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Celebrating the Oyster: Virginia’s Historic Food Tradition


October 16, 2019 | Wine & Country Life

By Brian Mellott

Across the nation, we are seeing a resurgence of oyster sales and of the local oyster bar. In Charlottesville alone, we find raw oyster bars, like Public Fish & Oyster. In addition, we can attend annual oyster roasts and festivals and we can go to dozens of other restaurants serving oysters that come from right here in Virginia. With the success of the farm-to-table movement in the state over the past decade, it’s no surprise that residents are also becoming more and more interested in where their shellfish come from. In the same way that we have started to turn to local farms for our land-based foods, more and more, the demand for oysters has been met, and not by large companies, but by small farms often with just a few employees and much more open to receiving visitors. That is how I came to find myself standing on a small dock in Topping, Virginia. This is the home of Rappahannock Oyster Company, a business that not only produces some of the best oysters I’ve ever tasted but also is on the forefront of saving the nearly endangered Bay oyster, reviving Virginia’s oyster industry, and helping to clean and revitalize the Chesapeake Bay.

With Virginia being a coastal state, oysters have been a part of Virginia’s food culture since its earliest days. Native Americans dined on them before European settlers arrived on the shores. Governor George Percy, in his days of exploration with John Smith, wrote in his 1607 journal that “oysters … lay on the ground as thick as stones.” The streets of Colonial Williamsburg are paved with crushed oyster shells and the mortar for the brick buildings of the day came from oyster shells as well. Even Thomas Jefferson couldn’t get enough of them. According to author James Gabler, Jefferson once polished off 50 oysters himself in a single sitting.

By the late 1800s, Virginia was supplying nearly half of the world demand for oysters, upwards of 20 million bushels of oysters each year. It was around this time that James Croxton laid claim to two acres of Rappahannock river bottom and founded the Rappahannock Oyster Company. By 2001, harvests of Bay oysters were down to less than 1 percent of their historic highs. Over-harvesting and dredging had destroyed not only the oyster population but also the oyster reefs, where spat attach and grow, and which protect shorelines and fish alike. Virginia’s native oyster, Crassotrea virginica, was on the brink of being added to the endangered species list. This seemed like the most unlikely time for cousins Ryan and Travis Croxton to take over their great-grandfather’s business, yet they saw it as a great opportunity to carry on the family legacy.

Over the past 10 years, Rappahannock Oysters has grown from harvesting 10,000 oysters a week to over 180,000 oysters each week, all while maintaining its commitment to help restore the wild oyster population and to clean up the Chesapeake Bay. They use practices from all over the world, information from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and a lot of Google searches to produce the best, most sustainable product available. The cousins now ship oysters to restaurants around the country, including the famous Le Bernardin in New York City. They help to plan events at wineries and other locations across Central Virginia and run restaurants of their own.

And what better way to enjoy such fresh cuisine than with amazing wine. The classic wine pairing for oysters is a French Muscadet. Its light, crisp acidity allows the oyster to shine. When eating Virginia oysters, though, pairing them with something from Virginia only seems fitting. In 2015, The Virginia Oyster Trail was established to celebrate not only the eight distinct regional flavors of Virginia’s oysters but also the wineries, breweries, farmers markets and, especially, the oyster farmers, themselves, who help visitors truly “experience” the simple oyster.

Just as I learned so much that morning on the Chesapeake Bay, I couldn’t help but be impressed by something so simple, yet so pure. And sitting at the Virginia shoreline eating a Virginia oyster (Angels on Horseback) topped with Virginia ham and drinking a Virginia wine, I couldn’t have been more proud to be a Virginian.

Mellot’s Oyster Pairing Recommendations:

  • Rappahannock’s Olde Salts
    • Taste: A bold brininess due to its closeness to the sea; One of the saltiest oysters.
    • Pair With: A dry Viognier
  • Rappahannock River oysters
    • Taste: Sweet and buttery with a mild saltiness
    • Pair With: Buttery Chardonnays
  • Mobjack Bay’s Stingrays
    • Taste: Sweet and mildly briny
    • Pair With: IPA Beer
  • York River’s Rochambeaus
    • Taste: Mildly sweet and mildly briny
    • Pair With: IPA Beer

Ready to enjoy some oysters yourself? Autumn in Virginia means the beginning of oyster festival season which generally begins in September and continues through December, following the oyster harvest on Virginia’s coast, which began on October 1 this year. Several Virginia vineyards celebrate harvest season with oyster-inspired festivals, like Early Mountain Vineyards’ Fall Oyster Festival this weekend. Also this weekend, Breaux Vineyards is partnering with King Street Oyster Bar for a Harvest Celebration. Later this fall, Cardinal Point Vineyard & Winery will host their 16th Annual Oyster Roast on November 9 and 10.

