Although it is several weeks gone now, I am finally getting around to writing about Rappahannock Cellars, who was the gracious host for the inaugural TechAdventureDC event. Followers of Twitter, Flickr, Facebook and other social media platforms have probably already seen and read all that they need to about the event from the social media and techie perspective. I will add my three sentence write-up of the event from that point of view, then move onto the wine: It was a great way to continue online conversations offline and actually meet people face-to-face. I enjoyed receiving all of the positive feedback about the blog, and was surprised by how many people actually read it! It was a great way to get out of the city for a day, spending time in a beautiful setting, eating great food, listening to music in a barn and drinking some very good Virginia wines.
The winery was started by California transplants who moved to Virginia over a dozen years ago to start a family winery in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. As a member winery of the Blue Ridge Wine Way, and a winery that produces over 8,000 cases of wine a year, Rappahannock Cellars is now one of the bigger wineries in Virginia. Despite the many challenges that growing wine in Virginia has compared to California, the owners, winemakers, vine-growers, along with everyone else involved in the production of their wines seems to welcome the challenge. The ultimate payoff, of course, is what ultimatly flows out of the bottle.
During the tour of the vineyard, we were told that chardonnay does not grow well in Virginia, though they devote some acreage to it. From what I tried, I would agree that it is not the best white that they make, but their 2008 Noblesse Viognier was quite good, with a nice, dry blend of citrus and mineral flavors throughout the body and a rich, golden color.
Like chardonnay, Virginia is not known for its cabernet sauvignon. Rappahannock makes a drinkable one, however. It is not, by any means the thick, full-bodied wine that California has become famous for producing, but it serves as a good table wine that is more that able to accompany red meats, cheese and even pasta dishes. A better red that they produce is their 2007 Cabernet Franc. Perhaps cabernet franc just grows better in Virginia, or maybe I just know what to expect with Virginia cabernet franc, but I enjoyed it more likely because the cab franc had the subtle taste of peanut butter and jelly in the finish.
I found their dessert wines way too sweet and thick, with jumbled, muddled tastes that didn’t really offer anything too distinctive. The best way I could describe their 2007 Red Dessert Wine is like diluting a jar of jam with water and letting it ferment. Not my favorite, but many people on the trip enjoyed it - further reinforcing the fact that every palate is different, everybody likes and looks for different things in wine, and all tasting recommendations should be viewed as guideposts more than anything else.
Overall, a big thank you goes out to the organizers of TechAdventureDC and to Rappahannock Cellars. I would strongly encourage you to take a trip out to the winery, spend a day tasting what they have to offer and exploring their grounds. You will leave happy, with some very good bottles of Virgina wine.