Charlottesville’s Newest Wine Store Opens This Week

Mar 28

The first week of April, Charlottesville’s newest fine wine retail store, “Wine Made Simple”, located in the 2214 Ivy Road, Townside-#108, will open to the public. A “soft” opening will take place at 11 a.m. Saturday April 2nd, followed by a regular opening on Tuesday April 5th and a Grand Opening Saturday April 9th.

Proprietor Joyce Watson explains that Wine Made Simple specializes in quality wines less than $20, wine baskets, gourmet food items that pair perfectly with wine, knowledgeable and friendly service, and an attractive ambiance that lends itself to meeting new friends and learning about wine.

Joyce and her husband Bob will be joined by local wine expert and writer Richard Leahy, who will be the store manager, in charge of the inventory, and will also lead educational wine tastings, including wine and food pairings.

At the grand opening on April 9th, Pamela Margaux, proprietor of Margaux and Company, will pour the top-ranked Virginia sparkling wine, “Fizz”, made by her husband, Champagne native Claude Thibault, and other wines of her portfolio. On April 16th, Michael Panczak, winemaker at White Hall Vineyards, will pour a selection of featured wines.

More information about the store is available at “Wine Made Simple” on Facebook.

“Discover VA Wine & Food” Festival Takes place in Greene Co. April 16-17

Mar 21

WHERE: Across the street from Spotswood Place (13307 Spotswood Trail, Ruckersville, VA 22968)
WHEN: April 16, 2011 (11:00 AM – 6:00 PM); April 17, 2011 (12:00 PM – 5:00 PM)
PRICES:          Food only ticket $10 ($15 at the door), Wine tasting ticket $15 ($20 at the door), 2 day passes available
TICKETS:, Greene County Economic Development and Tourism Office, and on-site

The Discover Virginia Food and Wine Festival is Greene County’s spring party and kick off of the Virginia Wine Festival season. The 6th annual festival will offer its unique atmosphere of family friendly festival entertainment, food vendors and wine tastings.

For the first time, the Discover Virginia Wine festival will partner with Buy Fresh, Buy Local which helps consumers find local products while building relationships between growers, food artisans, farmers’ markets retailers, restaurants, and institutions. The festival will spotlight Virginia Wineries as well as many local restaurants and artisans. Whether you are there to taste wine, enjoy the bounty or fresh food, purchase unique local merchandise – the Virginia Food and Wine festival is a fun family environment – including the family dog!

For more information, please visit

Newly Released “3” Blend Impressive

Mar 05

Three of the most talented winemakers of the “new generation” in Virginia have collaborated in a three-way red Bordeaux-style blend, named “3”. The winemakers are Matthieu Finot of King Family Vineyard, Emily Pelton of Veritas Vineyards, and Jake Busching of Pollak Vineyards.

Emily describes the idea as evolving over the colleagues and friends sharing a beer and wondering “what if…”

The 2009 vintage was the best for Virginia whites, which also made it a challenge for reds. A high-acid vintage without a lot of warmth and sunshine can yield some tight, tart reds (many of which I’ve already tasted from ’09). This wine, however, is far better than the average vintage character for Virginia reds.

The color is impressively deep violet/purple. The nose  is rich, with spicy briar fruits, petit verdot and merlot-dominated, some vanilla/oak elements but lots of forward fruit. Palate: smooth texture with, spicy, lively acidity, fresh. Flavors: closed, a bit tight; needs time (at least 6 months), but has lots of style and promise; will age for a decade (Matthieu recommends at least 3 years of age).

The “3” blend was publicly released on 3/3 at 3:33. It will retail for $33. Supply is limited; each winery will only have 50 cases for sale. While it does need time in the bottle, it is stylish and is a fine example of interpreting a Bordeaux blend in a uniquely Virginia way, with the high proportion of petit verdot and cabernet franc.  I predict this will be one of the most successful Virginia reds from the 2009 vintage.


Virginia Wine Week to Celebrate “Love by the Glass”

Mar 02

Love by the Glass, March 18-27, 2011, Virginia Wine Week is a statewide promotion that features Virginia wine by the glass at participating restaurants and wine shops across the state. Virginia Wine Week combines the best of culinary traditions at restaurants across the state with elegant local wines and special tasting menus. Special events throughout the week along with Love by the Glass travel packages give visitors a lot to love about wine travel in Virginia.

