Fincastle Vineyard & Winery - We visited this Fincastle, Virginia winery as soon as we were done eating breakfast. They opened at 10:00 a.m. and we needed to get an early start. We noticed the beautiful scenery surrounding the vineyard as we drove down the narrow drive toward the tasting room. We were hoping we wouldn't meet another car on our way down the road. We found the tasting room at the end of the road and drove up the gravel drive to the small parking area. There were no other cars in the parking area and it looked like it might be difficult to get out of, so we tried to park at a slight angle to make things easier when we were leaving.
The tasting room was a beautiful place to walk into. We were greeted immediately by a woman asking us if we would like to sample their wine. Fincastle only had three wines available: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and a Chardonnay...and we sampled all three. We found all three to be very high quality wines. Gary even stated that their Chardonnay was the best that he had ever had. While we were sampling, six or seven more people walked through the door and we looked around their small gift area while we finished our last sample. A man had come in to help in the tasting room and when we went back toward the tasting counter, he asked us if we wanted to resample anything. We declined, but purchased a bottle of Chardonnay to take with us.
Since this visit was our
very first visit to a Virginia winery, I was hoping to like Fincastle
Vineyard more than I did. I think I would have liked it better if they had
a slightly larger selection, but the three wines they did have were
crafted with care. We could tell that much hard work and attention to
detail went into the making of their wine and also the decor of the
tasting room and the landscaping of the area surrounding it. I feel that
there are many great things to come from this winery, we just happened to
visit it in its infancy. Favorite:
Rockbridge is a true farm-winery with beautiful vineyards and a tasting room housed in a big red barn. We arrived on a Saturday morning shortly after the winery opened, and there were already several people at the tasting counter. Even though there were approximately eight people sampling, everyone received a personal tasting with the winemaker. He was working behind the counter a doing a wonderful job of informing everyone about his wines and keeping their glasses filled with a sample. The winemaker is a very pleasant man and he made our first winery visit of the day quite enjoyable.
We sampled over half of the 19 wines that Rockbridge produces and we found some real winners. They make a great Syrah Rose. The 2006 vintage is very dry, but very flavorful. I also loved the 2005 Traminette. This semi-dry has a wonderful fruity aroma with subtle floral notes. The 2005 Vignoles is amazingly unique and a bit tangy. I found the 2006 Rockbridge Pinot Noir delicious. It is light bodied with a great aroma and incredibly dry. I also liked the 2006 Jeremiah's - a Concord rose that is very light and tasty. The V d'Or, a Vidal ice-style wine reminded me of Canadian ice wine and it was out-of-this-world. We sampled the 2005 Norton, but also tasted a special sample of the 2004 Norton. These vintages were very different and I preferred the 2004. It was very light, not as peppery, and had a hint of spiciness. When our host told us there were only three bottles of the 2004 left, I immediately picked up one to bring home.
Our visit to Rockbridge Vineyard was awesome and I'm so glad we decided to stop by on our way into Charlottesville. The winemaker is doing some incredible things there and the service is excellent. You're sure to find several wines that you enjoy. The problem will be deciding which one to uncork and take outside to the lovely seating area by the vineyard. Favorites: Jeremiah's and 2004 Norton.
Valhalla Vineyards - It was quite a road we had to take to get to this Roanoke, Virginia winery. Valhalla Vineyards is situated on a 2000 foot mountaintop. This Ohio girl is used to flat, straight roads and the twists, turns and uphill climbs had me a bit uneasy - but it was well worth it once we arrived. This winery has one of the best views of any winery we have ever visited. Even from the parking area we could see for miles around. I couldn't wait to get inside to see what more they had to offer besides the gorgeous view.
Once inside we realized that we may be there for awhile. It was a beautiful spring Saturday afternoon and the wine tasters had come out in full force. There was not a spot to be had a the tasting counter and new visitors were already lurking behind the current tasters waiting for their turn to sample. It seemed to be someone's birthday because there was a large group of younger women taking up approximately half the counter. Unfortunately they had just arrived and were not very far into the wine list. We patiently waited and finally got some counter space about 20 minutes after our arrival. We tasted through their nice selection of primarily dry wines. I was very impressed with the quality and found a dry rose that I particularly enjoyed. We decided to get a bottle of the rose so we could go outside to take in the wonderful view. Once outside there was plenty of seating and we found a nice table and poured ourselves a couple of glasses. To my dismay the wine we poured was fairly cloudy and I took my glass inside to inquire if something was wrong with the wine. I told the employee that our sample had not been so cloudy and I was concerned with the bottle we purchased. I was basically told that it was exactly the same as what we had sampled and nothing was wrong with the wine. I decided not to argue the point and returned with my glass to our table. The wine did taste fine - it just looked a little funky.
Nevertheless, the sun was shining, the view was gorgeous and the wine tasted fine. One of the coolest things I brought home was the wine glass that came with our tasting fee. I normally don't care to even bring home the free glass because I have so many from all the tastings I've participated in...but this was one of those really big glasses that is great for swirling, sniffing and enjoying your wine. Normally it's a tiny tasting glass but this one was very nice and I use it quite often at home. I didn't end up purchasing any wine to bring home after the cloudy wine experience we had...but at least I got a great new glass.