President's Day wine club pickup at Keswick Vineyards

We finally visited Keswick Vineyards on President's Day to pick up two Keswick wine club shipments. First was the holiday shipment of the 2013 Estate Reserve Cabernet Franc ($34.95) and 2013 Estate Reserve Chardonnay ($34.95). Keswick's tasting notes say the acidity will allow the Cabernet Franc to cellar well through 2023 and that the Chardonnay will continue to mature through 2019. We are looking forward to opening these.

Our regular December shipment was the 2013 Les Vents d'Anges Chardonnay, the 2013 V2, and a 500m/l bottle of the 2013 Chambourcin.  All are just wonderful wines.  The version of the V2 is a blend of 81 percent viognier and 19 percent verdejo. We have been big fans of the V2 since we first tasted it. Keswick is planting more verdejo in the hopes of producing a single varietal wine some day.
Heading back to the DC suburbs in an earlier than forecast blizzard wasn't much fun, but we were glad that we had seen our daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughter at Keswick on President's Day. We have found Keswick wines are very good to excellent across the board. When you visit Keswick Vineyards, please tell them you read about Keswick at Wine About Virginia.

Keswick Vineyards
1575 Keswick Winery Drive
Keswick, VA 22947
Phone: (434) 244-3341


North Gate Vineyards - Quite a Success

We visited North Gate Vineyard on Valentine's day afternoon. Lobster Maine-ia had returned, serving lobster dishes. This was the busiest we have ever seen North Gate's tasting room.  The lobster and a chocolate pairing special brought in many customers. 

We were able to start a tasting relatively soon after arriving. We tried the Rkatsiteli, a crisp, light, dry wine made from one of the most ancient of the wine grapes.
We also tasted the Cabernet Franc, the 2012 Meritage, the Petit Verdot, and the 2013 Chambourcin, as well as the North Gate Apple Wine. One thing we really like about North Gate is they price their good to superb wines quite reasonably, unlike some of their "near-peers."

We returned to North Gate again last Friday evening to pick up our latest Trellis Club shipment.
Besides the Rkatsiteli and Petit Verdot, this quarter's shipment included a Riesling, made from grapes from Lamoreaux Landing Wine Cellars on Seneca Lake in New York's Finger Lakes region.

North Gate Vineyard is open Thursday through Monday: 11 am to 6 pm. The tasting Fee: $7.00.
When you visit North Gate Vineyard, please mention you read about them on Wine About Virginia.

North Gate Vineyard 
16031 Hillsboro Road
Purcelleville, VA 20132


Great new Virginia winery opens - Arterra Wines

A great new Virginia winery opened recently.  Their name is Arterra Wines.  “Art and Terra (land)” is the Art of the Land. It is located in Delaplane, VA.
Arterra Wines is co-located with Hawkmoth Arts in a gallery tasting room. As its says on their website, "owners Sandy Gray-Murray and Jason Murray combine their passions for creating art and making wine under one roof."  Sandy Gray Murray is an artist and art educator who makes Paintings/Mirrors, Drawings, Ceramics, and Barrel Work inspired by the wine making process. Jason is a winegrower and winemaker. He was Château O’Brien's winemaker for 11 years before this new venture.
The winery/art gallery in the woods
We visited Arterra Wines on the Sunday of their opening weekend. Parking is limited, so no buses or limos are allowed. The gravel walkway up to the tasting room entrance is a bit steep.

The tasting room/gallery is beautiful. It is located above the wine making area.

View of gallery as you enter 
Tastings at Arterra are $10 per person. Arterra is open for tastings Friday – Sunday 11:00 am – 5:00 pm. There were six wines on the tasting menu at this time. Arterra is concentrating on producing ultra-premium red wines, using only native yeast fermentation.
View as you turn towards tasting bar
Our tasting started with the Chardonnay ($29). The Chardonnay is a big, fruity white but wonderfully subtle and complex. Just when you think you have tasted a really nice Chardonnay, another wave of flavors emerge.  We then proceeded to the Cabernet Franc ($29).  This was a very dark red wine with berry flavors and a very long, strong finish that lasted for several minutes.  It was at this point I knew I was buying a case of wine at Arterra, even though there were three more big reds to come.
Arterra filled up with customers while we were there.
Next came one of the smoothest Petit Verdots ($39) I have ever tasted. I wrote "super smooth" in my notes. The wine was "lighter" than expected with most Petit Verdot, but full bodied, with great fruit flavor, dark color, and long finish. This was followed by the medium-bodied Malbec ($39) with great fruit balanced with oak.  The last red wine on the tasting menu was a Tannat ($49). This was a dark, full-bodied wine with smooth tannin. A very enjoyable wine. The final wine on the tasting menu was the Blueberry Apple ($29), a sweet wine balanced with good acid.

I asked Sandy about the Late Harvest Tannat ($39).  She said this was not on the tasting menu as they had such a small quantity available.  She opened a bottle for us to taste, though.  The web site describes it as "exceedingly ripened grapes producing a high alcohol and sophisticatedly sweet full bodied red, reminiscent of high-end Port."  Yes.  This wine is that indeed. I enjoyed this wine immensely. It is dark, rich, and silky.

Sandy and Jason behind the tasting bar. This family smiles a lot.
While we visited, John Hagarty, of Hagarty on Wine, arrived.   John had written about the new venture earlier on his blog. Later, we saw that Bill Hatch and family from Zephaniah Farm Vineyard had come for a visit. We also saw staff from other wineries.

Sandy's artwork lines the walls. You can purchase her artwork while you visit. Sandy plans to hold "create and taste experiences" in the wine production area. Contact Sandy for more details.

Arterra has cleared 3 acres near the tasting room and another six over the ridge.  Jason is planting Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Petit Verdot, Tannat, Petit Sirah, and Chenin Blanc this year. Jason is also sourcing high quality grapes from specific Virginia vineyards he has worked with in the past.

Arterra Wines currently produces only 800 cases of  high quality wines. Planned production capacity will reach a permanent maximum volume of 1,200 cases annually.  If you enjoy Arterra wines and want to ensure continued access, you may want to join one of the Arterra wine clubs.  We did.  We really enjoyed our trip to Arterra Wines.  Jason and Sandy are friendly hosts. We look forward to visiting over the next few years to see the progress and changes as it matures.  When you visit, tell Jason and Sandy you read about Arterra Wines at Wine About Virginia.

Arterra Wines
1808 Leeds Manor Road
Delaplane, 20144