free run juice

virginia wine camp adventures

IMG_1608You probably haven’t had a ton of wine from Virgina. Maybe you haven’t even had any. But with over 200 wineries and 7 AVAs, Virginia’s the 7th largest winemaking region in US and the 5th largest wine grape producer (not wine, but wine grapes). A lot of the wine produced there isn’t awesome, but a handful of wineries and winemakers are cranking out some good ones now, making people call this one of the best emerging wine regions in the US. I hadn’t had more than probably five bottles from Virginia, so what better way to find out all about it than at Wine Camp! We headed down to VA for two days, and I learned a few cool things there.

petit manseng is super refreshing

IMG_1677Hadn’t had a lot of Petit Manseng before I went to Virginia. It’s mostly grown in southwest France but has been planted a lot in Virginia (and not that many other places in the US, so it’s not weird if you haven’t had it before). Most winemakers make them a little sweet (not overly, but on the light-sweet side) or even into a very sweet dessert wine, but the dry ones are fantastic for summer – hint of apricot, light, delicate, super refreshing.

celebs of all varieties are graping up there


Back in the day, Thomas Jefferson tried to make wine in Virginia (and failed). Still, he was instrumental in establishing wine in America by bringing vine clippings back from his travels in Bordeaux. Now, Dave Matthews, Donald Trump and former AOL CEO Steve Case own wineries in Virginia. We had two of Steve Case’s Early Mountain wines, and the rosé was light and a little fizzy – really liked it. ($22, and reportedly Steve said he’ll donate any profits from Early Mountain wine to furthering VA wine.)

Trump's sparkling rose was good and even better with this sick cured Virginia ham

Trump’s sparkling rosé was good and even better with this sick cured Virginia ham

experimentation can lead to the best explosions

Despite the fact that Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Vidal Blanc, and Viognier (yum) are the most widely planted grapes in VA, they’re planting all different varieties now to see what will grow best. One of those was Vermentino, a light white grape you mostly find in Italy. We had a ton of really amazing food in VA, but the best wine-food combo I had was Vermentino and grilled okra.

the Barboursville Vermentino

the Barboursville Vermentino, crisp and minerally, $23


“before” pic at RdV vineyards tank room dinner


annnnd “after”

it’s very rainy

It would rain a little in the morning but then clear up. Kind of reminded me of London. All the rain obviously affects the vintages for wine, which can produce a range of wines from light to bold deepening on how much the vines got saturated.

they have an excellent sense of humor


And, here were a few of my favorite bottles!

shaps petit manseng

really nice light yellow apple and lemon, $30


there;s not even a lot of Sauvignon Blanc planted in Virginia but this one had a great light and tart green apple flavor, $25

barboursville cabernet franc

light red berry, a hint of savory meat, and dirty minerality, $25




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