Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Lexington Valley Vineyards

While passing through Lexington, we took the opportunity to visit another recently opened winery in Virginia, Lexington Valley Vineyard. The Hale family had been growing grapes on the property since 2000 and selling the produce to neighboring Rockbridge Winery. However, several years later, as time permitted – from commuting to the University of Missouri – they decided to proceed to the next stage and produce wine under their own label. The winery’s expertise is with Norton – which is not unexpected since Virginia and Missouri are the two most popular areas growing this variety. And with Mr. Hale’s work at U of M in Columbia, he has access to learn the techniques from several of the leading Missouri wineries. The other wines offered by the winery are white wines made from French-American hybrids. These grapes are hardy enough to withstand the Shenandoah Valley weather.

After driving along several winding roads, we were surprised to see several other vehicles already at the winery. For a Friday afternoon we thought that we’d be alone. But no, one group was just starting a tasting and another was lounging with a pitcher of Sangria on the deck. We started with their Vignoles, which is made dry – but contains a strong pineapple flavor with major acidity. It almost felt like a sparkling wine – and could be why it is the main ingredient in their homemade Sangria. This is a good – summer wine. Next was their Vidal Blanc – a little sweeter than the Vignoles – and with more of a grapefruit flavor. We still preferred the Vignoles. We next tried a very unique wine, maybe the only rosé styled wine made in Virginia using just Norton. It is made off-dry and recommended served chilled. It is fruity and when served chilled – refreshing. We liked this wine – basically in summer drink the rosé and in winter, the two Norton varietal wines. Speaking of these two, the Black Tie Norton is blended with Cabernet Sauvignon and was awarded a Silver Medal - 2007 Virginia Governor's Cup. It is a full bodied wine with spicy tannins – but the traditional Norton fruity taste. The 100% Norton is as full-bodied with a string black cherry flavor and a smoother finish than the Black Tie Norton. I guess being purists, we preferred the Norton over the Black Tie Norton – obviously others with a stronger wine pedigree disagree.

We stayed a little longer at Lexington Valley than we had planned – because it was so relaxing. When sitting on the deck, the vineyards spread out in the distance, with hawks flying overhead, honey bees buzzing among the clover, and humming birds feeding on the deck. We could have stayed for hours – drinking the Vignoles, Chill Rosé, or the Sangria. However, Floydfest was in full swing and we had to move on. Currently their wines are sold exclusively from the tasting room and they are not participating at the numerous Virginia festivals – there is no one available to cover the tasting room. We recommend a visit.
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