According to Governor Northam, Virginia has moved into Phase Three of re-opening, which means wineries can welcome visitors again, although social distancing and masking is still required.

Not all wineries are following the same model. Some require reservations to keep tasting room crowds at safe levels. Some are doing glass or bottle sales only. Some are doing limited tastings using plastic tasting cups.

I’ll be happy to comply with whatever wineries ask, just to be on the wine road again. July 4th weekend I visited Glass House Winery in northern Albemarle County on the Appellation Trail, and Jump Mountain Vineyard in western Rockbridge County, which were both doing tastings in plastic cups (even in regular times you have to phone Jump Mountain for a reservation, weekends only, at 540-348-6730). It was good to see other people were happy also to get back to visiting and supporting local wineries. At both wineries, quality was consistently high while each wine was individual in expression. For complicated reasons, Jump Mountain has four vintages of Cabernet Sauvignon, which is consistently classic due to the sandstone-based soils.

Tasting Highlights, Jump Mountain Vineyards

  • **Gruener Veltliner 2017: A blend of estate and other Rockbridge County grapes (Shenandoah Valley AVA). Half fermented in stainless steel, half in neutral French oak with the lees stirred, this is the most expressive and classically Austrian Gruener from Jump Mountain yet. Nose: white plum, lemon/citrus and white pepper notes. Palate: some viscocity but very lively, with citrus, green apple wax bean and ripe pear flavors, finishing with zesty minerality. Drinking well, will hold awhile. Versatile with fine food. $18.99
  • **Mountain Mist Rose’ 2019: Shenandoah Valley. Mostly Syrah. Nose: nice subtle Provencal style, strawberries and red cherries, fragrant, floral. Palate: juicy, stylish, dry, with more depth than the usual Provencal style, flavor of strawberries and cream. $20.99
  • **Livia (NV) Shenandoah Valley. An original, stylish Italian-style blend of northern Italian grape varieties: Refosco, Lagrein and Sagrantino, with some Cabernet franc. Nose: Fascinating, like a minimally oaked Sangiovese-based blend, with lots of ripe juicy red cherry and spice and smoke, but all fruit-driven. Loads of aromas. Palate: clean, juicy, full-bodied, red and black cherry, clean and spicy, ripe but soft tannins and BIG fruit. Fun by itself but best with classic Italian foods. $30.00
  • **Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 Estate, Shenandoah Valley. Nose: solid ripe black fruits. Palate: ripe, firm, smooth tannins and black fruits. Still young but stylish, fruit-forward. Needs another few years but worth the wait. $26.00
  • ** Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 Estate, Shenandoah Valley. Nose: fruit-forward fresh black cherry and cassis, ready to drink. Palate: juicy, forward, fresh and easy to drink, can match well to duck or Thanksgiving turkey. $26.00
  • **Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 Shenandoah Valley. Legally a varietal but with some Cabernet Franc and Tannat. The wine is ripe and mature, fruit-forward, then the Tannat comes on in the finish, giving it a long, complex finish of ripe tanninswith hints of clean earth and flint. Interesting, one of the best of this vintage. $20.00
  • **Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 Estate, Shenandoah Valley. Silver medal winner in the 2017 Governor’s Cup competition, this is a classic fruit-driven Cabernet with hallmarks of the Haut Medoc in Bordeaux, with cedar, pencil lead and cigar box hints. The wine is just starting to get the complexity of some age but the black cassis and cherry fruit is still the dominant flavor. One of the last ’14s on the market, for those who like mature Virginia reds, this is one to get while you can, and enjoy either this next winter or in another 3-4 years. $26.00

Tasting Highlights: Glass House Winery

  • **Pinot Gris 2019, Estate, Monticello: A touch of sweet reserve juice added back enhances the fresh fruitiness of the nose, with hints of roasted pineapple. The palate has peach, apricot and pineapple hints, but nicely balanced acidity on the finish. Fresh, lively and versatile. $23.00
  • **Viognier 2018 Estate, Monticello An impressive and original Viognier in a very difficult vintage. Aromatics of floral hints and ripe red apple and peach, much like Riesling. On the palate, there is density of ripe rich fruit and typical varietal texture. Clean, fresh but with better acidity on the finish and more fruit concentration than usually found in Virginia Viognier. $28.00
  • **Vino Signora 2019 (75% Traminette, 25% Petit Manseng). The nose is a party in a glass, the sort of party involving lamp shades and ukeleles…but I digress. A fruit salad of fresh aromas, especially tropical fruit. On the palate, the fruit is fresh but tapers to a dry, almost tart finish (Petit Manseng). This is a big-busted wine with lots going on, but has the acidity to match swordfish with a mango chutney. $19.00
  • **Brose’ 2019 Estate, 100% Barbera. For men who need permission to “drink pink”, this is a manly dry rose that is still elegant. Aromas and flavors of strawberries and cream, yet dry and fresh. Original and fun, great with food. $25.00

Rating Scale: ** = very good