Sunday, July 28, 2019

Wineries of Blue Ridge & Southern Virginia Mountains

Virginia sits halfway between Europe and California, just below the Mason-Dixon Line. The wines from this region embody this unique position in the world. They are lush but structured; aromatic, expressive and beautifully balanced—blending the subtlety of the Old World with the boldness of the new. Like perfect French spoken with a slight southern drawl. There's a movement growing in Virginia vineyards with no singular style, no "signature grape" - rather, Virginian wine embodies the essence of a region where tradition and revolution go hand in hand. I wanted to explore more of what Southern Virginia has to offer, so we researched listings and picked a few wineries to visit. Read my recap below:

We stayed in Roanoke, which was a perfect middle point for a full day of driving to explore the wineries of the Blue Ridge and Southern Virginia Mountain regions.

First, we headed about 40 minutes NW of our hotel to the Blue Ridge Region and stopped at Beliveau Estate Winery.  Situated on 165 spectacular acres with on-site hiking and shaded picnic areas, this estate is also quite popular for weddings. We did a quick tasting here, as the skies started to darken and large droplets fell.  Of the whites, I liked the Destiny (vidal blanc) and of the reds, my favorite was the Fireside Chat (cabernet franc).

Through the rain, we continued on to Whitebarrel Winery.  Previously known as Attimo Winery,  vineyard plantings began in 2007 and the first harvest was completed in the fall of 2010. The winery offers the following wines: vidal blanc, chardonnay, blended whites, and, cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon, chambourcin, and blended reds.  Just as we entered, a large crash of thunder and lightning shook the building.  Luckily, the power did not go out, so we decided to take our time with a tasting here, and even ordered an extra bottle of BIN #214 (red blend) and a charcuterie & cheese board to nosh on for lunch.

By the time we finished eating, the storm had passed.  We continued our tour towards the Virginia Mountain Region and stopped at AmRhein Winery. With a German name meaning "on the Rhein" (Rhine) River, this family owned and operated, estate-grown winery has been in business since the late 1990s.  They have three vineyards (Bent Mountain, Franklin County and Botetourt) boasting 40 acres and yielding 20 varieties of grapes.  We did a simple tasting here, as they were a bit busy from celebrating a new release.  Of all the wineries we visited today, the wines here were my least favorite as they were all just a bit too sweet for my liking.

Lastly, Valhalla Vineyards has been growing grapes and producing award winning estate wines from a 2000 ft. mountaintop overlooking Roanoke since 1998. The 21 acre vineyard produces world class cabernet sauvignon, syrah, merlot, chardonnay, cab franc and more. Its decomposing granite soils and unique climate (similar to Rhone Valley of France) afford the premiere terrior on the East Coast.  Beyond the breathtaking views, we really enjoyed these wines and bought a bottle of the 2012 Alicante Bouchet and 2008 Syrah to take home.

Have you visited Southern Virginia wineries?  Please share your favorites in the comments below!

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