Monday, May 10, 2010

A Day in Loudoun: Spirits and Wine

This past Saturday (May 8th) we visited Catoctin Creek Distilling Company, Loudoun County's first family-owned distillery since prohibition, to witness a bottling day. Becky and Scott Harris had recruited about a dozen volunteers to manage the bottler, cap, label, and stock cases of Catoctin Creek Organic Roundstone Rye. This whisky is made from 100% organically grown rye - no neutral spirits added - and aged in oak barrels. They also bottle the distilled rye without barrel aging under the Catoctin Creek Organic Mosby's Spirit label. This spirit was just awarded a bronze medal in the American Distilling Institute 2010 Whiskey Competition in Louisville, KY. Thus the underlying spirit in the Roundstone Rye has already proved itself - an oak aged version should only be better.

The bottling operation looked quite efficient - even for a 100% manual process. The assembly line was in full capacity - someone passing empty bottles to a filler, then to a capper, then to the labeling table. Here the batch number were written on the labels by hand and after applied to a bottle, inserted into a case - with its own label. Not bad for a group of volunteers.

After watching the process, we ventured to a few wineries outside of Purcellville on Route 9. Our first stop was Breaux Vineyards - which we haven't visited in a few years. Their 2002 Reserve Merlot was selected as the top overall wine poured at the Twitter Taste-off last month - so why not a re-taste. Not so fast. This is a popular location - at noon the tasting room was packed - two to three people deep. Nice to see the traffic - but right now... Instead we walked around the vineyard and admired the vineyards against the mountains.

Our next stop was Hunter's Run in Hamilton, which is a joint operation with Corcoran Vineyards. Without having to wind through the gravel roads leading to the winery, the Hunter's Run Barn provides a location to taste the wines - right off of Route 9. Plus they host live music on weekends. Today Lenny Burridge was in the barn - wanted to see him for a long time. Hunter's Run is a great location for families bringing their kids along. The upstairs loft contains toys and games that will keep them entertained while parents frequent the tasting bar. The only downside; the Corcoran Viognier is out of stock. Need to find another outdoor alternative.

Our final stop was Village Winery in historic Waterford. For some reason I had a craving for their Apple Wine. I don't know why because in general I prefer their Viognier and Petit Verdot. But the Apple Wine is made dry and sometimes you just need something different. Plus they offer a non-alcoholic sparkling Elderberry which the little boy is now asking why we didn't bring home a case. Kent Marrs has really turned into one of our favorite winemakers - always crafting a consistent product. We need to return more often.
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