Governor and First Lady McDonnell Unveil ‘1813’ Commemorative Bicentennial-Themed Wi

Jun 28

(an abridged version of a press release from the Virginia Wine Board Marketing Office) RICHMOND – Governor Bob McDonnell and First Lady Maureen McDonnell today unveiled ‘1813,’ Virginia’s historic bicentennial-themed blended red wine, at a reception at the Executive Mansion with members of the Virginia wine industry and others involved in promoting the 200th anniversary of the Executive Mansion. In addition to celebrating Virginia’s growing wine industry, the event commemorated the bicentennial of the country’s oldest continually occupied governor’s residence in the United States and paid tribute to Acte 12 of 1619, one of the nation’s earliest laws, which required settlers to plant and tend at least ten grapevines.  The wine, of which 1,813 bottles were produced but will not be sold, will be utilized by the Virginia Wine Board Marketing Office to market and promote further the Virginia wine and wine tourism industries on statewide, national, and international fronts.

The genesis of ‘1813’ began in early 2011 when Mrs. McDonnell planted ten Chambourcin vines in the Executive Mansion garden as a way to promote the wine industry and its long history in Virginia, and to celebrate the upcoming 200th anniversary of the Executive Mansion in 2013.

According to Paschina, who led the winemaking process with his industry colleagues, the composition of ‘1813’ is of the following wine and grapes, along with vintage year and supplying Virginia Wine Board member winery or vineyard:

Merlot 2010                Breaux Vineyards

Merlot 2010                Chatham Vineyards

Octagon 2010             Barboursville Vineyards

Merlot 2011                King Family Vineyards

Nebbiolo 2011            Barboursville Vineyards

Chambourcin 2012      James River Cellars Winery

Chambourcin 2012      Executive Mansion Vineyard

Petit Verdot 2012       Silver Creek & Seaman’s Orchards

Petit Verdot 2012       The Vineyard at Point Breeze

Petit Verdot 2012       Veritas Vineyard & Winery

Viognier 2012             Barboursville Vineyards

Sales of Virginia wine reached an all-time high in fiscal year 2012, increasing by just over 1.6% from fiscal year 2011.  Virginia wineries sold almost 485,000 cases of wine in FY12 versus a little more than 477,000, the previous record high, in FY11.  Sales of Virginia wines have averaged just over 8 percent growth per year over the last three fiscal years.  In addition, sales outside of Virginia, domestic and international, increased by 39% from FY11 to FY12.  Export sales of Virginia wines grew by more than 300%, increasing from about 700 cases in FY11 to more than 3,300 in FY12.  A significant portion of these international sales were driven by new sales to China and the United Kingdom, two areas where the McDonnell administration has focused its global marketing and export growth strategic plans.

For more information on the Executive Mansion, please visit Executive Mansion website:  For more information on the Virginia wine industry, please visit the Virginia Wine Marketing Office website:


Moss Vineyards: Newest on the “Appellation” Trail

Jun 07

The latest addition to the “Appellation Trail” in northwest Albemarle County is Moss Vineyard on Rt. 810 close to Nortonsville, within shouting distance of Greene County.

Proprietor Barry Moss is (still) a full-time architect, and the elegantly appointed winery and tasting room reflect these talents. A smooth but not polished white stone tasting bar has chairs instead of stools, and a long table looks out onto a stunning view of the vineyard beyond and the Blue Ridge Mountains in the distance.

Moss grows viognier and red Bordeaux varieties (the two cabernets, merlot and petit verdot) and buys only barbera which he uses in his rose. The six year old vines have been producing since the great 2010 vintage.

Soils are thin with decomposed granite, excellent for both viognier and cabernet sauvignon, and the wines show this. The viognier is still in bottle shock but has a tautness and rich texture that promises a full-bodied, rich (but not flabby) wine when it fleshes out. The cabernet sauvignon shows real site-specific character, with racy red fruits (almost a maraschino cherry quality) and fine smooth tannins.

Barry says he is planting more cabernet sauvignon because what he has already is showing so well in his wines. Moral of the story: the French could have told us when lots of people put in lots of cabernet sauvignon in the 1980s and 90s, that it wouldn’t work where it was mostly planted, on heavy clay soils of the Piedmont. But on thin granitic soils, cabernet excels, and Moss Vineyards is proof.

Tasting Notes

Moss Viognier 2012: Nose: subtle, hard to determine (bottle shock), but hints of yeast and pear. Palate: tightly wound, focused peach/pear fruit, and nice depth on the palate but needs a few more months to flesh out.

Moss Rose 2012: a 33% blend each of merlot, cabernet franc and barbera. Pale in color, very classic as in a Provencal dry rose; elegant and dry, with a subtle fruitiness. Will probably develop more flavors over the next few months.

Moss Vino Rosso 2010/11: a 50/50 blend of excellent and mediocre vintages actually makes a well-balanced and stylish wine. Nose: black fruits and clean flinty earthiness, with dried cherries. On the palate, dried cherry flavors dominate, substantial texture and surprisingly elegant for a blend of 2 very different vintages. Is drinking well now.

Moss Vino Rosso 2012: 75% cabernet sauvignon with 24% cabernet franc and a small amount each of petit verdot and merlot, this wine shows the potential of cabernet from this site. Nose: bright red cherries and currants, with fennel; complex and fascinating. Palate: smooth and sexy, reminiscent of a Margaux. Creamy texture, well-integrated, oak in the background.Flavors are closed, the wine will be better next fall/winter but worth waiting for. My favorite of the tasting.

Moss Cabernet Franc 2012: This wine is reduced and needs a lot of decanting and air to bring it around. This wine also shows that the other cabernet is the better grape for this site.

Moss Architectura Reserva 2012: A similar blend to the basic 2012 Rosso, this wine is cabernet sauvignon-based with six months of aging in French oak, and made from a cellar selection of the best lots. Nose: young and tight but with some obvious Brettanomyces (barnyard), and lots of bright red cherry. On the palate, cherry/red currant fruits are up front, finishing with the leather of brett a bit heavy. A complex wine for aging, esp. for those who prefer the taste recommendations of Robert Parker.

Appellation America Features Major Story on Virginia and its Terroir

Jun 04

Appellation America, the print and online magazine specializing in stories about specific American wine regions, has posted its free (online) version of a major story on Virginia and its terroir, written by this author.

The story describes Virginia’s favorable yet nuanced climate as being able to produce fully ripened red Bordeaux varieties, but in some AVAs also being able to produce classic cool-climate varieties like chardonnay, riesling and pinot noir, resulting in more diversity in vinifera viticulture than in most U.S. states.

The URL for this story is and the location of the vineyard photo with the Blue Ridge Mountains is Moss Vineyard in Nortonsville, northern Albemarle County.