Until this year, wines from Gabriele Rausse Winery have been difficult to find, but definitely worth the search. We first happened upon one of his wines a few years ago and loved it and have continued to buy his wines whenever we found them. Gabriele is one of the founders of the Virginia wine industry, first coming to the United States in the 1970s. His first position at a Virginia winery was at the new Barboursville Vineyards, in 1976. He left there in 1979, and has since helped get many other wineries on their feet, either by working there or just consulting. In 1997, he established his own winery, where he continues to make wine with his two sons Tim and Peter.
Also, he is Director of Gardens and Grounds at Monticello, and cares for the vineyard there. Grapes, like Sangiovese, can be seen on the terraced vineyard below the gardens.
This year, we were pleased to discover that Gabriele Rausse Winery had opened a tasting room. While the hours are limited (only open Thursday, Friday, and Sunday), it is well worth the planning to fit it in your schedule if you are visiting. When we visited, we discovered a charming facility with a wide variety of wines to try. Tim Rausse served us and shared information about the wines. Our favorite was the Nebbiolo, an Italian grape, that produces a full-bodied, elegant red wine.
Our tasting experience was great and we will be sure to plan more visits there in the future. I recommend it.
Last year, while visiting southern Virginia, we discovered a wonderful winery in North Carolina. The grounds are amazingly beautiful, the Tuscan style tasting room is impressive, and the wine is amazing. The winery was established by members of the Raffaldini family which dates back to 1348, in the town of Mantua, Italy. They visited many sites before choosing the Yadkin Valley, between the Brushy Mountains and the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains as a locations for a vineyard and winery in the United States. The Ronda, North Carolina, winery is surrounded by gorgeous views in all directions. After buying the land in 1999, the vineyard was planted in 2000, and the tasting room opened in 2004.
Raffaldini’s wines are all Italian varieties. Montepulciano, the grapes in the photo, creates a wine that is full-bodied with a distinct fruity flavor. The winery also produces a Montepulciano Riserva. Vermentino Riserva, a white varietal, is one of their most popular and comes from the oldest Vermentino vines on the East Coast. Both Riservas are developed using the Appassimento drying process to give them a richer character. Appassimento is an ancient Italian method of using a portion of dehydrated grapes in the making of the wine, to create a wine with different structures in the flavors. A Girasole, sunflower in Italian, is created with free run juice from Sangiovese and Montepulciano. The wine is a dry, medium-bodied rosé, which is very popular especially in the summer months. Other wines include a Pinot Grigio, a Sangiovese, Rossi (a red blend), and La Dolce Vita (a Moscato, Asti style). For more information go to my link page.
Jay Raffaldini has created a bit of Tuscany in the mountains of North Carolina and is making some of the best wines I’ve had the pleasure of tasting. It’s about an hours drive from southern Virginia and a two hour drive from Asheville, North Carolina. If you are in the region, be sure to visit. Wine lovers will feel right at home and return again and again.
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We visited Barboursville Vineyards during our annual trip to Virginia last week. As always, we had a wonderful time and enjoyed all of the wines we tasted. Barboursville Vineyards got its beginnings with the planting of a vineyard in 1976, opening the winery soon after. The vineyards and winery have grown over the years, as has the number of wineries in the state of Virginia. Today, there are nearly 200 wineries, making Virginia the fifth largest wine producer in the United States. Only California, New York, Oregon, and Washington have more. Barboursville Vineyards remains one of Virginia’s premier wineries with a multitude of awards from national and international competitions and recognition by wine experts around the world. Check out my link page to visit their website.
It seems like Barboursville gets lovelier with each visit; there’s always new grape vines and additions to the tasting room or the other buildings. Walking around the grounds, exploring the ruins that are featured on the labels of the wine, dining at the Palladio Restaurant, or just stopping by the tasting room for a chance to try the new vintages or enjoy a glass of wine, your visit will be memorable. This visit we tried many wines and found many we enjoyed. I would have to recommend the Vermentino Reserve, which won a Double Gold at the 2014 San Francisco International Wine Competition. It is a relatively new varietal for the winery and is an excellent medium bodied, dry white wine, with aromas of pears and flowers. We also enjoyed our old favorites: such as Barbera Reserve, Sangiovese Reserve, and Nebbiolo Reserve. While the new vintage of Octagon was not available for tasting, we enjoyed a couple of glasses while relaxing at the winery.
As we were getting ready to leave, we ran into Luca Paschina, the winemaker, and were treated to a visit to the library tasting room and a special tasting of a 2008 Octagon. This wine is one that ages well and the 2008 was very smooth.
