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August 06, 2007


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As a lifelong Virginia resident and wine lover, I can assure you that we have our share of crap down here too.

I've purchased more bottles of Virginia wine that I've simply dumped down the drain than I care to reflect on and have been bitten by numerous thin, hot wines crafted by inexperienced wine makers.

As you correctly note, Virginia also have several producers of viognier that put many Washington State producers to shame, many wonderful, if underrated, cabernet francs and both Linden and Pearmund make a great petit verdot.

Like Long Island, Virginia is coming into its own in the world of wine making. There will be good years and bad years. Good bottles and really terrible bottles.

I happen to see that as part of the fun of living in this region. (How terrible it must be to live in Napa where everything is good). Every year brings improvement to the craft, the community that supports it and perhaps most importantly, we Virginians are able to enjoy a now centuries old story about the production of wine in our state.

With that in mind, I'd like to apologize on behalf of my fellow Virginian. It was inappropriate to make those statements given the conditions of wine making in both Long Island and Virginia.

Regarding your comment about a blind tasting, I'd love to see your notes on something like that. If there's anything I can do to help, please let me know.

Can we assume he went to Pindar, king of all LI wine generalizations?

Thanks for the comment. No need to apologize for your fellow Virginian of course, I think most anyone reading that will assume he's the exception rather than the rule.

What other grapes do best in VA?

And trust me, there plenty of Napa wines that aren't any good either. But I bet you know that too!

And, thanks for the offer, if we can figure out who the author was, maybe we'll do the tasting without him :)

And Jeff...I never assume anything. Maybe the wines he found to be over acidic were chardonnay...because he's used to flabby, over-oaked ones? I never assume anything in cases like this one.

We don't have a unified growing region given the diverse soils, elevations and climate conditions.

That said, I believe Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Viognier would best represent the state. Some would add Norton, which I happen to enjoy, but it's a bit rough for the uninitiated. :)

We also have a couple of solid Cabernet Sauvignon producers in the state but IMHO, they're exceptions and their success is a direct reflection of the winemaker's experience rather than Virginia's growing conditions, which can be extremely challenging at times.

Greetings Friends,

I echo the thoughts of my fellow Virginian, Tripp. I will say that this is one person’s view – just a shame that this person happens to be a winery owner from the Old Dominion. Appears that they jumped into the glass with preconceived expectations, opposed to just visiting a new wine region and enjoying themselves. I guess that is why I enjoy tasting blind - Leave the baggage at the front door.

NY and VA are newer wine producing regions facing many challenges; VA is truly experimental and adventurous – From Albariño to Pinotage, it is grown and produced here. There is still a learning curve where growers are trying to figure out what varieties are well suited for the states soil and climate type and the winemakers are still refining their art. I’m sure the same thing is going on there. With these trails, sometimes by fire, you may get a surprisingly great wine, or you might get a wine that is uninteresting – but albeit palatable – just dull. With that, I visit a number of VA wineries and highlight the good on my Virginia blog – there are bad grapes here and there, but overall this young wine region can hold their heads up high.

Emerging white wine grapes that grow well and are finding a home in VA would be Petit Manseng, Viognier, Chardonnay, Seyval Blanc, Vidal Blanc, Pinot Gris, Traminette, etc.

For the reds: Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Malbec, Tannat, Norton, etc.

You see, only one grape variety from the Big 6 here. VA really shines with these minor blending red wine grapes – I see good things ahead for all of those red wine grape varieties mentioned. Those hardy hybrids do well also, but not too many people know their names (yet). I visited the Finger Lakes last year, and hope to make a Long Island trip before years end.

Somehow I think my review will be quite different from Author X.

Happy Sipping!


Amateurish region-bashing aside, sympathy for Virginia first-class producers comes easily. Many of their wines are first-rate and deserve a larger presence in the Darwinian Manhattan market, as do, incidentally, certain Pennsylvania and New Jersey wines.

For reasons unclear, Virginia’s producers and ever-broadening achievements remain under the wine media’s radar except for an occasional back-of-the-book overview.

When I last checked the situation, a few years back, I found that Virginia wines lacked a crucial imprimatur: a sizeable presence in Washington, D.C. fine-wine shops.

The best explanation --- if indeed it was an explanation --- that I could find was that the capital is an international city and that Virginia wines were perceived as provincial. Who would “buy Virginia” if you could “buy French” when a lobbyist took you to an upscale restaurant?

You and I and other readers of Lenndevours, tuned into the virtues of regionalism, probably would check the wine list at the Inn at Little Washington for a potentially lovely Virginia cabernet. But we can guess that high-rollers who spend the weekend there would regard it as an asterisk and head instead for a Bordeaux First Growth.

The next wave --- a rising tide of wine regionalism --- probably will hold the ticket to Virginia wines’ coast-to-coast reputation. With wine now made in all 50 states, Virginia will indeed become known --- though God, if asked when, might answer, “Not in My lifetime.”

Howard: It seems odd to me that the "drink local" thing hasn't taken root in the DC area. It's so prevalent here to almost be cliche these days!

Lenn: The central problem, I think, in the D.C. area is that there is, in a real sense, no "local" thing.

D.C. is essentially a transient community to which everyone comes to grab a piece of the pie and from which everyone returns home. Only the poor --- you know who they are --- get left behind; they don't drink viognier.

With an identity built on ephemera, with the nearby Virginia and Maryland suburbs somewhat fed by that same phenomenon, "local" cannot take root.

At least, that's my two-cent theory.

I say we expose this winery owner and tar and feather him! I'm sorry that whole Dateline journalist at the Hacker Conference news got me amped up. Criticizing another region's wine to make yours look better is ingenius marketing. He should start a "bad" wine blog on his winery website.

My wife's grandmother has a cousin who owns a prominent Virginia winery (never spoken to this person or met him in person).

I hope I don't have a family scandal in the works!

Anyway, I've had a bottle or two of their wine and was not blown away, but it wasn't awful either. I'm looking forward to tasting more in the future...you know, when the feud settles down.

Lenn- I think LI has a long way to go before the "drink local" movement really catches on. Now I have been out of the loop for a year but the farther west you traveled the slimmer the pickings for LI wines. NYers are still not realizing the full potential of LI's wine region and it is still in danger of becoming a touristy region.

Not to kiss up to anyone but Mr. Goldberg has done a great deal of getting and keeping LI wines in the consumers brains and this blog has been great edition to the LI Wine cause (ever think of taking over the wine council?)

Anyway what were we talking about?

As many of my LI friends know, I just relocated to Richmond, VA.

Last Saturdy, I went to a four-winery 'Beach Party'/wine tasting at James River Cellars (located on that good old highway, US 1, north of Richmond by about 10 miles.

I found that the off-dry whites the wineries poured were the most consistent and the best values.

The Chards were OK, just like anywhere else, maybe a little flabby. More specifics later.

Dan McGurn

My first exposure to Virginia wines came seven years ago, whe my wife and I celebrated our fifth anniversary at The Inn at Little Washington. We shared a bottle of White Hall Cabernet Franc with dinner and I was sold on Virginia wines ever since.

Being a native Long Islander, whenever I visit the East End, I always make sure I bring some bottles back with me. Both regions have a lot ot offer.

viognier, seyval blanc, vidal blanc and chardonnay often do well in VA.
have also had decent cab/cabfranc and even a zinfindel that wasnt bad.
in general virginia wines are over priced. high prices and the lack of broad-based quality i believe are why VA wines have not gotten better exposure.

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