When we visit Virginia, we try to find new places to visit, especially wineries, but never expected to find “a land called Honah Lee”. We didn’t get to meet Puff the Magic Dragon, but we did get to meet Eric Hopwood, winemaker. He does create some magic with his wines. We had the opportunity to talk to the winemaker and taste some really great wines.
Just outside of Gordonsville, in Central Virginia, Honah Lee Vineyard is open every day for tastings of their wines as well as some from some other Virginia wineries. The tasting room is in a lovely, cozy, welcoming location. The building itself is small, but is surrounded by grounds that just seem to invite visitors to enjoy themselves with beautiful well-kept flowers and a delightful patio. Besides tastings, they also have events, such as catered dinners and hosted weddings.
The vineyard with 30 acres of grapes, has been in operation since 1992, and has been selling grapes to many Virginia wineries. A few years ago they began making their own wines. The decision was a good one. Of the wines we tasted, our favorite was a Malbec, poured by the winemaker. Malbec wines are robust, flavorful dry red wines, usually from South American wineries. This Virginia Malbec is excellent. The other wines we tasted were also very well made and very tasty.
They also operate Berrywood Crafters and have some delicious treats, such as jams and jellies on sale at the tasting room. While the name was intriguing, we were drawn to the Cran-Ghost Pepper Jelly, but did have to bring home the Basil Jelly and Onion-Pepper Jam. They were quite good.
The visit was great and we have already planned our visit for next summer. If you happen to be in Central Virginia, take time to visit this little “land called Honah Lee.” You’ll be glad you did!
Wine lovers visiting Central Virginia should plan a trip to Gabrielle Rausse Winery. The wines have been around for quite some time, but the tasting room has only been open a couple of years. The setting is lovely amid the trees on a Virginia side road, but you won’t find lots of signs leading to the winery, visitors might even have trouble finding the tasting room. The small sign hanging from a piece of construction equipment that leads you to the drive is easy to miss. Once you find the winery, however, you will consider yourself lucky that you kept looking. The wine is superb. The bread served while tasting and the atmosphere are excellent.
We’ve been two times and enjoyed ourselves very much. Wine lovers will find the wine to be worth the trip. I recommend a visit.
Believe it or not, these photos were taken in the mountains in eastern North Carolina. The villa, the décor, the grapes in the vineyard, and the wine, would all be right at home in the wine regions of Italy. Villa Raffaldini, a 6,000 square foot tasting room is inspired by the villas in the Lombardy region of Italy; a slogan of the winery is Chianti in the Carolinas. We discovered this gem of a winery three years ago and have visited each year since then.
Italy is reflected in the choice of the grapes grown and the wines they produce. Montepulciano and Sangiovese are the predominant grapes featured on their wine list. Many visitors to the tasting room are somewhat familiar with these varietals due to the popularity of Italian restaurants, where these full-bodied reds are paired with pastas and other Italian dishes. Whites, such as, Pinot Grigio and Vermentino are also regularly enjoyed by many Americans. What visitors may not be accustomed to is the quality and depth of wine that these varietals produce in North Carolina. Every wine at this winery is exceptional. Our favorite is possibly a red blend, called Bella Misto. Italian for beautiful mix, this wine is a blend of those wonderful Italian grapes Montepulciano and Sangiovese with Petit Verdot, Malbec, and Pinot Noir. The result is a medium-bodied red with savory aromas and flavors of dark fruits. For those who enjoy a dry Rosé, their Girasole (Italian for sunflower) is made from the free run juice, skins for only 24 hours, from Montepulciano and Sangiovese. This wine has earthy aromas and flavors of red cherries.
Off the beaten bath, on many side roads after you leave I-77, it is worth finding. Use their directions map on the website (check my link) or use a GPS. I definitely recommend a visit. Any wine lover will find a lot to enjoy and want to return over and over. I certainly do!
For over twenty years, we’ve been enjoying visiting Barboursville Vineyards. We only get there once a year, so we look forward to the visit and have never been disappointed. Our visit last month was memorable because we experienced a unique tasting. The winery has created a library tasting room and offer tastings on the weekends of their reserve wines. Visitors to the library tasting room are treated to a walk through the Octagon Room, where the barrels of that special wine reside. When you enter the tasting room, the first thing you notice is the impressive view through the many windows overlooking rows of Cabernet Franc vines with the Blue Ridge Mountains in the distance. Guests are given tastes while seated at tables. Special foods are offered along with the reserve wines. After a flight of tastings that include some of the most amazing vintages of Octagon, you can purchase a glass of wine, relax, and enjoy the ambiance.
Barboursville Vineyards is one of those special wineries where the high quality of every wine is evident, even those you don’t particularly enjoy. Personally I don’t like Viognier (a white) or Merlot (a red) wines, because I don’t like the flavor of the grapes. Barboursville’s Viognier Reserve and Merlot Reserve are both exceptionally well-made and I can recognize and recommend them to someone who enjoy those varietals. I would actually recommend any of their wines, but my favorites are the Octagon, Nebbiolo, Barbera, Cabernet Franc, Sangiovese, Sauvignon Blanc, and Vermentino. My husband also loves the Petit Verdot.
A visit to Barboursville Vineyards is always great, can’t wait till next year!
