My wife and I spent this weekend roaming around Virginia wine country which included a trip up 29 to visit Vintage Ridge Winery in Rectortown, VA. Vintage Ridge was not initially on our list of wineries to visit this weekend, however, we decided to detour over to the winery because several folks at Linden Vineyards recommended the winery for ‘a unique’ tasting experience.
Although Vintage Ridge just opened the tasting room about a year ago, the proprietors, Bill and Vicki Edmands, have been involved with Virginia wine for years as grape farmers. Given their background from the supply-side of the wine industry they definitely have a unique perspective on Virginia wine. The Edmand’s have parlayed their knowledge of grape growing in to making 1,500 cases of exceptional wines each year.
The tasting experience at Vintage Ridge is quite unique in that each tasting is done sit-down style at individual tables and includes a tasting of six wines paired with a platter of cheeses, almonds, crackers with various toppings and meats. They even have a dessert plate to pair with the Late Harvest Vidal Blanc. The result of this creativity and more intimate approach to tasting resulted in one of the most enjoyable tasting experiences I’ve had in years. Vintage Ridge has definitely set a new standard for Virginia wineries in terms of the tasting room experience.
The only downside to visiting Vintage Ridge was the fact that I did the tackiest thing possible at a winery tasting room… I broke one of their glasses. Yep, broke it right on the patio. What a ‘loser’ thing to do at a tasting (and it was clear that other visitors at the surrounding tables thought the same thing). Sorry Vicki for breaking the glass – you handled like a pro!
On to the tasting…
Petit Verdot 2006 – This is not part of the standard Vintage Ridge tasting, but they were kind enough to open this for me to taste (even after I broke the glass). Petit Verdot is one of the most under rated grapes grown here in Virginia and has been relegated to a blending grape by many wineries. Thankfully, vineyards like Vintage Ridge (along with Linden, Glen Manor and Pearmund) are producing great Petit Verdots and elevating the status of this under recognized varietal.
Maiden Voyage 2006 – $22/bottle – Blend of 60% Vidal Blanc and 40% Mourvedre. The nose was full of tropical fruits and citrus. I picked up citrus and wild flowers and hints of clove. Light mouthfeel with peaches on the finish. This would make a great starter wine to serve with a cheese tray.
Cabernet Franc 2005 – $24/bottle – 100% cab franc. Pronounced black and sour cherries on the nose along with currant and slight pepper aromas. The tannins in this wine were softer than expected (which I liked) and worked well with fruit. In the mouth I got more dark cherries, ripe blackberries and earth. The pepper component on the finish was more muted than I would have expected. This is a definite winner and paired nicely with our pizza back at the hotel later that night.
Syrah 2006 – $24/bottle – Made with purchased grapes. Blend of 75% syrah and 25% cabernet sauvignon. I found this wine to have a lot of earth with slight hints of currant (likely from the Cab Sav) on the nose but little else. Thin. I respect the fact that many Virginia grape growers and wineries are open to experimentation by growing grapes like Syrah, but I just do not feel Syrah has ever done exceptionally well here in Virginia and may not. I’ve never tasted a Virginia Syrah that ‘threw my hair back’ and this one is no different.
Maiden Voyage 2007 – $22/bottle – Another blend of Vidal Blanc and Mourvedre. This particular wine had a concentrated sugary, sweet smell – even moreso than most desert wines. Lots of apricots on the nose along with peach pie. Very sweet, almost syrupy mouth feel with baked peaches and apricots.
Late Harvest Vidal Blanc – $26/bottle – 100% vidal blanc. Baked pears, honey and apple pie on the nose. Light mouth feel with more baked pears, especially on the finish.
If you haven’t already, you will certainly be hearing more about Vintage Ridge. From the friendly staff, unique tasting experience, great wine, beautiful winery and surrounding landscape, the Vintage Ridge experience is certainly worth adding to your next Virginia wine tasting trip.
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