Trump Winery ’09 Sparkling Rosé Wins 2014 Monticello Cup

Apr 11

Virginia Secretary of Agriculture Todd Haymore presented the 2014 Monticello Cup to Trump Winery representatives for their 2009 Sparkling Rosé, at an awards ceremony held at the Jefferson Theater in Charlottesville. Trump Winery’s 2012 Meritage also won a gold medal—winning two of the five gold medals wines awarded at this year’s competition. Both winemakers Jonathan Wheeler and Katell Griaud were honored to be recognized at a wine competition that is a showcase event in the Monticello AVA region.

Wine of the Week: Barboursville Octagon 2001

Apr 02

By now it is not news that Octagon, the flagship wine of Barboursville Vineyards (a meritage-style blend dominated by merlot and cabernet franc) is recognized as one of Virginia’s top wines (so you would hope, by the $50 retail price).

Readers of Beyond Jefferson’s Vines will recall how, when I tasted the 2009 Linden “Hardscrabble”, the estate cabernet sauvignon-dominated blend, I heard J.S. Bach’s “Brandenburg Concerto #5.” Despite this, and the entrance into the market of a number of other producers focused on top-quality red Bordeaux blends in Virginia, Barboursville’s Octagon has continued to maintain a top position; last year it got the coveted Governor’s Cup Award for the 2009 vintage, and the 2010 vintage got a gold medal in this year’s Governor’s Cup competition.

A decade ago I drank a bottle of the 2001 vintage Octagon with a special lady on a special occasion. At that time it was a very different wine, but still elegant, plush and poised. I had two bottles in my cellar so to celebrate the final arrival of spring this year (?!) I decided to open one after roasting a tri-tip cut of beef with trimmings.

Thirteen years is a long time for a merlot/cabernet franc-based blend to hold up, but 2001 was an excellent year, the wine was carefully cellared, and there was no yellowing in the color, which was gratifyingly deep.

I need to tell you that this wine was the most complex and deeply satisfying Virginia wine I have yet had the pleasure of drinking. Partly this is to inspire you to hold onto fine bottles of Virginia red wine for 5 or 10 years, in cool, dark cellar conditions, to see how they evolve and to celebrate the miraculous fact that what you once enjoyed as fresh and vibrant can later be enjoyed as complex, rich and deep (that’s the wine I mean). But partly this is to inspire envy that I still have a bottle. But maybe you have a case, or a magnum, or an even larger bottle. Can it last  until 2021? You’ll have to invite me over to determine the matter. ;) Meanwhile, check out my description of the wine in a regular 750 ml bottle at this point in time:

Nose: amazing depth and complexity. HUGE herbal components of lavender, sage, fennel and spice notes of nutmeg. Palate: smooooth and rich, well-knit round tannins with ripe black fruits and great tertiary flavors: tar, tobacco, garrigue, mocha, licorice, and cola. Rich and complex but wonderfully round and balanced. Acid is a bit low, but why complain after 13 years with everything else going on? An inspiration to others attempting a First Growth blend in Virginia (the petit verdot is the silver bullet). The wine reminds me of Mas de Daumas Gassac and also Licorella from Priorat (alcohol: 13.5%).

2012 Vintage “3″ Released by Team 3

Mar 25


(from a press release from the VA Wine Marketing Office) Richmond, Va. - Team 3, a group of three Virginia winemakers, Matthieu Finot, Emily Pelton and Jake Busching, have released a limited edition red blend of 1/3 Merlot, 1/3 Cabernet Franc and 1/3 Petit Verdot. The Merlot is from Finot at King Family Vineyards, the Petit Verdot is from Pelton at Veritas and the Cabernet Franc is from Busching at Grace Estate Winery.

Bottled to show the unity of the Virginia wine industry, the blend was accomplished through three separate tasting trials to find the right blend of oak and fruit that will age well and be representative of the three unique vineyards. The bright red fruit on the nose changes to lush dark cherry and blueberry as it opens up, and the palate weight and balance speaks of long aging potential.

The fourth release of “3″ will be held at Grace Estate on Friday, March 21, 3:33 p.m. to 5.30 p.m. Tastings of this limited production will only be available at the release event. The wine will be sold at the three participating wineries – each winery will have 45 cases for sale at $33.33 per bottle.