If you are ever visiting in Central Virginia, Barboursville Vineyards is a must for any wine lover.by admin with No Comments
Northern Kentucky’s newest winery has become a popular destination on Saturdays for local wine lovers. The setting is beautiful, the wine is great, and the people there are friendly and helpful. Tony, the owner, and Crystal, the event planner, welcome guests, pour tastes and answer questions. What more could you ask for?
This past Saturday, there was a special event to celebrate the release of a Noiret. This new wine is from a French hybrid grape produced by Cornell University. Noiret produces a smooth, jammy, red wine with a big finish. Brianza has 362 vines of this limited grape. The wine is very drinkable right now and will benefit from some age.
The event featured music from a local duo named Rucca. With music ranging from self-composed songs to recent recordings such as Hell on Heels by the Pistol Annies, Lauren and Ashley entertained the crowd for a couple of hours. If you get a chance to see Rucca somewhere, I recommend them. With guitars and an occasional tambourine, their vocals are impressive.
Relaxing in a gorgeous surrounding, with good wine, and good music was a great way to spend a Saturday evening. Check my Links for Brianza’s website. You’ll enjoy your visit.
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Once again, the wine festival at Jane’s Saddlebag was a huge success. Many visitors enjoyed the wine, the music, the vendors, and the food. From 11 AM to 8 PM, there was a stream of wine lovers strolling their way around the booths. Wineries were pouring tastes of some of their most popular varietals.
Even the rain showers that fell on the crowd didn’t stop the fun. People just found shelter until it was over and then walked on to enjoy another wine.
I enjoyed meeting many wine lovers and talking about wine. If you missed it, just wait for next year. Watch for news about the 2016 festival.
Many years ago when we first started visiting wineries, we found French Lick Winery, in French Lick, Indiana. This quickly became one of our favorite wineries. Over the years, both the winery and the town has undergone many changes. For years, the winery was located in a part of the Beechwood Mansion, in French Lick. The rest of the mansion was operated as a bed and breakfast. We began staying at the mansion on our trips to the winery.
We learned much about the history of the town during our stays. French Lick and their next door neighboring town West Baden were both home to major hotels and springs that attracted many visitors from all over the United States in the early 1900s. The town was host to many gamblers and members of the mob seeking a respite when Chicago got too “hot”. Ed Ballard, the owner of West Baden, a huge domed hotel, made his home in the Beechwood Mansion. With Prohibition and a crack down on gambling, the towns suffered a downturn. The Springs in French Lick continued to operate as a hotel, but the towns were kind of passed by. This all changed a few years ago.
West Baden was restored into an absolutely gorgeous hotel, with four floors of rooms overlooking the atrium under the dome, shops, and restaurants on site. The Springs was renovated into a modern hotel with suites, rooms, shops, and restaurants. Golf courses were designed that have attracted many avid golfers and recently hosted the Senior PGA Championships. Added to all of this, a casino was built between the two hotels. The French Lick Resort of French Lick and West Baden has wrought many changes to the towns, such as, new businesses, new activities, and new places to stay. The town is definitely worth a visit. Located just about an hour from Louisville, it is the perfect spot for a weekend getaway.
We still visit every year. This year we celebrated our anniversary with a couple of days in Indiana. For us, though, our trips have changed. The mansion has closed and is no longer operated as a bed and breakfast and the winery has moved. We stayed this year at Legend of French Lick Resort. This resort has an interesting history. Once the home of Larry Bird, who is by the way the real legend from French Lick, the resort has twenty acres with hiking paths, a full-size basketball court, a tennis court, a pool and a pool house. The house contains several suites that are rented singly or the entire house can be rented. We stayed in the owner’s suite, which was once home to Bird.
The winery moved, but is in a building that houses the winery, tasting room, gift shop, and the vintage café. The pizza is amazing and the Pan Bigio is to die for. Everything we’ve tried is excellent. The wine, no matter what your tastes, is exceptional. The winery alone is worth the drive.
I recommend French Lick/West Baden as a wonderful spot for a getaway. There’s something for everyone.
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Last week, on our way to French Lick, we stopped for a visit and tasting at Smith-Berry Vineyard and Winery, in New Castle. The winery is offering tastings of new vintages and a new wine. We tried the dry reds and one is as good as the next one. The new vintage of Burley, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Norton, and Munson, is one of the best vintages. Of course, I say that with every new vintage. The newly released vintage of Brother John, the blend of Syrah, Merlot, and Petite Syrah is also excellent. Both Burley and Brother John were winners of Silver Medals in the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. We were also pleased to find a new vintage of Norton, aged for three years in American Oak. The winery has been out of Norton for a while so this was great. As always, this wine is our favorite and this vintage is one of the best we’ve tried. Chuck Smith, the owner and winemaker also had a new wine offering. He was able to get the grapes from Lake County, California, for a Sangiovese. Chuck’s has just a bit of Zinfandel blended to give it a fresh, spicy, and mellow taste.
