The Taste of White Hall dinner prepared by Kitchen Catering and Events started with seated appetizers. The White Hall Vineyards 2014 Gewurztraminer, made in an Alsatian style, was paired with a beggar’s purse of double cream cheese with rosehip jam. Then, a delicious lemon and garlic seared scallop over shaved carrot salad with parsley was served with crisp 2016 Rose from both Stinson Vineyards and Grace Estate Winery.
The talented winemakers helped carefully plan the menu and delighted guests throughout the beautiful evening with details about the wines and interesting anecdotes as they served wines table-side. Pictured below (from left to right) are Winemaker Megan McGuire of White Hall Vineyards, General Manager Lisa Champ of White Hall Vineyards, Winemaker Brad McCarthy of White Hall Vineyards, Winemaker Frantz Ventre of Grace Estate Winery and Winemaker Rachel Stinson Vrooman of Stinson Vineyards.
In western Albemarle County, the village of White Hall rests just at the edge of Sugar Hollow and the George Washington National Forest that lead up into the mountains. The charming century-old White Hall Community Building is the site for regular Ruritan meetings, country dances, the fall Apple Butter Festival and generally serves as a gathering spot for the little community. It was the perfect place for this group of gifted winemakers to celebrate their wines together.
The main courses tipped off with a delicate braised rabbit with Mediterranean white beans, herbs, red onions and arugula. The rabbit was well suited to White Hall Vineyards 2015 Chardonnay. The Chardonnay has subtle well-integrated oak flavors and a beautiful extraction of fruits and a lively acidity.
Paired well with richer dishes, the Grace Estate Winery Petite Manseng, and White Hall Vineyards 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon were served with Mojo ropa vieja with mufungo (beef braised in a garlic citrus sauce), fried plantain and pork cracklings. Cognac barrel aging is used for the Petite Manseng to form a truly unique white wine that can appeal to red wine drinkers. The Cabernet Sauvignon underwent extended maceration giving it a dark cherry color, flavors of plum and fig, and a lengthy blackberry finish with wisps of smoke.
Lamb kabobs on rosemary skewers with saffron, apricot and currant couscous with charred scallion and cucumber cream were then paired with Stinson Vineyards 2014 Meritage, a velvety complex blend of their finest grapes. The Grace Estate Winery 2014 Tannat offered a sultry array of red fruits with early tones of coffee and a significant lingering finish of tannin.
As the meal progressed and the delicious food and wine flowed, new friends were made and each table was chatting and enjoying themselves immensely as is the tradition on our wonderful Monticello Wine Trail. The evening concluded with a sweet treat—pineapple layer cake with mango cream frosting paired with Stinson Vineyards 2014 Petit Manseng, a smooth late harvest wine with an intriguing natural sweetness.
The Taste of White Hall Dinner was truly a delightful community endeavor and a wonderful showcase of the talented winemakers’ work.
Saturday, CrossKeys Vineyards hosted a Vertical Wine Dinner to showcase the vineyards’ estate grown Merlot. Event and Catering Manager Hannah Cooper designed the affair, preparing the long romantic banquet table and setting each place for the many courses and parings to come. Executive Chef Dexter Burgess and Assistant Winemaker Steve Monson created a five-course plated dinner perfectly paired with Merlots from 2010-2015. The result was an exquisite winter CrossKeys Vineyards dinner.
For the first course, guests enjoyed smoked duck breast with Chinese pancakes and hoisin jicama slaw while savoring the 2010 Merlot.
The second course, paired with 2011 Merlot, incorporated another red meat—flank steak roulade. This delicious steak was served with oven roasted tomatoes and spinach with a mustard chipotle vinaigrette.
Guests were treated to a sweeter third course as blue cheese cheesecake was served with rosemary scented demi. This delicious treat was paired with the 2013 Merlot.
Following an intermezzo of sorbet, with which guests were able to cleanse their palates, beef short rib, roasted root vegetables and pickled asparagus was paired with the 2012 Merlot for the fourth course.
