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2014 Governor's Cup Case Blends New and Familiar Virginia Wines

Date: Thu, Feb 27, 2014 Wine Tasting Winery Blogs

Recognizing the top dogs in Virginia Wine for 2014
Governor's Cup Gala
Richmond, VA

The 2014 Governor's Cup Case will include some familiar names in Virginia wine and some newcomers. This year, 410 wines from 96 wineries competed, with 20 wines earning the coveted Gold. Once again, red dominated the top 12 (predominantly blends, but also two Tannats), joined by a lone white (Chardonnay) as well as a desert wine.

The 2014 Governor's Cup was awarded toWilliamsburg Wineryfor the 2010 Adagio. The graceful blend of Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Petit Verdot already has the wine world taking note - earning 94 points in the Beverage Testing Institute's International Wine Competition.

It was produced by Matthew Meyer, who has been Williamsburg's winemaker since 2002.

The Adagio, along with the next 11 highest ranking wines in the competition, will be combined in the Governor's Cup Case. These award-winning wines will be used to showcase the best of Virginia's vines and vintners.

Paws up from the Wine Dogs to Williamsburg and the other case members:

Chief Sommelier Jason Tesauro and the team at Barboursville Vineyardwere kept busy pouringwith an unprecedented three wines in the top 12 - the 2008 Malvaxia Passito, a dessert wine; the 2010 Nebbiolo Reserve; and the 2010 Octagon (the 2009 Octagon was last year's Governor's Cup awardee).
Barboursville Winemaker Luca Paschina received national recognition this past year as one of the top 20 winermakers by the James Beard Foundation and Vineyard & Winery Management.
Barren Ridge Vineyards Owner and Winemaker John Higgs with his award winning 2009 Meritage, one of the older wines in the case. "Our wines you have to age," he explained.
The Wine Dogs are hearing a lot of buzz about Tannat as an emerging red wine grape in Virginia, and it appears the time is ripe. Doug Fabbioli of Fabbioli Cellars will be showcasing his 2011 Tannat in the 2014 Governor's Cup Case
alongside the 2010 Tannat from Horton Vineyards, produced by winemaker Mike Heny.
For the third consecutive year, the King Family Vineyardshas a place in the Governor's Cup Case, with winemaker Matthieu Finot's 2011 Meritage.
Vicki and Mark Fedor of North Gate Vineyardproduced an award-winning Meritage at their Leed-Gold certified winery, finished with estate-grown Petit Verdot.
Rockbridge Vineyard owner/winermaker Shep Rouse produced a classic. His 2008 DeChiel Meritage is a mature wine that is aging with grace.
Sunset Hills Vineyard's Scott Spelbring pours the 2010 Mosiac. The Meritage blend is making a return appearance in the Governor's Cup Case.
The only white to appear in the Governor's Cup case in two years is the 2012 Chardonnay produced by newcomers Brad and Theresa Robertson of Two Twisted Posts Winery, which will be opening on March 15. Talk about starting off with a bang!

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Virginia Wine Dogs Year in Review

Date: Fri, Jan 3, 2014 Wine Tasting Winery Blogs

2013 brought new wine dogs, new wineries, new wine grapes and new wine club memberships while Virginia's reputation for quality wine continues to spread.

January - Introducing Ecco

Little Prosecco joins the Virginia Wine Dogsin January, adding a bit of sparkling to the pack. Barely a year old,the Yorkie girlquickly beginssneaking a taste here and there (under parental supervision of course) – and takes to the vine like a pro.

February - Ecco Makes Her Winery Debut

Pomeroy decides Prosecco is ready to begin her training as a Virginia Wine Dog. First stop, Potomac PointVineyard and Winery.The 2009 Richland Reserve Heritage is the Wine Dogs’ pick for enjoying in front of the fireplace - and the judge's choice for the Governor's Cup Case in 2012.
Later in the month, 2013 Governor's Cup winners are announced and Potomac Point's 2010 vintage again makes the case, while Barboursville's 2009 Octagon is top dog in Virginia.

March - Let Them Eat Steak

Ecco enjoys her first steak dinner. Pomeroy shows his Virginia wine expertise pairing the grilled T-Bone witha 2007 AmeritageReserve from his Pearmund Cellars' barrel.
Also in March, Virginia wines fetch 61 medals San Francisco, including golds for Barrel Oak (2), Barboursville Vineyards, Gray Ghost Vineyards, and Narmada Winery. PAWS UP!

April - It IS Her First Rodeo

Wine Dogs celebrate Desert Rose Winery's second anniversary with Bob and the gang and sneaka taste of the Covert Cabernet, one of the new varietals debutingacross Virginia in 2013.

Chateau Morrisette Winery adds to growing international reputation of Virginia Wine, signing 5-year agreement with China's Tianjin Commodity Exchange Company. Inaugural shipment of more than 1,150 cases coincides with Governor McDonnell's Asia trade mission. Go Dogs!

May - The Hills Are Alive

Wine Dogs check out Granite Heights and Morais thencatch up with Robbie Limon at North Mountain where they are introduced to Gruner-Veltliner, produced for the first time in Virginia as a tribute to John Jackson's Austrian heritage.

