Barboursville Vineyards: A Visit to Virginia Wine Country

Though a blustery day, as fall faded and winter arrived, my visit to Barboursville Vineyards in Virginia was nonetheless memorable. Significantly for an impromptu photoshoot with my friend Tracey Salazar. I was in DC visiting Tracey and her husband, Patrick, and we went for a day-long jaunt out to Barboursville to deliver one of her prints and the three of us could taste some wine and have lunch as well.

We were joined by Luca Paschina, general manager and winemaker, for a spell while sampling wines in the Library 1821 room. He was affable and knowledgeable and had my attention for sure. We talked about his native Piedmont and the spirit of experimentation when it comes to planting grape varieties, especially Italian ones. Below is photographic evidence of my paying-attention* skills.

Now would be a good time to say all these photos are by Tracey. Not only is she a super-talented photographer (duh) but Tracey is also great at coming up with creative ideas and perspectives by using the surrounding environment to add interest and originality. Please check out her website:

Tracey Salazar Photography

Tasting the Wines of Barboursville Vineyards

We started with a crisp Vermentino, a restrained yet floral Viognier, and a rosé (made from Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Nebbiolo) with a bit of body.

For the reds, we let Luca pilot the wine-tasting ship. A duo of Cabernet Francs, 2014 and 2009, showed off the fresh side of things as well as providing evidence of how well the wine will develop, respectively. Barboursville’s flagship wine, Octagon, was sampled in both 2012 and 2010 vintage. (I preferred the latter, possibly because it simply had a couple more years in the bottle.) A discussion about the large percentage of Petit Verdot in the 2012 Octagon led to trying a 2010 Petit Verdot.

Lunch brought a rich Fiano, a reserve Chardonnay, a 2009 Nebbiolo, and, finally, a passito-style dessert wine made with partially dried grapes, Paxxito.

Then, a little impromptu photo shoot in the vineyards. Here are some highlights, if I may be so self-absorbed to say so. (This is why you have a blog.)

Barboursville Vineyards: A Visit to Virginia Wine Country

Hat and Pants: Team Burgundy. (Actually, hat by Close By.)

Barboursville Vineyards: A Visit to Virginia Wine Country

They see me strollin’.

Barboursville Vineyards: A Visit to Virginia Wine Country

“Move that branch out of the way.” (Art Direction by TS.)

*”Show interest, pay attention, ask questions.” #mantra

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Coming in June: The Cork Report’s 2015 Eastern Rosé Tasting

New York wine remains the core of this website, but — as you’ve probably noticed — I’ve started to stretch my legs a bit. I’ve been learning about and tasting wines from other eastern states, which I’m arbitrarily defining as any state that isn’t California, Oregon or Washington, more. My time organizing TasteCamp up and down the east coast, as well as my time on the Drink Local Wine board, taught me something: there are some seriously delicious wines made in places even a local wine advocate might not expect — places like New Jersey, Connecticut, Colorado, Michigan, Virginia, Vermont,…

Pearmund Cellars 2015 Petit Manseng

Petit Manseng isn’t a grape that I know a whole lot about. I know it’s mostly grown in southern France and that it can get very ripe while retaining a lot of acidity — and thus is often made in a sweeter, even dessert, style to balance that acidity. I also know that it’s gaining some traction in the Virginia wine industry. Retaining acidity is always a plus in a region where summers can get very warm. But its thick skins and loose clusters also help in a region that deals with humidity, heavy rain and hurricanes. With high brix levels (and…

Virginia #Tastemaker: Jim Law | Linden Vineyards

“Tastemaker” is a term typically used to describe a person — either a sommelier or writer in the wine world — who decides what is good, cool or otherwise interesting. With our new #Tastemaker profiles, I’ve decided to usurp the term to mean someone who actually makes the wines, ciders, spirits, etc. that we love. A “tastemaker” should make something, after all. I’m always wary of labeling any single person or thing the “best” or “most” anything — but Jim Law, winegrower and owner of Linden Vineyards, is at least among the most influential figures in Virginia wine. Winemakers and grape…

Exploring Virgina Wine Country

Exploring Virgina Wine CountryI recently attended the Wine Bloggers Conference in Charlottesville, VA and a highlight was visiting the lovely wineries of Nelson County, with the Blue Ridge Mountains as a backdrop. I had no idea what to expect as far as the wines were concerned, and was thrilled to discover something that they already know in Virgina: there is some really good wine being made there. Here are a few of my favorites from my all-too-brief afternoon in the wine country:

Exploring Virgina Wine CountryPetit Verdot? From Virginia? Whaaaa? Yup. We started our day at Flying Fox Vineyard and, after a couple of (unoaked and refreshing) Viogniers, dove into a vertical of Petit Verdot: 2006, 2007, and 2008. I was so impressed with the 2006 that I ended up bringing a bottle home with me. The tannins had really smoothed out and and it was drinking beautifully.

Exploring Virgina Wine CountryProbably the coolest, most unexpected wine came courtesy of the generous, affable Tim Gorman, winemaker at Cardinal Point Winery. How about a 1993 Virginia Cabernet? More than just a curiosity, it was a very tasty, well-aged Cab. Minty. Mellow. Yum.

Exploring Virgina Wine CountryTim’s a really cool guy. Animated, passionate, and humorous, he poured for us one of my Wines of The Trip: The 2009 Clay Hill Cabernet Franc. Fantastic! Would have loved to try this wine with a nice chill on it. (Especially considering it was 100 degrees in Charlottesville. With soul-crushing humidity, too.) Why didn’t I buy one? (Commence hand-wringing regret.)

One last shout-out to the vintage sparkling wine from Afton Mountain Vineyards. (Just checked out their website and dig their motto: “Grapes don’t grow in ugly places.” The photo at the top of this post is from my visit to Afton Mountain; I trust that vouches for their motto.) Their (hand-riddled!) 2008 Tete de Cuvee, corked just a few weeks prior to our visit, was a lovely sparkling wine with a nice richness. It’s a Pinot Noir/Chardonnay blend; thanks to the relative altitude of the vineyards, and one of the only places with a (thankfully) constant breeze, the odds are stacked in their favor to be succesful with Pinot and Chard.

Although clear across the country, and probably little-to-no distribution here in Washington, my trip to Virginia reminded me how lucky I am to live in a state with such a vibrant community of wineries. When you keep an open mind and cultivate a sense of adventure, you never know what you might discover.

Exploring Virgina Wine Country