overshadowed by the 2010 Pinot Noir. Nathan doesn’t try to take credit but certainly deserves it, especially with the praise that their first vintages are receiving.  Only Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes have been planted on the property. Interestingly, while attending the dinner at Monticello I got to hear first-hand the praises of the 2010 Pinot Noir from Dave McIntyre of the Washington Post  during the 2011 Wine Bloggers Conference .

Here are just a few of the positive comments about Ankida Ridge:


One of “Virginia’s Top Picks,” … “a new and exciting producer ” — Jancis Robinson, acclaimed international wine writer and critic

Amazing Pinot Noir,”  An insider’s pick… that “wowed the crowd”   — Dave McIntyre, The Washington Post

A faithful Pinot taste ….. The Chardonnay is well-balanced and spicy, and a treat in the style of a white Burgundy” — Jim Raper, The Virginian-Pilot

Christine’s blog is one of my favorite blogs with excellent photography and a true gift for writing. She captures life at the vineyard through heart warming pictures of family, beloved pets, the unravelling of the woods into orchards and vines…and the sheep, the lambs and grandbabies stomping grapes! A must-read for any one longing for the simpler life. Her photo of the mountains seen through a glass of Chardonnay became the cover of the 2011 Virginia Wine Guide and was coveted by Virginia’s First Lady, Maureen McDonnell.

Christine also is committed to organically treating the property and has written in detail of the benefits of Willow tree bark tea, a concoction they make from their own Willow trees. She explained quite scientifically how the tea poured around the roots causes SAR (System Aquired Response) and thus resulting in a more complex intense fruit flavor. It’s working!  Christine mentions a link in her blog about this. You should have tasted the Port they have in barrel, Wow!  I think we all really liked that, just have to wait another year and a half.

For a cool February afternoon with sun peaking in and out casting shadows on dormant vines, it was magical.  The Vroomans treated us all as old friends and I feel we stayed a bit long imposing on their hospitality and delicious wine. A return visit is imperative during the Spring and I can only imagine the Redbud trees and Dogwoods with baby lambs romping below the vineyard.  Visits to the winery are by appointment only so check out their website before you venture out.


The AdVinturers!

I had to include this picture of Christine’s eyes which I found  captivating and could be described as “veraison”  eyes changing colors from green to violet. Thank You to Christine, Nathan, and of course,  Paulette (for driving and packing the picnic basket)!

Credit to C. Vrooman for the lead picture and Paulette for the ones with her name on them 🙂



Valentine’s is For Virginia Wine Lovers!

                                        Call me Cupid!

Need some ideas for your special sweetheart this Valentine’s Day?  Check out some of our local wineries and  revel in chocolate and wine, an indulgence for all your senses! Pick out a sentimental card and a rose and you have the ingredients for a very romantic weekend!

DuCard Winery Valentine’s Sunday Brunch
Sunday, February 13 2011 11:30 AM seating
Here’s an elegant idea for you and your special Valentine to enjoy at their Madison County tasting room.  Charlottesville personal chef Cindy Shepard will be serving a gourmet brunch featuring local ingredients (click here for menu) and paired with DuCard Wines (of course!).  Vicky Lee will set the mood with her harp ( $40 per person.  Seating is limited – for reservations contact or call 540.923.4206.

Glass House Winery

Mark your calendars for Sunday Feb 13th, when Glass House welcomes acoustic rock musicians The Lost Souls to Glass House.  2-5pm.  No cover. 
Also on Sunday Feb 13th, they will be celebrating Valentine’s Day with cheese and chocolate pairings with their wines!  For $15, they will pair a cheese or one of Glass House Winery’s delectable chocolates with each of their wines for this tasting.  Don’t miss it, as Michelle is dreaming up some new flavors for the occasion.   Regular $5 tastings will also be available.











Keswick Vineyards Be Mine With Wine

Feb 12th, 11am – 4pm
Wine, strawberries, and sweets… Spoil yourself or someone you love with Keswick Vineyards’ special wine, 2 different kinds of hand-dipped strawberries and other sweets for a Valentine’s Day indulgence.  Discover how these luscious confections complement each wine.  After your tasting, enjoy the romantic setting while you savor a glass of wine and take a guess at how many candy hearts are in their  Rosé bottle to win a free future tour and tasting for you and your sweetheart.

The cost is $12 for  wine club members and $15 for non wine club members. Reservations are recommended.

If you’re unable to break away on the weekend, stop by during the week and pick up a bottle of Norton wine for Kris’s homemade brownies!  I borrowed the recipe from the Keswick blog:

Double Norton Brownies

We’ve had a lot of requests for the recipe for Kris’ brownies that we had in the tasting room last weekend, so here it is!  It’s really simple!
Just take a regular box of brownie mix (chocolate or fudge) and substitute Norton wine for the water and 1/4 of the amount of vegetable oil that the mix calls for with Norton chocolate sauce.  Mix it together and bake as directed.
The chocolate sauce will make a more fudgy texture so you can use less or more depending on how fudgy you want them.  

To make an extra special treat, we topped them with strawberries dipped in whipped topping (we used equal parts mascarpone cheese and whipped topping, sugared to taste) and rolled in coconut and then drizzled the whole thing with more Norton chocolate sauce! 


King Family Vineyards

February 12, 2011 – February 14, 2011Valentines at the Vineyard

Celebrate Valentine’s Day weekend with your special someone at King Family Vineyards! Enjoy Gearhart’s chocolates specially selected to pair with their wines. $15/person includes souvenir glass, glass of wine, and 3 handcrafted chocolates. Reservations are recommended. 11am-5pm Saturday and Sunday, 9am-5pm Monday.