You can also learn more about the Rappahannock Oyster Company in Wine & Country Life, Book Five.

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.

Palladio Restaurant Celebrates 20th with Food and Wine Gala


October 10, 2019 | Wine & Country Life

On Saturday, October 5, Wine & Country was pleased to join Barboursville Vineyards in celebrating the 20-year anniversary of Palladio Restaurant at a spectacular gala held at the foot of the historic Barboursville Ruins. Established in 1999 under the leadership of native Italians Luca Paschina (winemaker) and Gianni Zonin (founder), Palladio has long been hailed as one of our region’s finest restaurants with a strong commitment to excellent cuisine paired with the beautiful wines of Barboursville Vineyards.

On the evening of the gala, guests were treated to delicious food and some of the best vintages Barboursville Vineyards has produced to date. Poured alongside appetizers was the 1994 Barboursville Anniversary Brut as well as the 2018 Allegrante Rose. Seen above at right, winemaker Luca Paschina welcomed viticulturist and winemaker Gabriele Rausse (on left) for an evening of fine wine and cuisine. Rausse, who is a childhood friend of founder Zonin from back in Italy and fellow viticulturist, helped Zonin establish the Barboursville Vineyards in the first five years of its existence from 1976 to 1981. Once established, Rausse went on to help establish well over 100 vineyards in Virginia, earning him the title “Father of Virginia’s Vineyards.”

Executive Chef Spencer Crawford (seen below on left) stepped out of the kitchen momentarily to welcome esteemed Chef Patrick O’Connell of The Inn at Little Washington to the gala. Adding to many accolades throughout his career, Chef O’Connell was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award by the James Beard Foundation earlier this year, and he enjoys offering Barboursville’s Octagon at his much celebrated restaurant.

Just before sitting down to dine, Zonin joined his son Francesco Zonin (seen above) and Paschina. Francesco, alongside his two brothers, Domenico and Michele, accepted the executive duties of Barboursville Vineyards in 2017, leading the way into a new generation of Zonins.

When guests were seated, Paschina welcomed them with a short speech. “When we began developing Octagon in the late 1990s, we felt it should be paired with good food,” he said. “And so, we opened Palladio in 1999 to do just that. Now, here we are, 20 years later, and I can say that I am very proud to be a part of all we have accomplished.”

The first course began with Sommelier Alessandro Medici pouring a 2006 Viognier Reserve to pair with a beautiful North Carolina yellowfin tuna cured in Castello di Albola extra virgin olive oil and wrapped in roasted peppers. Next, guests enjoyed the Nebbiolo Reserve 2014 paired with a luscious parmigiano reggiano flan, West Virginia lagotto truffles and Barboursville farm-raised Berkshire coppa.

Medici then began decanting three prized reds from the winery’s library vaults: the Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 1998 from Double Magnums, the Octagon Fourth Edition 1999 (the year Palladio opened) and the Octagon 200th Anniversary Edition 2010. The sumptuous Cabernet Sauvignon paired beautifully with the braised veal ravioli in thyme-scented oxtail broth mixed with Cabernet Franc.

The two Octagon wines were served with the main course of licorice-glazed Retreat Farm lamb chops, supernova sunchoke puree, roasted Bella di Napoli squash and fairy tail eggplants—a dish the guests raved about. Both Octagons were sublime and paired wonderfully with the dish.

Last, but never least, the dessert course included a traditional tiramisu, a chocolate and Piedmontese hazelnut bunet and a Feudo Principi di Butera extra virgin olive oil cake with candied orange and Elysium citrus honey whipped cream. The dessert course was paired exquisitely with the delicious Malvaxia Reserve 2003.

As the evening came to a close, Francesco Zonin gave a warm thanks to his mother Silvana and Luca’s wife, Patricia, who were credited for their unwavering devotion and support for the many endeavors of Gianni and Luca, which, of course, includes the creation of Palladio. He then recognized Chef Crawford and the devoted staff of Palladio, many of whom have been with the establishment for years and are like family to both the Zonins and the patrons who enjoyed being a part of the special celebration.

