Friday, August 17, 2007

Mountain Cove Vineyards

While travelling home from North Carolina, I stopped at Virginia’s oldest winery, Mountain Cove Vineyards. Located half way between Lynchburg and Charlottesville, the winery is situated within the Blue Ridge Mountains and adjacent to the Fortunes Cove Preserve, a large Nature Conservancy property. In 1973, Al and Emily Weed planted several varieties of hybrid grapes on their property and began selling wine commercially a few years later. In 1997 they re-planted most of the vineyard with viniferia Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Muscat; Norton; and the hybrids, Chambourcin, Villard Blanc and Traminette.

I started with the Tinto, a blend of Norton and Cabernet Franc. The wine is dry, medium-bodied and extremely smooth. The Cabernet Franc introduces a cherry flavor that moderates the grapey flavor of the Norton. This is an excellent blend. Next was the Mountain Cove Chardonnay, a dry wine made from grapes grown from the eastern slopes of the Blue Ridge in Bedford County. The wine was aged partly in stainless steel and partly in oak - which produced a refreshing wine with a silky finish. Mountain Cove offers two semi-dry wines – the Skyline White and the Skyline Rose. The Skyline White is a blend of Villard Blanc, Chardonnay, Vidal Blanc, and Muscat made in the Vouvray style (think of Loire Chenin Blanc). The Skyline Rose is basically the Skyline White blend with Norton added for color and CO2 added in the bottle. This provides a nice acidic feeling on the tongue. Both these wines are refreshing, great sellers, and perfect for an afternoon in Mountain Cove. Finally, I tried their two fruit wines, Blackberry and Apple. The Apple wine is made from Winesap apples harvested from neighboring Mountain Cove Orchard. The apples are prevalent from the aroma to the finish. CO2 is also added in the bottle, giving the wine a bit of a sparkling-wine feel. The Blackberry wine is slightly sweeter, but not gritty. It has a full blackberry flavor – just like shoving the fruit into your mouth when picking directly from the vine. But this time, no worries about staining your fingers or clothes.

Mountain Cove is a great attraction – from the views of the surrounding mountains to the excellent wines – made from local fruit. The winery is only a short drive from Charlottesville and only a few couple of hours from Washington D.C. and Richmond. I hope to visit again in the fall, maybe during their October Blues Festival, to hike the Fortunes Cove Preserve.

You can view pictures of the winery at the Compass Tours section of

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