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Virginia Governors Cup 2020 Awards


February 26, 2020 | Wine & Country Life

Last night, the Annual Virginia Governor’s Cup 2020 Awards was held at Richmond’s Main Street Station. After 107 wineries submitted more than 530 wines, a prestigious panel of judges selected 64 Gold Medal-winning wines to be celebrated at the gala that was expertly organized by the Virginia Wine Board Marketing Office.

A dazzling array of local wineries all made the distinguished list, demonstrating the talent and commitment to quality wine of our local wine region.

The evening’s festivities began with many of the gold medalists pouring their award-winning wines and sharing details about each vintage with attendees.

The highest-ranking twelve reds and whites of these Gold Medal-winning wines were selected for the 2020 Governor’s Case after outscoring the other entrants on appearance, aroma, flavor, overall quality and commercial suitability.

We were delighted to see so many of our friends in the industry, including Luca Paschina from Barboursville Vineyards, the Bakhtiar’s from CrossKeys Vineyards, Michael Shaps from Virginia Wineworks, the team from Pollak Vineyards and many more.

After sampling the delicious wines, the attendees moved from the impromptu tasting room into the awards hall where they were greeted by George Hodson of Veritas Vineyard & Winery, who was a warm and gracious host for the evening.

The accolades began with Justin Rose from Rosemont of Virginia receiving the President’s Appreciation Award for his service as past president, given by now President, George Hodson.

Justin was further celebrated as he was named Wine Person of the Year for his service to the industry.

Randy Phillips of Cave Ridge Vineyard graciously accepted the Gordon Murchie Lifetime Achievement Award and reminded us of the importance that each person, from grower to consumer, has in advocating for the wine industry.

All in attendance were deeply touched when Carrington, James and Stuart King of King Family Vineyards took the stage to present the inaugural David King Advocate of the Year Award. This new award was inspired by their late father who was an ardent and constant advocate for Virginia’s wine industry.

The David King Advocate of the Year will be given to the individual that demonstrates significant involvement in advocacy efforts on behalf of the Virginia Wine industry.

As James prepared to give the award, he shared his father’s favorite quote from John F. Kennedy “A rising tide lifts all boats” and reminded us of the value and strength the Virginia wine community has as it continues to grow and add new vineyards and varietals.

George Hodson was surprised and extremely honored to be the winner of this award in honor of a man he deeply admired.

The culmination of the evening was when Governor Northam took the stage along with the winemakers of each wine in the Governor’s Case for the much anticipated announcement of the Governor’s Cup.

Virginia Governor’s Cup Case Winners

The wines to receive this coveted honor are 868 Estate Vineyards’ 2017 Vidal Blanc Passito, Afton Mountain Vineyards’ 2017 Tradition, Barboursville Vineyards’ 2014 Octagon AND their 2018 Vermentino Reserve, Delaplane Cellars’ 2017 Williams Gap, Lake Anna Winery’s 2017 Tannat, Michael Shaps’ 2016 Meritage, Pollak Vineyards’ 2017 Cabernet Franc Reserve AND their 2017 Smuggler, Rockbridge Vineyard’s 2017 Vd’or, Shenandoah Vineyards’ 2017 Shenandoah Reserve Red, Virginia Cellars Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards’ 2017 Petit Verdot. 

Governor Northam was very jovial and insisted that he be included in the judging next year.

Virginia Governor’s Cup Winner

Finally, the moment had arrived, and he ceremoniously opened the envelope to reveal the winner of the 2020 Virginia Governor’s Cup: 868 Estate Vineyards’ 2017 Vidal Blanc Passito. This is the first fully Loudon County-made and Loudon-grown Virginia Governor’s Cup Winner.

Carl DiManno accepted the award on behalf of the vineyard.

“The 2017 Passito was the culmination of a concerted winemaking effort,” says 868 Estate Vineyard’s Co-Founder and Winemaker, Carl DiManno. “I take a very hands-on approach in the winery, and a lot of love and hard work went into this wine, but it was well worth it. I am thrilled that Loudoun’s wines are getting the recognition that they deserve.”

This marks the first time in 15 years that a dessert wine has won the Governor’s Cup.

The 2017 Vidal Blanc Passito is the first wine made from 100 percent Loudoun County fruit to win Virginia’s top wine award.

The talented members of the Virginia wine industry proved once again how much our region has to offer wine enthusiasts and winemakers around the world. The innovative vision that drives our region continues to progress the industry and its product, creating quality wines that delight wine lovers and impress wine connoisseurs.

We would like to sincerely congratulate 868 Estate Vineyards on their Governor’s Cup win, as well as all of the other wineries who demonstrated our region’s talent with gold medals and for being chosen for the elite Governor’s Case. We cannot wait to try all of the award-winning wines and to see all that these talented winemakers have in store for Virginia’s wine country!

