Chris Breiner PVCC Viticulture and Enology Scholarship

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.”

Virginia Wine Highlights of 2011, Optimism for 2012

 Wine Enthusiast Magazine has named Virginia as one of the 10 best wine travel destinations for 2012. The article, listed online and in the February issue of Wine Enthusiast Magazine, highlights Virginia as one of only three domestic destinations to make the list of wine regions that are ideal for wine lovers to visit in 2012. Virginia was named along with regions in Italy, New Zealand, Spain, Hungary, Germany, France, Chile and two regions in California. The article cites Virginia’s rich history, natural beauty and wine makers as some of the many reasons why Virginia is a hot wine travel destination. This article just out on Virginia.Gov!

2011 proved to be an exciting year for Charlottesville and the wine industry throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia.

The North American Wine Bloggers Conference made their way to the East Coast bringing along international publicity for Virginia wines. Over 300 wine bloggers descended on Charlottesville visiting local wineries, dining on the lawn at Monticello and tasting food pairings along Main Street and  the Downtown Pedestrian Mall.  Governor McDonnell and First Lady Maureen have promoted our vineyards and wineries enthusiastically.  First Lady Maureen McDonnell has  incorporated wine and wine tourism promotions into her First Lady Initiative Team Effort or FLITE. More domestic and international promotions are planned for 2012.

Having only recently started blogging about wines, I was thrilled to sip alongside world-wide experts at the wining/dining table. Despite intense heat, Virginia wines showed well and local wine-makers relished the opportunity to present their best.  Almost simultaneously, Charlottesville was thrust into the limelight by the demise of the Kluge Estate and the “intervention” of consummate real estate investor, Donald Trump. Thus, the new Trump Winery.

Following a year hit by weather extremes, please read the following excerpt from Stephen Barnard’s blog post Mother Nature Ruled 2011 for Keswick Vineyards which illustrates 2011 better than I ever could.

After the 2010 vintage in Virginia [arguably the best in recent times], the 2011 growing season was also going to struggle to reach the lofty standards of its predecessor. To say that 2011 failed miserably, would be similar to saying that Drew Brees had an okay year [this makes sense if you know that he broke Dan Marino’s all time passing yards in a single season, 5084 set in 1984 when Marino played for the Miami Dolphins].

Mother Nature ruled this year and her awesome power was on display more times than anyone of us would wish for. From a devastating earthquake in New Zealand to the horrific Tsunami in Japan, 2011 was littered with catastrophic natural disasters. Closer to home, Tuscaloosa was hit hard by the April 27th Tornado, Virginia experienced a 5.8 magnitude earthquake on August 23rd, quickly followed by the August 27th appearance of hurricane Irene. 2011 was certainly unforgettable, but for all the wrong reasons.

All in all though, I think we manged to dodge a bullet, in that it would have been far corse than what it was. I am thankful for having some experience in Virginia and after working the 2003 harvest, I was way more prepared this time round. I can only shudder and imagine what would have happened had this been my first vintage in Virginia. Overall I give the vintage a B+, the wines are developing character and should be fantastic. Although lighter in style than 2010, these are vibrant wines and will no doubt bring pleasure to many a wine drinker.

I love the end of his blog post extolling the best blend ever, he and wife Kat’s baby girl, Aria, born in December.  A 50% blend of each parent, expecting to take 80 years to mature! 

 After all, it was a very good year.

My friends at Drs. Viglione, Haines and Bagheri selected a new winery-Pippin Hill,  to kick off their new name, Charlottesville Dental Health Partners. A fun time for all who could participate, it was the unveiling of their philosophy, Our Focus is On You. Toasting a relationship between health and dental health, dentists partnering with their patients for total body health.

I had the pleasure of visiting many wineries in Virginia this year and even some in England.  Lots of fun with family and friends. The potential for the 2012 Virginia wine industry  is exciting and I look forward to the progress of our friends and encourage the support of  “Drink Local”!  I think I made that up?

Cheers from Bob and Tricia!

Wineries in Southwestern Virginia?

After a marvelously long Thanksgiving week visiting family and friends from Tennessee to Texas, we’re coming back to reality. This is actually very good, the Christmas decorations are beckoning to be displayed, getting a head start on organizing for the new year and our real estate listings need some TLC.  2012 is around the corner and I’m looking for wine related topics to cover for the future.