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.

Veritas Hosts Final Starry Nights of the Season This Saturday!


August 7, 2019 | Wine & Country Life

Perhaps the only thing that could improve a delicious wine tasting with friends and a panoramic Blue Ridge view would be live music. One annual event we definitely recommend checking out is Veritas Vineyard & Winery’s Starry Nights series, which is held on the second Saturday of every month throughout the summer.

Photo by Wine & Country

This popular outdoor concert series allows guests to sip local wines, dine al fresco, and spend the evening dancing, and enjoying live music and good company under the stars. With the final night of the season coming up this Saturday, August 10, featuring music from The Legwarmers, there has never been a better time to attend this fun summer event yourself. Here is a quick breakdown of the three different ticketed experiences—SUNS, MOONS or STARS you can choose from:

  • SUNS: Includes admission and a Veritas wine glass. This is perfect for those who want to bring their own picnics and enjoy a laid back evening on the lawn.
  • MOONS: Includes admission to not only the event, but also a delicious buffet dinner, as well as access to seating at the tables on the lawn. This is a great option for those who do not want to worry about having to prep food or bring chairs and picnic items to the event.
  • STARS: Includes admission, a three-course meal and a seat at a table on the deck overlooking the lawn. For those who want a more polished experience, perhaps for a date night or celebratory outing, this is the best option.
Photos courtesy of Veritas Vineyard & Winery

For the upcoming Starry Nights this Saturday, the MOONS will be served a late summer cucumber and tomato salad with basil, feta and a balsamic reduction, pecan smoked chicken with maple BBQ sauce served with a summer pasta salad, and roasted sweet potatoes and strawberry peach shortcake with an orange rose reduction and cocoa whipped cream. The STARS’ three-course meal will start with a crunchy summer vegetable salad with ricotta crostini, followed by a seared chicken with broken balsamic served with basil zucchini noodles with pine nuts, ricotta salata and orzotto. The dinner will be completed with a graham cracker cake, toasted mallow and chocolate two ways.

Photo courtesy of Veritas Vineyard & Winery

Whether you prefer to pack a picnic and enjoy an evening on the lawn under the stars or to make the affair more of a foodie outing, this event is a great way to celebrate the season. And, don’t forget to bring your dancing shoes, as most attendees find they can’t help but move to the great bands that are booked for each event. You can find tickets on Veritas Vineyard & Winery’s website. Please note, any tickets for the dinner options must be purchased in advance, and the STARS tickets are already sold out.

You can also learn more about Veritas Vineyard & Winery in Book Four of our magazine.

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.

The Wine and Country Shop Creates a Commemorative Beer and Wine for the 150th Anniversary of Kappa Sigma


July 26, 2019 | Wine & Country Life

In celebration of Kappa Sigma Fraternity’s 150th Anniversary and its 72nd Biennial Grand Conclave being held in Charlottesville this weekend, the Wine & Country Shop was honored to create a special commemorative wine and beer for the occasion. Drawing upon their knowledge of the local artisan drinks community, Wine & Country developed the concept and labels to highlight the history of the brotherhood, and worked with locals Barboursville Vineyards and Champion Brewing Company to produce the exclusive wine and beer as well as complementary t-shirts.

In honor of the fraternity’s founding year at University of Virginia (UVA) and it’s tradition that Kappa Sigma evolved from an ancient order founded during the middle ages at the University of Bologna in Italy, the wine, named 1869, was produced with the talents of local, Italian-owned and operated Barboursville Vineyards. Bred on the vine and in the winery for early approachability, the Virginia Cabernet Sauvignon contains a complex, ripened dark berry fruit with currant, cassis and chocolate notes.

Similarly, the 5 Brothers beer tells the story of the fraternity’s five founders—five friends and UVA students who became brothers in 1869 when founding the fraternity. For this special brew, Wine & Country enlisted local brewmaster Hunter Smith of Champion Brewing Company, who created an award-winning Bohemian Pilsner made with Czech Saaz hops, giving it a fresh, clean maltiness and spicy flavor.

