For a couple years we've been negligent in not visiting
Materella Winery, located just north of Warrenton Virginia. Luckily business brought us to the region and we allocated a few hours to visit this boutique winery. Kate Marterella first planted vines about eight years previously in her vineyard. She started with Vidal Blanc, Cabernet Franc, and Chambourcin and later expanded the acreage to include Pinot Grigio, Merlot, and Petit Manseng. After harvest, the grapes are shipped to nearby Prince Michel Winery where they are crushed, fermented, aged, and bottled. Nice to have friends in the industry. Marterella also purchases grapes from Virginia vineyards in order to fill out her portfolio. On our visit, Kate was pouring ten wines, evenly split between reds and whites. We started with the dry Vidal Blanc which is unique in that the wine possesses flavors of red apples instead of the expected green apple. The winery offers two chardonnays, the Barrel Select fermented and aged completely on French Oak and the Vintage 2006 where 75% was aged in oak. Thus the both contain characteristics of oak aged chardonnay - but neither possess the oaky buttery finish present in many chardonnay wines. Their Pinot Grigio is made completely to Kate's tastes, dry and slightly acidic - but a small creamy finish. Interesting for a wine aged in steel. We normally don't care for Pinot Grigio, but this is an exception. Moving on, the Rosalie’s Rose is a semi-dry wine made from primarily Merlot that exudes strawberry. This wine helps in the sweet wine market but should also be acceptable for dry wine lovers - we brought a bottle home. The vintage Merlot is a little young and acidic - apparently due to the 20% Petit Verdot and may need more time in the bottle, but the Cabernet Franc is ready now. Its a smooth, full bodied wine made from estate grown grapes. Black cherry is prevalent throughout particularly in the tail. Another smooth wine which we also purchased was the vintage Sangiovese. This is an old world wine, "rustic" is a proper marketing term. Finally, Kate obliged us by opening a bottle of her 2003 Meritage, a true Bordeaux blend of Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot, and Cabernet Sauvigon. This is a big wine - full bodied but incredibly smooth. Ah, if it was only within our budget. We finished with two semi-dessert wines, the Vidal Blanc\Riesling Grace and chambourcin based Sweet Nothings. Both are not as sweet as the 6.9% r.s. would suggest and apparently sweet wine drinkers can finish an entire bottle of each in one sitting whereas the dry wine drinkers sip sparingly. We liked them both, the Grace a little more with its strong apple flavors.
Sadly, there's a cloud hanging over the winery. The neighboring home owners association is maliciously attempting to bankrupt the enterprise through litigation. Apparently Kate's neighbors do not appreciate a vineyard\winery in their backyard and have promised to litigate Kate until she closes. What's significant in this affair is that the entrance to Mediterranean Cellars is less than 100 yards from Marterella's entrance and Mediterranean is not being sued. And Kate planted her vineyard before Mediterranean even opened and the entrance to that winery is on her property. Yet the home owners association is only going after Marterella. Socialism at its finest. There is a jury trial scheduled for June to determine if Marterella can remain open - so until then show your support for Virginia agriculture and wine and visit the winery. We will also see how serious the state of Virginia is in promoting grape growing and wine making. Good luck Kate.