We’ll be passing through southwestern Virginia and on up to Charlottesville in the next two days. Any suggestions or curiosity regarding grapes or wineries through this region?   Chateau Morrisette certainly one of interest.  I’m excited to visit Rockbridge next weekend for their Christmas open house!   We actually tried some wine from Arkansas and I have to admit, it was smoother than the roads we bumped along.  In the meantime, I’d  love your input before we hit the highway again!

Wining the Potomac

It’s Harvest time in Virginia and there are loads of fun things to do, see and taste!  I loved the idea in the following article combining a unique venue, education and excellent wines!  A win-win for wine lovers!  Check it out if  you would like to enjoy a unique Happy Hour on the Potomac!  It looks like it would be fun and a beautiful time of year to be on the river in D.C.  Somebody please go and let me know how it was!

By the way, this photo has nothing to do with the cruise below, but my friend Paulette Musselman shot this during harvest at Glass House Winery in Free Union and I loved it!  Thanks, Paulette for sharing!

Set Sail for Virginia Wine Month With Washington Wine Academy Cruises

http://w w w .ontaponline.com/2011/10/03/set-sail-for-virginia-w ine-month-w ith-w ashington-w ine-academy-cruises-2/ October 9, 2011

The Washington Wine Academy is celebrating Virginia Wine Month by bringing vino from ten vineyards a little closer to DC.

The Academy is hosting a series of cruises featuring 25 wines — about a dozen will be served during each cruise — from Rappahannock Cellars, Boxwood Winery, Breaux Vineyards, Pearmund Cellars, Linden Vineyards, Winery at La Grange, Barboursville Vineyard, Ingleside, Vint Hill Craft Winery and Whitehall Vineyard. Cheese from Cabot Creamery, as well as artisan Virginia snacks such as ham and peanuts, will also be served.

The Friday cruises will leave from Gangplank Marina in Washington DC on 700 Water St. SW, and spend 90 minutes on the Potomac River. Each trip will be capped at about 140 guests, and organizers expect a number of sell-outs.

“We really enjoy the wine from the vineyards we invited. Education is key. Virginia wine isn’t the same now as it was even a few years ago, and we’re happy to be able to demonstrate that to the attendees,” Washington Wine Academy’s Kellie Shevlin said.

The opportunity is a welcome one for wineries looking to forge a stronger presence inside the Beltway. John Delmare, owner of Rappahannock Cellars, located more than an hour outside of DC in Huntly, VA said the biggest draw was being able to showcase his wine to consumers in the core of his target region: DC.

“We don’t have that opportunity often,” Delmare said.

“We are seeing amazing growth in the recognition of Virginia wines as a real “player” in the national wine landscape,” said Chris Pearmund, Executive Winemaker at three of the featured wineries — Vint Hill, The Winery at La Grange and Pearmund Cellars.

“The cruises are a great way to bring Virginia wine to DC, so those that might not venture out to the wine country can get a taste of the amazing wine our industry is producing,” he added.

Vint Hill co-owner Lance Heflin said his craft winery plans to feature products made by its amateur vintners as well as bottles from its professional portfolio including Enigma, a red blend whose name reflects the roots of Vint Hill’s Warrenton location. The barn where its wine is made was once home to the original NSA.

Back-to-back warm summers precipitated bumper crops for many Virginia vineyards, although the heavy rains of early September may knock those numbers down in some locations. Delamare said the sunny summer boosted Rappahannock’s Merlot yield, which will be released as a single varietal next year alongside a “fizzy” rosé made from a blend of red grape varieties.

For other winemakers, the draw is the cruises’ unique venue.

“I sincerely think that when wine is enjoyed in the right surrounding, atmosphere, landscape and with friends, it is elevated to a much higher purpose and is greatly appreciated,” said Barboursvillewinemaker Luca Paschina. “I believe that is going to happen on these cruises. That is why I chose to participate.”

Boxwood‘s Rachel Martin said that her vineyard jumped at the opportunity to get in front of more local wine consumers.

“Our wines are not cheap, but the vineyard has a rich history,” she said. Boxwood, whose winemaking operation is a National Historic Landmark in Middleburg, VA will be featuring its dry rosé and Topiary Red, which is a Cabernet Franc-heavy blend.

“It’s important to get people on board with regional products, and that includes wine. As long as the quality is there, you should enjoy it.”

The cruises will be held October 7, 14, 21 and 28 departing at at 6:30 and 8:30 pm from the Gangplank Marina in DC. Tickets are $55.00 per person. Register online at http://www.WashingtonWineAcademy.org.