For Kappa Sigma, it all began 150 years ago when those five friends gathered in the room at 46 East Lawn at UVA to found the first American chapter. This weekend, over 1400 members from across the country have come together to walk the same brick pathways as their founders did. Headquartered in Charlottesville, Kappa Sigma remains the largest social fraternity in the world, with more than 200,000 living members, 20,000 of those members being undergraduates at over 320 chapters. Through it’s focus on the Four Pillars of Fellowship, Leadership, Scholarship and Service the organization has donated millions of dollars and thousands of hours in volunteer service to numerous charitable causes. Kappa Sigma said in a statement, “The 72nd Grand Conclave of Kappa Sigma Fraternity will represent a tribute to our history and a focus towards our future.”

To read more about the fraternity’s history and Charlottesville’s role in its origination, see Book 8 of Wine & Country Life.

Fraternity Images Courtesy of Kappa Sigma

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.

Shakespeare in the Ruins Returns to Barboursville Vineyards


July 13, 2019 | Wine & Country Life

After a 13-year absence, Shakespeare fans returned to Barboursville Vineyards this weekend for a magical evening of wine and open-air theatre set at the foot of the striking Barboursville Ruins. The ruins were once the home of Gov. James Barbour who built the home with the help of friend and architect, Thomas Jefferson. The home was finished in 1822 but tragically burned on Christmas Day in 1884. It now stands as the centerpiece of the prestigious Barboursville Vineyards, whose award-winning wines are produced on the stunning estate.

Surrounded by an historic boxwood garden, the setting was the perfect backdrop for Four County Players to stage “A Midsummer’s Night Dream” in which nature is such an important aspect, almost a character unto itself. The bard’s most popular comedy, the play captivated the audience with music, energetic humor, jealous lovers and mischievous fairies.

Adding to the theatre festivities, guests enjoyed delectable picnics packed by Barboursville Vineyards’ award-winning Palladio Restaurant, as well as food truck fare and, of course, delicious Barboursville wines. With music performances before the curtain went up and mischievous Puck and the fairies gamboling about during intermission delighting guests with funny poses and pantomime, the show entranced all from start to finish.

As darkness fell, lanterns were lit, crickets gently joined in as a background chorus, and fireflies added to the romance and magic of the outdoor evening in the vineyard. There was plenty of laughter and smiles as love potions went wrong and the talented cast resolved their troubles with a little help from the fairies. As Quince so well sums it up for the troupe, “Our true intent is all for your delight.” With a standing ovation, the audience applauded a fabulous performance and the end to a beautiful evening.

Four County Players is Central Virginia’s longest-running community theatre group. The open-air staging of “A Midsummer’s Night Dream” runs through July 27. Tickets may be purchased from the Theatre. If you are interested in a picnic from Palladio, reservations should be placed one week in advance. Chairs are provided.

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.

Salsa Under the Stars at CrossKeys Vineyards


July 10, 2019 | Wine & Country Life

As you enter the 124-acre estate winery that is CrossKeys Vineyards, you are sure to notice the unique gold crossed keys decorating the gate. In the spirit of the nearby old Cross Keys Tavern, a popular gathering place in the early to mid 19th century, the Bakhtiar family strives for the winery to be a welcoming hub in the community. And, this intention is clear through CrossKeys’ popular events.

While CrossKeys Vineyards is known for its award-winning wines, tasty food and beautiful venue in the Shenandoah Valley, its fabulous events also draw many from in and around the valley. The estate hosts an array of events throughout the year, including the increasingly popular monthly “Salsa Under the Stars.” This event, hosted by SalsaBurg Club, draws visitors from both near and far to experience a night of Latin music and dancing while sipping delicious wine. A $10 ticket grants you access to lessons and the dance floor, which is set under a sparkling summer night sky. You’ll also want to enjoy the wine and excellent food, too, since they are necessary fuel for a fun evening of dancing.

Salsaburg Club, a social Latin dance and music club in the Shenandoah Valley, infuses the event with sultry Latin rhythm. No matter your skill level or familiarity with Latin dance, you are sure to be swaying to the music in no time. Beginner classes are offered early in the evening by instructors from SalsaNoke to get your feet moving and warmed up. Later, participants can enjoy open dancing, as the DJ plays Latin dance genres such as Salsa, Bachata, Timba, Merengue, Mambo and ChaCha.