Wine Enthusiast recognizes Jordan Harris (32) of Tarara Winery in its "40 Under 40" list of rising stars who are changing the way the world drinks while three Virginia Wines earn Double Gold at the International Finger Lakes Competition: Pearmund Cellars 2011 Late Harvest Traminette; Pollak Vineyards 2010 Merlot; and Sunset Hills Vineyards 2012 Sunset White (Traminette).

June - Dog Days and Summer Camp

The Wine Dogs take in a foster sibling, Scottie the Yorkie, whois awaiting his forever homethrough Paws for Seniors.Pomeroy leads the pack to Wine Boot Camp with Donna and Carl at Little Washington Winery.
The well schooled Wine Dogs kick off the Dog Days of Summer with Northern Virginia Magazine at Naked Mountain.
Virginia's Governor and First Lady commemorate the 200th anniversary of Virginia's Executive Mansion with release of 1813, a blend bringing together the best winemakers and grapes from around Virginia, including Chambourcin harvested from Executive Mansion vines.

July - Your Table's Waiting

After being treated to top dog hospitality by Jeff and Laura McCarthy Louden, Ecco joins the Cobbler Mountain Wine Club. A new tasting room is in store for 2014.
The New York Times business section features Virginia wine, reporting thatgrapes are reshaping agriculture in Virginia.Keswick Vineyards 's Stephen Barnard and Tarara Winery's Jordan Harris make the Top 100 list of influential U.S. Winemakers. Pawsome!

August - Wine Dogs Make a Splash

Ecco and Pomeroy high-tail it to the beach for some well-deserved R&R. Governor McDonnell announces that Virginia wine sales reach half-million case benchmark in 2013.

September - Check OutOur Clubhouse

Swedenberg reopens as Greenhill Winery and Vineyards and the Wine Dogs' Uncle Jeffis one of the first to join the club based in the estate's historic stone manor house.TheWine Dogs spot another new winery along the Winding Road.
What's a little rain when Grillin' (and wining) for a Cause? The Wine Dogs spenda wet but enjoyable afternoon at Unicorn Winery with great BBQand Virginiawineto benefit Hospice Support of Fauquier County.

Wine Enthusiast Magazine's2013 Lifetime Achievement Award goes to Barboursville Founder Gianni Zonin. Eric Trump is named magazine's Rising Star for 2013.

October - VA Wine Month Turns 25

Ecco and Pomeroy enthusiastically celebrate the silver anniversary of Virginia Wine Month. The Scavenger Hunt takes them on a 2,000-mile trek, leaving tiny paw prints infive different wine regions across Virginia.
En route, the Wine Dogs discover several new wineries including theMaggie Malick Wine Cavesand neighboring Cardamon Family Vineyards, as well as Front Royal's first urban winery, the Miller Wineryand even take in a polo match at the King Family Vineyards. Pomeroy joins the wine club at Ingleside Vineyards.
Virginia holds its first Wine Summit, featuring Oz Clarke, one of the world'spre-eminent wine writers, who dares Virginia to be bold: "Great grapes that the mainstream can't or won't produce are the grapes that make Virginia unique and will make Virginia famous."

November - Sippin' Cider

Virginia celebrates Cider Week for the first time, highlighting the eight cideries now operating in the Commonwealth. The Wine Dogs provide a preview with a visit to Virginia's first modern cidery,Foggy Ridge Cidery.
With the harvest in, the Wine Dogs get mixed reports about the 2013 crop. John Delmare at Rappahannock Cellars says he may have the best Chardonnay vintage ever. Good wine in the barrel, but many wineries struggled with bugs, critters, and frost. Almost everyone is planting MORE GRAPES.

December - Wine Dog of the Month

Exciting news for Ecco - she will be the January Wine Dog of the Month at Three Fox Vineyard, (where Pomeroy studied winemaking), wrapping up an eventful first year on the circuit.
Virginia Wine honors continue to pour in with Virginians Luca Paschina and Lucie Morton named amongVineyard & Winery Management’s “20 Most Admired People in the North American Wine Industry”
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In-Cider Scoop on Foggy Ridge from the Wine Dogs

Date: Sun, Oct 13, 2013 Wine Tasting Winery Blogs

FoggyRidge Cider
Dugspur, Virginia

Taking a break from their usual weekend wining, Ecco and Pomeroy decidered to check out Virginia’s blooming hard cider industry. And where to start but Virginia’s first modern cidery – Foggy Ridge Cider.
Yes, it is indeed a foggy ridge.
Diane Flynt - the First Lady of Virginia Hard Cider – planted her orchard in 1996 and fermented her first vintage of cider in 2005. Today, Diane’s Garden of Eden outside Floyd, Virignia, grows 30 different varieties of apples, spread across 200 acres and produces 4,000 to 5,000 cases of cider a year.
Don't expect your grocery store variety of apples – cider apples are tart and tannin: “They call them spitters for a reason,” Cider Slinger Connie told the Wine Dogs were told during their tasting.
It’s a different story after the apples spend 6-8 weeks in steel tanks and are transformed into delightful sparkling beverages that left the Wine Dogs be-cide themselves with joy.
The walls of the cidery are replete with article of accolades for Foggy Ridge from local and national publications (will we see the Wine Dog review on our next visit?).
We loved the quote from Virginia Wooff:

Connie poured four distinct hand-crafted ciders.
The Serious Cider reminded the Wine Dogs of a Brut Champagne (or Virginia Sparkling Blanc de Blanc). Three ingredients go into the cider – apples, carbonation, and yeast.
Serious Cider is made from Old English apple varieties, including Roxbury Russets which are found just across from the cidery. The Wine Dogs found it paired well with cheese as they enjoyed a bottle at a table overlooking the orchard.

