I like wine, but I always feel like I don’t really “know” wine. I’m a “what bottle can I pick up for $10 that will taste good” kind of girl. I want to learn more about wine, so that I feel like I know what I’m talking about when I say I like or don’t like a wine. For our one year anniversary, we did a trip to Central Virginia (yay, vacations!). There are tons of wineries in Virginia now, and we signed up for a wine tour. It was awesome, Chris with Arcady Wine Tours picked us up at our B&B and drove us to 4 wineries (the driving was key – because after 4 tastings, we were a little tipsy). As he drove us around, he told us about the various grape varieties, what grows in Virginia, and how wine is made. I learned so much!
I learned that Cabernet Franc and Viogniers are grapes that grow very well in Virginia – and both are fairly uncommon wines (Cabernet Franc is usually blended in with other red grapes, but in Virginia you see it as a stand alone).
I learned that wine-making is about controlling the sugar in the grapes. A dry wine has 0% of its sugars remaining, while an off-dry has 1-3%. (Super handy for me to know as I like my wines a little sweeter.)
I learned that dessert wines can be made by freezing the grapes to remove water and concentrate the sugars (ice wine style) or by sun drying the grapes (vin de paille style).
I learned that tannins are what make me pucker when I drink certain wines (not so much a fan of tannins).
I learned that what I don’t like about Chardonnay is the oakiness – and that in Virginia a lot of the Chardonnays are made in stainless steel or neutral oak barrels (and I like them more).
We went to four wineries, and bought a bottle of wine at each.
Our favorite was the first, King Family Vineyard, owned by a family from Texas (look at those antlers!), with a polo field on site. You can do there on the weekend to watch polo, eat a picnic lunch, and drink wine. We ended up buying two bottles of wine there – a Rose (which neither of us usually likes, but really did here) and a bottle of really yummy Port.
The next vineyard we went to was Pollak Vineyards, and it was probably our least favorite. The tasting room didn’t have much personality (The owners of Pollak still live back in the Midwest, and you could really feel the difference between that hands off approach and King Family where we saw both of the owners while we were there). The surrounding area was really very pretty though! We bought a Viognier.
Winery number 3 was Veritas Vineyards, which was the largest of the wineries we visited. There’s was the only wine I had had before our wine tour, so that was neat. Their tasting room had a little more personality and the grounds were gorgeous and there were chickens! They do concerts at the winery in the summer, and I can imagine that it is a pretty dreamy way to spend an evening. Chris served us a cheese plate here, which was tasty and a really lovely way to spend an hour or so. We bought a Viognier.
The final winery of our tour was Cardinal Point, and at this point I was a little tipsy, so I forgot to take pictures. Oops. It was the smallest and least fancy of the 4, but I liked it a lot. The woman who was working in the tasting room was wearing overalls, which immediately endeared her to me. (I went to college in Central Virginia, and spent a good amount of time in overalls.) We bought a Cabernet Franc – we hadn’t bought any reds yet, and we liked the idea of getting a “only in Virginia” type of wine.
I’m not crossing this off my Life List, I don’t feel as if I know as much about wine as I’d like to, but I made some progress last week and had a lot of fun in the process!