We made a trip to Nashville, in Brown County Indiana in May, did some shopping, relaxing, and wine tasting. Within just a few miles, wine lovers can visit three wonderful Indiana wineries. Each one is special in its own way and worth a visit.
Our first stop while driving into town is at Brown County Winery. The winery itself is just outside of Nashville and a good way to start your visit. They have a lovely tasting room with a view of the wine making operation. If you like wine gift items, this is a great place to stop. From coasters and dish towels to a cute pair of wine socks, they have a lot to choose from. Our favorites here are Old Barrel Port (perfect for a nightcap), Chateau Gnaw Bone Black Raspberry (a black Raspberry wine, blended with Grape brandy), and a Chateau Gnaw Bone Cranberry Apple (makes you think of a fall evening). In case you’re wondering Gnaw Bone is a unincorporated community in Brown County that is popular with tourists because of the unusual name.
Next winery stop was Chateau Thomas Winery’s Nashville tasting room. The winery, located in Indianapolis, gives Brown County visitors the treat of tasting their great wines while enjoying the shops in town. They make some exceptional wines; but our favorite here is Teroldego (look for a review in the blog’s section on wines), with flavors of dark berries and spice, and floral aromas. This is a good spot to taste wine or relax and enjoy a glass.
No trip to Brown County is complete without driving north to Oliver Winery. Oliver is located just north of Bloomington and is worth the drive. The grounds and building are beautiful and the wines are fantastic. It’s hard to choose our favorite here because there are so many. Oliver is Indiana’s largest winery and the wine selection menu is extensive. A couple of our favorite choices would be the Sauvignon Blanc and Shiraz, but wine lovers will find many to enjoy. From very dry to very sweet, they are all popular with visitors.
Visiting Nashville is always a treat. On our trip back to Kentucky, the car just seems to find its own way to Huber’s in Borden, Indiana. Just north of Louisville, Huber’s Orchard, Winery and Vineyards is so much more than the name implies. Visitors will find the winery with a large gift shop, the orchard with pick your own fruit days, the vineyards full of grapes just waiting to become wine; but they will also find a cheese shop, an ice cream shop, and a farm store full of fresh produce as well as a variety of packaged items and a bakery. Just down the road is Joe Huber’s Family Farm and Restaurant. It’s a great place to visit, but be sure you have time because you will want to be there for several hours.
No visit to Brown County is complete without a visit to Brown County Winery. Our favorites there are their Old Barrel Port and their Black Raspberry Encore. Both are stronger than wines and are sweeter. They are perfect for sipping with dessert, after dinner, or as a nightcap.
Since our visit last year, there were some additions to the winery. A deck was added that gives visitors a chance to relax and enjoy a bottle of wine outside. Unfortunately, we were there on a rainy, dreary day and didn’t sit outside. We enjoyed a chance to shop in the gift area of the tasting room and catch glimpses of the wine making process.
You can also stop in at the tasting room in downtown Nashville.
We made our annual trip to Nashville, Indiana, and enjoyed ourselves, but the weather was not that good. Much of the time we were there, it was raining. Anyone who has visited that lovely town knows that walking along the streets and visiting shops is one of the reasons for your trip. It was interesting to see all of the visitors scurrying from one shop to another. Everyone did seem to be enjoying themselves. We did.
One of our favorite times was our trip to Oliver Winery just a short trip north of Bloomington. While the day was dreary outside with the beautiful views slightly damp, inside was warm and cozy. The wine was excellent as always. Bill Olivers’s Sauvignon Blanc is one of my favorites. It has the flavors of citrus and melon and a crisp finish. Mike’s favorite is the full fruit flavors of the Shiraz. This year, I also enjoyed a new Blackberry cider.
We took a break from the rainy weather, and enjoyed some wine in the barrel room. What better way to spend a wet day!
Central Virginia’s wineries are some of the finest in the state. Keswick Vineyards is one of the best. Located on the historic Edgewood Estate, the vineyard covers 40 acres. The drive to the tasting room winding through the vineyard in lovely and inviting, making visitors enthusiastic to try the wine. We have always found our visit to be enjoyable and the wine to be special.
Our favorite wine this visit is Trevillian Red, a blend of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon and 25% Petit Verdot. The wine is a superb big red with fruity aromas and flavors of dark fruits and coffee.
You will want to plan a visit if you’re in Virginia. The trip is worth it. The vineyards, the tasting room, and the wine make the visit one to remember.
Our visit to Virginia this summer included a visit to Jefferson Vineyards, located just a couple of miles from the grounds of Monticello. With gorgeous views in every direction the winery and tasting room is open to the public every day of the year except for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day, and many visitors find their way there every day.
We have visited there many times over the years and always enjoy ourselves. One of their most memorable wines is their blended red, Meritage. The 2012 vintage, is a blend of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Petit Verdot. The wine has flavors of bright fruits but with an earthy finish. Lovers of big reds will find this wine to be superior.
Last week, we opened a bottle of white we purchased there, a Petit Manseng. The Petit Manseng grape, mostly grown in Southwest France, has found its way to the eastern American vineyards and many wineries are offering this flavorful white wine. Jefferson’s Petit Manseng is one of the best I’ve tried. Aromas of lemon zest, almond, and honeysuckle are followed by flavors of grilled pineapples. The wine is delightful.
If you’re visiting central Virginia, you won’t want to miss a stop at Jefferson Vineyards.
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.