Inaugural DC Wine Week

In September, wine blog the Daily Sip reported that DC led the nation in wine consumption in 2009 at 6.6 gallons per capita. This month, local oenophiles will gather to show why DC is number one in vino.

DCeventjunkie & Pivot Point Communications are planning a celebration of all things wine — from restaurant and bar specials, wine-pairing menus to wine-themed events — to be held October 15 to 22. Education seminars and events around the DMV region will also feature selections from local wineries. Updates can be found on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/dcwineweek and the DC Wine Week website.

DC Wine Week: Oct. 15 -22; http://www.dcwineweek.com; Twitter @DCWineWeek.

Trump Winery Open for Business!

Tuesday, October 4th, heralds the grand opening (or re-0pening) of the former Kluge Estate Winery  in Albemarle County, Virginia under a new name,  (can you guess it?)  Trump Winery.  Donald Trump’s son, Eric Trump is President  and Patricia Kluge and her husband William Moses will serve as Vice Presidents of the winery.  Attending the celebration were the aforementioned, as well as Governor Bob McDonnell. The Governor  has played a key role in promoting Virginia wines in the United States as well as Europe and soon will be encouraging business with Israel. According to Todd Haymore,  Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry,  McDonnell and Virginia’s first lady,  Maureen McDonnell are credited  with helping boost Virginia’s wine sales.  The McDonnell administration  passed a program giving tax credits to individuals establishing or expanding wineries and vineyards in the Commonwealth.

The media were present to photograph, video and ask questions of Donald Trump, and I  found him to be just like he is on television-assertive and gregarious, but better looking in person!  There is no question that Trump knows how to deal with the media.  When asked by  reporters why Donald could make this venture successful when Patricia Kluge could not, he came to her defense in typical “Trumpian” manner and explained that he had the advantage of not having a mortgage! Touche! Another question regarded the intentions of the real estate aspect of his investment . 

Mr. Trump  said  he planned to keep the property “high-end”.  When a reporter from The Hook asked about Albemarle House, Donald Trump tossed the question back and asked him if he would want to buy such a big house on such little property! We know who owns the surrounding estate!   He is still in the market for Albemarle House but feels the bank  has it valued too high. 

 

 
 

 After answering several questions, the baton was then passed to his son for details about the winery itself.    Patricia Kluge joined Eric at the microphone and remarked on her role in the business.  Geraldine Fabrikant, a senior writer for Business Day at The New York Times, interviewed  Patricia Kluge  recently and found her to be, not surprisingly, quite resilient and up to the task of re-establishing herself in the wine industry. Subsequently, Eric Trump stepped aside allowing Gov. McDonnell  to praise the wine industry in Virginia.

Ultimately, Donald and Eric  Trump and Patricia Kluge  plan to expand the vineyards and employ new marketing ideas to the wines and their labels.  They refused to elaborate and left it as a surprise for wine lovers.  Additionally, Eric mentioned the potential for  “hundreds” of jobs associated with the growth of the winery. 

No matter what locals think, the Trump name creates fervor and  excitement in a realtively sedate area of Virginia. I know it  certainly was fun for me to sit in the Trump   helicopter even though I couldn’t wrangle a ride out of the pilot!  The pilot  did however mention that he loved  flying over our  scenic Virginia wine country!  Planning a trip to Charlottesville?  A must-do after visiting  Monicello, home of Thomas Jefferson,  is  the new  Trump Winery and the neighboring  vineyards  owned by Dave Matthews,  Blenheim Winery!

Lessons Learned at a Wine Bloggers Conference

Sip often!

Spit just as often!

Listen, listen, listen!

Sit next to knowledgeable people and listen more!

Remember where you leave your shoes! Yes, I lost a pair of my favorite heels when I switched to my black Reefs!

Wear comfortable shoes, no one can see your shoes below the tablecloth!  Works for a formal dinner where everyone has been drinking all day!

Walking barefoot on the West Lawn at Monticello made me wonder if  Thomas Jefferson had done the same on a hot summer evening!  Definitely cooler barefoot in the grass!

When it’s super hot, a glass of  icy cold water is preferable to any Gold medal winning wine!  MAYBE a very nicely chilled Virginia Viognier…

Don’t stand behind someone at the tasting bar when sampling a Cab Franc or Petit Verdot!

