Virginia winery trip south of Warrenton

It was time for winery visit.  We wanted to visit places we had not experienced in a while.  We eventually chose  Old House Vineyards.  Old House is located near Culpeper, Va.  We hadn't visited Old House since 2012.  That is probably why we took a wrong turn and had to backtrack a bit to get on the correct road to Old House.  Since our last visit, Old House has hired Andy Reagan as winemaker. We were curious to taste any new wines to see if could discern Andy's influence.
Old House is open in the summer 7 days a week, 12-5 pm Monday through Thursday and 12-6 pm Friday, Saturday, and Sunday's until Labor Day. Tastings at Old House are $8 per person. There were seven wines on the tasting menu to try at that price; three whites, a rose, and three reds. If you want to taste the Artica or Chambourcin dessert wines those are an additional $1 each to taste.
We tasted the 2014 Clover Hill, 2013 Chardonnay, 2014 Vidal Blanc, 2014 Rosie's Rosé (made from Chambourcin), 2012 Cabernet Franc, 2012 Wicked Bottom (Chambourcin), 2012 Bacchanalia (red blend of Chambourcin, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Tannat), and the Artica and Chambourcin dessert wines.

We both thought the newer vintages of Old House wines were better than we remembered from previous trips. It will be interesting to return and see if that trend continues.

Old House Vineyards 
18351 Corkys Lane
Culpeper, VA 22701
Phone: 540-423-1032
E-mail: info@oldhousevineyards.com

There have been some significant changes at Morais Vineyards and Winery since our last visit in 2013.  The new tasting room is now complete.  This building now separates the regular weekend visitors in a separate facility from customers who have rented the main facility for an event, such as a wedding. There are more outdoor spaces for gatherings and picnic as well.
There are two tastings at Morais Vineyards and Winery. One is the classic tasting at $8 per person to try eight wines.  The deluxe tasting is $15 per person and includes the classic tasting wines, three dessert wines, and a souvenir wine glass. We chose the deluxe tasting. Morais Winery also serves small tasting plates of meat and cheese to enjoy with either tasting.
The tasting room was busy, but not overcrowded. We really liked the new building's decor.
Highlights of the many wines tasted at Morais Vineyards and Winery included the Select White ($23), which is made from Rkatsitelli; a soft and oaky 2013 Merlot ($24); the Select Red ($25) a blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc; the soft, fruit forward 2014 Touriga Nacional ($25); and the Jeropiga ($17), a sweet red dessert wine.  Morais also makes a cherry dessert wine which they pair with their own Morais Belgian milk chocolate.  The wine is actually served in a tiny chocolate cup. Guests are encouraged to take a sip of wine, taste it, then to eat the chocolate cup with the wine still remaining in the cup.  This was a great way to finish our visit to this very pleasant winery.

Morais Vineyards and Winery
11409 Marsh Road
Bealeton, 22712
Phone: 540-729-2763
E-mail: moraisvineyards@aol.com

Our last stop of the day was Granite Heights Winery.  Their tasting room is open each Saturday and Sunday 12 noon to 5 PM.  Granite Heights is a boutique winery that grows nearly all their own grapes for their wines. However, they do purchase Virginia-grown Petit Manseng. Granite Heights has about 12 acres of vineyards with each acre having 2,000 vines per acre.
Our last visit to Granite Heights Winery was in the fall of 2014.  There were some new vintages of wines on the tasting menu, along with some previous favorites.  The Granite Heights Winery owners, Luke and Toni Kilyk, update the tasting menu, so each visit our has featured a different mix of their premium wines. Tastings at Granite Heights Winery are $7 per person. There were six wines on the menu.
Our tasting began with the 2012 Chardonnay (23).  We had tasted this beautiful Chardonnay last fall. It remains crisp and refreshing as it was fermented and aged in steel with no maloactic fermentation. Next we tasted two vintages of Petit Manseng back to back.  The 2013 Petit Manseng ($23) has about 2 percent residual sugar and tastes dry, while the 2012 Sweet Petit Manseng ($21) has more than 5 percent. Both were wonderful expressions of Virginia Petit Manseng.  We purchased a bottle of the 2013 vintage, as we still have a 2012 bottle at home.
We next tasted the 2009 Lomax Reserve ($28), a Cabernet Sauvignon dominant red blend with 10 percent each of Cabernet Franc and Merlot. This wine won a silver medal in 2013 Virginia Governor's Cup competition. The 2011 humility ($14/357ml) is a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Barbera, with dark fruit, good body, and was aged 20 months in American oak. This wine won a silver medal during the 2014 Virginia Governor's Cup. The 2010 Evening Serenade ($24) is a fruit forward blend of 80 percent Merlot and 20 percent Cabernet Sauvignon that was barrel aged for 15 months mostly in American Oak.  The one characteristic about all the Granite Heights wines we tasted was concentration of fruit.

