Montpelier Wine Festival 2016 Rain or Shine


The rolling hills of the Piedmont and the history of Montpelier make this one of the more idyllic settings for showcasing our local wineries. I’ve been there in all kinds of weather, but this is a must for history buffs, wine lovers and gardening enthusiasts. This event is well organized and traffic flow is smooth. Wear your Wellies or rain boots (just in case) since the ground may be a bit mushy after all of our recent rain. Bring some camp chairs, you’ll want to be able to sit back a bit after walking the gardens and enjoy a nice Viognier or Cabernet Franc. For hikers, save your wine for the end of the day and head out on the Montpelier-Grelen Trail, MontpelierTrails, a 3.9 mile loop with 9 miles of trails to explore. The Governor designated this trail a “Virginia Treasure” and is a fun way to explore the historical grounds, mountain views and it links to the Grelen Nursery on the Grelen Farm. Grelen is another find and worthy of a separate blog post, family oriented, great gift shop and in season berry picking, plus a sand box for the little ones!


Don’t miss  visiting the Mansion at James Madison’s Montpelier, but allow extra time!  Mansion tour tickets will be discounted for festival attendees. Exchange Café, featuring BBQ Exchange barbecue, is available for lunches! Wineries that are featured are, of course, Barboursville and Horton Vineyards, as well as Cross Keys Vineyard, Well Hung Vineyard, Democracy Vineyard, Reynard Florence Vineyard, Delfosse Vineyards & Winery, Lazy Days Winery, Villa Appalachia, Kilaurwen Winery, Mattaponi Winery, Prince Michel Vineyard & Winery, Peaks of Otter Winery,  Lake Anna Winery, Jefferson Vineyards, Rockbridge Vineyard (blog post waiting in the wings) and Stone Mountain Vineyards plus even more!


Have Fun!


2nd Annual Blue Ridge Oyster Festival

Press Release!

The Blue Ridge Oyster Festival is very proud that the food, wine and beer all come from Virginia and one of the many ways we celebrate this is to debut two wines from 2 vineyards, from 2 counties. This year, Blenheim Vineyards will debut their House Red at the Oyster Festival and Cardinal Point Vineyards will debut their Chardonnay. This year the festival will be held on April 21st with a rain date of the 22nd.

From Cardinal Point –Nelson County

2011 Chardonnay: Featured Release – clean,round, nice vanilla and cream, but not heavy. Our chardonnay escaped  any ill effects of the 2011 harvest rains. Aged in 100% American oak, mostly fromPennsylvania.

2011 Rockfish Red: 100% Cab Franc, aged for four months in French oak. The steady rains during the 2011 harvest account for its lighter than usual color, but the great ripening weather before the rains account for the great flavor. This wine has great berry fruit aromas and flavors, which have a nice dry and crisp finish. A perfect warm-weather red wine!

From Blenheim Vineyards –Albemarle County

2011 Red Table Wine – Featured release

The latest version of red table wine is fruit forward and packed full of juicy berry flavors.

Butterscotch and caramel notes that come from some barrel aging support the ripe plum and red cherry. 50% aged in French and American oak for 5 months. 352 cases produced. 46% Cabernet Franc, 36% Merlot,18% Cabernet Sauvignon

2011 White Table Wine

A crisp and refreshing warm weather white, perfect for pairing with oysters and picnic fare. 100% stainless steel fermented and aged, 33% Viognier, 66% Chardonnay. 331 cases produced.

2011 Rosé

A delightfully fruity but dry rosé made fromMourvedre, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. Extended skin contact helped create a vibrant and flavorful wine that pairs well with a variety of seafood dishes as well as grilled chicken and vegetable dishes. 280 cases produced.

Featured beer will includes:

Devil’s Backbone Brewery

Starr Hill Brewery

ViennaLager StarrPils (German Style Pilsner)

EightPoint IPA NorthernLights (IPA

Reilly’sRed Ale

BelgianCongo Pale Ale


The Other Side of the Mountain – Rockbridge Vineyard


Spending most of our time on the eastern side of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia, we tend to forget about the Shenandoah Valley and all the beauty just less than an hour from Charlottesville. The “Valley” has much to offer including the P. Buckley Moss Museum which contains the permanent collection of Pat Buckley Moss’s  art work offering visitors a retrospective tour of her art and life. It features not only religious art, the Virginia collection, but also other modernistic styles not typically associated with Pat’s folksy style.  South of Staunton  and just off of Interstate 81 in Raphine, Virginia, is a wonderful winery and vineyards started before the more recent surge in the Commonwealth’s grape-growing ventures.  Rockbridge Vineyard  is the result of the dreams of Shepherd  Rouse’s early interest in wine after spending a semester  in Germany as a Washington and Lee University geology student.  Three years later he returned to Germany on a Fulbright scholarship and  decided to learn how to produce fine wine in Virginia. Unlike some of the “gentleman vineyard owners” (nothing wrong with that by the way), Shep has a Masters degree in Enology from University of California at Davis and worked for several noteworthy wineries including Schramsberg, Chateau St. Jean and Carneros Creek .