The five-course dinner concluded with a Merlot-poached pear scented with vanilla and cardamon. Served with vanilla bean ice cream and paired with the 2015 Merlot, this final course was the perfect ending to a lovely showcase of CrossKeys Vineyards’ wines.
If you would like to experience CrossKeys Vineyards’ wine pairings yourself, they are hosting a five-course Valentine’s Day Dinner on Saturday, February 11.
As a new year begins, there are countless ways to take advantage of all the Charlottesville area has to offer. We have 17 Must-Dos that are sure to make the new year an unforgettable one.
1. Attend a Winemaker’s Dinner. This year, treat you and your partner to a winemaker’s dinner, where you will enjoy the best of local cuisine paired with the area’s wines. Consider a dinner at Early Mountain Vineyards, like the Winemaker’s Field Supper featured in the most recent book of Charlottesville Wine & Country Living. Or perhaps an upcoming event like the Valentine’s Day Winemaker Dinner at Veritas Vineyard & Winery. (Left photo by Paula Bartosiewicz)
2. Experience Barboursville Vineyards’ Octagon Wine. This age-worthy, award-winning wine, highly distinct in character, is a can’t miss for wine lovers. Join the list of those who have been served Octagon, including Queen Elizabeth II and President Obama.
5. Throw an Outdoor Party. Take advantage of the beautiful mountain views Charlottesville has to offer and throw an outdoor party fitting to the season. Match your décor, refreshments and activities to a theme just as this hostess did with her hunting party in the latest book of Charlottesville Wine & Country Living. (Photos by Rachel May Photography)
6. Indulge in Executive Chef Gary Glaser’s Crab Cakes. You’ll leave raving about these scrumptious crab cakes at The Downtown Grille. Try them at the restaurant or make them yourself! Customers who dine at The Downtown Grille will receive a complementary copy of the latest Charlottesville Wine & Country Living featuring Chef Glaser’s crab cake recipe.
7. Try Gearhart’s Beer or Wine Infused Chocolates. Try a unique delicious twist on your palate with some of Gearhart’s infused chocolates. (Photos on the right by Jen Fariello Photography)
8. Travel Locally with the Inn at Willow Grove. This boutique hotel combines history, charm and luxury for the perfect intimate getaway.
9. Attend the Virginia Wine Expo. This March event is perfect for the wine lover. You’ll spend a weekend exploring an event filled with food, wine and great company. (Photos courtesy of the Virginia Wine Expo)
12. Attend the Montpelier Hunt Races. Gather a group of great friends for a beautiful fall day of tailgating and horse races. Dress in style and participate in the hat contest, or put your focus on your tablescape for the tailgate competition. (Photos by Susan M. Carter Photography)
14. Visit the Blue Ridge Trails. Complete with 500 miles of hiking trails, 101 miles of the Appalachian Trail and 80,000 acres of designated, back-country wilderness, the Shenandoah National Park is a natural treasure. (Photo by Kelly J. Mihalcoe, LLC, courtesy of the Virginia Tourism Corporation)
15. Visit the Design House. This spring, see the amazing work of the area’s top interior designers and professionals while experiencing the year’s décor trends in the Design House 2017. You’ll also be supporting a great cause—the Shelter for Help in Emergency. Below is the 2016 Design House‘s stunning library designed by Foxchase Design. (Photos by Robert Radifera Photography)
16. Travel Abroad. Take your adventures to France this year and explore Burgundy’s wine region. Indulge in the rich history of the area and learn about the connections that Jefferson had in the town of Beaune, France, also featured in the latest issue of Charlottesville Wine & Country Living.
Established in 1988, Horton Vineyards is one the regions most established wineries, producing thousands of cases of wines per year and dozens of award-winning varietals from Viognier to native grape Norton. Last week Charlottesville Wine & Country Living was there to join in the first of their new Cooking with Wine series of classes.
Held around the Holidays, guests were cheerfully greeted by Shannon Horton, daughter of founder and winemaker, Dennis Horton. Welcoming everyone into the festive tasting room where the dinner table was beautifully set in front of the magnificent stone fireplace, Shannon introduced Chef Terre Sisson, owner of Charlottesville Wine & Culinary.
