Red vs. White

About to enjoy a Valhalla Red on our back deck.

About to enjoy a Valhalla Red on our back deck.

My husband and I like to entertain.  We love to grill out and feed our friends; along with that also comes providing our guests with choices on what to drink.  I love sharing some of my favorite wines with my friends and seeing what they think about them.  The only real downside to providing the wine, aside from cost, is that I almost need to keep a list somewhere of who “likes” what kind of wine.  Susie likes sweet wines, Joe only likes red, Martha is more picky, and if James is coming don’t put out the good stuff because it will be GONE before I get a glass for myself.  Haha.  In managing all of this it got me thinking why is there always such a debate between white and red, add to that the variations there in like sweet, dry, oaky, fruity, rose, etc and I start to feel like there is no way we can please everyone!

I, for one, haven’t met a grape I can say I “do not like” – I like to think that speaks to my more open mindedness and less to the fact that I am a bit of a wine-o.  I admit, I do have a propensity towards Reds…give me a nice, smooth, well-oaked Cabernet Sauvignon or Cabernet Franc any day of the year, but at the same time I also appreciate a glass of white when the time is right.  Virginia Viognier and Cabernet Franc are known as the two signature varieties that are produced in the state.  Our relatively hot and humid climate is very kind to these grapes and Virginia wines are gaining in popularity due, in part to the quality of these varieties.  So no matter if you claim to be a Red or a White fan I suggest trying each of these varieties when you come across them.

One of my favorite wineries to visit that offers something for everyone here in Southwest Virginia, including Viognier, is AmRhein’s Wine Cellars.  This winery is located atop Bent Mountain about a 20 minute ride from Roanoke on the way to Floyd.   The setting is beautiful and they offer a covered open air patio area in which to sit and enjoy a bottle with friends after your tasting.  My husband and I  loved their Viognier so much we served it at our wedding as one of the White selections.  Another thing I appreciate about AmRhein’s as well as some other local wineries like Chateau Morissette and Fincastle Winery is that you can find their wines at local Kroger stores in the area.  This is good for my taste buds but bad for my wallet!

I am sure the Red vs. White, Sweet vs. Dry battle will rage on in my circle of friends and within the wine community overall forever.  I urge folks to try wines from “the other side” when the opportunity presents itself.  You never know when you may happen upon a new favorite.  More experienced wine drinkers realize that there is a right time for each variety and do not pigeonhole them selves into one specific category.  If you can do this you will be able to fully enjoy all the wonderful wines Virginia, and the world, has to offer.

I would like to see how many of you are on which side of the fence… please take a moment and answer my poll below.  Happy experimenting!!!



Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Changes announced at Chateau Morrisette

I came across this article on the Virginia Wine Lover Magazine website.(

cmwinery_new labelChateau Morrisette is one of the larger wineries in the area.  It is nice to see them thinking about consistent branding.  The winery offers a huge line up and a beautiful setting.  I am sure everyone can find something to love there.

Link | Posted on by | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

My 3 Goals for “Winerying” in the Fall

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I am expecting my first child in early September 2013.  And as I have also mentioned in a previous post I MISS WINE.  Now, I could find myself being over zealous and jumping right back in to things but I plan to have a plan!  I realize that time and funds will be limited for my husband and I to enjoy sneaking off to a winery amidst picturesque scenery to share a few hours of adult fun together- or as we like to call it “Winerying”,  but there has to be SOME time right?

Here are a few highlights of what I would like to accomplish when my body is my own again (at least between feedings)  🙂  I am only going to set 3 goals, since I want to be realistic and not set myself up for failure.

1) Attend at least one festival (See previous post of not to be missed festivals).  In addition to those selections I would also like to entertain the idea of attending the Shenandoah Uncorked Festival, held a little farther north in the Shenandoah Valley and is even child friendly!

2) Scope out some wineries I haven’t visited yet in my area like DeVault vineyards in Concord VA (I hear they have a swimming pool, which also makes them family friendly) and the new Altillo Vineyards that recently opened in Hurt, VA and seem to specialize in reds.  Altillo also has an outdoor deck that has a million dollar view that I must see for myself.


Altillo Vineyard Overlook Deck, Photo taken from

3) I will also visit some of my old faves.  There are to many to really choose from but I think it would be wise to select wineries that are closer to home like Leo Grande and Valhalla.  Valhalla vineyards is probably the closest to my house and boasts a gorgeous view of the Roanoke Valley and not only that the wines there are truly amazing with a large variety of robust reds to enjoy.

I will actually add a 4th goal… don’t over do it!  Must remember to ease back into responsible winery visiting.   Who is coming with us?


Valhalla Vineyards

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Feeling Fruity? Visit Brooks Mill Winery in Wirtz.