Over 1,500 Attend 3rd Annual Eastern Winery Exposition

Mar 09

LANCASTSER, PA—The third annual Eastern Winery Exposition (EWE) concluded its three-day conference and wine industry exposition with another successful show at over 1,500 total attendance (over 1,000 attendees and 500 exhibitor staff). EWE featured a sold-out trade show with 249 booth spaces with 179 exhibiting companies. The trade show and conference is sponsored by Wines & Vines and supported by 18 other organizations and associations and took place at the Lancaster Co. Convention Center and Marriott in Lancaster, PA

At the annual Industry Celebration Dinner, the Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Dr. Konstantin Frank Vinifera Wine Cellars for continued success as New York’s most awarded winery, having celebrated 50 years of operation in 2012 and in passing the torch to a new, fourth generation. Accepting the award on behalf of the winery was current owner and president, Frederick Frank.


In 2015, EWE will move to the Oncenter in Syracuse, NY from March 17-20, then return to the Lancaster County Convention Center and Marriott in 2016. The Eastern Winery Exposition is an Eastern-focused wine industry trade show and conference designed to provide the Eastern U.S. and Canadian wineries and vineyards with an easily accessible, low-cost professional meeting with a large number of winery and vineyard suppliers, at the right time of year.  Information is online at

Williamsburg Winery “Adagio” 2010 Wins 2014 VA Governor’s Cup

Mar 01

Secretary Haymore Awarded Wine Person of the Year by the VWA


RICHMOND – Governor Terry McAuliffe tonight awarded the 2014 Virginia Wineries Association’s (VWA) Governor’s Cup to The Williamsburg Winery’s 2010 Adagio, a blended red wine.  The Governor’s Cup was awarded Thursday evening, February 27 at the VWA’s Governor’s Cup Gala at the John Marshall Hotel.


Speaking at the Governor’s Cup awards ceremony, Governor McAuliffe said, “I am honored to award the Governor’s Cup to The Williamsburg Winery, one of Virginia’s oldest and most prolific wineries.  It is no secret the Commonwealth’s wine industry has experienced tremendous growth both in quantity and quality in recent years.  Such growth has an enormous impact on Virginia in terms of economic development and job creation.  The Virginia Governor’s Cup, now recognized as one of the nation’s most stringent competitions, helps to raise awareness of the world class wines grown and blended right here in the Commonwealth.  My congratulations to The Williamsburg Winery for their long history of success and their most recent notable contribution to the Virginia wine industry.”


The Williamsburg Winery’s Adagio is a blend of 42% Cabernet Franc, 30% Merlot and 28% Petit Verdot. Aged in French, American and Hungarian Oak, the ratio is  43% new oak, 14% one year old oak; 29% two year old oak; and 14% three year old oak. The winemaker’s tasting notes are as follows:  The 2010 Adagio is a very bold upfront wine with loads of jammy fruit.  The blackberries and blueberry notes are accentuated with some elegant mature darker fruit such as figs, dates and prunes.  There is a hint of spice (warm cinnamon) with molasses and soy.  The earthy notes come across with a touch of nuttiness.  The oak is very integrated into the weight of the wine and the tannins are smooth and graceful. The wine has a wonderful finish that lasts for quite awhile. 

            “It is very satisfying and very humbling to be with my peers and the others who have won the Governor’s Cup.  The 2010 Adagio was unbelievable, exceeding all expectations for quality, and it was nice for Adagio to get that recognition,” said Matthew Meyer, vice president and winemaker of The Williamsburg Winery.  “Adagio, from the Italian ad agio, or ‘at ease’, is a musical term indicating the tempo of a composition that is meant to be slow and stately, so named in honor of the extraordinary depth, elegance and grace of this wine.”

The 2014 Virginia Governor’s Cup Competition was conducted over three weeks of preliminary tastings, held at the Capital Wine School in Washington, D.C.  The final round of tastings was held at the Jefferson Hotel in Richmond in early February. The Governor’s Cup award winner was selected from the 2014 Governor’s Cup Case. The top 12 scoring wines of the competition, The Governor’s Cup Case, were selected from 410 entries of both red and white wines, from 96 wineries.


In addition to The Williamsburg Winery’s 2010 Adagio, the other 11 wines in the Governor’s Cup Case are: 


  • Barboursville Vineyard – 2008 Malvaxia Passito
  • Barboursville Vineyard – 2010 Nebbiolo Reserve
  • Barboursville Vineyard – 2010 Octagon
  • Barren Ridge Vineyard – 2009 Meritage
  • Fabbioli Cellars – 2011 Tannat
  • Horton Vineyards – 2010 Tannat
  • King Family Vineyards – 2011 Meritage
  • North Gate Vineyard – 2011 Meritage
  • Rockbridge Vineyard – 2008 Meritage, DeChiel Reserve, unfiltered
  • Sunset Hills Vineyard – 2010 Mosaic
  • Two Twisted Post Winery – 2012 Chardonnay


The Governor’s Cup competition, revamped in 2011, is a result of a partnership among the gubernatorial-appointed Virginia Wine Board (VWB), the Virginia Vineyards Association (VVA), and the VWA, which owns and manages the competition. Any wine made from 100%Virginia fruit was eligible for the competition, while ciders and fruit wines had their own category and medalists. All entries included an affidavit with a certification of 100% Virginia fruit and vineyard particulars, including grower names and location, as well as information on alcohol, acidity or basicity (pH), and residual sugar.