Chef Sisson’s menu
Spinach Apple Salad with Cinnamon Eden Vinaigrette Nebbiolo Wine Bolognese Sauce with Fresh Local Pasta Pear Cranberry Wine Pie
Chef Sisson began the class with preparing the crust for the Pear Cranberry Wine Pie, giving guests useful tips and inspiring cooking stories along the way. Guests were invited to Sous Chef and participate. Her easy-going, friendly style of teaching put everyone at ease right away, and soon laughter was a key component of the recipes.
The Pear Cranberry Pie filling was made from beautiful fresh ingredients with the addition of Horton’s Cranberry Wine. One of eight fruit wines created by Dennis Horton, the Cranberry Wine is a lovely blend of the highest quality of Cranberry with Cabernet Franc. The Horton fruit wines are a result of, “my hobby gone wild and the long lost dream of Chateau Le Cabin,” writes Winemaker Dennis Horton. “In the early 1980s the great Horton experiment began in my log cabin in Aroda, Virginia. The cabin’s cellar was full of home wine-making gear and very small barrels full of the first tastes of Horton wine. That little cabin was the start of this endeavor, and these fruit wines celebrate that home wine-making spirit.”
As the pie baked, Chef Sisson started the ingredients for the Spinach Apple Salad with Cinnamon Eden Vinaigrette. The salad was paired with the award-winning 2015 Albarino Private Reserve. This lovely white wine paired beautifully with the sweet and tangy salad.
The main course was a hearty Nebbiolo Wine Bolognese pasta sauce that included blanched tomatoes from Chef Sisson’s own vegetable garden with ingredients prepared by the guests on top of fresh locally made pasta from Mona Lisa Pasta. The dish was paired beautifully with Horton’s 2013 Nebbiolo, which has rich wild herb and cherry aromas with sweet plum and smokey flavors and really enhanced the dish’s terrific flavor.
As guests dined together with Chef Sisson, friendships were made around the bond of sharing good food and wine. The dinner ended on a sweet note with the wonderful Pear Cranberry Wine Pie that was served with one of three dessert wines that guests could choose from: the Chateau Le Cabin Cranberry Wine, the fortified Pear Wine, or the Eden Apple Dessert Wine. It was the perfect ending note to an enjoyable evening.
Seen above with Shannon Horton (at left), Chef Terre Sisson was trained at L’Academie de Cuisine in Bethesda, Maryland, and specializes in achieving gourmet results in a home kitchen. She believes that anyone can become a fine home chef, serving spectacular meals to family and friends and teaches several cooking classes at various locales throughout the area. Horton Vineyards is looking forward to hosting more classes in their new Cooking with Wine series.
Over Thanksgiving weekend, we joined in the Holiday festivities at Early Mountain Vineyards‘ Deck the Halls festival. The tasting room was filled with friends and families enjoying the sumptuous wines and farm-to-table menu.
The event room housed talented local artisans showcasing their work while shoppers found unique and wonderful gifts for their loved ones. From jewelry makers to the Shenandoah Spice Company and Mundy Spoon Works, there was something for everyone. Holiday music from Rick LaRue set the tone as guests browsed the many different vendors.
Outside, couples and families were treated to hot chocolate and a hayride around the stunning property where the holiday festivities could be heartfelt. We thoroughly enjoyed kicking off the season of giving with Early Mountain Vineyards.
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.
The 10th Annual Heritage Harvest Festival at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello was truly a celebration of the local harvest and a Jefferson inspired love of gardening. From the fresh tomatoes, peppers and melons picked from the trial gardens of the Southern Exposure Seed Exchange (a co-founder of the Heritage Harvest Festival) and Jam According to Daniel to local fruits, there was a plethora of fresh, delicious local produce and products for visitors to taste and take home. The festival showcased the many talented local food and drink vendors the Charlottesville area has to offer through the tastings, workshops and talks that took place over the three days of the festival. Ira Wallace, a founding member of the Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, pictured above, gave a talk on how to create a garden capable of providing produce during each season.