Ready to break out your dancing shoes? We asked Salsaburg Club if they could share some insight on learning the art of Salsa dancing. Here are some helpful tips from club member Pablo Cruz:

  1. Wear comfortable and fashionable clothing. Salsa is a social event, but come prepared to sweat. Your shoes should also be comfortable and have soft soles and low heels for easy movement on the dance floor. 
  2. Research the dance and listen to salsa music every day. It is important to become comfortable with dancing and performing the basic steps before learning more complex routines. A level one or foundation class will help ease you into the dance and familiarize you with the style of music. 
  3. Practice as much as you can. Practice alone at home or with a partner whenever possible to get the steps down. Listening to slow salsa tempo songs at home, such as “Yo no se mañana” by Luis Enrique, “Acid” by Ray Barretto and “Time to Spend” by Kevin Davis & Ban Caribe, and practicing with a mirror can help connect your dance movements with the music and rhythm.
  4. Smile. Have fun when you are practicing and don’t be afraid to infuse your own style and flare in the dance. Watching videos of different dance styles and performers can help you find a particular style that suits you as well as specific moves to copy.
  5. Communicate and connect with your dance partner. When dancing with a partner, you should focus on your dance partner’s center and maintain eye contact. Salsa dancing is about having a connection with the person you are dancing with, so it is helpful to dance with someone you are comfortable with.

The next Salsa night is scheduled for Saturday, July 20, at CrossKeys Vineyards. No matter your skill level, this event can offer a fun way to exercise and connect with others! We suggest trying CrossKeys’ popular Joy wine (available in both red and white varietals) while you are there!

If you want to learn more about CrossKeys Vineyards, be sure to also check out our recent feature on them in Charlottesville Wine & Country Living, Book Six.

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.

Inspired Fathers Day Gift Ideas from the Wine and Country Shop


June 14, 2019 | Wine & Country Life

Father’s Day is almost here! If you are still searching for that perfect gift for Dad, look no further! Check out some of our favorite gift ideas from the Wine & Country Shop.

For the Fashion-Forward Dad:

We all know those dads who love an accessory. If he is a tie lover, browse our unique collection of locally-made bow ties—perfect for work or special events. Is dad a UVA fan? Check out our Hoo-inspired accessories that he can sport at football games this fall. We carry everything from UVA-themed suspenders and belts to flasks and key tassels.

1. Blue Ridge Bow Ties (in various colors). $45

2. UVA Suede Tassel by Barrons-Hunter. $23.95

For the Wine Connoisseur:

Help dad step-up his wine game with these wine accessories. If he loves to try new wines, this journal is a stylish way for him to note his favorites when visiting new vineyards. The wine holder is a durable way for him to take his favorite bottle to a local event or outing!

3. Hunter Leather Journal by RSVP Handcrafted. $60

4. Chuck Pinnell Leather Wine Bottle Holder. $125

For the Foodie:

Does dad love to try new recipes? Consider this locally-crafted cookbook holder! For the BBQ lover, we suggest a bottle of delicious local Brazen Heat BBQ Sauce by the Bone Doctors’—perfect for summer entertaining.

5. Wine Barrell Cookbook Holder by Cork to Barrel. $275

6. Bone Doctors’ Brazen Heat. $5

For Spirit-Loving Dads:

Does dad prefer a certain spirit, or perhaps he enjoys cocktails? Check out the Mountain Leather Flask by RSVP Handcrafted that he can add to his event attire. Our tabletop bar assures that dad will always be able to whip up his favorite concoction at your next tailgate or picnic.

7. Mountain Leather Flask by RSVP Handcrafted. $38

8. The Madison Tabletop Bar. $285

No matter the interests/hobbies of the dad(s) in your life, you are sure to find something special at the Wine & Country Shop! The Shop is open Wednesday—Saturday from 10am–6pm each day. If you have any questions about one of the items above or something else we carry, feel free to call the Shop at 434-295-0306. Cheers to all the wonderful dads out there, and we wish you all a wonderful Father’s Day!

If you are looking for outing ideas for Father’s Day weekend, check out the Charlottesville Welcome Book’s online calendar of events.

We are proud to carry local artisans: Blue Ridge Bow Ties, Barrons-Hunter, RSVP Handcrafted, Pinnell Custom Leather, Cork to Barrel and Bone Doctors’ Barbeque Sauce.

Lead Image and Bow Tie Image by Jen Fariello

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.