Wine & Country celebrates elevated living in the heart of Virginia Wine Country. Wine & Country Life, a semi-annual life & style magazine, and Wine & Country Weddings, an art book celebrating elegant country weddings in the region, are accompanied by the Wine & Country Shop in Ivy, VA—a beautiful lifestyle boutique featuring over 40 Virginian artisans with everything from tailgating essentials and Dubarry attire, to locally made foods and award-winning Monticello AVA wines, as well as craft beverages for your next event. Wine & Country Experiences are now also available and include exclusive tours and hands-on classes with leading professionals in the local farm-to-table and vineyard scenes.

An Engaging Winter Wine Weekend in the Shenandoah Valley


February 25, 2020 | Wine & Country Life

Wine & Country Life attended the 2nd annual Winter Wine Weekend at the beautiful new Hotel Madison in Harrisonburg on February 21-23. The weekend started with a welcome reception Friday evening followed by a sumptuous sold-out wine paired dinner at Joshua Wilton House. Saturday morning, winemaker Lee Hartman knowledgeably led guests through the winemaking process from the field to the glass with an exclusive behind-the-scenes tour of the nearby Bluestone Vineyard.

Hotel Madison’s Second Annual Winter Wine Weekend

Back at Hotel Madison, guests filled workshops learning from some of Virginia’s most respected winemakers like Luca Paschina of Barboursville Vineyards (below) who talked about winemaking in both the “New World” of Virginia and the “Old World” of his native country, Italy.

Between workshops, guests browsed the crafts of local artisans and participated in the Grand Tasting in the Shenandoah Grand Ballroom where over a dozen wineries from around the region provided tastings.

Wineries included Barren Ridge Vineyards, Shenandoah Vineyards, Rockbridge Vineyard, Keswick Vineyards, Barboursville Vineyards, Cardinal Point Winery, Bluestone Vineyard, Muse Vineyards, CrossKeys Vineyards, Brix and Columns and Cave Ridge Vineyard.

Below (upper left) Saam Bakhtiar educates guests as they taste the award-winning wines of Crosskeys Vineyard. A family business of the Bakhtiars since 2001, Crosskeys Vineyard is often awarded for excellence for their estate-grown wines. Below (upper right), Stephanie Pence, the owner of Brix and Columns, shares her wines and expertise with guests. As current president of the Shenandoah Valley Wine Trail, she was excited to see the event so well attended and the interest in her region’s wine growing in popularity. Below (bottom right) Micheal Shaps of Micheal Shaps Wineworks shares his exciting new wines from Shenandoah Vineyards, a property he has been involved in since 2010 and purchased in 2018.

Saturday evening, guests enjoyed the engaging “A Night in Tuscany” wine-paired dinner prepared by Brock Kappers of Winebow Group followed up on Sunday morning with a delightful brunch paired with sparkling wines from Veritas Vineyard and Winery and featuring their winemaker Elliott Watkins.

Curious to learn more about some of these featured vineyards? Click below for more articles:

Read more articles on CrossKeys Vineyards here.

Discover more about Veritas Vineyards & Winery here.

Explore the many delights of Barboursville Vineyards here.

More about Michael Shaps Wineworks can be found here.

Read more about Keswick Vineyards here.

Find out more about the happenings at Cardinal Point here.

We are delighted to see the wonderful wines of the Shenandoah Valley region continue to reach new audiences.

Wine & Country celebrates elevated living in the heart of Virginia Wine Country. Wine & Country Life, a semi-annual life & style magazine, and Wine & Country Weddings, an art book celebrating elegant country weddings in the region, are accompanied by the Wine & Country Shop in Ivy, VA—a beautiful lifestyle boutique featuring over 40 Virginian artisans with everything from tailgating essentials and Dubarry attire, to locally made foods and award-winning Monticello AVA wines, as well as craft beverages for your next event. Wine & Country Experiences are now also available and include exclusive tours and hands-on classes with leading professionals in the local farm-to-table and vineyard scenes.

An Inside Look at the Caspari Living Floral Event


February 24, 2020 | Wine & Country Life

Join us for an inside look at Caspari’s Living Floral event with Margot Shaw. And click here to see more events we love at Caspari!

It was with eager anticipation that floral enthusiasts escaped the chill of a gray February day and slipped inside the warm embrace of Charlottesville’s own Caspari store on the Downtown Mall. While a trip to this bastion of style and gracious living is always a unique and delightful experience, today would be exceptional as attendees would have the opportunity to meet designer, editor and writer Margot Shaw for a private book signing and enjoy a gracious talk of her new release, Living Floral: Entertaining and Decorating with Flowers.

Beautiful Blue & White Caspari Decor

Beautiful Blue & White Entertaining Inspiration with Caspari

Upon arrival, guests were instantly transported from city to nature as the center of the store had been cleared and transformed into what felt like an alfresco garden thanks to the efforts of The Charlottesville Garden Club, Caspari’s co-host for the event.