The many modern and historic talks and workshops drew crowds throughout the day. Visitors could learn about the history of Monticello and tour the gardens and buildings, as well as learn about food and agricultural practices. Many local and notable chefs gave talks and demonstrations including Patrick O’Connell of The Inn at Little Washington.
The Heritage Harvest Festival offered something for everyone—a petting zoo, a variety of local food, handcrafted items, a tasting tent with fresh produce and Monticello tours. The three-day event was an opportunity to learn more about the farm-to-table movement and home gardening practices.
UPDATE: DuCard Vineyards will host 2017 Oyster Festivals on Sunday, April 22 and Saturday, September 23. More information and advance tickets are available through DuCard’s website.
On Saturday, September 24, while the beautiful Cabernet Franc was still ripening in the field, fans of DuCard Vineyards’ exclusive boutique wines came in droves to enjoy the day at the vineyard’s Annual Oyster Fest. Kicking off a series of popular wine and oyster events throughout the region at various local vineyards, DuCard Vineyards set the standard for savory Chesapeake Bay oysters and excellent wines.
Rappahannock River Oyster Company was on-hand to serve up succulent oysters fresh from the Chesapeake Bay and grill up unbelievable crab cakes. These local oysters capture the essence of the region (the minerals, the grasses, the plankton) to delight the palette. In the oyster business, the regional distinctions of where the oysters are grown is called the merroir—a nod to the wine term terroir, which speaks to the unique taste characteristics imparted by a given region. In the Chesapeake Bay, merroir is on stunning display. Nowhere do you get such a varied blend with nutrient rich waters spanning the entire salt spectrum—from subtly sweet to jarringly briny—bringing to our coastline a limitless palate in which to create some of the most unique oyster flavors in the world.*
The star wine of the day was DuCard Vineyards’ Cuvee 719, a Traminette-Chardonnay blend, stainless steel fermented with lemon zest and rose petal on the nose and lychee nut—great with seafood and most refreshing. Also recommended was the Signature Viognier. This new vintage with its hints of honeysuckle, peach and more paired nicely with the day’s oysters and crab cakes.
The day was filled with music by Kat and the Travelers who entertained the crowd with their fun and eclectic mix of jazz, blues and country. Corn-hole and picnicking on the lawn was enjoyed in the company of good friends all day long.
Our next regional vineyard to host the popular Rappahannock River Oyster Company for a day of wine and oysters is this coming weekend at nearby Early Mountain Vineyards on Saturday and Sunday, October 1-2, 2016 from 11am-6pm. Wine and oyster lovers can again find Rappahannock River Oyster Company at Cardinal Point Vineyard & Winery in Afton on Saturday and Sunday, November 12-13, 2016 from noon-5pm. This marks the 13th occasion that Cardinal Point hosts their popular wine and oyster festival and contributes to November’s line-up as Virginia Oyster Month!
Tucked away in Nelson County lies the breathtaking flower farm Pharsalia, a stunning estate with lush gardens, rolling hills, impressive mountain views, and beautifully restored buildings.This summer, Charlottesville Wine & Country attended Pharsalia’s 5th Farm-to-Table Dinner, a sold out event showcasing Pharsalia and other talented local artisans and benefiting the restoration of the estate.
Pharsalia is the private residence of Foxie and Dick Morgan. Foxie grew up on the estate, which is on the National Historic Register and has been in her family for five generations. In 2006, Foxie began flower farming and sharing her home as a wedding venue to support the restoration of Pharsalia. The property now serves as a venue for authentic weddings and private events. Wandering the gardens, one feels as a friend or relative. Pharsalia blends all the elegance and grandeur of a vast farm that produces everything from flowers to grapes with the intimacy and warmth of a family home.
The evening began with cocktail hour on the front lawn, where guests enjoyed a drink while taking in the surrounding views. Foxie took time to meet and greet all in attendance while Nelson County’s Bennie Dodd Band played Johnny Cash in the background. Local wines from Ox-Eye Vineyards, Veritas Vineyard & Winery, Pollak Vineyards and King Family Vineyards were available for guests to enjoy.
An Acre of Parsley enticed guests on the front lawn as they roasted peppers by flame. And as the sun began to set over the mountains, a light breeze swept across the estate, making the weather perfect for the evening at Pharsalia.
