Thursday, October 14, 2010

A Weekend in Nelson County (Day 1)

The weekend of October 9th-10th was a very entertaining weekend. We had planned to attend the inaugural music festival, The Festy, held at the fairgrounds at Devil's Backbone Brewing Company. At this event we filmed most of the performers, particularly Travis Book of The Infamous Stringdusters, his wife Sarah Siskind, and DBBC's brewer Jason Oliver for an episode of MyJoogTV. But just as importantly, we used the visit as an excuse to soak in the wineries located in Nelson County Virginia. Of the dozen located in the county, we had visited Veritas Vineyards and Hill Top Berry Farm & Winery, previously, so concentrated on the remaining field. And what we learned is that this little stretch of land adjacent to Route 151 is a mini-Napa Valley - a true micro-climate providing excellent Virginia wine.

I started off with the closest winery to the festival fairgrounds, Wintergreen Winery. This is the oldest winery in the county, owned and operated by Jeff and Tamara Stone since 1999. We had enjoyed their Cabernet Franc and festival whites (The Thomas Nelson White and Three Ridges White) at previous festivals. The Cab Franc was just as nice as before, a lighter bodied wine with plenty of cherry, but it was their Merlot which was really nice. Maybe has a point. For whites, the Viognier was what you would expect from a Virginia winery now a days but I really enjoyed their use of Petit Mengseng, both as a 100% varietal in the new Thomas Nelson White and as a replacement to Vidal in the Three Ridges White. Much more aroma and flavor than Vidal. This is another white wine grape that appears to work in the state.

While driving to check-in to our room at the Acorn Inn (highly recommended), I noticed a homebrew shop that advertised growlers for sale. Making a quick detour I learned that Mary Wolf and her son Danny Wolf were planning on opening the third brewery in the county, Wild Wolf Brewing Company. For the moment they provide local brewer's with quality homebrew supplies and will soon be selling growlers of their own production beer out of the store. The eventual plan is to build a full production facility nearby, complete with a brewpub. And to show how its done, every Saturday afternoon Danny gives a demonstration outside the store, complete with crushing the grain, boiling the mash, and kegging. Like I say, this area is a nice place to spend the weekend. We will be back for a brewery tour to include Wild Wolf, DBCC, and Blue Mountain Brewery.

After checking into the hotel, I took a shortcut to the one winery not located off Route 151, DelFosse Vineyards & Winery. The winery was having their own party - live music and food - which also proves that there are plenty of opportunities for fun - even with a large music festival nearby. I didn't stay long since I had plans for interviews at The Festy, so I sampled a few wines, starting with their Viognier Reserve. This is a classic, full flavored (apricots) with low acidity and a mid palette to boost. Nicely done. They also pour a 100% Petit Manseng - note to self; need to start studying wines from Jurancon. This wine is more acidic than the Viognier and has a peach flavor - a nice afternoon wine. For reds, there is no need to talk about any other but the 2007 Grand Cru Olivier. This blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Touriga, and Petit Verdot is full bodied, low tannins, raspberry flavors and very drinkable. Yes, their Meritage is the big guy; but I enjoyed this one more.

After this visit, it was back to the music. Check back for Day 2 and few pictures at the WineCompass Gallery.
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