One thing about Virginia Wine Country that I enjoy is that there is a wide variety available; something to suit everyones taste.  We have robust dry reds, crisp whites, sweet wines, sparkly wines, mead, cider and not least of all fruit wines.   Wine tasting does not always have to be a serious event.  I think that wine tasters who turn their noses up at the notion of fruit wine are really missing out on some of the real treasures Virginia wineries have to offer.   I also think it is noteworthy that not all fruit wines are super sweet and some can have complex flavor profiles.  Virginia is home to several wineries that offer fruit wines.

blackberriesI recently had a chance to connect with the proprietor of Brooks Mill Winery, HT Page,  and learned a little about his winery located in Wirtz VA.   The winery opened in December of 2008 and produces only fruit wines.  Their line up consists of mostly blackberry wines but also includes blueberry, peach, pear, plum and sometimes cherry.   The blackberry comes in dry, semi-sweet and sweet and has won awards recently at the Finger Lakes wine competition.  The Pages grow all of the blackberries on site which adds to the fun!  Brooks Mill winery started when HT’s wife Rhonda experienced a Blackberry wine from Nelson County’s Hilltop Winery and fell in love.  HT decided to try his hand at making his own wine at home.  By his own admission some of the earliest batches were “good and others not so good” and the passion eventually evolved into the business it is today.   Brooks Mill was the 140th winery opened in Virginia and now the state has about 230 wineries in operation 5 years later.  HT and Rhonda hope to continue growing their business during the years to come and eventually retire making fruit wines.

directions brooks mill

Brooks Mill is still quite small in production by winery standards but I think that is what gives it so much charm.  The tasting room is open Thursdays-Sundays from 11-5.  I recommend stopping by and giving the fruity side of Virginia Wine a try.  The charm and hospitality can’t be matched!


Posted in Uncategorized | 9 Comments

Kids and Wine?

No Infants Allowed?

No Infants Allowed?

I am expecting my first child in a few weeks and cannot wait to get back into my old habits!  My husband and I have been on hiatus and missing our once a month, on average, winery visits.  What got my wheels turning is the fact that any new winery adventures will now include a child in tow all the time!  We have taken my step kids along with us on a few occasions but they are older and easily entertained with electronic devices that they don’t really cause much concern.

My question is whether or not it is acceptable to bring an infant/toddler age child along to a winery.  The demographics of your average wine taster are increasingly overlapping with people in their childbearing years.  As wine tasting gains in popularity as a recreational activity and couples are waiting well into their 30’s to have children I see this gap narrowing even further.

The family and I at Truro Vineyards, Cape Cod MA

The family and I at Truro Vineyards, Cape Cod MA

So I am looking for opinions and feedback.  Would seeing a young child at a winery impact your experience?  I am not the type that would allow my child to cause a scene and carry on with out removing our selves from the situation, this would be true in a restaurant, movie theater or other public venue – not just a winery.  SO please don’t hold back… what are your thoughts????    

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

5 Wine Festivals in Southwest Virginia You Don’t Want to Miss

1)  Horse and Hound Wine Festival at Peaks of Otter in Bedford VA.   This festival is hosted every July and is one of the more unique and family and dog friendly wine festivals.  Aside from the wine tasting there are also several events like a horse parade, muskrat races and dog agility tests.  I took my two dogs to this festival a few years ago and they were hopeless at the muskrat race but did enjoy joining in the fun and seeing the sites.  Warning!  It does get HOT out there, bring plenty of water for your and your furry friends to supplement your wine.


2) Black Dog Music and BBQ Festival at Chateau Morrisette in Floyd VA.  September 14, 2013.  Chateau Morrisette is the largest producing and probably most well known winery in Southwest VA.  The grounds of the winery are picturesque and host many weddings and special events.  This festival brings music, wine and good ole southern BBQ together for an evening of fun in the mountains.  Bring a lawn chair and the whole family!

3)  Smith Mountain Lake Wine Festival in Moneta VA.  Sept 28 & 29.  This two day festival will celebrate its 25th year and hosts 28+ wineries and multiple other vendors as well.  Children 12 and under are free.  With this many wineries present I would suggest choosing a varietal or two to taste throughout the festival and not attempt to do each wineries entire line up.  After all, your taste buds can only keep up and differentiate for so long!  If Chardonnay is your thing… sample Chardonnay from each vendor, trust me this tactic will preserve your ability to enjoy the festivities!  There is live music all day both days to add to the ambiance as well.

Photo Credit, Smith Mountain Lake Chamber of Commerce

Photo Credit, Smith Mountain Lake Chamber of Commerce

4) Virginia Wine and Garlic Festival at Rebec Vineyards in Amherst VA.  October 12-13 2013.  This unique festival pairs a love of garlic with Virginia Wine.  Held in the fall and in the middle of Virginia Wine Month, the cooler temperatures makes this festival quite enjoyable.   This festival not only plays host to 9+ wineries but also 15+ local restaurants all offering foods celebrating their love of garlic.    Vendors and live entertainment are also on hand.  There is a garlic cook off and a Garlic Queen will even be crowned.

5) Thomas Jefferson Wine Festival at Thomas Jeffersons Poplar Forest. November 16, 2013.  History and wine combine.  Thomas Jefferson is often credited with being the father of Virginia Wine and this festival held at his retreat home of Poplar Forest has been  a favorite fall event in the area.  See Mr. Jefferson talk about his passion for wine and how he helped the industry take root in the state.

Photo from Poplar Forest Website

Photo from Poplar Forest Website

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Calling all Oak Enthusiasts; Leo Grand is here

One of our favorite wineries to visit is Leo Grande.  My husband and I both adore a dry oaky red no matter the time of year and Leo Grande certainly delivers on that front.  I always think it is special when the winery owner and/or wine maker is the one pouring and talking with the guests. During at least half of our Image(frequent) visits this tends to be the case here.  Norm is the friendly and approachable winemaker who is always happy to talk with his guests and share is knowledge and love of wine with them.  Leo Grande Winery has a beautiful view and ample outdoor seating and my family really enjoys spending time there.  During the summer months the winery also hosts live music and a good time is had by all in Goode, VA.

Leo Grande Winery is part of the Bedford Wine Trail that I plan on highlighting in an upcoming blog post.Image

Image | Posted on by | Tagged | 6 Comments