If you are an avid reader of Cork and Spoon, then you know that I find a glass of wine after a rough day (or 3 glasses at the end of a rough week) relaxing. And many of us can agree that time with good friends is wonderfully restorative. So a day trip with a group of girlfriends to Virginia wine country is a guaranteed way to improve one’s mood and welcome fall. It’s even better when your friend Ellen organizes a party bus for the group so you don’t even have to deal with traffic. Mad props to Ellen!!
Ellen arranged the day so that the 16 of us were able to visit Vintage Ridge Vineyard and Barrel Oak Winery, with a picnic on the Barrel Oak Winery lawn. Ruth has reviewed Barrel Oak Winery and their wines before and her review is still pretty accurate, so I’ll focus on my amazing experience at Vintage Ridge instead.
Vintage Ridge is a beautiful winery an hour directly west of Washington, D.C. with several Virginia Governors Cup medals to their credit. The tasting room is in a large barn area with several high-top tables and a long rustic table both used for larger groups like ours.
It also included a lovely outdoor space with a couple of fire pits to keep guests cozy and more tables for enjoying a glass of wine.
The tasting included 7 wines, presented in a format I had never experienced before. Instead of sampling the wines one by one, 6 of the wines were paired together. By tasting the wines simultaneously, I was able to truly compare and contrast similar wines. To provide the best comparative tasting experience, the winery paired 2 single varietal reds from 2010, 2 single varietal reds from 2009, and a red blend & white blend each from 2011. The 7th wine was presented on its own at the start of the tasting because of its unique nature.
Overall, I was really happy with the Vintage Ridge wines, although (not surprising if you know me) I found their 2 white wines the least palatable. My favorite, and the one I ended up buying to take home, was their Ghost Train 2011. The wine is a blend of 60% Cabernet Franc and 40% Merlot, and it has a juicy berry burst of flavor to start with a great spicy autumnal finish that reminded me of that wonderful transition from summer into fall. While I suspect that it would go well with a variety of meals, it was so good on its own that it will be the perfect bottle for cooking Saturday night dinners – that bottle you finish while you are preparing the meal and before dinner is even ready to be served.
My only complaint about the experience would be that the winery staff did not offer up many details about the wines beyond what was written on the tasting sheets. I doubt this was really their “fault” though, and more the result of the fact that we were a large group of talkative women not that inclined to learn much about the wine. However, I plan on asking a lot more questions when I go back for the winery’s Premier Tasting which includes some pretty spectacular food pairings.