Foggy Ridge's First Fruit cider blends early season American heirloom apples – grafted from Thomas Jefferson’s trees at Monticello. This is a rich fruity cider with lively acidity.

Little Ecco gave her “Paws Up” to the Sweet Stayman – a crossover cider with 2.3 percent residual sugar. The Cider blends Virginia Stayman apples with heirloom varieties like Pink Lady and Grimes Golden. The result is a lightly sweet cider.
The older and more sophisticated Pomeroy gave his enthusiastic two Paws Up to the Port-style cider, Pippin Gold. The cider is blends Newtown Pippin hard cider with apple brandy from Laird and Company, America’s oldest distillery, making Apple Jack since 1780.

There are currently eightcideries in Virginia – chances are you’ve passed signs for one or two as you wine your way across the Commonwealth.
The Wine Dogs note that one of our fav local wineries, Cobbler Mountain, released a wicked sparkling hard cider of its own over Columbus Day Weekend, which earned a “Paws Up” from both pups.

Check them all out during Cider Week Virignia!
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Miller Time for the Wine Dogs

Date: Sat, Oct 5, 2013 Wine Tasting Winery Blogs

Miller Winery
Front Royal, Virginia
A new winery - actually a microwinery - opened in downtown Front Royal last week, and Ecco and Pomeroy simply had to poke their heads in to bring youthe scoop.
The Wine Dogs found a freshly finished tasting room in the back of what was the Old School House -
and the Millers, Jason and Amber.
Amber and Jason’s passion for wine started in 2002, when they purchased a cabin in the Shenandoah Valley, a jumping off point for touring Virginia Wine Country. Four years ago, Jason graduated to home winemaker and in 2012, he teamed up with Erik Bandzak, who pioneered urban city micro-wineries in Baltimore with Aliceanna Winery.

The back of the house includes the winery - housing several Italian stainless steel tanks and two carboys where the Millers make wine in batches, 60 gallons at a time. Total production is 2,000 bottles (yes, bottles, not cases). The plan is to double production next year, adding Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Chambourcin.

There is also an office/production room for packing and shipping. Jason already has expansion plans to bring the winery out to the front of Royal Street, with outdoor café tables looking out at the Warren County Courthouse.

Everything at Miller Winery is done by hand – from corking the bottles (Pomeroy learned how intensive that is when our own Miller hand-corked the Wine Dog wine) to the bags, which Amber hand-stamps with the Miller label.

The Miller Winery opened with Jason pouring four wines. The fifth, the Chardonnay, is awaiting label approval – apparently delayed by the government shutdown. “We tried to come out the door with something that hits everybody’s palate,” explained Jason. “Something” includes two whites – a German-style Riesling and a Seyval Blanc – and a pair of reds.

The first – aptly named LOL - was an amusing wine made from Concord grapes, with a Welch’s jelly nose accompanying a more sophisticated taste that still remains sweet on the palate. Ecco lapped it up.
(Gotta love the Miller humor).

Pomeroy preferred the smooth, rich and slightly peppery Hunter’s Red – made from the Noiret grape, a disease resistant hybrid developed at Cornell.

While the current run of wines are made from grapes purchased out-of-state, the Millers will be producing true Virginia wine. They have planted a 5-acre vineyard (managed by Jason’s parents) in Bumpass, Virginia (near Lake Anna).

The urban winery concept appealed to these Wine-Dogs-about-Town, a welcome addition to the flourishingVirginia industry. Yep, it's the right time forMiller Time!
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Winding Road Leads to Good Wine and Good Times for the Wine Dogs

Date: Sat, Sep 21, 2013 Wine Tasting Winery Blogs

Winding Road Cellars
Markham, Virginia

Ecco and Pomeroy stop to wine along the Winding Road
Headingdown the winding road to Hume, theWine Dogs spotted an unexpected"Open" sign andturned in toinvestigate.Theydiscovered Winding Road Cellars, a new Virginia winery whichopened quietly over Labor Day weekend.

The pups entered the charming red wood building and Ecco's nose began to twitchas it filled with the scent of fresh wood.
From floor to ceiling, the tasting roomis rich with polished pine, beautifully craftedbyAmish builders from Pennsylvania.
Thewines are hand-crafted too - by owner Scott Culver, whogot his rookie winemaker trainingat Mediterranean Cellars.

Winding Road currently is pouring six wines, witha surprisingly mature selection for a new winery. The oldestis aCabernet Franc from 2007, a pedigree yearfor Virginia wines.Both dogsliked the off-dry Vidal Blanc (2009).Pomeroy gave paws up to the spicy 2008 Chambourcin, while Ecco preferred itssemi-sweet sibling, made from a late harvest of the same grapes.