            Wine included in the Governor’s Cup Case will be used by the Virginia Wine Board Marketing Office for marketing purposes in Virginia, across the country, and around the world.  A number of cases will be shipped to select wine media, promotingVirginia wines to a larger national and international audience.  The award winning wines will be used for education purposes at Virginia winemaker roundtable discussions to improve overall quality of Virginia wines.  Governor’s Cup Case wines will also be used by Governor McAuliffe on select domestic and international marketing missions and other events designed to promote Virginia wine and winery tourism.


            Jay Youmans, one of only of 31 Masters of Wine (MW) in the U.S., directed the competition. Youmans, who is also a Certified Wine Educator (CWE) and the owner and educational director of the Capital Wine School in Washington, DC, recruited wine judges from the professional wine buying and wine media community. The judges were compensated for their time for a rigorous schedule of judging to ensure the competition maintained the highest level of professional evaluation. There were 30 judges in the preliminary round and 15 judges in the final round. A list of the judges along with their bios can be found at


One of the most important aspects of the revised competition is the educational component of the judging. After the competition, regional forums for the winemakers will be held with the judging director. Notes with the judges’ blind comments will be shared with individual winemakers, so that they will get direct feedback on how their wines were received.

            The Williamsburg Winery is located on Wessex Hundred, a 300-acre farm located inVirginia’s Historic Triangle.  The winery has experienced continuous growth through an expanding portfolio of wines. The introduction of the 2007 Adagio was the culmination of a single-minded goal to produce the highest quality wines in the world. This is the second Governor’s Cup for Williamsburg Winery. The winery won in 1989 for its 1988 Chardonnay.

            “Winning the Governor’s Cup is a testament to Matthew’s talent and to the dedication of our entire team, whose focus is on excellence in wines made 100% fromVirginia grapes. Our goal is to grow as a leader in the industry, developing wines that reflect the character of our Commonwealth, neither Californian or European, but displaying elegance and interesting flavors,” said Patrick Duffeler, president and CEO, The Williamsburg Winery.


In addition to awarding Williamsburg Winery’s 2010 Adagio the 2014 Governor’s Cup, Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Todd Haymore was named Wine Person of the Year for his contributions to this rapidly growing sector of the Commonwealth’s economy. 


As Secretary, Haymore works closely with the Governor, General Assembly, and key stakeholders on numerous legislative and budgetary initiatives to integrate agriculture and forestry fully into Virginia’s overall economic development and jobs creation platform. A dedicated proponent of the Virginia wine industry, Secretary Haymore has worked in partnership with Virginia’s wineries and vineyards to proudly showcase Virginia wines during domestic and international trade missions.  During his time as Secretary, Haymore has facilitated the first commercial shipment of Virginia Wine to China; helped to launch the Virginia Wine Summit, bringing national and international attention to Virginia wine; helped to almost triple the amount of funds placed in the Virginia Wine Promotion Fund for research, education and marketing; and worked with the General Assembly to establish a reimbursable tax credit program for the establishment or expansion of vineyards and wineries.  His strategic focus has led to new sales and opportunities for Virginia wineries that will continue the industry’s growth in the years to come.


Sales of Virginia wine reached a record high in fiscal year 2013 with more than 511,000 cases, or more than 6.1 million bottles, sold. Virginia currently ranks fifth in the number of wineries in the nation with 250 wineries. Virginia is also tied with Texas as the nation’s fifth largest wine grape producing state. According to a recently released economic impact study, the Virginia wine industry employs more than 4,700 people and contributes almost $750 million to the Commonwealth’s economy on an annual basis.


For a complete list of previous Governor’s Cup winners and information about the Virginia wine industry, please visit the Virginia Wine Marketing Office or call 804-344-8200.

