Seen above among the ruins of the historic home of Gov. James Barbour (1175-1842) sits the 40th Anniversary limited edition of Barboursville Vineyards’ premiere Octagon wine. This vintage proudly encompasses all the Zonin family set out to achieve when they broke ground in 1976 to establish the world-class vineyard and winery. The historic Barbour home was designed by friend and forefather Thomas Jefferson, and it includes the namesake octagon room. In a region where fine wine had yet to be made, Gianni Zonin (owner of the largest family-owned wine enterprise in Europe) set out to do what Jefferson himself began when he invited Italian native Philip Mazzei to his Monticello home to establish a vineyard and it failed. Some 40 years later, the Zonins gather to celebrate the anniversary of its groundbreaking and the release of its new limited edition Octagon vintage. Octagon is arguably Virginia’s most celebrated wine.
Charlottesville Wine & Country joined in celebrating Barboursville Vineyards’ 40th Anniversary at its beautiful gala. The evening was an elegant black tie affair that began in the Octagon Room, where Barboursville Vineyards’ Bruit Cuvee 1814 sparkling wine was served, and guests mingled in the library enjoying hors d’oeuvres. Charlottesville Wine & Country publishers, Robin Bethke (below, at far left) and Jen Bryerton (below, at far right) congratulated vineyard Owners Gianni and Silvana Zonin (below, left and center) who flew in from Italy to join the festivities and Winemaker Luca Paschina (below at right) by presenting them with a lovely framed photo of the 40th edition of Octagon.
As guests took their seats Sommelier Professionista Alessandro Medici (above) began the evening’s first course of smoked Rappahannock River oysters, scallops with spinach mousseline and blood orange cured Chesapeake Bay rockfish—prepared by Executive Chef Spencer Crawford—with the introduction of the vineyard’s newest wine, Fiano Reserve 2015. The Fiano is an Italian white wine grape grown primarily in the south of Italy that Winemaker Luca Paschina introduced to Barboursville Vineyards’ terroir in 2010. Fiano grapes are believed to be used in ancient Roman wines, and both Medici and Paschina hope it will continue to succeed here in Virginia as Jefferson would no doubt have appreciated.
After a beautiful second course of butternut squash and Caramont Esmontonian “Raviolini del Plin” served in a thyme-scented vegetable broth with black truffles and paired beautifully with Nebbiolo Reserve 1998, owner Gianni Zonin, made a gracious and heartfelt speech. In it, he gave a toast to all those who have helped make Barboursville Vineyards meet the highest standards of excellence in both wine and food. Guests then enjoyed Chef Crawford’s licorice glazed lamb chops, roasted estate grown “Supernova” sunchoke, and fava bean puree with Octagon demi-glace served spectacularly with both the newly released 40th Anniversary limited edition of Octagon 2014 and the beautifully aged Octagon 2010.
As Chef Crawford’s dessert of Sperryville “Black Twig” apple and “Magnus” pear tarte tatin with Governor Barbour black walnuts and Barboursville 2001 Balsamic gelato was served and paired with Malvaxia Passito 2008, the guests applauded Chef Crawford, Sommelier Medici and the staff for a beautiful meal. And, lastly, as a terrific and generous surprise, the Zonins personally gifted each guest a boxed and signed bottle of the limited edition Octagon, concluding the lovely evening with a most gracious send off.
Octagon is considered our region’s finest expression of what Virginia wines have to offer. Created by winemaker Paschina and first introduced in 1996, Octagon’s success has garnered many accolades for Paschina. Among these awards are 20 Most Admired Winemakers in North America by Vineyard & Winery Management magazine, the country’s 20 Leading Food and Wine Professionals by the James Beard Foundation, and his designation by the Italian Republic as a Commendatore in the Order of Merit in industry and culture. Paschina is considered Virginia’s most decorated winemaker. He is from the Piemonte province in Italy, has been the winemaker and general manager of Barboursville Vineyards since 1990 and is now also an American citizen.