Both Wine Dogs agreed the 2008 Cabernet Sauvignonwas the pick of the litter and their choicefor the steak they planned for dinner.

Thespacious patio is a great place for wining andunwinding, offeringsweeping views of the vineyard.
Viognier, Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cab Franc, are already in the ground - along with one experimental row of Pinot Noir. Scott plans to double the vineyard this spring withanother 2,500 to 3,000 vines.

The Wine Dogs are glad they followed the Winding Road to Scott and Linda Culver's door, and are looking forward to future visits.
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Barking News: Virginia Wine Sales Top Half-Million Case Mark

Date: Wed, Aug 14, 2013 Wine Tasting Winery Blogs

Here's something to bark about. Governor McDonnell announced today that Virginia wine sales have reached the half-million case benchmark.

While wine sales within Virginia are up, the real story is the growth in out-of-state sales, a reflection of Virginia's growing reputation as a top producer of quality wines and the Commonwealth's aggressive marketing campaign. Paws up!

Governor McDonnell Announces Sales of Virginia Wine Reach New All-Time High

Continued Growth Push Sales Across the Half-Million Case Benchmark

As Administration Puts Focus on International Marketing Efforts, Export Sales Increase By More Than 74%

During a visit to the Eastern Shore's Chatham Vineyards on his "This Commonwealth of Opportunity" tour, Governor Bob McDonnell today announced that sales of Virginia wine reached another all-time high in Fiscal Year 2013, increasing by more than 5 percent from FY2012. Virginia wineries sold over 511,000 cases of wine in FY13 versus almost 485,000, the previous record high, in FY12 according to newly available sales figures compiled by the Virginia Department of Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) and the Virginia Wine Marketing Office. Since FY2010, when almost 415,000 cases were sold, sales of Virginia wines have increased by more than 23 percent.

Speaking about the new sales record while at Chatham Vineyards, Governor McDonnell said, "At the beginning of my administration, I pledged to work with the Virginia wine industry to make the Commonwealth the East Coast capital for wine and wine tourism. Today's announcement is further proof that we're well on our way to reaching that goal. Sales have reached a new record high and tourism to our wineries continues to grow. With the outstanding product being produced by our grape growers and wine makers, it's no surprise that more and more people are buying Virginia wines and experiencing our wineries and vineyards. I'm pleased our administration's focus on promoting Virginia wines and wine tourism both here and abroad is helping the Commonwealth's wine industry to grow and expand. From serving only Virginia wines at the Executive Mansion to marketing them during all domestic and international trade missions, we have taken every step possible to help create new sales and generate more jobs and economic opportunities all across the Commonwealth."

In-state sales of Virginia wine increased by almost 3 percent from FY12 to FY13, while wine sales through Virginia wineries increased by approximately 6 percent during the same period, indicating increased interest in visiting Virginia wineries. Wine sales to distributors outside of Virginia increased by more than 60 percent from FY12 to FY13. Today, Virginia wines are being sold in numerous states including Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Florida, and Washington, D.C., one of the Virginia Wine Marketing Office's top strategic growth regions. In addition, Virginia wineries sold more wine out of state, directly or through a wholesale distributor, and internationally during the most recent fiscal year. Specifically, these sales increased by 69 percent from FY12 to FY13. To continue reading the release, click here.
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Virginia Is Top Dog with 29 Golds at Atlantic Seaboard Wine Competition

Date: Fri, Jul 26, 2013 Wine Tasting Winery Blogs

Virginia dominated the 2013 Atlantic Seaboard Wine Association competition, claiming almost half of the Gold Medals awarded (29 out of 62).

Twelve states were represented in the competition, which included 588 wines produced by 116 East Coast wineries. Virginia wines brought home Best of Category honors for 14 wines, including two wines each from Barboursville, Cooper, and Ingleside.

