Virginia Wineries - An Initial Observation
The most recent number for bonded wineries that I've heard in Virginia is 257...so visiting 7 wineries hardly makes me an expert...in fact I would not even say that I had even started to scratch the surface...but I was impressed with what I saw.
I will not name the wineries that we visited...most were good...a few excellent..one was definitely not our style but I will say this, even that winery was filled on a cool (almost cold) Saturday in winter.
Sure in winter the Wine Road event fills many of the Sonoma wineries with people..but there are almost 100 wineries you can visit in a small area for one fee. This was just an average winter weekend with many people sipping (and buying bottles/cases) of Virginia wine!
I look forward to seeing what it is like in the Virginia wineries during their busy time. In one of the wineries (where we had to wait almost 5 minutes to even get space for 3 at the bar) there had to be at least 150 people. Granted, the winery has a very nice tasting room with some outstanding wines but with the outdoor space that they have I bet they could handle well over 300 people in summer (I'll be smart and visit during the week).
In another (of our favorites) I had an opportunity to chat one on one with the tasting room manager. We were really enjoying their wines (my wife, her best friend from Connecticut, and myself) when I realized that there were no Cabernet Franc wines being poured or on their wine list. This winery has a very good reputation for their Cab Francs..there were bottles sitting in a display behind the bar. When I asked Terri (the tasting room manager) she told me that they had run out of last year's Cabernet Franc...she said that it seemed like a full year since they had any to pour. I asked her when the next release was anticipated I was told "July"...since we now belong to their wine club I can promise you that I will be there for that release. One can only speculate that demand is strong and will remain so...at least at some of Virginia's wineries.
I have another 250 wineries to visit before I dare call myself a Virginia wines expert...and maybe I'll need a few years of visits to earn that title but I have to tell you that after what we tasted I certainly look forward to that effort!
Make no mistake about it, there is a considerable uptick in the quality of the wines being produced in Virginia and well worth the effort to taste them!