Monticello Wine Trail Festival Celebrates Local Food and Wine


May 12, 2019 | Wine & Country Life

The 2019 Taste of Monticello Wine Trail Festival celebrated its eighth year with another weeklong series of wonderful wine-paired dinners, lunches and special tasting events leading up to the festival’s well known “Grand Tasting” on Saturday at the Sprint Pavilion.

The festival kicked off with the Monticello Cup awards ceremony on Monday evening, April 29, at Vault Virginia, one of Charlottesville’s newest venues. Guests enjoyed award-winning wines from the Monticello American Viticultural Area (AVA) and learned more about local vineyards, especially the winning wine—King Family Vineyards’ 2016 Mountain Plains.

Throughout the week, local chefs welcomed winemakers into their restaurants to celebrate our region’s best in farm-to-table cuisine, and vice versa. On Tuesday, Glass House Winery partnered with Parallel 38 to host an intimate five-course wine-paired dinner, while Albemarle CiderWorks, Loving Cup Vineyard & Winery and Wisdom Oak Winery came together for the Taste of North Garden Winemakers Dinner, serving appetizers and a four-course meal while the winemakers from each featured vineyard guided the discussion and expounded on their wines.

On Wednesday evening, Afton Mountain Vineyards and Jake Busching Wines partnered with Brasserie Saison for a dinner celebration on Charlottesville’s Historic Downtown Mall. The dinner featured four exquisite courses from Chef Tres Pittard and the inclusion of many locally sourced ingredients which bring bright flavors to the featured wines.

Thursday offered wine lovers two exciting events—the Taste of White Hall Wine Dinner and Going Rouge: A Peculiar Wine Tasting at IX Art Park. While guests were introduced to wines from Grace Estate Winery, Stinson Vineyards and White Hall Vineyards at the White Hall Ruritan Club, others enjoyed a walk-around tasting at IX Art Park featuring small Batch and experimental offerings from Early Mountain Vineyards, Flying Fox Vineyard, King Family Vineyards, Lightwell Survey and Veritas Vineyard & Winery.

Friday ended the weeklong series with its 3rd Annual Rosé Lunch at Barboursville Vineyards (pictured below). Five styles of Rosés from Barboursville Vineyards, Blenheim Vineyards, Early Mountain Vineyards, Reynard Florence Vineyard and Stinson Vineyards (pictured with their respective winemakers below) were paired with a spring-inspired meal prepared by Chef Spencer Crawford at Palladio Restaurant. The event began with a plate of grilled asparagus, mozzarella and heirloom tomatoes, before segueing into a dish of strawberry risotto, which was deliciously prepared using Barboursville’s own Allegrante Rosé, Parmigiano Reggiano, fresh mint and 2001 Aceto Balsamic—also made at Barboursville. The meal concluded with a serving of house-roasted “Porchetta” (from a pig raised on the property) complemented with a side of spring vegetables.

The festival culminated with the “Grand Tasting” event (pictured below) at the Sprint Pavilion on Saturday, May 4, where hundreds of wine lovers were able to meet winemakers and try wines from more than 25 different local wineries. We also enjoyed meeting many readers and fans at our Charlottesville Wine & Country pop-up boutique at the tasting event!

Wrapping up the week of fabulous events was the 4th Annual Sparkling Wine Brunch held at Veritas Vineyard & Winery, where guests were served five Monticello AVA sparkling wines by the winemakers themselves.

This year’s festival was another success, showcasing the impressive talent we have in our local wine country. We are so proud of our trailblazing and hard working winemakers, and though our local wine community has lost two patriarchs in the past year, the festival continues to be a testament of the passion and hard work of people like Dennis Horton and David King.

Congratulations to The Monticello Wine Trail on another delightful festival. Thank you to all the sponsors, including Mercedes Benz of Charlottesville, who helped make this week possible. We are already looking forward to next year!


Wine & Country celebrates elevated living in the heart of Virginia Wine Country. Charlottesville Wine & Country Living, a semi-annual magazine of Life & Style in Jefferson’s Virginia, and Charlottesville Wine & Country Weddings, an art book celebrating elegant country weddings in Jefferson’s Virginia, are accompanied by the Charlottesville Wine & Country Shop in Ivy, VA, a beautiful lifestyle boutique featuring over 40 Virginia artisans with everything from tailgating essentials and Dubarry attire to locally made foods, 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.