Paws up to all of Virginia’s gold medal winners (Best in Category winners in bold):
  • 2011 Meritage by 868 Estate Vineyards, VA
  • 2008 Malvaxia Reserve by Barboursville Vineyards, VA
  • 2010 Octagon by Barboursville Vineyards, VA
  • 2012 Sauvignon Blanc by Barboursville Vineyards, VA
  • 2011 Cabernet Franc by Barrel Oak Winery, VA
  • 2011 Viognier by Bluestone Vineyard, VA
  • 2010 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon by Casanel Vineyards, VA
  • 2010 Fossil Hill Reserve by Cave Ridge Vineyard, VA
  • 2011 Cabernet Franc by Cedar Creek Winery, VA
  • 2011 Norton Reserve by Cooper Vineyards, VA
  • 2010 Petit Verdot by Cooper Vineyards, VA
  • 2009 Trio by Flying Fox Vineyard, VA
  • 2011 Ranger Reserve by Gray Ghost Vineyards, VA
  • NV Freedom by Horton Cellars Winery, VA
  • 2012 Pinotage by Horton Cellars Winery, VA
  • 2012 Reserve Syrah by Horton Cellars Winery, VA
  • 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve by Ingleside Plantation Vineyards, VA
  • 2007 Merlot Reserve by Ingleside Plantation Vineyards, VA
  • 2010 Petit Verdot by James River Cellars, VA
  • 2010 Cabernet Franc by Lake Anna Winery, VA
  • 2012 Viognier Reserve by Potomac Point Vineyard & Winery, VA
  • 2010 Cabernet Franc by Rosemont of Virginia, VA
  • 2010 Kilravock by Rosemont of Virginia, VA
  • 2012 Cabernet Franc by Sunset Hills Vineyards, VA
  • 2012 Vineyard #1 Chardonnay by Sunset Hills Vineyards, VA
  • 2012 Viognier by Sunset Hills Vineyards, VA
  • 2012 Lily's Viognier by The Winery at Bull Run, VA
  • 2010 Petit Verdot by Veritas Winery, VA
  • 2012 Rose' by Veritas Winery, VA
These silver medalists were best in their categories:
  • 2011 Petit Manseng by Granite Heights Winery, VA (Other White Vinifera Varietals)
  • NV Zephyr by First Colony Winery, VA (White Interspecific Blends)
  • 2012 Declaration, Reserve by Democracy Vineyards, VA (White Vinifera Blends)
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Reds Make the Case for Virginia Wine

Date: Sat, Feb 23, 2013 Wine Tasting Winery Blogs

Representatives of the wineries producing the 12 highest ranking wines in the competition -- the Governor’s Cup Case
Virginia Governor's Cup Gala
Richmond, Virginia

The results are in from the 2013 Virginia Governor’s Cup.This year, 377 wines from 93 wineries competed; 20 won gold. Reds, especially blends, dominated the competition claiming 11 of 12 spots in the Governor's Cup Case.

The 2013Governor's Cup goes to the 2009 Octagon, a Merlot-based blend with 15% Cabernet Franc, 10% Petit Verdot, and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon.

Munchkin and Pomeroy at Barboursville
It was produced by Wine Dog Pal Luca Paschina, general manager and winemaker at Barboursville Vineyards, outside of Charlottesville.
The Octagon, along with the next 11 highest ranking wines in the competition will be combined in the Governor's Cup Case. These award-winning wines will be used to showcase the best of Virginia's vines and vintners,including use by Governor Bob McDonnell on international marketing missions and other events to promote Virginia wine and winery tourism, including the Governor's upcoming trip to California..

The Wine Dogs salute Barboursville and the other case members:

Jeff and Karen Cooper of Cooper Vineyards toasting their gold medalist, the 2010 Petit Verdot Reserve.

King Family Vineyardswinemaker Mathieu Finot produced a Gold Medalist with the 2010 Meritage.King Family was a Governor's Cup winner in 2010 for their 2007 Meritage.

Edand Jane Puckett ofLovingston Winerycelebrate their gold medal winning 2009 Josie's Knoll Estate Reserve, another of the Virginia Meritages in the Governor's Case.

Philip Carter Strother and teammates Jeremy Ligot and Dat Metzgerare taking home gold for Philip Carter Winery with the 2010 Cleve, a distinctive blend of Petit Verdot and Tanat. Visit Cleve Hall and say hello to wine dogs Fairfax and Cortoman.

For the second year in a row,Potomac Point Winery'sHeritage Reserve is a gold medalist -- this year it's the 2010 vintage happily displayed by owner Cindy Causey . The Wine Dogs recently visited this impressive, dog-friendly winery and enjoyed the 2009 vintage.

Owner John Delmare pours a glass of Rappahannock Cellars 2010 Meritage, a Gold Medal winner in the Governor's Cup competition.

2012 Governor's Cup winner Jeff White samples RdV Vineyard's two Gold Medal winning Meritages -- the 2010 Rendezvous and the 2010 Lost Mountain.

Scott Spelbring, Assistant Winemaker at Sunset Hills Vineyards, was pouring the gold-medal winning 2010 Mosiac, a Meritage blend.
The Governor's Case wouldn't be complete without some bubbly -- Trump Winery's Sparkling Rose'. Cheers!
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Octagon Is Top Dog in Governor's Cup Competition

Date: Thu, Feb 21, 2013 Wine Tasting Winery Blogs

Governor Bob McDonnell presents the 2013 Governor's Cup to Luca Paschina for Barboursville's 2009 Octagon
Richmond, Virginia

Virginia's vibrant wine industry celebrated its ownas the results of the 2013 Governor's Cup competition were announced. The night's big winners: Barboursville (Guv Cup), Mary Beth Williams (Wine Person of the Year), Willowcroft's Lew Parker (Lifetime Achievement), Del. Dave Albo (Legislator of the Year) + 12 Gold Medal Wines for Governor's Cup Case (a total of 20 wines were awarded gold).

Dr. Jeff Cooper (Cooper Vineyards) chaired the Governor's Cup Committee and served as the night's emcee. "We wanted to create the premiere wine competition in the U.S.," he explained, going over the major changes adopted in 2011 that have made the Virginia's Governor's Cup competition one of the most stringent and comprehensive wine competitions in the United States.

