Friday, July 10, 2020

COVID Re-Openings in Virginia at Four Tasting Rooms

Through July 4th weekend my family visited four Virginia tasting rooms primarily just to get out of the neighborhood but it also allowed us to access new releases and COVID re-openings.  These visits started while fishing in Front Royal and a stop at Chester Gap Cellars. This winery provides one of the most picturesque views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, situated at over 1,000 feet elevation and with a trailhead to the Appalachian Trail nearby. Our visit coincided with the release of their 2019 Rosé ($26) -- a blend of Merlot and Cabernet France and presenting a creamy strawberry character. And if you are a fan of the true character of Roussanne, check out their 2017 Roussanne ($32) which is aged in French oak for 10 months that enhances the grape's unique profile. Upon arriving we were greeted immediately by a staff member who explained the seating options and wine-food options and let to a table on their open-air tasting patio. From that vantage point, we enjoyed a couple glasses of wine, the views, and the staff sanitizing tables and chairs as they became available.

The next day we visited two tasting rooms in Delaplane, Virginia: Valley View Farm and Three Fox Vineyards. The historic Valley View Farm recently partnered with Philip Carter Winery to sell wine and hard cider and for the winery to produce wines using grapes from the Strother Family Vineyards located on the property.  The Strother Family has "served as stewards" of the farms for five generations with Philip Carter Strother, owner of Philip Carter Winery, the current steward.  The views of the Piedmont are equally impressive and are captured in the artwork of artist Andrei Kushnir and featured on the label of the Philip Carter 2017 Valley View White Table Wine ($24).  The wine (Chardonnay and Vidal) was very pleasant as we sat at a table on their porch - 100 feet from the nearest visitor.

Three Fox Vineyards is located a few miles down Route 17 and was recently purchased by Tim and Emily Faltemier. Original owners John and Holli Todhunter had opened the winery way back in 2002 and named the vineyard Three Foxes after seeing three of these Vulpes playing in the meadow.  The Todhunter's also established an Italian centric focus planting Sangiovese, Nebbiolo, and Pinot Grigio which will continue under the new ownership based on Emily's Italian roots. That being said we covet their La BohemeViognier ($29) sourced from Middleburg Virginia.  When we arrived we noticed a tasting tent and tables set up along the banks of Crooked Run, a response to the pandemic but hopefully a future feature.  Kids and adults were sitting in the creek or playing ball in the field and golf carts were busy transporting wine or visitors to and from the tasting room or parking lot. In between cleaning teams and selling wine, Tim also mentioned that they are adding a brewery to the premises which they hope to have functional once the proper licenses are received.

Finally, we returned to Fleetwood Farm Winery, which had been the last winery we visited right before the lockdown. Like Valley View Farm, this is a historic farm -- established in 1745.  The winery was also hosting a Fleetwood Rosé All Weekend special where the two new rosé wines were priced at $20. Our group went with the 2018 Virginia Rosé is a saignée blend of various grapes with a dark, full-bodied cherry profile with refreshing acidity.  On our previous visit, we favored the 2018 Virginia Viognier ($32) which matched the juicy stone fruit characters we were expecting.  The winey offers amble indoor, outdoor, and patio space for distancing with masks required while walking inside the tasting room.

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