Labor Day weekend!  The unofficial end of summer here in the U.S.

Kids return to school, football fills our Sundays, and the cooler temperatures of fall are in sight.   

The Labor Day weekend may also be the end of ‘rosé season’ for the wine consuming masses, but a growing number of consumers are drinking pink year round.  

As I noted in Part I of this series, Virginia rosé sales are not tracked independent of total wine sales, but the winemakers I spoke to this summer said consumer demand for the pink stuff is as high as ever with no sign of slowing.  

And, if the deluge of rosé articles published on the wine interwebs (guess this one adds to that growing body of work) this summer is any indicator of consumption trends, the rosé craze will continue through the cooler months.

For part two of this series, I tasted fourteen 2016 rosés with my wife and/or tasting group throughout the summer. Beyond the simple ‘tastes of strawberry’ style tasting notes, each of the following are super drinkable and great for cooler weather as well:


Gabriele Rausse Winery, Charlottesville, VA
Widely considered the Father of the Modern Virginia Wine Industry, Gabriele Rausse has contributed as much to the Virginia wine industry as anyone.  He came to Virginia from his native Valdagno, Italy, in the spring of 1976 to establish the initial vineyards at Barboursville Vineyards. Since then Rausse has helped establish some of the most notable vineyards in the region:  Jefferson Vineyards (Simeon Vineyards back in 1981), Kluge Estate (now Trump Winery), Afton Mountain Vineyard, Blenheim, and White Hall among others.

Rausse started his eponymous label in 1997 and opened his own tasting room in 2015. Rausse serves as the Director of Gardens and Grounds at Jefferson’s Monticello by day and works with his sons, Peter and Tim, to cultivates vines for their label, Gabriele Rausse Wines.

Gabriele Rausse Vin Gris de Pinot Noir ($19)
The term vin gris, which translates to ‘gray wine,’ is used to describe rosé made from red grapes but very light in color because of no (or very little) skin contact.  In this case, this wine is made from Pinot Noir grapes grown in the Monticello AVA. Yellow-goldish in color with hints of salmon, this wine is fresh, tangy, and full of tropical fruit, strawberry and hints of cherry. Zippy acidity and nice raspberry finish.  A light wine perfect as an aperitif!

On a related note: I was able to recover the audio from my discussion with Gabriele last October so I’m excited that he will be the first official ‘guest’ on the Virginia Wine Chat podcast.

DuCard Vineyards, Etlan, VA
Founder Scott Elliff calls DuCard Vineyards a ‘hobby gone wild,’ which has since grown into a serious vineyard and winery with seven acres under vine planted to Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Viognier, and Norton. After several winemakers won awards with fruit grown at DuCard, Scott and Karen Elliff decided to use their estate-grown, award-winning fruit to make wine under their own label.  Situated on the eastern edge of Shenandoah National Park, adjacent to Old Rag Mountain, DuCard Vineyards was established 2010.  The winery and tasting room is made from reclaimed hardwoods and is fully solar powered, the only in Virginia.  Scott is a regular contributor to Piedmont Virginia where he and his wife Karen share their perspectives as winery owners.

2016 Rose ($24)
This dry, delicious rose is redolent of a summer fruit market.  Pale salmon color, with notes of peach skin, strawberries, tart cherry, and watermelon; tangy; lovely raspberry acidity. DuCard wines are only available in the tasting room so plan a trip to Madison County to visit.  Find this wine here.


Casanel Vineyards & Winery, Leesburg, VA
Based in Leesburg, this family-run winery was founded in 2008 by Nelson and Kathleen (Casey) DeSouza, following retirement from their construction business. Casanel is a combination of their names — Casey and Nelson. Today, the DeSouzas, along with daughters Katie and Anna, have grown Casanel in to one of the most serious wineries in the Loudoun region. With the guidance of winemaker Katell Griaud, Casanel wines have improved in quality as much as any winery in the state the past few years and are now some of the most consistent and well-made in Loudoun. In the coming year(s), I suspect this winery will be on the receiving end of much deserved credit for their commitment to fine wine production.

2016 Rosé José
This rose is a blend of 60% Merlot, 21% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 17% Cabernet Franc sourced from vineyards across the region with 2% estate-grown Carménère. Beautiful light strawberry color, this rosé is light, zippy and refreshing, offering loads of watermelon, strawberry and white flower notes. Lovely cherry acidity and a lengthy pink grapefruit finish. Near the top of the ‘seriously drinkable’ roses we enjoyed this summer. This paired perfectly with a watermelon, mint and feta salad, but would be nice with a range of light dishes. Casanel is a must visit (for me, too)! Find this rosé here.


Rappahannock Cellars, Huntly, VA
The Delmare family relocated from the Santa Cruz Mountains area of California to Virginia to establish Rappahannock Cellars. They purchased the 85-acre farm in 1998 and planted their initial grape vines in 1999.  The tasting room opened in 2001. Today, the Delmare family and their team farm 30 acres of grape vines and produce about 10,000 cases annually.

2016 Black Label Rose ($26)
Loved this blend of Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon.  Dry but more savory and substantial than most summer sippers.  Lots going on with this wine. Darker strawberry color, aromas of ripe strawberry, stone fruit, and raspberry.  Weighty and viscous in the mouth with flavors of orange peel, strawberry, tea, saline and hints of nuts on the finish.  Buy this wine for a fall evening and steak (yes, steak!).  Find this wine here.

2016 Fizzy Rose ($28)
A cool and delicious frizzante style rose.  Nothing fancy but this blend of merlot, cabernet franc, vidal, and viognier, is fresh, fizzy (as the name suggests) with loads of strawberry, watermelon candy and rose water.  Find this wine here.