WillowcroftFounder Lew Parker received the Gordon Murchie Lifetime Achievement Award, recognizing the extensive time he has devoted as an active proponent of the growth and vitality of the Virginia wine industry.

Mary Beth Williams, Virginia's "Wine Lawyer," was recognized as "Wine Person of the Year" for her contributions to the industry, helping wineries, vineyards, and future winery owners navigate the ABC and other laws.

"The world is your market," Governor Bob McDonnell told the winery representatives, adding that "The advancements in Virginia winemaking are on display in every bottle we have here tonight." First Lady Maureen McDonnell (whose tireless efforts promoting the industry earned her the 2012 Wine Person of the Year honors) then revealed the 2013 Governor's Cup winner was Barboursville's 2009 Octagon. It is a record fourth time Barboursville has claimed the Governor's Cup.

Luca Paschina, Winemaker and General Manager of Barboursville, noted that 2009 was a fine vintage, calling the 2009 Octagon "probably one of the best wines I every made in my life" -- adding that he is 50 and has been making wine since he was 14. The 2009 Octagon, whichhas also claimed a 90-point score from Wine Enthusiast, gold medals form the Beverage Testing Institute in Chicago, and the Winemaker's Challenge and Critics Challenge in California, and the Platinum Medal of the Sommelier Challenge in California, will be released August 1.
This year's competition attracted 377 wines entered by 93 wineries. The 12 highest ranking wines will be combined to comprise the Governor's Cup Caseand used to showcase the best of Virginia wine - including the Governor's trip to California in April.

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Wine Dogs Get to the Point

Date: Sun, Feb 3, 2013 Wine Tasting Winery Blogs

Potomac Point Vineyard & Winery
Stafford, VA

Pomeroy decided Prosecco was ready to begin her training as a Virginia Wine Dog. First stop, Potomac Point Vineyard and Winery, a short trip down 95 from Alexandria.

Potomac Point's large Mediterranean-style tasting room says “wine” from the moment you pull up, with an impish Bacchus poised out front ready to greet guests and gates embellished with sculptured vines enclosing an enticing outside seating areas (for warmer weather).

Designed by homebuilder Skip Causey (his largest commercial project) and decorated and furnished by wife Cindi, the interior features a four-sided tasting bar, imviting fireplace, and impressive murals of la vita vino.
Potomac Point also offers Le Grand Cru Bistro for those who want to wine and dine (Wine Dogs are not allowed in the dining room, but are otherwise welcome).

Indeed, Pomeroy and Prosecco were warmly welcomed to Potomac Point by proprietor Skip, who provided them the inside scoop on the Potomac Point winery and wines.
The Causeys have lived in Stafford for 27 years. In 2005, Skip was looking for an investment and, having been bitten by the winebug in Napa and Sonoma – as well as a pruning class at Tarara – decided to start a winery close to home. Potomac Point opened to the public in 2007 and currently has 5 acres in vine (Viognier, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Petit Manseng) andare exploring acquiring additional acreage.

Skip told the Wine Dogs that 2009 has been his best year for reds so far. Looking ahead to the 2012 wines, he expects the Viognier to be a star and anticipates an awesome Rose. In addition, Charlie Kidd will be coming to Potomac Point to makehis Virginia debut as winemaker, after working in California and Texas.

Pomeroy and Prosecco opted for the Premier tasting and Erin led the Wine Dogsthrough a flight of 11 wines. There were several standouts and unique offerings.

Pomeroy gave paws up to the 2010 Chardonnay Reserve, a big and oaky offering while Ecco preferred the 2011 steel-barrel fermented Chard with its crisp flavors.

Potomac Point offers two “custom label” wines, and both Wine Dogs gave paws up to the Custom Label Red (a blend of Merlot, Cab Franc, and Cab Sauv) playfully labeled “Drunken Reindeer” for Christmas. Pomeroy also liked the 2011 Norton , a classic presentation of the native Virginia varietal finished nicely with a touch of Cab Franc (10%) and Tannat (5%).

Both of the desert wines are noteworthy. The Vin de Paille is crafted in the Itailian Passito style, with wind-dried Muscat grapes wind-dried on beds of straw from an old Virginia tobacco warehouse and blended with hand-des-stemmed very late harvest Vidal and Petit Manseng for a pleasantly sweet, peach-apricot wine which Pomeroy adored.

On the Port side, the Rabelos blends Touriga Nacional, Chambourcin and Tinta Cao aged in a bourbon barrel from the neighboring A. Smith Bowman Distillery for a lovely desert wine that had Ecco coming back for more.

The star of the lineup is the 2009 Richland Reserve Heritage. The Bordeaux blend of Merlot, Cab Franc, Cab Sauv and Petit Verdot was the Wine Dogs’ pick for enjoying in front of the fireplace, where they were joined by Chianti, a 2-1/2 year old Australian Shepherd and “Miss December” in the 2013 Old Dominion Wine Dogs Calendar.