Wine Away works well except when used with a cute colorful napkin from Greenwood Grocery!  My camisole went from a deep burgundy stain to an olive green smudge (was white!).

I’m very proud of Charlottesville, our local wineries, the downtown mall, and Virginia Wine!  Job well done!

Wine Blogging at Monticello!

After spending a day at the Omni Hotel on the Charlottesville downtown pedestrian mall ( I write this description for non-locals) we climbed on busses heading up curvy route 53 to Monticello for a dinner reception featuring Virginia wines. Extremely muggy hot weather was not the best conditions to show off our fair city and Blue Ridge Mountains. I still think despite the New Orleans Bayou-thick air, out of state visitors were impressed with the history and beauty of Monticello.  Efforts were made to keep the guests comfortable, hand-held fans printed with “Virginia Is For Lovers” were distributed and outdoor air conditioning was provided at strategic locations, fans with water reservoirs diffusing cool mist on the more aggressive heat relief seekers (Me!).  TJ look-alike mingled with the guests  along with celebrities like the Zonins, owners of Barboursville, just in from Italia! 

The wine makers were sheltered under a vast tent, keeping their bottles in coolers before opening them  for the bloggers. I couldn’t be more proud of our winery owners, wine makers and hosts-cheerfully pouring (more requested) whites  and reds and extolling the quality of their wines. Meanwhile, I shed my heels at Ankida Ridge’s table and walked barefoot in the grass,  meeting other wine bloggers and tasting wine.  As I wandered around, I couldn’t help but wonder what Thomas Jefferson would think about these techy wine lovers traipsing around his home and sharing thoughts regarding an industry that he started centuries ago  in Virginia!  

I was a little despondent about the demise of the 200+ years old White Oak and Poplar trees flanking the west side of Monticello. Noticeably missing, the large tree stumps look void and sad, so I toasted Thomas Jefferson quietly to myself.  The value of some of the wines attributed to his collection have reached record prices at auction!

Ankida Ridge, Glass House, Stinson, Gabrielle RausseFlying Fox and Pippin Hill Farm Vineyard were stops for me, unfortunately I missed several others due to waning energy. The food was excellent!  Shrimp and cheese grits, mini crab cakes, tiny stuffed red potatoes were all tasty pairings for the wines offered. Water bottles were the most coveted item on the menu, Keswick Hall did a fabulous job!

All in all, a lovely event and I overheard many guests discussing return travel plans to Virginia!

Great job, Charlottesville and Virginia Tourism!

2011 North American Wine Bloggers Conference in Charlottesville!

In a little over a month, Charlottesville, Virginia will be hosting The North America Wine Bloggers Conference!  They are expecting as many as 325 participants, actually limiting it to that number!  This is quite a coup for Virginia and the efforts of many in the Commonwealth including Governor Bob McDonnel . With the recent opening of Pippin Hill Farm and Vineyards  and this week Stinson Vineyards,  there is a lot of excitement in the air around Charlottesville’s wine country!

This is my first time to participate and I’m excited to be  learning more about wines from enthusiasts world wide!  I will be joining wine bloggers, new media innovators, and wine industry leaders on July 22-24, 2011 in Charlottesville, Virginia for the fourth annual North American Wine Bloggers Conference!  Best of all, I feel proud to be a local wine blogger and have the opportunity to show off  the beauty of our wine country and some of our superb wineries! 

There is also a Pre-Conference Excursion to Loudoun County.  Loudoun County is located just outside Washington DC and is one of Virginia’s premier wine areas, with 28 area wineries. I really wanted to join this group as well but can’t take that much time away from real estate in the summer! Other than visits to local wineries and Monticello, all meetings will be held at the Omni Hotel,  located near the end of our charming downtown pedestrian mall.

I’ve never “Live-Wine Blogged” before, hopefully I’ll get some pointers before the event!  The agenda is amazing including Dave McIntyre, wine writer for the Washington Post and founding member of DrinkLocalWine.com;  Lenn Thompson, founder of New York Cork Report; and Rémy Charest, blogger at The Wine Case in Canada.  This panel will be moderated by wine blogger, Frank Morgan of  Drink What You Like.  It will also be a great chance to meet wine tweeps in person!

New York Times wine critic and blogger Eric Asimovwill be providing the  keynote speech for the conference. I also noticed my friend Kat Schornberg Barnard of Keswick Vineyards will be attending!  I’ll know one person!

Look out C-ville, Here come the winos 🙂