Remembering David King


May 4, 2019 | Wine & Country Life

We at Ivy Publications and Charlottesville Wine & Country Living would like to extend our deepest condolences to the King family upon the passing of King Family Vineyards’ founder, David King. We’d also like to express how thankful we are for his influence on the growth of our local wine country, as is evident in the vineyard’s garnering of the 2019 Monticello Cup Award earlier this week at the 28th Annual Competition for their 2016 Mountain Plains vintage.

David met his wife Ellen King at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, before marrying her in 1977. After graduating from law school and retiring from a successful Houston law practice, King and his wife moved to Virginia in 1995. Having played polo since 1980, King wanted a field here so he could continue to enjoy the sport in Virginia, so he set out to find property with at least 12 acres of relatively flat land. Though a vineyard was not part of the plan when they purchased the 327 acre Roseland Farm in Crozet, King became intrigued when a young man named Tom Vandenberg approached him in 1998 asking to lease 10 acres for winemaking. Curious to learn more, King hired a vineyard consultant and visited a nursery in California for inspiration. After designing the winery on the back of a napkin and launching the full-fledged construction project, King Family Vineyards opened on October 1, 2002.

David’s leadership and influence in the wine industry were far from confined to even our own Monticello AVA during his career. In addition to serving locally to help guide the growing industry through standards, zoning hearings and more, he also served as chairman of the Virginia Wine Board. King played a prominent role at the state level and worked tirelessly as an advocate for vineyard agriculture and agritourism and with our state lawmakers in Richmond, shaping critical legislation including the Farm Winery Act and the Virginia Wholesale Distribution Company that have been instrumental to the success of Virginia winemaking. His influence will be long felt.

With King’s vision and commitment to excellence, the King Family Vineyards popular polo field is now surrounded by 31 acres of stunning vineyards that produce just over 10,000 cases per year of some of the area’s most sought-after wines. His three sons, Carrington, Stuart and James, serve as full-time staff with the support of their wives and children, making the business a true family affair. There was nothing King loved more than being surrounded by his seven grandchildren on the property, who could often be seen cheering him on during his polo matches or manning the scoreboard.

Specializing in the production of premium wines that showcase the remarkable terroir and quality of the Monticello AVA, a visit to King Family Vineyards encapsulates all King hoped it would be—a unique experience with wines uniquely expressive of beautiful Virginia. No matter the visitor, King loved to spend time connecting with his customers, hoping that a trip to the tasting room, polo field or event space always felt like coming home.

We are so grateful for David King’s pioneering work and passion for both polo and winemaking. His wife, sons, daughters-in-law and grandchildren will continue to build on his success for years to come, as will all those in the industry who have been inspired by his vision and leadership, further carving out his special and revered place in the story of Virginia wine.

Family Portrait & Motorcycle Photo by Aaron Watson. All others by R. L. Johnson.

Wine & Country celebrates elevated living in the heart of Virginia Wine Country. Charlottesville Wine & Country Living, a semi-annual magazine of Life & Style in Jefferson’s Virginia, and Charlottesville Wine & Country Weddings, an art book celebrating elegant country weddings in Jefferson’s Virginia, are accompanied by the Charlottesville Wine & Country Shop in Ivy, VA, a beautiful lifestyle boutique featuring over 40 Virginia artisans with everything from tailgating essentials and Dubarry attire to locally made foods, 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.

King Family Wins the 2019 Monticello Cup


April 30, 2019 | Wine & Country Life

Monday evening, the 2019 Taste of Monticello Wine Trail Festival kicked off with the 29th Annual Monticello Cup Wine Competition at the new Vault Virginia on Charlottesville’s Historic Downtown Mall. We at Charlottesville Wine & Country were honored to again be sponsors of this year’s festival and were excited to join in the annual celebration of the Monticello AVA.

Earlier this year, 20 of the wineries from our local Monticello Wine Trail (MWT) submitted a total of over 58 wines to compete in the 2019 Monticello Cup Awards (MCA). Under the direction of the Virginia Wine Academy, 14 judges came together at Veritas Vineyard & Winery in March for a day of wine tasting and scoring.

Monday night’s event was kicked off with a few words from George Hodson, CEO of Veritas Vineyard & Winery and Monticello Wine Trail President, who noted all the many efforts and accomplishments of the group, sharing, “We have very talented people, [and a] great place to grow grapes, but we’re at an exciting place in history—we are writing the history of our wine region.” 