Heritage is one of the 12 Governor’s Cup Gold medal winners to be included in the 2012 Governor’s Case used to showcase the best of Virginia Wine across the country and around the world. This year’s Governor’s Cup winners will be announced on February 21.
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In loving memory of Munchkin

Date: Sat, Dec 29, 2012 Wine Tasting Winery Blogs

In Memoriam

Munchkin, the Original Virginia Wine Dog

The Virginia Wine Industry lost one of its most enthusiasticpromoters earlier this year. On September 10, 2012,Munchkin -- the irrepressible Yorkshire Terrier of Virginia Wine Dogs fame -- crossed the Rainbow Bridge to tend heaven's vineyard.

Munchkin got her first taste of the grape en route to the mountains for Columbus Day Weekend in 2004, making a chance stop at what was then known as Virginia's first vineyard, Farfelu Vineyards (French for eccentricor hair-brained -- like the idea of a pair of pups having a wine blog?).Her last visits took her to the opening of BOW's Oak Hill Estateand to wine club events at Keswick and Rappahannock Cellars followed bya spontaneousstop at Little Washington Winery.
The great-great-granddaughter of the venerable CH Cede Higgins (the only Yorkshire Terrier ever to win "Best in Show" at Westminster), Munchkin broughther natural flair for showmanship to tasting rooms across the Commonwealth. She delighted in entertaining winery guests -- all the more when her dancing, twirling, rollovers and other tricks were rewarded with treats.
The jumping off point for Munchkin's wine adventures was a mountain retreat just minutes from Fox Meadow, one of several new wineries openingin theBlue Ridge during the first decade of the 21st Century.In 2007, Munchkinteamed up with Pomeroy (Pomeranian and photographer extraordinaire) to create the Virginia Wine Dogs blog, making it their business to sniff out Virginia'sfinest.

Over the years, Munchkinfaithfully reported barking wine newson her blog and Facebook page, spreading thepawsitive wordaboutVirginia's fast-growing industry and its rising reputation as a top wine destination and producer.

She was on hand as a Rovering Reporter when the North American Wine Bloggers Conference came to Charlottesville in 2011, earning a spot on VAWine TV.

To build her expertise, Munchkin tried herpaw at winemaking at Three Fox Vineyard

planted a Petit Verdot vine at Gadino Cellars,

and even took a turn at bottling at Breaux.
Munchkin's credits includefeatures inNorthern Virginia Magazine, NoVA Dog, and Our Townand on NBC 29 (Charlottesville).

Munchkin's loved ones are keeping her spirit alive throughher wine blog and Facebook Page. Several as yet unpublished Wine Dog reviews from past years have been located, so fans can look forwardto new adventures in the months ahead.
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Wine Dogs Saddle Up at Desert Rose Ranch & Winery

Date: Sun, Mar 25, 2012 Wine Tasting Winery Blogs

Desert Rose Ranch and Winery
Hume, Virginia

Desert Rose Winery celebrates its first anniversary this weekend (March 31). Shortly after it opened, Munchkin and Pomeroy moseyed out to the ranch and saddled up. This is a unique property – reflecting the life and heritage (and humor) of its owners, Bob and Linda Claymier.

Bob hails from high desert country in Oregon. The horseshoe on the Desert Rose logo, the calfskin on the walls, saddles and hay even bales are a tribute to Bob's cowboy roots - many of the artifacts are old family heirlooms.

The tasting bar reflects other aspects of Bob's life - his career with a federal agency that took the Claymiers all over the world. At every stop, Bob and Linda collected currency, now serving as the counter Desert Rose's "million dollar bar" - one of the only places where Israel and Iraq sit peacefully side-by-side.

In Greece, Bob and Linda met Louis Papadopoulos, who later emigrated to the United States and, showing just what a small world it is, today runs a neighboring Fauquier County winery - Mediterranean Cellars. Bob told the Wine Dogs that the wonderful thing about the wine industry in Virginia “it is such a collegial group - giving a “hats off to John [Delmare] and the entire group at Rappahannock" Cellars. Before buying his own property, Bob used to come down and help Dirgham Salahi atOasis.

Munchkin and Pomeroy are pleased to report that, as a ranch, Desert Rose is an animal property and pet friendly inside and out. On the day of the Wine Dogs' visit, they were hosting a benefit for the Fauquier County SPCA.

In addition to four-legged friends looking for new homes, Munchkin and Pomeroy met Gigi. The adventurous senior dachshund, owned by Bob's brother Ken, has hung up her tiny motorcycle hat and leather jacket and settled in comfortably to life as a winery dog.

The Wine Dogs also met daughter Kris and granddaughter Emily, who helps out at the family winery. Kris recalls what it was like to grow up with a homewinemaker for a father. "Some of my earliest memories are smelling the yeast coming out of the basement as the wine was percolating.” adding that “Dad would make wine out of anything – even dandelions."

Today, Bob makes his wine out of grapes grown primarily on the property or under his supervision (although the Port-like Starboard is aged in whiskey).