Following cocktail hour, the event moved under the grand white tent where rows of handmade harvest tables were beautifully set for the feast. Each table, made by local furniture maker Tim Smith, who was also the evening’s pepper roaster, featured lush floral displays made by Foxie herself from the very flowers she tends and grows at Pharsalia. With dinner ready to be savored and the candlelight setting the mood for the evening, guests could be heard admiring the beautiful setting.
Just the sight and smell of the locally sourced southern cuisine of fresh vibrant vegetables and baked chicken ignited conversation among the guests, as they filled their plates and trickled back to their seats to savor a meal by Chef Mark Gresge of L’etoile Catering. The gentle clinking of silverware and wine glasses were complemented with laughter, stories and the beginning of new friendships.
Following dinner, Ken Farmer with the Antique Road Show auctioned off a variety of locally crafted items, including local art work, two tables made by Tim Smith, a couples’ weekend at Pharsalia and other highly desirable items and packages. Guests were eager to support the local artisans and the gorgeous estate of Pharsalia. The evening, a true celebration of local artisans and community, concluded with desserts by The Hungry Fox, and dancing under the stars to the Bennie Todd Band. Departure from the lovely, intimate venue was met with a hope to return and an intent to continue the friendships that were formed at this wonderful event. We are so grateful Pharsalia invited us to participate in such a wonderful evening.
On July 16, 24 guests gathered around warm candlelight in the Early Mountain Vineyards‘ Gallery, evading the summer storms brewing outside, to break bread in celebration of summer’s fare. The Gallery, nestled between the tasting room and event hall, served as the perfect location for an intimate dinner. Executive Chef Ryan Collins prepared a medley of juicy fruits, as well as southern, Italian and Mexican dishes to compliment the Old and New World wines served over four courses.
The evening began with a 2015 Early Mountain Rosé—Early Mountain Vineyards’ “Toast to Summer.” Along with Winemaker Ben Jordan’s selection, Sommelier Erin Scala incorporated Virginian, French, Italian and Australian wine into the event’s wine program to create a seasonal experience flattering the diverse dishes of Chef Collins.
For the first course, guests were served crudo and citrus fruits with warm Virginia ham fat. Scala and Jordan paired three delicious vino with this dish—a French Domaine Matassa Cote Catalanes Blanc, a 2015 Chateau Auney L’Hermitage Graves Blanc and a 2015 Early Mountain Five Forks.
The second dish—Chesapeake Crab with watermelon, heirloom tomatoes and elderflower vinegar—was paired with an Australian 2014 McPherson Pinot Gris, an Italian 2015 Cantina Convento Muri-Gries Pinot Grigio Alto Adige and a 2015 Early Mountain ‘Block 9’ Pinot Gris.
Guests admired the third course—juicy fried chicken with Remoulade, fennel, rhubarb and celery—while they sipped a French 2011 Domaine Labet Cotes du Jura Cuvee du Hasard ‘Chardonnay de Voile,’ a Virginian Thibaut-Janisson Blanc de Chardonnay and a 2015 Early Mountain Chardonnay.
For the fourth and final course, guests enjoyed goat birria with hand-pressed tortillas, pickled cactus and aged goat ricotta paired with two delicious vino—a French 2014 Domaine de la Bergerie, La erisale, Anjou Rouge and a 2014 Early Mountain “Novum.”
As the guests finished their final course in the Gallery, the sun broke through the clouds, lightening the Blue Ridge mountain sky with pinks and yellows, and guests trickled onto the back patio. Keeping with European custom, Chef Collins prepared a cheese finish for his grand supper. This plate was served on pit-grilled toast, with Caromont Farm Red Row and Jam According to Daniel, and a Virginian Thibaut-Janisson Brut Rosé.
To end the delicious summer feast, Early Mountain surprised guests with a dessert of fennel-dusted coconut cake with peaches and blackberries. Early Mountain Vineyards’ winemaker supper was later complimented by Washington Post’s wine columnist Dave McIntyre and his wife, proving the dinner to be a successful showcase of the talent at Early Mountain Vineyards.