After an extensive judging process, King Family Vineyards was selected as the winner of this year’s competition, and on Monday evening, Chris Barker of the Virginia Wine Academy presented them with the 2019 Monticello Cup for their 2016 Mountain Plains. Winemaker Matthieu Finot was present to accept the Monticello Cup. During his acceptance speech, he honored the vineyard’s owners, David and Ellen King, saying they “started the vineyard 20 years ago and made all of this possible.” Carrington King, King Family Vineyards manager and eldest son of the Kings, spoke as well, referencing the unusually wet year. “We learned last year how to work harder and smarter, and my big lesson last year is that you can only control what you can control,” said King. “We’re very proud of the wines we are making and very much appreciate this honor.”

In addition to King Family Vineyards’ 2016 Mountain Plains, Keswick Vineyards’ 2016 Signature Series Cabernet Franc and Veritas Vineyard & Winery’s 2016 Vintners Reserve were the other two reds recognized in the “Top 3 Red” category this year. The “Top 3 Whites” included King Family Vineyards’ Small Batch Series Viognier, Stinson Vineyards’ Petit Manseng and Trump Winery’s 2010 Brut Reserve. Overall, there were 12 gold, 32 silver and 11 bronze winning wines in the 2019 competition.

Below, top left, George Hodson, CEO of Veritas Vineyard & Winery and president of The Monticello Wine Trail speaks about the impressive submissions in this year’s competition. Bottom left, Trump Winery Winemaker Jonathan Wheeler stands with his “Top 3 White” winning 2010 Brut Reserve. Top middle, Vineyard Manager Carrington King and Winemaker Matthieu Finot of King Family Vineyards hold the 2019 Monticello Cup and the wine for which it was awarded— their 2016 Mountain Plains, along with their “Top 3 White” winning Small Batch Series Viognier. Bottom middle, Winemaker Emily Pelton and Assistant Winemaker Elliott Watkins of Veritas Vineyard & Winery stand with their “Top 3 Red” winning 2016 Vintners Reserve. Top right, Winemaker and Co-owner of Ankida Ridge Vineyards, Nathan Vrooman, stands with his wife, Stinson Vineyards‘ Winemaker Rachel Stinson, and her “Top 3 White” winning Petit Manseng. Bottom right, Keswick Vineyards Winemaker Stephen Barnard stands with his “Top 3 Red” winning 2016 Signature Series Cabernet Franc.

The Taste of Monticello Wine Trail Festival will continue with numerous pairing dinners throughout the week, a small walk-around tasting event on Thursday at IX Art Park, the 3rd Annual Rose Lunch at Barboursville Vineyards on Friday and the Grand Tasting Event on Saturday, May 4, at the Sprint Pavilion before concluding on Sunday with the 4th Annual Sparkling Wine Brunch at Veritas Vineyard & Winery. You can see the full schedule of events here.

The largest event of the festival is Saturday’s tasting event at the Pavilion, which will showcase over 25 local wineries and will provide wine lovers the opportunity to purchase their favorites to take home! The day will begin with VIP catered tastings at 12:30 p.m. followed by the general event beginning at 1:30 p.m. During the tasting event, attendees can enjoy one flight of tastings per winery while learning about the different vineyards and their styles of wine. Wine & Country will join in the festivities with our beautiful booth, where attendees can create a wine charm, shop a few items from our new Charlottesville Wine & Country Shop and take home a copy of the brand new Book Eight of Charlottesville Wine & Country Living. We’ll be attending and covering some of the other festival events this week, so be sure to check our blog for updates and to follow along on our social media!

Again, congratulations to King Family Vineyards for winning the 2019 Monticello Cup. We are looking forward to another year of enjoying local award-winning wine and are excited to experience all the wonderful events this year’s Taste of Monticello Wine Trail Festival has to offer.

 

 

Wine & Country celebrates elevated living in the heart of Virginia Wine Country. Charlottesville Wine & Country Living, a semi-annual magazine of Life & Style in Jefferson’s Virginia, and Charlottesville Wine & Country Weddings, an art book celebrating elegant country weddings in Jefferson’s Virginia, are accompanied by the Charlottesville Wine & Country Shop in Ivy, VA, a beautiful lifestyle boutique featuring over 40 Virginia artisans with everything from tailgating essentials and Dubarry attire to locally made foods, 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.