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Sorry Mario, Your Foxy Winemaker is in Another Castle

Posted by on May 14, 2013

Remember when I fessed up about our frustration with that this blog had become?  Well, part of that was too many visits to lackluster wineries that just frustrated us.  Virginia has some wineries that make fantastic wine.  There are some wineries that are gorgeous.  There are some wineries that invite slow afternoons sharing a bottle with friends.  Some even have all of these things rolled together.  Unfortunately, a growing wine industry also means that there are a lot of small wineries that offer unremarkable (or bad) wine.  The winemakers may not have enough experience, the winery might not have the resources to make wine as they wish, or perhaps, their target market isn’t a “fine wine” crowd.  Regardless, these places frustrate me and don’t really inspire me to keep visiting new to me places all the time.

reynard florence

One of the only new to us VA wineries we’ve visited in the past year or so is Reynard Florence Vineyard.  The wines were fine, but in some cases, I was looking for more acid, in others I was looking for more depth.  Clearly, not all wines will work for everyone, but given that this isn’t the type of wine I want to drink or how I want to spend my time, our visit to this winery is part of why we realized we needed to evolve our focus.

On the positive side, I appreciate that they’re doing a lot of work with petit manseng, a grape I really like that I would love to see more plantings of in the state.  I also appreciated that they weren’t trying to make hyper-extracted reds with endless oak.  At the same time, one of the things I love about petit manseng is the acid that’s a part of this grape’s profile, and that acid was missing in these wines.  Additionally, the reds were just unremarkable and not very memorable even a few hours after our visit.  Don’t get me wrong, from time to time, we’ll continue to check out new to us wineries, and Reynard Florence may be just what some are looking for, but for now, I need a break from wineries that are still learning the craft and am happy to let some others pre-screen for me for a while.

IMG_8377

So…another issue that I’m becoming more and more frustrated with are the “Wedderies.”  These are the places that are a winery (or as I’m about to talk about – a cidery) but are really more about the events they can hold there than the adult beverages that are, in theory, the heart of the business.  Don’t get me wrong – I’m not in the no events crowd.  I get that wineries need to make money to stay in business and that events can help make this happen.  That said, when events seem to be the core of the business plan, it feels like a misuse of a farm winery license, and it just frustrates me.  Such is the feeling I get every time I visit Castle Hill Cider.

Please understand, that I’m just stating my impressions from my repeated visits as well as some time spent perusing their website since I haven’t read their business plan, but it seems like the whole space is about the weddings (and other events).  I like, although I don’t love, their ciders.  They are well made and enjoyable.  I’m sure I’ll continue to drink them.  I doubt I’ll be spending a ton of time on site, however.  Especially since I can never get any of the Terrestrial, my favorite of their ciders, because it’s all sold to people who want the most “champagne” like cider for their wedding toasts.

Um, the dance floor? That's critical for, um, the expression of terroir?

Um, the dance floor? That’s critical for, um, the expression of terroir?

Anyway – this is why we’re really dialing back our local winery visits.  There are great wineries in the state, and I’m sure more will be started.  I’ve just got winery fatigue and need a break. I still love wine and local wine, but I’m frustrated by the industry, the local legal wrangling, the loophole finders, etc.

In the meantime, if you visit some place you think we should check out, please let us know.

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The Sorry Mario, Your Foxy Winemaker is in Another Castle by Swirl, Sip, Snark, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

3 Responses to Sorry Mario, Your Foxy Winemaker is in Another Castle

  1. Lori

    Have you given Cana Vineyard a try? They’ve recently opened in Aldie. I’ve never been, so take this with a grain of salt! :)

  2. Jen

    I so connect to this write up, we don’t blog, we drink PLENTY of VA wine, but we don’t want to get into this “have to blog crap that doesn’t say anything to contine to blog” mentality. I don’t want to go places I would never drink their wine just because I was a wine blogger.. I have always loved you guys…come over for BBQ one night , I heard GEG was quite the chef… ;-)

  3. VA Farm Winery

    I hope more bloggers cover the subject of the farm winery license and the true meaning of the definition. To us, our license is sacred and we are proud to be home to over 100 acres of vineyard with plans to grow. Everything in bottle comes from our estate and we also help other farm wineries by providing good VA fruit to boost their current production. There is a great misconception of a farm winery vs. a tasting room with a few or no vines, a weddery or a commercial winery. Add breweries to the picture that are deemed agricultural and on the same property as a winery and there’s another issue. Profitable? Probably so…proper? We’ll find out when there are so many that ABC and the county officials decide to change the privileges we have under the farm license because of abuse.

    Frankly, I am very concerned that the true farm wineries could be penalized because of the others that are misusing their licenses. Weddings should add to the business and I absolutely support them. We sell a lot of wines at such events, create life long customers and help the economy in general when our guests book hotel rooms, use local vendors for florals etc and fine out. Weddings are an income source that supports our core business. Not the other way around. Call an apple an apple but don’t call it a grape. I want to keep my rights to host weddings and other events in order to support the winery and hope that when things change legally that other true farm wineries aren’t going to suffer a loss.

    I’m a farmer. I live, breathe, eat and sleep weather patterns. Food for thought.

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