Thursday, June 27, 2019

Ramulose Ridge Vineyards: A Virginia Winery Visit

P1040759A trip to the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia provided a great opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors – and Virginia wine!

Time For Hiking – And Drinking

During our recent visit to the Peaks of Otter in Virginia, which is on the Blue Ridge Parkway near Bedford, we hiked. We hiked a lot!

Peaks of OtterWe were staying at the scenic Peaks of Otter Lodge, with beautiful views of Abbott Lake and Sharp Top Mountain, the lodge was a perfect launching spot for great hiking. Green Dragon, my wife, decided we should take an easier hike and so she picked out the Flat Top Mountain trail. It sounded easy enough.

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Unfortunately, at 4,004 feet it turned out to be even higher than the towering Sharp Top Mountain, and unlike Sharp Top, there was no shuttle running to the top. While the top might be flat, the way to that Flat Top was definitely steep. The trail was mostly loose gravel, and unlike some of the other hiking in the area, there were no scenic vistas. Just trees to your left and right and an occasional patch of blue to make you think you were nearing the top.

Whether it was three or four hours of hiking, its hard to recall – but after that hot and sweaty episode, I decided we needed to do a non-hiking activity the next day. That meant a visit to a winery.

A Visit To The Ridge

Happily, we were able to visit a scenic ridge the next day and not hike to it. Ramulose Ridge Vineyards is located in Moneta, a short scenic drive from Peaks of Otter. There was a closer winery, but it specialized in sweet fruit wines, which are not in our zone.

Ramulose Ridge

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At the tasting room we met winemaker Sandy Ramaker, who along with husband Jim own the winery. There are five acres planted with nine varieties and all the wine is estate grown. Ramulose has a great line of semi-sweet and sweet wines – and several guests were enjoying them immensely. We decided on the dry tasting for $5 and settled in (including our dog Amber – the tasting room is pet-friendly).

The wines are all non-vintage. We started with an oaked Viognier with floral aroma and crisp finish. French hybrid grapes do well in the changeable Virginia weather and we next enjoyed Chardonel, which is a cross between the French hybrid Seyval and Chardonnay. This was light and oaky.

Traminette is a cross between a a French hybrid and Gewürztraminer. Green Dragon isn’t a Gewürztraminer fan and so she passed while I enjoyed sipping the aromatic wine that has notes of rose water. Vidal Blanc is used to make some good ice wine in colder parts of the country and Ramulose offers a nice off-dry version with a touch of sweetness.

Rambling Reds

Ramulose Ridge has a wonderful deck with outstanding views of the vineyards and the mountains in the distance. This is a timely spot to mention that the winery has suggested cigar pairings for their red and white wines. The deck or pavilion would be outstanding spots to puff on an Azul Cameroon cigar while enjoying Traminette.

Happy wine tasters at Ramulose RidgeFor us, however, we were ready to ramble on to the red wines. The Malbec is a lighter style compared with your typical Argentinian version, but delivers nice tobacco and pepper notes. Also on the lighter side of the spectrum is the Cabernet Franc.

Chambourcin is a French hybrid grape that is one of our favorites. Ramulose does a grand job with the grape, with rich raspberry and soft tannins.

The best was saved for last, with an earthy and spicy Syrah (with a tasty $16 price) and the Robusto blend. Robusto is a blend of 60% Cabernet Franc and 40% Chambourcin. It has tart cherry flavors and is the most complex of the Ramulose Ridge lineup.

The wines we tasted range from $15 to $20. We purchased a bottle of Robusto to enjoy later.

While the dry wines were thoroughly enjoyable, we want to mention the Simply Sweet Sippers. With names like Promiscuous Pineapple, Chocolate Orange Obsession and Ravishing Raspberry, they feature eye-grabbing graphics. The wines are packaged in 375 ML pouches, making it perfect for a picnic or cookout. From the exclamations of joy from the other side of the tasting bar, we know this product is a hit with sweet wine lovers.

Ramulose Ridge is a small winery that offers excellent hospitality, a scenic location and unique estate wines. When you need a break from hiking (insert your own excuse here!) be sure to pay this Virginia winery a visit.

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