Eastern Winery Exposition Opens in 2 Weeks w. Sold-Out Trade Show

Feb 18

LANCASTER, PA—The  3rd Annual Eastern Winery Exposition (EWE), which will take place March 3-6 at the Lancaster County Convention Center in downtown Lancaster, PA,  sold out 249 booth spaces with 179 exhibiting companies in its third year, six weeks ahead of the show. The trade show and conference is sponsored by Wines & Vines and supported by 18 other organizations and associations.

Already the largest wine industry trade show on the East Coast, this is the first time EWE has sold out its trade show even with the addition of  new booths. There are still two weeks before the show opens on Tuesday evening March 3rd.

Attendee Registration is also at a new high, at 630 two weeks before the show opens, 34% ahead of last year at this time.

EWE is an Eastern-focused wine industry trade show and conference designed to provide the Eastern U.S. and Canadian wineries and vineyards with an easily accessible, low-cost professional meeting with a large number of winery and vineyard suppliers, at the right time of year. A strong conference program featuring 22 sessions plus two half-day workshops on distillation and Direct to consumer are also part of the agenda.  Rounding out the program are social events including the 3rd Annual Industry celebration dinner and new this year the American Society for Enology and Viticulture-Eastern Section (ASEV-ES), in conjunction with EWE, will conduct a live auction as a scholarship fundraiser.

The Second Annual EWE had over 1000 attendees who came from 22 states and two provinces. As of January 22nd the pre-registration is 34% ahead of last year at the same time. 

For full complete details including a list of exhibitors, speakers, sponsors and conference sessions, visit


Contact: Bob Mignarri, 401-885-8788

Raffaldini Vineyards: Italian Varieties as a Strong Suit

Feb 05

In 50 or 100 years, we may see as many wines made from Italian varities in the Mid-Atlantic as from French varieties.

Wineries like Barboursville Vineyards near Charlottesville, Breaux Vineyards in northern Loudoun and Villa Appalaccia south of Roanoke have demonstrated that pinot grigio, barbera, nebbiolo, sangiovese and other Italian varieties can make classically typical wines in this region, and in some cases, world-class.

Raffaldini Vineyards in Ronda, NC, located in the Swan Creek sub-AVA of the Yadkin Valley, is branding itself with high-end, food-friendly classy wines based on Italian varieties (their motto is “Chianti in the Carolinas”). Established in 2001 by Jay Raffaldini, whose family goes back to 1348 in Lombardy, the winery has garnered some attention, including being listed as one of the top ten “hot brands” by Wine Business Monthly in 2010. Leading Italian varities include: pinot grigio, vermentino, sangiovese and montepulciano.

I recently had the opportunity to taste two excellent new releases from Raffaldini; the 2012 Vermentino riserva and the 2011 Montepulciano riserva, both labeled with the Swan Creek sub-AVA.

My impression from tasting vermentino at Barboursville Vineyards was that this was a dry aromatic Italian white grape, much like pinot grigio but with more aromatics and more palate weight. This impression was confirmed in tasting the Raffaldini 2012 vintage; this will be a first-class grape for the Mid-Atlantic region.

vermintino riservaRaffaldini Vermentino Riserva 2012, Swan Creek AVA, NC

Nose: green apple and spicy (nutmeg) pear notes, v. aromatic w. herbal and focused mineral notes. On the palate, is surprisingly full-bodied with rich, round texture (8 months in 33% new French oak), acid a bit low but is a very versatile food wine (enjoyed with cheddar souffle), and has great potential for a range of styles and showcasing regional cuisine in a stylish way.

The Montepulciano was a rare treat. I had tasted Raffaldini’s first vintage done in a regular table wine style and it also showed impressive typicity and potential for this region.

The wine below was a surprise with the opaque color, the mostly closed but intriguing spicy nose, and the very full-bodied and high tannin palate. After tasting and then matching with food, I casually looked at the label and was amazed to realize the alcohol level was 15%; I read the back label and then it all made sense; this was made from grapes picked dried to 27 Brix, sorted 3 times, and fermented for 55 days on the skins in stainless steel tanks, then aged for 18 months in oak, mostly two year old.

montepulciano riservaRaffaldini Montepulciano Riserva 2011 (15% alc., appassimento) Swan Creek AVA, NC

Color: Impressively dark for the vintage; opaque ruby.
Nose: Cardamom and spicy black cherry notes (that take awhile to emerge); intriguing.
Palate: rich, dense and concentrated, high tannins but smooth, slight bitter finish with dark chocolate hints. Long clean finish. Classic passito style. Young, needs time but good for strong cheese, dark chocolate desserts, confit reduction. Impressively clean and concentrated for such a difficult vintage. Anyone who loves Amarone will want to try this but not for another 4 years or more.