Heading west from DC in search of Va red wines-A church auction trip

Fall has arrived.  That meant it was time for our second trip with wine lovers from our church. We promised to pick the winning couple up at their residence, take them to three or four great Virginia wineries, pay all the tasting fees, and throw in a gourmet lunch.

We made arrangements to conduct this Virginia wine tasting trip on a Friday to avoid the crowds at popular spots.  We also faced a couple of constraints. First, we had already taken a similar Loudoun County trip earlier in the year, so this one would head west. Second, one of our winners wanted to taste some fine Virginia red wines. Third, we needed to plan on visiting a fine dining establishment for our lunch on this trip. Carol looked at some webpages of our favorite wineries out west of DC to see which would be open on Friday and which were known for having well made red wines. We also saw that the Ashby Inn and Restaurant in Paris, VA was open for lunch on Friday. We had never visited the Ashby Inn, but had heard many good things about the restaurant over the years.

We picked up our friends in Fairfax and headed west out I-66 to our first stop, Delaplane Cellars. Tastings at Delaplane Cellars are $9 per person. There were six wines on the tasting menu; two white wines, a rosé, and three red blends. Our friends enjoyed the totally dry Traminette ($26) and especially enjoyed two of the red blends, the 2013 Williams Gap ($49) and the 2012 Left Bank ($49). I enjoyed all three red blends and Carol and I both loved the rosé.

After our wine tasting at Delaplane Cellars, we continued north up RT 17 to Leeds Manor Road, turned left and proceeded on to Arterra Wines.  Arterra Wines tasting room is also the art gallery for Hawkmoth Arts. Readers of this blog know we are big fans of all the well made Arterra wines from our previous posts. There are new art pieces in the gallery and now they even have steps that lead to the main entrance. All in all, a great place to visit.

The tasting fee at Arterra Wines is $10 for any four wines or $15 for all six. Our friends had the full tasting, Carol had a glass of the sublime Chardonnay, and I took photos.  All the wines at Arterra are great. Our friends really enjoyed several of the wines, but decided upon two bottles of the 2013 Cabernet Franc ($29) to take home.
We departed Arterra and headed back to RT 17.  We turned left to head to Paris, Virginia and the well known Ashby Inn.  This is a true farm-to-table restaurant. We each had the Butternut Squash Soup with Sweet Peppers and Blue Cheese Mousse. The entrees ranged from Ricotta Gnudi with romesco, mushrooms, and brussel sprouts to a Croque Monsieur sandwich with rosemary potato chips to Shrimp and Grits. The food was amazing.

After our rather extraordinary lunch at the Ashby Inn, we headed out towards Front Royal and the always impressive Glen Manor Vineyards.
Tastings at Glen Manor are $7 per person. The tasting menu had four wines listed. The 2014 Sauvignon Blanc ($25), the 2013 Vin Rouge ($25), the 2012 Hodder Hill ($48), and the 2014 Morales Rosé ($21). All four wines were spectacular examples of Virginia wine today. Unlike many Virginia wineries, Glen Manor's two red blends are both bottled unfiltered and unfined. The 2012 Hodder Hill is the flagship red blend, made with Cabernet Sauvignon in the lead role, with Merlot, Petit Verdot, and Cabernet Franc in supporting roles. The 2014 Morales Rosé was tasting great in October, with smooth tannin and lots of red berry flavor.

After our visit at Glen Manor, we had just enough time to visit Linden Vineyards.

Shari Avenius was pouring at the wine bar when we entered and directed us to empty spaces at the wine bar.  Jim Law was staffing the wine bar too. The tasting fee at Linden is $7 per person.  Five wines were on the tasting menu. These included 2014 Sauvignon Blanc ($23), 2011 Red ($21), 2012 Claret ($26), 2012 Petit Verdot ($30), and the 2013 Riesling Vidal ($21), a semi-sweet wine, at the end. We wound up taking home the two white wines.  Both the Sauvignon Blanc and the Riesling Vidal are enjoyable wines that we both can share. Our friends enjoyed the Petit Verdot.

If you seeking fine Virginia wineries with great red wines, there are alternatives to the Loudoun County stars. Head straight west from the District of Columbia and Northern Virginia on I-66 to these fine wineries' locations.  You will be glad you did. When you visit, tell them you read about their wineries at Wine About Virginia.

Delaplane Cellars
2187 Winchester Rd, Delaplane, VA 20144
(540) 592-7210

Arterra Wines
1808 Leeds Manor Rd, Delaplane, VA 20144
(540) 422-3443

Glen Manor Vineyards
2244 Browntown Rd, Front Royal, VA 22630
(540) 635-6324

Linden Vineyards
3708 Harrels Corner Rd Linden, VA 22642


Slater Run Vineyards wine at The Local Taste

The Local Taste is a wine shop/bar that hosts tastings of wines from Slater Run Vineyards, a new Virginia winery located a few miles away. The Local Taste also sells specially selected wines from around the world. Both The Local Taste and Slater Run Vineyards are owned by Kiernan Slater and her husband, Christopher Patusky.

We recently visited The Local Taste in Upperville,VA after reading about it in a Loudoun County news article being shared on Facebook. Slater Run Vineyards was planted in 2010. There is a five-acre, 10,000 vine vineyard on Plum Run Farm. The vineyard consultant is Lucie Morton and Katell Griaud is their winemaker. We are big fans of the new wines at Casanel where Katell Griaud is also the winemaker along with Katie De Souza. So, Carol and I traveled out west on RT 50 to Upperville to try these new wines. I am still not sure how we missed the opening of The Local Taste and the first vintage of Slater Run Vineyards wines, but we are glad we finally visited.

