Determined to achieve our New Year’s resolution (drink more Virginia wine), we decided to explore the Central Virginia countryside last weekend. We’d been hearing and seeing some amazing things from Early Mountain Vineyards so we decided to take a look for ourselves.
Early Mountain is located in Madison, Virginia right off of route 29. It’s an easy drive from the city, and also convenient to Charlottesville and Richmond. The tasting room sits on the edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains and is part of the Monticello Wine Trail. This winery was purchased 3 years ago from a former owner and has undergone a huge renovation. Now owned by former AOL executives, Jean and Steve Case, Early Mountain is without a doubt one of the most impressive venues in Virginia Wine Country that we’ve seen.
The tasting room, although large and expansive, provided a cozy and warm atmosphere in which to enjoy wine and company. Filled with comfortable couches and ample room for lounging by the central fireplace, this setting is perfect for relaxing days and small family gatherings. The tasting bar itself is simple yet elegant, and looks as if it’s straight out of a magazine. In addition to the impeccable tasting room, Early Mountain has also become one of the more popular Virginia wedding venues.
Setting itself apart from other wineries, Early Mountain also has some unique traits. While you can opt to do the winery’s tasting alone for $8 at the bar, you also have the chance to try some of their favorite Virginia wines from other vineyards. Our wine educator explained how important it is for them to collaborate with other wineries, so they feature different flights based on your palate that you can enjoy seated in their tasting room. The flights are brought to you in an amazing presentation of rod iron hangers and each wine is explained in further detail at the comfort of your table. In addition, they have a well-rounded food menu made in-house with local produce and organic meat selections from the local butcher.
We made the decision to begin with the Early Mountain wine tasting in order to acquaint ourselves with their varietals. Our wine educator gave is a brief history and then we began the tasting. Their current tasting menu features six wines:
- 2013 Rose: 100% Merlot, notes of strawberry and rip melon. Would work well for us as a summer sipper or paired with spicy food.
- 2012 Chardonnay: 100% Chardonnay, citrusy notes with a touch of creaminess lending to a smooth finish.
- 2013 Block 11: 67% Petit Manseng, 22% Muscat, 11% Chardonnay. Citrusy notes of orange and lime, not overly sweet.
- 2012 Foothills: Bordeaux style red blend featuring 38% Merlot, 37% Cab Franc, 14% Malbec, 11% Cab Sauv, 10% Petit Verdot. Delicious and lighter blend with ripe berry flavors.
- 2012 Eluvium: 50% Merlot, 30% Cab Sauv, 20% Cab Franc. Tobacco and smoky notes, long-lasting finish.
- 2012 Merlot: 100% Merlot. Aged 14 months in new French oak providing a long finish and medium tannins.
We quite enjoyed our tasting and loved the Foothills and Eluvium red blends at this time of the year. Their Chardonnay was also unique in having a creamier finish, brought on by the split time in stainless steel and neutral French oak.
After our Early Mountain tasting, we opted to relax by the fireplace and enjoy one of their featured flights. Each flights consitsts of 4, 2-ounce pours of the select wines (about a glass and a half total). As we’re finding it hard to part with the Holidays coming to a close, we each ordered the “Celebrate the Season” flight. The flight featured the 2009 Sparkling Rose from Trump, a Chardonnay from Ankida Ridge, the Grenache from Blenheim, and the Tannat from Narmada. Our favorites were the sparkling and the Tannat.
Early Mountain is one to see for the sheer beauty of the tasting room alone, but the quality of their wines and the friendly and attentive customer service adds to the overall experience. Make sure to stop by and tell them you heard about Early Mountain from the Virginia Winos!