Holiday Open House

After receiving a timely   invitation to the Christmas Open House at Rockbridge, we crossed the mountain into “dairyland”.  Red barns, silos, grazing cows and rolling farmland unfolded at a higher elevation than one normally sees grapes cultivated in Virginia. We rolled up the crunchy gravel driveway to the Rockbridge tasting room just before noon.  At 11:00 the tasting bar was full and guests were nibbling on comfort food including a barley leek soup, marinated meatballs and Sheps Mom’s recipe for hot cheese dip. Jane Rouse, co-owner and Shep’s wife kept things lively while bustling about making sure that each person was warmly greeted while handling errands at the same time.  We were very appreciative of her attentiveness and joined the others in the tasting with Jane pouring for us. Some of their bottles  labels feature a drawing of Natural Bridge, located in Rockbridge and one of the oldest tourist destinations in the United States with 20 stories of towering rock walls creating the bridge.  The “Reserve” wines are labeled with the De Chiel name hearkening from Shep’s French heritage.  Proud of Rockbridge County, Jane encouraged us to visit other sites while in the area and tipped us off to one of the prettier scenic drives in Virginia just west of the vineyards. She also recommended a visit to Wade’s Mill, a short drive down 606. Wade’s Mill is a working flour mill dating back to 1750 and powered by a 21-foot water wheel that is fed by a nearby stream.

The Wines

We started the tasting with the 2010 Pinot Noir Blanc de Noir light bodied with peachy aromas and a sparkling wine quality. A very nice summer porch swing wine in my opinion.  The 2010 DeChiel Chardonnay Reserve aged in French oak has a buttery taste without being too oaky. The Tuscarora Red at $10 a bottle is their best seller, a blend of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chambourcin. My personal favorite was the 2007 DeChiel Cabernet Franc Reserve, very smooth and well balanced but full bodied and I plan on serving it this weekend. The 2008 DeChiel Meritage is a blend of 5 Bordeaux grapes, we had it with a traditional Carne Guisada (Mexican Stew) and it paired very well.  A “fun” wine Jeremiah’s (like the bullfrog) and a “mighty fine wine”,  it’s a wine for even non-wine lovers tasting more like concord grapes than wine. Be sure to ask about their Eiswein, V d’Or!

The Rouses have opened up the barn for events and is an ideal spot for small weddings, parties and receptions. Check with them about the reasonable price for the facility. Rustic, well lit, tables provided and plenty of ambience.

A Lovely Weekend in the Country

All in all, we found the drive well worthwhile.  A lovely drive, country hospitality, fun gifts in the tasting room including local art work, good wine and a good time. Hard to beat when you’re looking for something different to do for a relaxing weekend. As Ferris Buehler would say, “I highly recommend it!”.

Pick of the Piedmont Festival

We are anticipating an absolutely incredible afternoon tomorrow with crisp Fall weather and even a little frost on the pumpkin tonight!  Texas Rangers are playing tonight, trying to beat the Yankees for their  first ever entry into the World series! What a Weekend!  If you haven’t already made plans for October 23rd and 24th, try to come out to Orange for The Pick of the Piedmont  Fall  Wine Festival!  I’m glad our friends invited us to this event!

 The following wineries and vineyards are participating, some of these wineries are new to me so it will be nice to get a chance to taste their wines! Barboursville VineyardsBurnley Vineyards & Daniel Cellars, Cooper Vineyard,   First Colony Winery, Grayhaven Winery, Lazy Days Winery, Lake Anna Winery, Peaks of Otter Winery, Potomac Point Winery, Rockbridge Vineyard, Stone Mountain Vineyards, Well Hung Vineyard, WindSong Winery, and Wintergreen WineryHorton will also be participating!

 Tickets are available online and are $20.00 and $5.00 for designated drivers and youths 13-20. Wine cooking demonstrations,  arts & crafts booths plus live entertainment, hours are from 11:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.

Location: Region: Central Virginia
Locality: Orange County

Booster Park
19046 Constitution Highway (route 20)
Orange, VA 22960
Driving Directions