Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Pearmund Cellars

I stayed in DC for the Thanksgiving holiday so the Friday after I decided to go for a run on the Mall since I had not participated in a “Turkey Trot.” It was unseasonably warm and there were even a few cherry trees blooming! I came home to a message calling in a rain check on what were my afternoon plans, what was I to do on a warm November afternoon? It was so gorgeous that I just wanted to be outside all day, but I also wanted to catch up on this blog and what better place to do that than at a vineyard?

I decided on Pearmund Cellars in Broad Run since it wasn’t too far from DC and near others if I decided to try more than one. This was my first solo tasting, but found it a pleasant experience. Upon arriving on the Pearmund property you drive through the vineyards to get to their tasting room, it’s very beautiful and makes you feel farther away from civilization than you are.  I tasted with a couple who happen to own a barrel at Pearmund and another at their sister winery the Winery at La Grange. Their words of wisdom were that if you like Pearmund, you’ll love La Grange, but I’ve since heard conflicting reports on which of the two is better. I guess it just means I need to get out to La Grange sooner rather than later!

The tasting at Pearmund was $10 for 14 wines! There were 5 whites, 6 reds and 3 sweet wines.  Their 2009 Old Vine Chardonnay and 2010 Viognier were my favorites of their whites.  They did also have an interesting 2010 Riesling that was good, but tasted nothing like a Riesling and instead like a green apple cider. On the red side the 2007 Ameritage, 2009 Ameritage Reserve and the 2009 Petit Verdot were my top picks.  The 2010 Sweet Petit was the sweet I’d prefer to sip, but our friendly server suggested soaking fruit for a fruit pie in their 2009 Late Harvest Petit Manseng as it caramelizes when cooking; an interesting tip that I just might have to try next holiday season.

Before settling down on the front porch out front I scoped out their barrel room complete with a bust of a jackalope and other wildlife. The side porch was more the social side with gardens and several tables, out front it was quiet except for the soft tunes coming from the surrounding speakers with a view of the vines.  I really enjoyed this stop, it was pleasant, there were several quality wines, a nice view, the staff was very friendly, knowledgeable and I really liked the detailed tasting sheet that included the percentages for the blends, vineyards where the grapes were grown, percentage of sugar and alcohol for each wine. When it comes to Pearmund you should do what their slogan says and “think globally, drink locally.” 
Porch Views
Fall Festivities
Jackalopes in Virginia? 

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Down from the Mountain: Devils Backbone Brewing Company

Our last stop at sunset was Devils Backbone Brewing Company.  We tried the samplers they offered, one with 4 beers and one with 6. Dan was daring and tried all 10! I'm big on the porters, stouts and brown ales so the fact that most of what they had available that day were lagers and other German style beers didn't excite me too much.  The food however, was awesome! Great chili, apple salads, wings and more. It also reminded me of being back in Idaho, as the decor focused on hunting trophies and stone fireplaces. I'd say this place is worth the stop for the food, but if you want good beer in the area Blue Mountain Brewery has a tastier selection.

So in two days we were able to cover 5 wineries, 1 cider house and 1 brewery which was tied together with a stay at a cabin complete with a fire we (finally) managed to start in the fireplace. Overall a successful, relaxing trip to Charlottesville that left me wanting to visit again sooner rather than later.

We assumed this ridge must be the "Devil's Backbone"

Blue Mountain Views: Veritas Winery & Vineyard

We were much more impressed with our next stop, Veritas Winery & Vineyard. We arrived to a full parking lot and tents being set up for a wedding & thought we were in for disappointment.  We were instead pleasantly surprised with amazing service & great wines. It must be true that they do trust in the wine like their slogan says "in vino veritas." A hostess promptly greeted us and set us up a at large table in the bustling tasting room.  While full of visitors it wasn't chaotic or obnoxiously loud, Veritas was well prepared for a full house. The tasting room which was warm with its large, dark wooden tables, but still managed to give off an airy vibe with its many french doors.

We were then greeted by a friendly server who managed to serve us and another table or two with prompt, but not rushed service. For $5 we tasted their 9 wines, 2 were from their sparkling list.  I'm not sure there was a bad one in the bunch, but my favorites white was the 2010 Saddleback Chardonnay which was crisp & fruity, similar to a Riesling; of the reds I'd go with the Red Star which was a Cab Franc, Merlot, Chambourcin blend and the Chambourcin stood out the most; on the sparkling side the Scintilla a dry Brut made from Chardonnay. We all walked out with full glasses & bottles where we sipped and enjoyed the views on yet another perfect November day from one of the many sets of Adirondack chairs splayed across the property.

From the impeccable service-ordering from your server w/a pocket register to have some one in the back bring out your bottle(s) in minutes to the comfortable tasting room, spacious grounds and quality wines, it is safe to say that Veritas has snatched up a top spot as one of my favorite wineries in Virginia!
Finding our way to the tasting room
The bustling bar 
The glass is included with the tasting
Enjoying the day

Blue Mountain Views: Afton Mountain Vineyard

Day 2 of our Charlottesville adventure started with a stop at Afton Mountain Vineyards where we wound through the mountains to the tasting room. Our choices were a standard tasting for $5 or the reserve tasting for $8. We were split on who tastings and nobody was thrilled enough to buy a bottle. (We did not get to keep our tasting list so I can't even tell you what was decent.)  Debbie was the only one who bought a glass of one of the reds, while the rest of us quickly exited the cramped tasting room for the fresh mountain air. The wine at Afton Mountain definitely leaves something to be desired; they do however have a great outdoor space with several picnic tables and beanbag toss games set up for visitors with sweeping mountain views.
View from the tasting room deck
Enjoying the perfect fall day

Backed right up to the mountains