Beautiful Pink Entertaining Inspiration with Caspari

Caspari and the Charlottesville Garden Club were able to arrange this visit as part of the club’s ongoing Tay Gwaltney series. Tay was a long-time member of the club who very generously bequeathed funds to the club to make events such as this possible. 

Shown left to right: Lisa Milbank, President of Caspari, Jeanne Marie Holden, vice president of CGC, Allison Schildwachter, CGC event chair, Linda MacIlwaine, CGC member, Robin Cherry, President of CGC, Jen Bryerton, co-publisher Wine & Country Life, and Margot Shaw (seated).

If you have not met her yet, Shaw is the editor of Flower Magazine and a celebrated speaker at antique shows, botanical gardens, interior design centers and more.

Caspari Garden Decor inside the Charlottesville Caspari store

Copies of Shaw’s luscious ode to incorporating florals into our everyday lives were pleasantly scattered about the store for attendees to peruse. In addition to her book, guests were also treated to delightful nibbles prepared by garden club member and caterer Jayme Naughton.

Catering by Jayme Naughton

Florist extraordinaire, Gregory Britt, created a stunning centerpiece to complement Shaw’s book and add to the charming garden feel of the event.

Meet Margot Shaw, Author of Living Floral

Originally from Birmingham, Alabama, Shaw studied Art History at Hollins College, then Interior Design in graduate school at the University of Texas.

Margot Shaw signing copies of Living Floral, Margot Shaw editor of Flowers magazine

Shaw was always attracted to flowers and delighted guests with the story of herself at age 5 when she happened upon a bed of hyacinths from which she proudly plucked every single bloom to present to her mother. Needless to say, the neighbor whose garden she had pillaged was less than delighted by this and immediately called Shaw’s mother. The memory of that fateful day was indelibly pressed upon her thanks to her mother greeting her at the door with a hairbrush instead of the smile she had been anticipating!

Despite this early foray into florals, or perhaps because of, it was not until her daughter’s wedding that she found her calling in floral design. Working side-by-side with the florist to put together arrangements for her daughter, Shaw fell in love with the artistry of arranging.

At the age of 46, she courageously humbled herself and began interning with the same floral designer, which eventually led her to start Flower Magazine.

Flowers magazine by Margot Shaw on display at Caspari store in Charlottesville

Now in circulation for over 12 years, Flower has grown significantly from her early vision, and now includes homes, gardens, entertaining and lifestyle sections.

Charlotte Moss's home featured in Living Floral book by Margot Shaw

Shaw’s new book, Living Floral, focuses on both inspiration and instruction so that readers are not only merely inspired but also equipped to begin implementing the ideas they’re seeing.

The book, which features an astonishing array of tastemakers, including design icons Charlotte Moss and Bunny Williams, event planners Mindy Rice and Tara Guerard, floral experts such as Sybil Sylvester, swoon-worthy homes including Bee Cottage, the beloved home of Frances Schultz and numerous others, provides intimate portraits of creators and their personal approach to utilizing blooms and greens.

Covering a range of styles, from rustic to refined, and emphasizing the ability of flowers to completely change a space, there is a seed of discovery awaiting the reader on every page.

Be sure to take note of the beautiful endpapers and textile patterns designating each season as they are designs by Charlotte Moss and Michael Divine—a lovely extra flourish that lends to the overall beauty of the book.

Thoughtfully divided by season, readers are welcomed into a variety of homes, parties and gardens to find inspiration and learn from the experiences and styles of these authorities. Each creator shows how to integrate florals into your home to create a more beautiful, welcoming space.

Interior designers give suggestions on using florals in furniture, wallpaper and artwork, both indoors and out, while floral design experts give tips for creating the perfect arrangement for any event, both for the amateur floral enthusiast and for the professional designer.

Readers are encouraged to look beyond the garden path and venture further afield and forage for pieces to transform their arrangements from ordinary to extraordinary.

Living Floral encapsulates Shaw’s philosophy emphasizing the ability of flowers to improve our daily lives, enriching every day with their beauty and highlighting a special event with their charm.

With Living Floral: Entertaining and Decorating with Flowers, she hopes to inspire readers to make the most of the natural beauty surrounding us all, to make our spaces brighter and more welcoming both for ourselves and others.

Buy Living Floral by Margot Shaw

Ready to acquire your own copy? Get (affiliate link) Living Floral by Margot Shaw on Amazon so you, too, can begin to entertain and decorate with flowers!

Wine & Country celebrates elevated living in the heart of Virginia Wine Country. Wine & Country Life, a semi-annual life & style magazine, and Wine & Country Weddings, an art book celebrating elegant country weddings in the region, are accompanied by the Wine & Country Shop in Ivy, VA—a beautiful lifestyle boutique featuring over 40 Virginian artisans with everything from tailgating essentials and Dubarry attire, to locally made foods and award-winning Monticello AVA wines, as well as craft beverages for your next event. Wine & Country Experiences are now also available and include exclusive tours and hands-on classes with leading professionals in the local farm-to-table and vineyard scenes.