One of the most recognized vineyards in the Commonwealth of Virginia is Honah Lee Vineyard. The property is owned by Wayne and Vera Preddy and sits at 1000 feet elevation on a steep South-West facing slope in central Virginia (Orange). This means that the grapes are exposed to an abundance of sunlight during the hot summer months; but the elevation provides suitable diurnal temperature variation through night-time cooling. The soil is hard clay which limit deep root growth and leads to more fruit character over minerality.
The vineyard was first planted by Jim and Sharon Horton from Horton Vineyards when they leased the property from the Preddy's. The vineyard provided the foundation for Horton to quickly become one of the premier wineries in the state and showcased their Rhone and Portuguese varieties. However Horton was eventually evicted from the property after a dispute with the landlords. Horton's loss quickly became other winery's gain as the vineyard's sourced the fruit to several Virginia wineries.
And many of these wineries choose to create single vineyard wines from the grapes. Delaplane Cellars, for example, has or continues to produce a Honah Lee single varietal Viognier, Syrah, and Tannat. Our feature winery today, Tarara Winery, has created an interesting take on the single vineyard theme by creating a single vineyard blend: the 2010 Honah Lee White. The blend consists of Virginia's signature grape Viognier (40%), Petit Manseng (40%), and Roussanne (20%). This is a dry wine with peach and apricot flavors - thanks to the Viognier - and plenty of balanced acidity thanks to the petit manseng. Winemaker Jordan Harris writes that "Honah Lee Vineyard is one of our favorite partners....the fruit from Honah Lee is some of the most enticing and exotic fruit we get each year." And one of Jordan's goals is to recognize and highlight the best vineyard sites in Virginia as evident by the Tranquility, Nevaeh, and Honah Lee labels.
This year the 2010 Honah Lee White was the only Viognier based wine to receive a Gold medal in the newly revamped 2012 Governor's Cup competition. Revamped in the sense that, among other changes, now all wines submitted into the Governor's Cup must consist of 100% Virginia grown fruit - reversing the previous policy of allowing 25% outside fruit. We concurred with the award and after sampling a few at the Governor's Cup reception, "borrowed" a bottle to use in our toast during our interview with Governor McDonnell below. Cheers.