Another benefit that we found while attending FloydFest is that Villa Appalaccia Winery is located right next door, literally a five minute walk. On Sunday, we set aside enough free time to visit the winery and discovered that it is only one of only two wineries in Virginia to produce wine from predominately Italian varieties. One of the reasons is that their vineyard is planted in shale – not the good ole Virginia clay. The shale soil is closer to its equivalent in Italy – so the Italian varietal wines are closer to an Italian wine, than a Virginia wine. We also learned that this is a small winery - producing only 3,000 cases a year. To put in perspective – neighboring Chateau Morrisette produces 60,000 cases a year.
The tasting room for Villa Appalaccia is located in a Tuscany inspired country house with a Bocce court on the premises. There is a large covered veranda available for drinking a bottle with cheese and bread – and in our case – to listen to the music emanating next door. Besides the Cabernet Franc, the wines were truly Italian: Pinot Grigio, Sangiovese, Primitivo, Aglianico, and even Corvina. We started with their Pinot Grigio and Pinot Grigio Reserve; the later is the standard Pinot Grigio where ½ the wine is fermented in steel then in the barrel. Normally we prefer other white wines, but both of these were very drinkable and refreshing – with a surprisingly fuller flavor than most versions we have sampled. We next tried the Simpatico, which was our favorite white and the one we consumed at FloydFest. It is a blend of Trebbiano, Malvasia Bianca, and Pinot Grigio that has citrus flavors and a spicy finish similar to a Gewurztraminer. At $15, this is an excellent everyday white wine.
Moving to reds, we sampled several wines that are produced no where else on the east coast. And if the winery produces the now sold out Rustico (made from the Corvino grape) in the future then the experience will be even more enlightening. We started with the Primitive – the Italian Zinfandel - which has a strong cherry aroma and smooth flavor. Although a little spicy at the tail, the wine is a toned down version from those produced in Lodi or Amador. Which translates to “very drinkable”. The Toscanello was next and this blend of Cabernet Franc, Sangiovese, and Primitivo is a medium bodied wine – smooth and drinkable now. The wine is aged in old French oak, with a small amount in 1-2 year old American oak. Our favorite red was the Aglianco – maybe the only 100% Aglianco wine made in the United States. This is a full bodied wine and Villa Appalaccia recommends drinking with “substantial” meats. The final red was the 2004 Cabernet Franc – one of the many excellent versions produced in Virginia. It has a huge cherry flavor – smooth with a low tannic finish. It was plainly evident that the red wines were the strength of this winery.
There were also two dessert wines, the Alba and Raspberry Beret. The Alba was very interesting because this year’s version – made from Vidal Blanc and Moscato – contains a strong minty aroma that disappears with the taste. Very interesting.... The Beret is for chocolate lovers – it blends seamlessly with a morsel. And we like anything made from raspberries.
We highly recommend a visit to Villa Appalaccia either as a planned trip, while attending FloydFest, or simply while driving the Blue Ridge Parkway. Otherwise you have to attend one of the many Virginia wine festivals – which account for almost 30% of all their wine sales. We look forward to next year’s festival – and a longer stay at the winery.