Most of Desert Rose's wines are playfully named and labeled ("we take wine and wine-making very seriously, but not ourselves"). The five other current offerings include:
  • The Hitch Hollow Chardonnay is named for the local community dating back to the late 1800s
  • Ole Moo Moo - named for the ranch's celebrity cow and blizzard survivor. Munchkin gave two paws up to the off-dry white made for Linda, who is not a fan of dry.
  • Sparky (picture of the power line since part of land was claimed by Dominion Power) is a Rose produced from bleed off from a blend of Cab Franc, Merlot, and Cab Sauv.
  • R.E.D. is named for Bob – Retired and Extremely Dangerous (check the label for more hints about that government agency). The chambourcin is a little spicy with a very distinctive finish.
  • And a simply named Cabernet Franc, which Pomeroy's decided was the pick of the litter.
Desert Rose produced 1,000 cases its first year and is looking to expand slowly, but not too much. "About 2,000, I get out of my concept of a boutique winery," Bob says. But then again, Bob describes the winery as "a hobby that got out of control."
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Making the Case for Virginia Wine (Wine Dogs Hint - Start with 12 Great Wines)

Date: Thu, Feb 23, 2012 Wine Tasting Winery Blogs

Representatives of the wineries producing the 12 highest ranking wines in the competition -- the Governor’s Cup Case.

Virginia Governor's Cup Gala
Richmond, Virginia

This year’s Virginia Governor’s Cup competition featured new rules and new honors. More than 400 wines competed;13 won gold.

The 2012Governor's Cup goes to the 2009 Hodder Hill meritage produced by Wine Dog Pal Jeff White, owner and winemaker at Glen Manor Vineyards in Front Royal. Jeff has two wine dogs of his own -- Chuck, a chocolate lab, and Sport, and American brit.
Winemaker Jeff White pours the 2012 Governor's Cup winner, Glen Manor Vineyard's 2009 Hodder Hill Meritage.
The Hodder Hill, along with the next 11 highest ranking wines in the competition will be combined in the Governor's Cup Case (actually 10 cases of each wine will be available). These award-winning wines will be used to showcase the best of Virginia's vines and vintners,including use by Governor Bob McDonnell on international marketing missions and other events to promote Virginia wine and winery tourism.

The Wine Dogs salute Glen Manor and the other case members:

Lee Hartman of Bluestone Vineyard with his Gold Medal 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon. This new winery opened only 13 months ago and is off to a great start with a wine in the Governor's Cup Case.

Delfosse Vineyards winemaker Paul Mierzejewski produced a Gold Medalist with the 2007 Meritage Blend.

Ben and Chris show off Jefferson Vineyards' Gold Medalist, the 2010 Cabernet Franc. Known for creative blending, winemaker Andy Reagan added 10% tannat and 6% Lemberger to this Virginia classic with outstanding results.

Owner Cindy Schornberg was doing double time with Keswick Vineyards' two gold medalists -- the 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve and the 2010 Merlot. These yet-to-be released wines, both 100% varietals, are already proving their pedigree.

David King proudly displays King Family Vineyards Meritage, a Gold Medalist in the 2012 competition. The 2007 Meritage claimed the Governor's Cup in the 2010. The Wine Dogs made their television debut when they visited the King Family Winery in 2010.

Winemaker Simone Bergese produced Potomac Point Winery's Gold Medalist -- the 2009 Heritage Reserve. The Wine Dogs look forward to visiting this impressive, dog-friendly winery.

Winemaker Jordan Harris produced Tarara's 2010 Honah Lee - a Gold Medalist that will be part of the 2012 Governor's Cup Case. A blend of Viognier, Petit Manseng, and Roussanne, this is a white red wine drikers will enjoy; warms you from the inside out.

Patricia Kluge adds class to the Gala with an apertif, the Kluge Estates Cru. She is the founder of the winery that produced the 2008 Kluge SP Blanc de Blanc, a 2012 Gold Medalist and part of the Governor's Cup Case. Kluge Estates is now Trump Winery.

Winemaker Emily Pelton produced a Gold Medalist at her family winery with the Veritas 2010 Vintner's Reserve, a meritage blend.

Lisa Champ, whose famly started White Hall Vineyards 18 years ago, displays the Gold Medal winning 2010 Gewurtzraminer, one of only two whites to make the 2012 Governor's Cup Case.

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Wine Dogs Salute Virginia’s First Lady and Wine Person of the Year

Date: Thu, Feb 23, 2012 Wine Tasting Winery Blogs

Richmond, Virginia

At the Governor’s Cup Gala on Thursday night, the Virginia Wineries Association recognized First Lady Maureen McDonnell as the Virginia Wine Person of the Year.

She was introduced by Ann Heidig of Lake Anna Winery, who was recognized as the Gordon Murchie Lifetime Achievement Award winner.

As First Lady of Virginia, Maureen McDonnell has been a tireless champion of Virginia wine, promoting. Her First Lady’s Initiatives Team Effort (FLITE) trips have brought press, restaurateurs and wine shop owners on tours of Virginia’s wineries and serves Virginia wines when she entertains.

Governor Bob McDonnell, who was at the Gala to present the 2012 Governor's Cup, looked on proudly as his wife received this unexpected but well deserved honor.

Last year, the First Lady planted 12 vines at the Executive Mansion in recognition of the 1619 12th Act of the Virginia House of Burgess, requiring every landowner in the Virginia Colony to plant and maintain at least 10 vines. She announced will be bottling Mansion Wine for the upcoming 200th Anniversary of the historic home of Virginia's governors.
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