I have lived in the state of Virginia for my entire life. I was born and raised in Fairfax and Loudoun Counties, attended college in Norfolk where I continued to live for another several years, and then moved back up to Northern Virginia where I reside today. Yet, I had never been to the “Northern Neck.”
So, I decided that in 2014 I was going to get out to some areas of the state that I have never been, to experience the wine and history. Last weekend was my first trip. I traveled south to the Northern Neck where I visited many wonderful wineries on the Chesapeake Wine Trail.
It was a very rainy weekend and I was almost hesitant to make the trip, but I ventured out anyway and headed down early Saturday morning with my plan all mapped out.
My first stop was Belle Mount Vineyards. I’ve had their wine many times at the various wine festivals but was anxious to actually see their property and experience the wine on their soil. Their wines are mostly of the sweeter variety. I am a bold red wine drinker but I was pleased with their 2010 Vidal Blanc which is aged in stainless steel and has a dry and smokey flavor.
From there I ventured over to The Hague Winery. It was literally raining cats and dogs at the very moment when I pulled up to the tasting room. I wasn’t even sure if they were open yet, but the owner kindly greeted me in the parking lot and told me to come on in. So, I did.
This was by far my favorite experience of the weekend. I was not disappointed by anything on the menu, and the 2009 Meritage Reserve (a classic Bordeaux blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cab Franc and Petit Verdot) was probably one of the best Virginia wines that I have tasted to date. Rich and smooth are the best words I can use to describe it.
I decided to take some time to relax and let the rain die down a bit. So, I ordered a glass of the Meritage while I sat at one of their indoor patio tables and enjoyed the vineyard views.
Next on the map was General’s Ridge. I was very happy with their Viognier which had an awesome structure. I also enjoyed their 2011 Westmoreland, another Bordeaux blend style red. And, by the way, they have the most charming tasting room ever! The tables are made of old wooden doors with knobs perfect for a purse hook. Too cute!!
My final stop of the day was Vault Field Vineyards. It was the end of the day, and I am sure they wanted to close up shop (and, by the way, it was pouring rain again!!), yet they were so accomodating. I left with four bottles of wine, two of which were their 2009 Red. This is a blend of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon and Chambourcin. It is a medium bodied red that is dry but yet sweet at the finish.
On Saturday evening I headed over to Stratford Hall, a historic site and lodging area where I reserved a room for the night. The next day, Sunday, I was on my way back up to my north but before getting out of town I had to make a stop at the vineyard that so many of my fellow bloggers talk about – Ingleside.
I was the first person to walk in the doors at Ingleside, right around Noon. I had an enjoyable tasting but I must say it wasn’t like my experiences at the previous ones. I did a tasting of their premium wines (versus the Chesapeake series) and loved their Sangiovese (2009). I decided to stay and enjoy a glass but unfortunately there wasn’t really anywhere to sit. Had it been a warm day that would have been great because they have a lot of outdoor seating, but it was cold, and their inside seating was reserved for groups or very limited, so I just sipped and strolled around in their expansive gift shop area. I also took home a few bottles of their Petit Verdot which I hear is delicious. I have not opened it yet!
This was an exciting trip because I experienced a part of Virginia wine that I had not previously enjoyed. But, there are still a handful of vineyards in the area that I wasn’t able to get to, so stay tuned for my Northern Neck Wine Trip Part 2!