Valentine’s and Galentine’s Day at Vitae Spirits

IMG_5863Sometimes circumstances cause us to chase a rabbit and where it leads is quite unexpected. Attending a picnic on a friends farm, we met the parents of Brian Ashworth, owner/barbecuer/chef of Ace Biscuit & Barbecue, who raved about their son’s accolades (and food) and highly recommend we try it sometime. How did we miss this place? Actually, I’ll tell you how =) We are HUGE Bodo’s Bagel fans and also MarieBette Café and Bakery , consequently when hunger pangs ensue we take a direct route down Rose Hill Drive and never even glance down little Henry Ave in the Rose Hill neighborhood near downtown Charlottesville. After finally realizing that Ace Biscuit closes daily at 3, and having to get my iPhone 7+ repaired for the second time (dropping it in sub-freezing weather-not good) we managed to head to Ace for a breakfast biscuit.  Vitae_Spirits_Distillery_StorefrontThe exterior is unassuming, more industrial in appearance, but within lies talent we take for granted in our community. Not only can you enjoy homemade biscuits, barbecue and excellent vegetarian sides, you can pack up and head to Vitae for spirits to accompany your meal.Becca, who works not only at Ace, but also at Vitae Spirits next door was an enthusiastic cheerleader for both local businesses . And so the rabbit hopped into Vitae and we ducked in right behind.  Actually, I had to come back because they weren’t open until 2!

I was quite impressed with the background of the owner, Ian Glomski as well as the  spirits distilled at Vitae. A former Professor of Microbiology at the University Of Virginia School Of Medicine, Ian trained at the Pasteur Institute of Paris, a research institute founded and named for Louis Pasteur and responsible for major break-throughs in medicine including vaccinations, the process of pasteurization and the isolation of the HIV virus. Now that’s impressive! Read more about Ian and the team at their website.Vitae_Vendome_Copper_StillIMG_5866

Tastings are different at a distillery than at a winery, guests are allowed a maximum total of 3 ounces per person per day. These tastings can either be served as a straight spirit in 0.5 ounce pours or can be served as 1.5 ounces of the selected spirit with a cocktail mixer. I sampled the golden rum, gin and the orange liqueur, made with the peel of local oranges. I really am not a mixed drink person but I thought I should see what everyone was talking about, especially by virtue of the fact that so much of what happens is locally sourced. The rum is made with American sugar cane that Ace Barbecue grills to impart a smokey flavor and combines with charred American oak steeped in their 140 proof Platinum Rum. The Modern  Gin is made with 18 different botanicals and is fragrant and aromatic, a real surprise and less emphasis on juniper.  It won a Silver Medal at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition 2017!

Mark this on your calendar, Vitae will be hosting a GALENTINE’S DAY event on February 8th from 5-9 pm. Kind of like an open house, come by for a tasting, there will be a massage therapist there offering massages for 5 minutes, up to 15 minutes at a $1 per minute massage. Cocoa and Spice chocolates, Darling boutique and Hedge Fine Blooms will also be there, all the things a gal loves! A portion of the proceeds will be donated to SARA  for victims of sexual violence ( men, women and children) and the Charlottesville Derby Dames.

And so the rabbit escaped out the  door of Vitae after a nice little side jaunt into a world I wouldn’t normally have entered.  How nice to find a couple more businesses that support not only local food sources, but also local charities. I hope you get a chance to stop by some time and check them out!

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Ankida Ridge & Cross Keys Vineyards- Opposite Sides of the Appalachian Trail


photo-7With one toe still wedged in the doorway between 2012 and 2013,  I reluctantly find it is time to take down our beautiful Christmas tree  (after all it is Valentine’s Day)  and start a new year of wine blogging.  My own mini-vacation, a touch of procrastination, added to an already  busy early Spring real estate market; the days speed ahead and we approach March!  I find drinking  wine easy, hanging out at a winery listening to music with friends certainly no rough task,  but describing it in print  requires a little effort from the grey matter that is already tinted a touch  purple.

Reflections of Winter 2012

We wrapped up 2012 with a memorable tree trimming  Christmas Party at Ankida Ridge and a delightful note to end the year.  The famed Pinot Noir that the Vroomans are already known for was served along with their newest  label, Rockgarden Cellars.

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Sourced from grapes grown in neighboring Virginia vineyards that  have made the journey up 1800 feet to become  “The Voyager Series,” and in keeping the French theme, we are calling this “green-style”  spritzy white wine “Voyage (voy-AJH) de Vert” and the red blend of Merlot,  Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc “Voyage de Rouge.”  We really enjoyed the Rouge as well as the family style sing along and many, glass in hand, headed further up the mountain via a tractor-pulled hayride. Here’s a little snippet of Christine Vrooman’s talented niece, Jessie Rogowski, leading the carols:

Keep your eyes on this boutique winery in the Amherst region of Virginia.  They have an active intimate wine club and visits to the winery are arranged by appointment or scheduled events, next one is St. Patrick’s Day 3/17.

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Early 2013

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For Valentine’s, our celebration was highlighted by opening a Port wine saved after a visit with friends to Cross Keys Vineyards. It lies a little south of Massanutten in the Shenandoah Valley in Mt. Crawford. Cross Keys commands a rather regal presence over the valley with its palatial architecture. A perfect locale for weddings and grand photo ops that would please any bride. Move over Kate Middleton 😉

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Cross Keys does an excellent job by teaming up with Massanutten Resort, the Shenadoah Park Hotels and local B&B’s to provide dining, tastings and special events for vacationers.  We stepped in midway through a tour and due to the number of visitors, extracted ourselves up to the tasting room and beat the crowd. Aren’t we the clever ones!  Typically, port style wines don’t intrigue me, but this 100% Touriga Nacional was so aromatic with dark cherry fragrance and a slight orange scent, I had to bring it home for my husband.  Aged for two years in French and American Oak, garnet red in color, with a smooth round velvet mouth feel, I felt it the perfect choice to set the mood for a romantic evening.

Cheers to a happy and prosperous, healthy New Year!

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 (victorialeemusic.com) $40 per person.  Seating is limited – for reservations contact scott@ducardvineyards.com 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.