Read our interview with Paschina in the upcoming Book 3 of Charlottesville Wine & Country Living.
For over 80 years, Montpelier, the former home of James Madison, has housed premier steeplechase racing that has showcased some of the most prized national and international horses. Today, the races continue as an extremely popular event for the National Steeplechase Association with a full day of exciting races, opulent vendors and lavish tailgating. This year’s Montpelier Hunt Races are being held on November 5, 2016, and you don’t want to miss such a great day.
The Montpelier Hunt Races not only showcase superior horse breeding but also highlight the grand race culture. From tailgating to the Jack Russell Terrier Races and the hat contest, there is plenty to experience throughout the day. This year’s tailgate contest theme is “Celebrating Southern.” Enjoy viewing the day’s extravagant southern-inspired tailgate spreads, or perhaps design your own and watch Keswick Hall‘s John Hoffman, the 2016 Celebrity Chef, judge the entries. The popular hat contest will be sponsored by Dubarry of Ireland with prizes awarded for creativity, elegance, best race theme and best group entry. Charlottesville Wine and Country Living is excited to be providing a prize for this year’s tailgate and hat contests! Our very own Senior Editor, Sarah Pastorek, will also be one of the tailgate contest judges.
For an all-around experience, browse the diverse collection of vendors. Jewelers, equestrian outfitters, boutiques and more will have their products displayed for all to peruse. And, food and drink vendors will be offering everything from crab cakes and finger-foods to wine and cider.
The steeplechase races are set to begin at 12:30 p.m. with two races on the flat and five over fences. The sixth race is the premier race, featuring Montpelier’s live brush fences. Take advantage of viewing at the rail to experience the excitement and energy of the jockeys and their horses!
Below the Race Tower in the Winner’s Circle, you can watch the presentation of the winning horse, jockey and trainer following the races. For more information about each jockey, who they represent and each horse’s statistics, be sure to pick up one of Montpelier’s Race Programs at the event.
From the culture to the sport itself, a day at the races will surely make for a grand time. Charlottesville Wine & Country Living is proud to be a sponsor, and we cannot wait to tailgate, shop, mingle and cheer on our favorite horses at this year’s Montpelier Hunt Races.
Centered in the heart of Virginia agriculture, Charlottesville’s unique farm-to-table foodie culture thrives from independent family farms. Many of these local farms benefit from Farm Aid and the work of The Local Food Hub. Six days before the Farm Aid annual benefit concert returned to Virginia and in an effort to raise awareness and funds for such important platforms, Farm Aid board member Dave Matthews and his Blenheim Vineyards hosted a locally sourced Farm to Feast Dinner. Dave Matthews along with Willie Nelson and Neil Young, fellow Farm Aid board members, would go on to perform in the benefit concert at Jiffy Lube Live on September 17.
Charlottesville band Small Town Rodeo provided live music for the evening with their bluegrass and country tunes. This foursome, outfitted with a guitar, bass, mandolin and fiddle, captured the sound of the Blue Ridge countryside while guests sipped Blenheim Vineyard wines and mingled near the teepee cocktail lounge.
Clay Trainum of Autumn Olive Farms smoked pork during the cocktail hour while highly acclaimed chefs Lee Gregory of The Roosevelt and Southbound, and Joe Sparatta of Heritage and Southbound in Richmond prepared the dinner. All courses were paired to perfection with Blenheim Vineyards’ 2014 Painted White, 2015 Rosé and 2014 Cabernet Franc.
The delicious communal feast was sourced from within a 30-mile radius of Charlottesville, including food from farms that benefit from The Local Food Hub and Farm Aid. Showcasing the fresh and exquisite produce in the area, the Farm to Feast Dinner truly demonstrated the quality and benefits of the local food scene. If you would like to help the family-based farms, you can support Farm Aid anytime on their website, or you can also donate to or volunteer with the The Local Food Hub.