While we were tasting, Luke described their current vineyard issues and plans.  He also talked about some experimenting with other grape varieties. His wife Toni asked us (in a nice way) why we didn't join the Granite Heights wine club?  She said she knew we loved their wines (true), their club is free to join, and there are only two shipments (or pick-ups) a year. She also said she understood we get asked this all the time. We signed up.

Granite Heights isn't just a small Virginia wine producer making excellent wines.  They also sell some unique jams and preserves. When you visit, please tell the staff you read about Granite Heights on Wine About Virginia.

Granite Heights Winery 
8141 Opal Rd.
Warrenton, 20186
Phone: 540-349-5185
E-mail: tasting-room@graniteheightsorchard.com
That describes our Virginia winery trip south and east of Warrenton.  When you visit any of these wineries, please tell them you read about their winery at Wine About Virginia.


Loudoun County winery trip

For the past few years we have offered a Virginia winery trip as an item for our church auction. We pick up the winners, take them to selected Virginia wineries, buy them lunch, and take them home. We offered two such trips for two people each.  This weekend, we took one of the two winning couples to visit some selected Loudoun County wineries and lunch.  Our first winning couple told us they really like white wines, so that helped us narrow our choices.

We picked up our auction winners and headed out to Notaviva Vineyards for our first stop.
Notaviva vineyards

Notaviva Tasting room front entrance
Large group at Notaviva tasting bar
Despite a large group at the tasting bar, we had great service table side.  Our guests really enjoyed all the wines they tasted and were delighted with the story that accompanies each wine.  They liked both the whites and the reds.  Well done,  Notaviva Vineyards.

Notaviva Vineyards
13274 Sagle Road
Purcellville, VA 20132
Phone: 540-668-6756

Our next stop was our perennial favorite, North Gate Vineyard.   Our guests loved the fact that North Gate is a LEED Gold certified winery.
Our guests enjoyed the tasting at North Gate very much. They both made purchases and were already planning their next trip out there.

We picked up a chilled bottle of Chardonnay to enjoy with lunch. Under the Uncorked Virginia program, Tuskies' restaurants offer free corkage for Virginia wines purchased that day. We had made reservations at Magnolias at the Mill, so we planned on sharing North Gate's Chardonnay with our lunch.

North Gate Vineyard
16031 Hillsboro Road
Purcelleville, VA 20132
Phone: 540-668-6248

After a leisurely lunch at Magnolias at the Mill, we drove down  Main Street/Colonial Highway to Canby Road to visit Casanel Vineyards.  We were warmly greeted by Anna and Casey out by the new main tasting room, then we all went over to the stone barn tasting room to enjoy the reserve tasting.
Casanel's new tasting room
I have written about the new wines and Casanel's transformation from Casanel Vineyards to Casanel Vineyards and Winery and the superb new wines here.  After our reserve tasting and wine purchase at Casanel, we traveled on to Zephaniah Farm Vineyard.

Casanel Vineyards
17956 Canby Road
Leesburg, Virginia 20175
Phone: 540-751-1776

Before we went into the house at Zephaniah Farm Vineyard for our tastings, we saw that the new winery and large party room construction was complete.  Bill Hatch told us it was exactly one year ago when they broke ground for the new facility. He let us in to look around.

We especially like the new building's porch
At Zephaniah, you usually are seated for wine tastings in the antique-filled dining room. That room was full, so were given our choice of the library or the parlor. We chose the parlor.  Zephaniah Farm Vineyard  offers two white blends, a rosé, a red blend, a Chambourcin, and a Cabernet Franc. Our guests liked the old house and all the antiques very much.  They enjoyed the wines too.  After our purchases, we headed back towards Fairfax County.

Zephaniah Farm Vineyard
19381 Dunlop Mill Road
Leesburg, VA 20175
Phone: 703.431.2016

That concluded our first auction winners wine trip.  We have another one of church auction Virginia wine trips in the fall.  One of our guests told us they really enjoy big red wines.  We are thinking of heading west on I-66 to let them experience some Virginia wineries out that way.


Northern Neck excursion

We decided to do a Northern Neck winery excursion. The Northern Neck is a peninsula formed by the Rappahannock and Potomac rivers and is home to the Northern Neck George Washington Birthplace American Viticultural Area (AVA).  The wineries in the northern portion are about as far from the D.C. area as the wineries around Charlottesville, VA, although many people think otherwise.
Oak Crest tasting room
Our first stop was the northernmost winery in the Northern Neck, Oak Crest Winery.  Oak Crest is a small producer.  They are unique because they grow the Symphony grape and make two wines with it. Symphony resulted from a crossing of Muscat of Alexandria and Grenache Gris.  The grape is very heat tolerant and makes rather floral wines.