Virginia is becoming a major wine destination, with more than 190 wineries statewide and ranking fifth in the nation for wine production. Virginia was recently named one of the top five up-and-coming wine regions by Travel + Leisure magazine, adding to the state’s allure to wine lovers everywhere.

“Virginia Wine Week: Love by the Glass” offers visitors the best of our culinary experiences: restaurants offering local wines and food as part of their menus and hotels that make it easy to plan and visit our scenic countryside and wineries,” said Mrs. Maureen McDonnell, First Lady of Virginia. “In addition, many of the white wines from our previous harvest are being released at the wineries during that time, an excellent time to get out and visit.”

Select hotels, resorts and inns have created special travel packages for visitors who want to make the most of Virginia Wine Week. Love by the Glass travel packages found on include:

Virginia Wine Week – Love by the Glass Package at The Jefferson – Richmond
Celebrate Virginia Wine Week at The Jefferson in historic Richmond. This package includes accommodations, a luxurious three-course dinner in Lemaire Restaurant including three Virginia wine pairings, traditional Southern breakfast, dinner and breakfast gratuities and valet parking. (Taxes are additional.) The package starts at $350 per couple and is available March 18-27, 2011.

Celebrate Virginia Wine Week at the Carriage House Inn Lynchburg
The Carriage House Inn Bed & Breakfast Virginia Wine Week package greets guests with a glass of local Virginia wine and appetizers in the parlor upon arrival. The innkeepers will help guests plan visits to local wineries, historic sites, museums, hiking/biking trails, antique shops or make an appointment at the on-site massage and body works studio.  Guests also will receive a four-course breakfast each morning. Travelers via Amtrak will be picked up at the station. The package starts at $159 per couple and is available March 18-27, 2011.

Love by the Glass Package at the Boar’s Head – Charlottesville
Surrounded by some of Virginia’s excellent wineries, the Boar’s Head offers a Love by the Glass package which features two night’s accommodations, a welcome gift of a bottle of Virginia wine with a fruit and cheese platter, daily breakfast in the Old Mill Room, self guided tour to a local winery including tasting passes for two, and one three-course Virginia wine dinner for two in the Old Mill Room. The package starts at $175 a night per couple and is available through March 31, 2011.

Love is at the heart of every Virginia vacation. Visit to learn more about Virginia Wine Week: Love by the Glass and to find participating businesses. Travel packages and more information about vacationing in Virginia are listed on Or call 1-800-VISITVA to request a free, Virginia is for Lovers Travel guide.


VA “Grower of the Year” Honored at VA Vineyards Association Mtg.

Mar 01

The Virginia Vineyards Association Grape Grower of the Year award for 2011 was presented to John H. “Rock” Stephens of The Vineyard at Point Breeze, located on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. Beginning in 2006, the VVA has presented the Grower of the Year Award to people deemed to be innovators and leaders in the industry. The criteria for this award are: an active member of the Virginia Vineyards Association with at least seven years of experience managing or operating a commercial vineyard of at least 5 acres. The nominee must be an active participant in the Virginia viticulture community with a history of service to our industry and must be well respected by his or her peers.

Rock Stephens, along with his wife Kris, own The Vineyard at Point Breeze, a twelve-acre vinifera vineyard, located on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. A graduate of Purdue University, Rock also has a Masters in Business Administration from Michigan State University and is a graduate of The Executive Program (TEP), Darden Graduate School of Business Administration, at The University of Virginia. After serving in the United States Navy, he retired as a Captain. He has been an active member of the Virginia Vineyards Association (VVA) since 1997 and just completed his second two year term as President in December 2008. In 2005 he was appointed by Governor Warner as a member of the Wine Board and was elected as Vice Chairman in 2007. In July 2009, he was reappointed to the Wine Board by Governor Kaine. He is a member of the Eastern Shore Chamber of Commerce, Virginia Vineyards Association, and the Virginia Farm Bureau. He has been making wine for over ten years and has won numerous amateur winemaking awards in international competition.

Virginia First Lady Maureen McDonnell presented the Grower of the Year Award to Rock Stephens at the annual Winter Technical Meeting of the Virginia Vineyards Association, February 18th, in Charlottesville. Mrs. McDonnell has been a staunch supporter of the Virginia Wine industry. The First Lady has hosted many tours of vineyards and wineries, spoken on numerous occasions both domestically and abroad, and generally supported the virtues of Virginia wine.