First, I think we can all agree that I am no a wine blogger. I leave that to people much more talented and knowledgeable than me. At best, I sometimes blog wine or wineries, but mostly I blog food and food-related stuff. I’m going to keep it that way, so don’t worry that your foodie fix here has left you for a glass of pinot noir. This coming week, however, I am going to blog wine, because I have a great reason to do so. Well, two reasons: 1) we had an amazing time on the opening of the Appellation Trail and 2) I have a really light week due to some client vacations.
We made it to 4 of the 5 wineries on the trail: Stinson, White Hall, Mountfair, and Glass House. We also got a sneak taste of the Ankida Ridge pinot noir, which I’ll include with the Stinson review. The wineries are all going to get their own posts with my wine reviews. I’ll be doing one a day, starting on Tuesday and running through Friday. Why, you ask, didn’t we make it to Moss Vineyards for an awesome, one-day-only sneak preview of their winery & tasting room? Let me just say it wasn’t for lack of trying. And that’s why I’m not starting today with an individual winery post. You know the saying “Half the fun is getting there?”
We met up with our friends Renee and Brian around noon, so we could carpool the trail. We’ve never been tasting together before and decided kind of last-minute to meet up for the Grand Opening of the trail. I’d been planning it for a few weeks, and was delighted that we’d all finally have a chance to taste together (we’d been talking about it for weeks). Despite a call for rain and some pretty ominous skies, we headed out in their SUV. All I can say is I am so very glad that we made the (also last-minute) decision to take their car because mine’s just too darn small.
Stinson was our first stop. I was pretty geeked about Stinson, since they’re new and this was a special open day for them until their grand opening later this year. We pulled into an obviously-busy tasting room (this would prove to be the norm all day long, which was great!), ran inside through heavy rain, and settled ourselves at one of the three small tasting bars. You’re not getting a full run-down here until Tuesday (Stinson will be first-up on my reviews), but I will say it was a $5 tasting fee, which included the Ankida Ridge pinot noir. And, as it turns out, it also included a great little slider from Gyffon’s Aerie farm and a few homemade side dishes. This was a pleasant surprise.
Aside (scroll down if you could care less about foodie stuff)
Now, while I am not doing the wines here, let me talk about the beef. The beef was, in a word, fabulous. I didn’t get a chance to ask them if it was seasoned (and if so, with what), but it was excellent. I met the folks who run the farm two years ago at Monticello’s Harvest Festival, and have wanted to try their meat ever since. It was lean but juicy, flavorful without any hint of game. That said, it was $7/lb. You all know that I believe pretty firmly in paying more for quality meats, with a premium on local. But, $7 is way out of the market for this area. Davis Creek is $4.85/lb, and their beef is fantastic. Our Father’s Farm is on the highest side of what I pay in the area at $6.50/lb, which I’ll pay because I love them to death, and it’s super-convenient because I can have it delivered with my milk share.
We still decided to purchase some sausage from Gryffon’s Aerie, though, because we have a hard time getting local pork unless we drive to Charlottesville for the market (which we do, but we’re out right now). We were floored: $10/lb for sausage. Babe in the Woods–very high-quality local pork–is $5.50 to $7.50/lb! We haven’t tried the sausage yet, and I’ll let you know how it is, but I have to say that it’s difficult for me to imagine what could make it $$2.50-4.50/lb better than Babe in the Woods.
Now, back to our trip!
We left Stinson and drove the 2ish miles to White Hall. The rain was coming down in torrents, but we dashed through it and into the tasting room. Note: pergolas, while attractive, do diddly for keeping you dry. Once again, we were welcomed into a tasting room practically bursting. It was great. This was another winery I was looking forward to because they were doing a special Petit Verdot vertical of 4 years, and pairing them with gourmet cheeses. We had to wait a bit to get started, but the staff was friendly and we got to talk to the chef who did the pairing. And, we met another great couple who were into food and wine, and they were also doing the trail.
As we got ready to leave, we paused. It was time to head to Moss, for which we’d be bypassing Mountfair. That had been kind of a hard decision for us, because I’ve heard so much good stuff about Mountfair’s Wooloomooloo that I was dying to try it (and the rest of their wines), but we weren’t going to have time to hit all 5. Mountfair was nixed, and Glass House was a “maybe,” at best. Except…
Wow, it was really, really raining out there. We decided to make a break for it instead of waiting for the rain to slow, and ran out to the car. I ended up, as Renee so succinctly put it, like a drowned rat; but, we were on our way. Driving down 810, the river to our left was rapidly rising. In some places, it was submerging people’s driveway bridges, and water was running over the road from the uphill on our right. Renee navigated us around fallen branches, and onward we went, our newly-made friends from White Hall following behind in their truck.
Really, we were doing pretty good. It was fun. Until we saw the bridge ahead of us. We didn’t get a picture of this. I really wish we would have. The water was completely over the road bridge, forming what I swear was a lovely class 4 or so rapid, and the water was rising fast. Needless to say, we knew we had to turn around. In that short time, that 1 or maybe two minutes, this is what happened behind us:
- Get an “Official” Taste of Spring on The Appellation Trail (cvilleuncorked.com)
- Don’t Be FOOLish, Visit These Virginia Wineries in April (cvilleuncorked.com)
- Afton Mountain “Grapes Don’t Grow in Ugly Places” (cvilleuncorked.com)