Wine of the Week: Gray Ghost Cabernet Sauvignon 2007

Nov 16

Because of acidic clay soils, and this grape’s need for a long growing season, it’s hard to find consistently good cabernet sauvignon in Virginia. However, in hot, dry growing seasons like 2007 and 2010, it’s worth looking around and trying Virginia’s versions of the more famous of the two cabernets.

This week it’s hats off to Al Kellert, co-owner and winemaker at Gray Ghost Vineyards in Amissville, for his fine job with the 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon. Most 2007 reds were a little low in the acid and flabby; not this one. The tannins ripened well and are firm; this wine could last easily until ten years of age. However, it is fruit-driven and fresh. If you visit the Gray Ghost tasting room, you may see a pair of wine cellar doors that look a lot like what you’ll see at Silver Oak, the stylistic model for cabernet at Gray Ghost.

The wine is dark, and the nose is wonderfully fresh and fragrant, bursting with black currants (cassis) with leafy herbal elements with a hint of white pepper in the background. On the palate, the wine is smooth, again dominated by pure black currants, but with firm, yet ripe tannins and a smoky finish. The alcohol is 11.9% and the oak isn’t noticeable.

If you like the sound of this wine, inquire with Gray Ghost to see if they have any 2010 or 2012 versions of varietal cabernet sauvignon, and then hold onto it for most of a decade; this one is just opening up.


Eastern Winery Expo Online Registration Open

Nov 14

Registration for the 2015 Eastern Winery Exposition (EWE), the largest trade show and conference for the wine industry on the East Coast, is now open.

Highlights of the event include:

  • Two full trade show days with 200+ Exhibitors
  • A variety of learning avenues and opportunities for both the newcomer and the veteran
  • 20 conference sessions featuring Eastern viticulture & enology, cold climate hybrids and business sessions
  • Plentiful opportunities for networking, socializing & continued learning
  • Two day-long workshops; one for new vineyards and wineries, and one for expanding vineyards and wineries
  • The Northern Grapes Symposium
  • 45+ Speakers including professionals, academics, researchers, commercial grape growers, respected consultants, and industry representatives
  • One live auction, one silent auction, all proceeds to benefit ASEV-ES scholarships
  • 18 state and industry associations offering conference registration discounts to their members
It pays to register early. Complete your registration before the end of December and you can lock in 2013 registration rates for 2015. Register within the first 48 hours to receive an additional 5% off the Two-Day Conference and Workshop+Conference passes.
Members of the 18 sponsoring industry associations receive additional discounts as a benefit of their association membership.
The complete Schedule of Events, including conference sessions, workshops, speakers, Northern Grapes Symposium, networking and social events is all available on the website at
The Eastern Winery Exposition, the premier wine industry conference and trade show for the Eastern U.S. and Canada, takes place March 17-19, 2015, at The Oncenter in Syracuse, New York. Wines & Vines is the show sponsor.
We look forward to seeing you there.

Richard Leahy Presents 7 “New and Exciting ” Wines at 2014 AWS Conference

Nov 05

The author of this blog, Richard Leahy, presented “New and Exciting Grapes and Wines for the East” on Saturday 11/1 to an audience of 80 attendees of the American Wine Society at their annual conference in Charlotte/Concord, NC.

My aim was to showcase excellent wines made from grapes new to the East as well as to new interpretations of existing grapes to the region.

Here is a list of these carefully selected wines and the producer wineries:

Winery State Wine Vintage
Rockbridge VA Blanc de Pinot Noir 2013
Stinson VA Tannat 2011
Cream Ridge Winery NJ Chambourcin Reserve 2010
Galen Glenn PA Grüner Vetliner 2013
Channing Daughters NY-LI Blaufränkisch/Lemberger 2012
Loving Cup VA Marqette/Corot Noir blend 2012
Granite Heights VA Petit Manseng 2013

The audience was enthusiastic about the tasting  with many positive comments on the wines. To view the detailed powerpoint presentation given at the talk, click on

Wine of the Week: Stone Mountain Malbec 2011, Monticello

Oct 28

I’m pleased to be able to recommend a rare varietal Virginia malbec as the Wine of the Week, especially since it was from the difficult 2011 vintage and drinks as if that year had no problems. Stone Mountain Vineyards high in the hills of Greene County just released this wine this last weekend at its fall festival.

Those of you who like malbec from Argentina but are bored with its frequently ho-hum, lackluster style will be impressed by this stylish and elegant wine which was four years in barrel. On the nose, perfumed briar berries with hints of lilac and a bit of sandlewood and spice, all good markers for varietal malbec. On the palate, the wine is smooth and fruit-driven, with fresh briar fruits and round clean finish. A light style red that reflects the vintage, and has more in common with blaufrankisch/lemberger than big reserve Argentinian malbecs, but a very nice representation for Virginia.

Two Book Signings of Beyond Jefferson’s Vines 10/25-26

Oct 20

Richard Leahy, author of Beyond Jefferson’s Vines  about Virginia  wine, will be appearing this coming weekend Oct. 25th and 26th at two Monticello AVA wineries to sign copies of his book.

Saturday 10/25 he will be at Stone Mountain Vineyards near Dyke (Greene Co.) from 2-4 pm, and Sunday 10/26 he will be at Barboursville Vineyards, also from 2-4 pm. Both wineries will be featuring a fall Open House with an Autumn vertical tasting at Barboursville Vineyards. Admission fees apply.


Join us for our Fall Open House!
25th & 26th . October . 2014

Drive up the mountain for a crisp fall weekend of live music, artisan wines, seasonal cuisine, and guided tours!
                               Exclusive Wine Tasting and Tour
     As a guest of our open house, you will taste a variety of wines…plus, you will be the first to try the highly anticipated Stone Mountain Vineyards 2011 Malbec - which will pair nicely with our fall-inspired lunch selections.
     You will also receive a “sneak peak” tasting of an unreleased SMV wine poured exclusively at this event (Spoiler Alert: this wine pairs delightfully with dessert). Following your tasting, we welcome you downstairs for an intimate guided-tour of our winery and barrel room.
  Special Guests and Entertainment
     Richard Leahy, author of Beyond Jefferson’s Vines, will be joining us on Saturday for a book signing! Leahy’s book follows the evolution of quality wine in Virginia, and includes an interview with Stone Mountain’s founding winemaker Chris Breiner. Learn more about Richard here:

      Saturday will also include live tunes by independent folk singer/songwriterMatthew McAllister. Matthew was born and raised in Charlottesville and is deeply rooted in its music scene. Check out his music here:
     It would not be a proper SMV open house without a performance from Haphazard Harmony. The guys will be playing acoustic favorites and covers in the tasting room on Sunday.

3rd Virginia Wine Summit Tues. 10/21 in Richmond

Oct 19

The third Virginia Wine Summit takes place this Tuesday Oct. 21st, 9am-5pm at the Jefferson Hotel in Richmond. For more information visit