Monday, August 1, 2011

Virginia Winery Visit: Afton Mountain Vineyards

The final stop of our mystery bus tour at the Wine Bloggers’ Conference in Virginia was Afton Mountain Vineyards.

Afton Mountain is a pioneering winery in Virginia, with vines dating back to the 1970s. Their unique terroir, allows them to produce not just Virginia staples such as Cab Franc and Chardonnay, but also Sangiovese and Gewürztraminer, rarely seen in the state. The property is nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains and is less susceptible to frost than other vineyards. We were also thankful for the nice breeze that blows through the Rockfish Gap.

We were hosted by Elizabeth and Tony Smith who are entering their third year of ownership of the winery. Our tour began about seven feet underground in the wine cave. The cave is cool in many ways, temperature-wise and also due to the sparkling wine being aged in the traditional method and the stacks of wine barrels.

We enjoyed a delicious glass of Tete de Cuvee 2008, a bubbly that has not yet been released. This has a dry toasty flavor with streams of small bubbles. It is made from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes. This is one of the highest-rated wines on my trip!
Migrating to the winery building, we settled on the porch for a gourmet box lunch. The view of the mountains marching into the distance behind the vineyards is spectacular. The temperature was in the high 90s, so the steady breeze through the gap was very welcome.

Our first wine was the 2009 Gewürztraminer. I’m a fan of Gerwurz and am partial to the dry Rieslings of Alsace and the Finger Lakes. This had a twist of citrus and the aroma exhibited a whiff of perfume. There is just a touch of sweetness. ***+

The next wine was Festa Di Bacco 2009, a “Super Tuscan” style blend of equal parts Sangiovese and Merlot plus Cabernet and Petit Verdot. This vintage of the flagship red has not yet been released. It retails for $28. Opulent wine with rich raspberry flavor notes.****

The Cabernet Sauvignon Estate Reserve 2009 is 100% Cab and received the Governor’s Cup Gold Medal. The wine is made from some of the oldest Cabernet vines in the state – more than 30 years old. This had a precocious cherry flavor and a great finish.****

The Pentola D’Oro ‘09 is a Gewurztraminer finished in an icewine style. This sweet treat was
an excellent way to wrap up our WBC11 excursion and our visit to one of Virginia’s top wineries.

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