This winery is one of Kentucky’s finest and a visit there is always enjoyable. What’s not to like, the wine is excellent, the winery is beautiful, the tasting room is inviting, and the people there are friendly and helpful. You will want to find a reason to stop there and relax for a lovely afternoon.
At Prodigy Vineyards and Winery, they are open late on Fridays, serve food, and have entertainment. We had a free afternoon a couple of weeks ago and decided that it was a perfect time for a drive to Frankfort. Chad Peach, owner and winemaker, has introduced a new wine, a Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine is a smooth, full-bodied, dry red wine, and will be a definite crowd pleaser. After trying a taste of Blueberry, we got a bottle of Lemberger, had some delicious food, and relaxed for a lovely evening while listening to some good music.
The tasting room is open on Fridays from noon to 9 PM. Not only can you get food and wine, but Lenée Peach has filled the tasting room with a large selection of amazing gift selections from t-shirts to artisan offerings. There is definitely something for everyone.
Sip and Savor Fridays are events at Prodigy year around. Good food, good entertainment, and great wine — what a way to wind down after the work week. I recommend getting away for a fun Friday evening, from 6:30 to 8:30.
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Warm weather is here and it’s the perfect time to spend a day strolling through the booths at a wine festival. Jane’s Saddlebag, in Boone County, near Big Bone Lick, is having a wine festival featuring Kentucky wines and crafts, on May 30, from 11 AM to 8 PM. Admission is $15.00, and includes a commemorative glass, 6 tasting tickets, and free parking. Tickets can be purchased at the event or bought from Jane’s website (see my link) early at a discount. In case of a rain day on May 30, the festival will be on Sunday, May 31.
Wineries from around the state will be meeting wine lovers and sharing tastes of their various wines. Some of those who will be at the festival are local, such as: Verona Vineyards, Rose Hill Winery, Atwood Hill Winery, StoneBrook Vineyard and Winery, Elk Creek Vineyards and Winery, and Redman’s Farm Winery. Others, such as, Lovers Leap Vineyard and Winery, Forest Edge Winery, Horseshoe Bend Vineyard and Winery, and Wight-Meyer Vineyard and Winery, will be traveling from Central Kentucky. There will be music provided by local musical groups throughout the day, as well as vendors with crafts and wine related items, and food choices.
I will be there signing A Wine Lover’s Odyssey Across Kentucky. I’d love to meet you and talk about one of my favorite topics – Kentucky wine. Also, you can ask me about the new book I’m working on right now.
Hope to see you there!
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Verona has become a wine lovers destination. No, not the Verona that usually comes to mind, but Verona, Kentucky. For the last few years, wine lovers have been finding their way to Verona Vineyards; now they have another winery to visit less than three miles away. Brianza Gardens and Winery opened their doors to visitors on April 25, 2015. While their address is officially Crittenden, they are just two and a half miles from the Walton exit off of I-75, on Salem Creek Road.
Tony Parnigoni, with a family heritage that traces its roots to an Italian region called Brianza, left the corporate world to fulfill a dream of owning a winery. Four and a half years ago, he purchased a farm in Boone County and began planting his vineyard of over 1900 vines. He, his 3 children, and friends tend the vineyard. Tony is honing his craft as a winemaker with Jim Wight, one of Kentucky’s finest winemakers, as his mentor and consultant.
Last Saturday was such a beautiful day, we decided to visit one of Kentucky’s newest wineries. Brianza Gardens and Winery was a pleasant surprise and good news to this wine lover. New wineries often have this unfinished look to them and their wines are not at their best. This is definitely not true of Brianza. As you arrive at the drive and follow the signs to the parking lot behind the tasting room, you find yourself hoping the wine is good because the place is beautiful. You won’t be disappointed. The tasting room is lovely. I was especially impressed by the unique tasting table that made use of three barrels with an oak top.
As for the wine, most wine lovers will be delighted with the choices and with the quality of the wine. His dry whites, such as Vignoles and Chardonnay are both excellent. The Chardonnay is aged in stainless steel giving it a delightful taste of the grape itself. Tony’s current selection of reds are from grapes purchased from Lovers Leap Vineyard and Winery and are very good, but coming in September he will be offering an estate Noiret. We had the opportunity to try that as well and it will be exceptional. As his grapevines continue to develop, more offerings will be estate varietals as well.
The tasting room is currently open only on Saturdays, 10 to 6, or by appointment. Tony has also created an event venue, with a reception room and a special room created for brides. There is a cottage on the grounds that can be rented as a B & B. In the tasting room, local cheeses and a locally made bread can be purchased for an impromptu picnic. Visitors can wander around the grounds and garden. Look for the website in my Links.
I definitely recommend that wine lovers make plans for a visit to Brianza Gardens and Winery. You will be glad you did.
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