Tastings are accomplished at the tasting bar in The Local Taste.  It is located right on the John Mosby Highway and has parking around back. The cost is eight dollars per person to taste the current four Slater Run Wines.
First up was the citrusy 2014 Pinot Gris, made from 100 percent Slater Run Vineyards grapes. Next came a very fine Chardonnay also made from 100 percent Slater Run Vineyards grapes. This Chardonnay started alcoholic fermentation in a stainless steel tank and then was divided 80 percent French oak/20 percent steel to finish the fermentation. This is a restrained Chardonnay, with lovely fruit and a hint of butter and cream.

The 2014 Rosé is a complex blend of 49 percent Cabernet Franc, 33 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, and 18 percent Merlot. This rosé is reported to use the direct pressing method (70 percent) and the bleeding method (30 percent), with fermentation and aging in stainless steel. Again, this is a restrained wine, with creamy red berry flavors and a nice finish.

The 2014 Cabernet Franc is a medium-bodied blend of 80 percent Cabernet Franc and 20 percent Merlot. Although young, it is tasting really well right now.

Carol and I left with three of the Slater Run Vineyards wines; the Chardonnay, the Rosé, and the Cabernet Franc.

The Local Taste is rather small, but charming.  It has some outdoor seating both in back and out front and a little bit of seating inside. The wine selections for sale as part of the wine shop are rather impressive, both for Virginia wines and world wide. The Local Taste is the only place where you can taste Slater Run Vineyards wines right now. If you are out west on the John Mosby Highway, or visiting the wineries along RT 17 north, we recommend you head over to The Local Taste to try these new, well-made, Virginia wines. You will be glad you did. When you visit, please tell the staff you read about The Local Taste on Wine About Virginia.


Our First Granite Heights wine club pick up

Luke and Toni Kilyk own Granite Heights Winery. Their 168 acre farm has 12 acres of vineyards with 2,000 vines per acre.  On their website, they describe this as high density planting. They plant this way so the vines struggle, which results in higher quality fruit.

Granite Heights owners say and practice the phrase let the "wine do the talking."  Their tasting menu doesn't have descriptions, just information about the wine, like variety and vintage. They want their customers to decide what the wines taste like. We think they taste great. That is why we joined their wine club. Their 2012 Petit Manseng scored a gold medal in the 2015 Virginia Governor's Cup competition.
Granite Heights Winery is located in Opal, Virginia,  just outside of  Warrenton, Virginia. If you are coming from the DC area, just turn right on Opal Road where the RT 29 bypass and RT 17 separate. They are a couple miles down the road on a beautiful farm.
The tasting room is about half of the ground floor of a 19th century farm house. The tastings are done sitting down. They usually have farm made jams and preserves for sale as well.
Since we were there for a pick up, we only tasted the new 2014 Chardonnay.  This is their first Chardonnay from estate grapes. We purchased a bottle to enjoy while we took in the scenery and enjoyed the sunny afternoon.  Later, we re-corked the bottle to take home.
We had joined the Granite Heights Wine Club on our previous visit because we love their wines. The Granite Heights Wine Club has the option for either 6 bottles per year or 12 bottles per year. These can be either all reds or a red and white/rose mix.  Granite Heights ships twice a year (or you can pick up) in March and October. Our club pick up included six bottles, made up of two bottles of the unreleased 2014 Petit Manseng; two bottles of an unreleased red blend, the 2012 humility; and two half bottles of the now somewhat famous 2012 humilty (Wine Advocate, Washington Post). The 2010 humility is big red blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot, barrel aged for 15 months mostly in American Oak (some French Oak). The 2012 humility is a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Barbera and Petit Verdot. I have yet to taste it, but expect big red fruit flavors with spicy oak notes.
Decorated for Halloween
Granite Heights is a small Virginia wine producer making excellent wines. Toni and Luke are passionate winegrowers. Their farm is beautiful.  If you haven't visited them yet, you really should. When you do, tell Toni you read about Granite Heights on Wine About Virginia.

Granite Heights Winery
8141 Opal Rd.
Warrenton, VA 20186


Breaux Vineyards cellar club wine pickup

We were able to visit Breaux Vineyards during their cellar club pick up event at the end of September.  Breaux Vineyards has a separate, club members only, tasting room called the Grand Oak Room. This room is located in the cellar, of course.
The two cellar club selections were a 2014 Grand Oak Sauvignon Blanc and  2012 Petit Verdot. Breaux had arranged with Grandale Farms to put together food pairings to compliment the two newly released cellar wines, as well as Breauxmance. Breauxmance is a light pink sparkling wine made from Vidal Blanc with 1 percent Chambourcin to provide some color. The 2014 Grand Oak Sauvignon Blanc had a soft creamy feel and one could certainly taste the oak, but it made a mellow but fruity wine. This wine was aged sur lie for 13 months in French oak.  The 2012 Peiti Verdot is a big, but approachable red that promises to improve with age.
Everyone was at the cellar club pick up or outside so we "owned" the tasting bar
After our food and wine pairing and a glass of wine downstairs, we decided to try a regular tasting upstairs in the new Breaux Vineyards tasting room. These tastings are half price for cellar club members.  We really enjoyed the 2014 Sauvignon Blanc, the 2014 Rosé, and the 2014 version of the popular blend of seven white grapes named Jennifer's Jambalaya.
Friendly Breaux Vineyards staff
After purchasing Jennifer's Jambalaya to go along with our cellar club pick-ups, we headed out to our car, stopping to photograph the spectacular scenery of Breaux Vineyards and the surrounding area.
We enjoyed our visit to Breaux Vineyards. When you visit Breaux Vineyards, please mention you read about them at Wine About Virginia.