Many of you will know, from my book and my blog, that Barboursville Vineyards is our favorite winery. From our first visit twenty years ago to our most recent visit last week, we’ve never been disappointed with the wine, the ambiance, the scenery, or the winery experience.
Barboursville Vineyard is located on an 850 acre estate in Orange County Virginia. Just seventy-five miles from the nation’s capitol and twenty-five miles from Charlottesville, the county is steeped with history. The Barboursville estate is also full of history. Originally home to Governor Barbour, the home on the estate was designed by Thomas Jefferson. Next door to the home was an Inn from 1804 to accommodate the Governor’s visitors.
The Zonin Family Wines and Estates has eleven Italian properties, with 4,400 acres under vine. In the 1970’s, they decided they wanted to expand their properties to the United States. In 1976, Gianni Zonin, the President of the company, and his wife Silvana were visiting Monticello and finding the land in central Virginia to be what they were looking for, they bought the Barboursville estate. They planted Cabernet Sauvignon and two years later produced three bottles of wine. From then, more vines were planted, and wines continued to be made. In 1990, Zonin brought Luca Paschina to Virginia as a consultant. Paschina became the winemaker and general manager and has led Barboursville Vineyards to its place as one of the states finest and most respected wineries.
Barboursville Vineyards is the state’s largest estate winery, with 200 acres of grapes producing over 40,000 cases a year. Their wines have been served to Queen Elizabeth, requested for the wedding of Prince William and Kate, served at a Presidential Inauguration dinner, and awarded medals at domestic and international competitions.
Visitors to Barboursville Vineyards can tour the vineyards and winery, dine at the Palladio Restaurant, stay at either the 1804 Inn or one of the five cottages on the grounds, or stroll around the ruins of the home of Governor Barbour. The tasting room welcomes those wanting to try their many wines. From the crisp, flavorful Sauvignon Blanc to the full-bodied Octagon, their wine list offers something for everyone.
If you’re in Virginia, be sure and stop for a visit. If you’re not, you might want to plan a trip. It’s worth it.
Our trip this summer to Virginia began with two nights at the 1804 Inn at Barboursville, giving us the opportunity to visit Barboursville Vineyards, Keswick Vineyards, and Monticello. Central Virginia is a beautiful region of the state with scenic vistas wherever you happen to look.
We also spent two nights in Southern Virginia at Bent Mountain Lodge, just off the Blue Ridge Parkway north of Floyd. This region is mountainous. We drove over a lot of mountain roads and visited the picturesque town of Floyd. We spent some time visiting local wineries as well, such as Villa Appalaccia Winery, AmRhein Winery, and Molliver Vineyards.
In the heart of the historic region of central Virginia, the 400 acre Edgewood Estate in Keswick is home to one of Virginia’s most highly regarded family owned vineyards. Al and Cindy Schornberg wanted a place to raise their family and began looking for property to fulfill a lifelong dream of growing grapes and making wine. They chose Virginia, planted vines, and opened the Keswick Vineyards over ten years ago. In the last decade, Keswick wines have won awards in many domestic and international competitions, received the Governor’s Cup in Virginia, and been given high ratings in Wine Spectator.
The Schornbergs dedicated themselves to producing exceptional wines and created a top of the line facility. Their choice of winemaker and vineyard manager was also an exceptional decision. Stephen Barnard, from South Africa, has been at Keswick since 2006. With training and a background of winemaking in South Africa, Stephen believes in focusing on the vineyard to produce fine wines. It’s obvious that his philosophy is working – Keswick is making excellent wines.
Members of the family are often on hand greeting visitors and pouring the tastes. At our visit last week we met Brian Schornberg. We had a wonderful time tasting the wines and talking with Brian about the winery. After tasting their Norton and Norton Reserve, Brian introduced us to Stephen Barnard, the winemaker (and his brother-in-law), who shared a tasting of an unreleased Norton. The 2012 Norton was made by using a second fermentation, giving it a different taste from the usual Nortons. While we still prefer the 2011 Norton, this new vintage will appeal to many.
If you are traveling to Central Virginia, be sure to find time to visit Keswick Vineyards. You’ll find the vineyard to be beautiful and the wines to be excellent.
While visiting Smith-Berry a couple of weeks ago, one of the wines that we enjoyed tasting was a new Petite Sirah. Chuck Smith’s Petite Sirah took a Silver Medal from the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition and it definitely deserved it. We opened a bottle last night and were once again impressed with the full-bodied flavors of blackberries with a touch of black pepper, the deep color and the smooth finish.
Petite Sirah was developed in the 1870’s in the Rhône Valley of France. It is a cross between a Syrah and Peloursin, a minor Rhône variety. Petite is used to describe the size of the grapes themselves. which allows for a high juice to skin ratio. This provides the wine with high tannins and acidity enabling it to age well. This grape has become a popular choice of California vineyards. Once used only for blending with the jammy Zinfandel, now wineries are producing Petite Sirah as a single varietal wine.
Petite Sirah is a bold red wine and pairs well with steaks, making it an excellent choice for those evenings of grilled dinners. I recommend giving it a try. Smith-Berry’s is one of the best of this varietal.by admin
Recently, I heard someone ask for the cheapest wine because they were just cooking with it. When using wine for cooking, I suggest you always use a wine that you would enjoy drinking. A cheap wine that you wouldn’t consider drinking is not going to taste any better in your recipe. You want your food to be enjoyable, so use a wine you would enjoy as well.
While you don’t necessarily want to use the most expensive, special wine you’re saving for a special occasion, you do want a wine that you would enjoy drinking with that dinner.
When following a recipe, most white or red wines could be exchanged. If you prefer the taste of Cabernet Sauvignon to Merlot, changing the wine will only enhance the flavor that you enjoy most. For instance, in my Wine Cake recipe, I have used several different reds. The flavors change somewhat, but they’ve all be delicious.
Have fun experimenting when cooking and remember what doesn’t go in the recipe should be enjoyed by the cook while preparing that favorite dish.by admin