Oak Crest produces the following red wines: a Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, a red blend named Cannon Ridge Red, a Summer Rose, and port style wine named Ruby. Their white wines are all made from Symphony. Moonlight Sonata ($15) was our favorite.  This one is made dry with very deep fruit flavors. The Summer Medley is made with Symphony and strawberry blended and co-fermented.  Symphony (Sweet) has 7 percent residual sugar.  Although sold out, Oak Crest also makes a white port-style wine named Finale, with 17 percent alcohol.

Tasting Bar at Oak Crest
Oak Crest Winery 
8215 Oak Crest Drive
King George, Virginia 22485
Phone: 540-663-2813
E-mail: winery@oakcrestwinery.com

Ingleside Vineyards is one of the oldest and best wineries in Virginia. They produced their first wines in 1980. Ingleside has about 50 acres planted in the Northern Neck in four major vineyards. Ingleside makes a lot of wines. They offer two tastings from which to choose.  The Basic tasting is $5 per person and includes seven wines from the Blue Crab and the Chesapeake Series.  These wines tend to be lighter, and in many cases, sweeter. The Premium tasting is $7 per person. These wines are, for the most part, from the flagship label, Ingleside, and are more full-bodied, dry wines. Both tastings include souvenir wine glasses.
We chose the premium tasting. This included seven wines, four whites and three reds. These wines ranged from "good" to "great." We started with a 2013 Albarino and moved in to a 2014 Viognier ($23.95).  This Viognier was terrific. It had great body, an almost "oily" mouth-feel, and apricot and peach flavors.  The 2013 Chardonnay ($19.95) was also very good, clean and fruity as it was fermented in stainless steel. The 2013 Petit Manseng ($23.95) is dry and delicious. The newly released 2014 Rosato is very complex for a Rosé, featuring red berry flavors which changed as you tasted it and a long finish.   The 2012 Sangiovese ($19.95) is also one very good wine, with nice cherry flavors balanced nicely with oak and smooth tannin. We requested and received a taste of the October Harvest ($18.95/375 ml), Ingleside's dessert wine made from Petit Manseng. It has four percent residual sugar and has flavors of apricot and peach with nice acidity.
Courtyard at Ingleside

Ingleside Rosato di Sangiovese 
Ingleside also offers lodging. Summerton at Roxbury Pond is an A-frame cabin on the estate or the Pointe at Liberty Farm, a two-story river house.

Ingleside Vineyards
5872 Leedstown Road
Oak Grove, Virginia 22443
E-mail: info@inglesidevineyards.com

Located near Ingleside Vineyards is The Hague Winery.  It was our next stop. The Hague Winery grows all their own grapes, but uses custom crush at Virginia Wineworks. The grapes make a difference. These wines are superb and better than some other wineries that use Virginia Wineworks for custom crush.

We tasted two vintages of Chardonel, both a 2014 and a 2013 ($15.95); a 2014 Rosé ($14.95); a 2013 Cabernet Franc ($18.95); a 2013 Petit Verdot ($25.95); a 2010 Meritage reserve ($28.95); and their white dessert wine from 2011, Cynthia ($23.95) made from frozen Muscat and Chardonel.

The Meritage Reserve is a blend of  Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot that was aged in new French oak for 15 months.  The Petit Verdot was also aged in new French oak for 15 months. Having to choose between these two, we opted for the Meritage to take home.

The Hague Winery
8268 Cople Highway P.O. Box 141
Hague, Virginia 22469
Phone: 804 472 5283
E-mail: smadey@hagueassoc.com

Our final stop was General's Ridge Vineyard.  General's Ridge is primarily a vineyard.  They have about 30 acres of vineyards and have 10-12 clients. General's Ridge tasting room serves the many tourists visiting the Northern Neck. They contract with Virginia Wineworks to provide custom crush. We tasted the nine wines on the tasting menu. My favorite wine was the Pinot Grigio ($15.95) with its citrus notes and good acidity.
General's Ridge also offers lodging. The three bedroom, two bath Manor House will sleep seven. It has a full kitchen and dining area. There is also a 2 bedroom cottage named Vineyard Views available.

General's Ridge Vineyard 
1618 Weldons Drive
Hague, Virginia 22469
Phone: 804-472-3172 Alt. 804-223-2GRV (2478)
E-mail: info@generalsridgevineyard.com

The Northern Neck wineries we visited provided a wide range of wines.  there is something for everyone at one winery or another.  When you visit, please tell them you read about the Northern Neck wineries at Wine About Virginia.