Recently we ventured down the road to some local wineries– The Winery at LaGrange in Haymarket and Pearmund Cellars in Warrenton. The day was the perfect combination of two classic, yet extremely bold and creative Virginia wineries on a wet and chilly afternoon.
We began our day at The Winery at LaGrange in Haymarket. This convenient winery has always been one of our favorite local spots, but this recent trip was by far the best experience we’ve had yet. We walked into a relatively quiet tasting room (our favorite kind), and we’re greeted by friendly wine educators and staff. We settled in at the tasting bar and perused the offerings on their current tasting sheet. Currently, the winery offers two different tastings– one for the public and one exclusively for wine club members.
The current tasting ($13.00) features 6 Wines and a Fall Cider. The current tasting features the 2011 Fletcher’s Chardonnay, 2013 Traminette, 2013 Cuvee Blanc, 2013 Cabernet Franc, 2012 Harrison House Blend, N/V Snort, and a the Fall Cider (mulled wine).
Our favorite white was the 2013 Traminette made of 80% Traminette and 20% Vidal Blanc. Aged in stainless steel, this fruit forward white is crisp and lightly acidic, with an interesting spice on the finish.
The best part of our tasting though had to be the reds. We were impressed by the Harrison House Blend, a wine club exclusive, and we were fortunate enough to be able to sample 2 other wines reserved for the club– the Kali and the Tempranillo! The Kali was a blend of California grapes which was smooth, full-bodied, and delightfully different from the usual Virginia varietals. The name “Kali” was also a creative touch. The Tempranillo, a Spanish influenced wine, was also delicious and had cocoa, vanilla, and rasberry on the nose, and a smooth finish with light tannins.
While we enjoyed most aspects of this tasting, what really set it apart was the educational conversation we had with the wine club manager who is clearly passionate, enthusiastic, and incredibly well-versed in the wine industry. While we are proud of our 75 Virginia winery visits, the club manager boasts a number in the 230’s for Virginia wineries alone and almost 1,000 winery visits worldwide (our new goal!). His knowledge and expertise made for fascinating conversation and completed our already enjoyable tasting experience at The Winery at LaGrange.
After purchasing the Kali and Tempranillo from LaGrange, we made our way down route 15 towards Warrenton to another favorite of ours– Pearmund Cellars. We were greeted by Tug, the classic winery Golden Retriever on our way into the tasting room. Although we feel that this particular tasting room is a bit lacking in atmosphere, their wines more than make up for this small detriment. Pearmund features a large tasting menu for $10 and is a wonderful mix of whites and reds. We’ve always enjoyed their wines and have been impressed by the service on many occasions, but this time was the best, bar none.
Our amazing wine educator made our experience unforgettable! In addition to the general tasting, we were able to sample several off-the-menu varietals and even had the opportunity to do a vertical tasting of a few wines (Chardonnay & Ameritage). For those unfamiliar with a vertical tasting, it simply means tasting different vintages of the same grape side by side. It’s an incredibly interesting and fun experience to see the differences in the same wine made in different years.
As if the vertical tastings weren’t enough of a bonus, our wine educator let us sample the off-menu 2013 Syrah, a collaborative effort between Pearmund Cellars and a California winery, Kendall Farms (no known association with Kendall Jackson). The Syrah was a beautiful deep red color and had an incredibly smooth finish.
The other highlight for us was trying a craft wine from the wine-maker, the Black Ops. The Black Ops name is a special nod to the intelligence community in the area (thanks to our wine educator for clarifying some of the details)! This red table wine is a mysterious blend of something, something, and something. No one knows but the wine-maker, but our palates tell us that it’s a blend of Petit Verdot, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc, although we could be completely wrong. The wine-maker has chosen to keep his recipe a secret, tipping his hat to the intelligence workers in our community that go unrecognized for the work they do. We will never know what exactly lies in the mysterious bottle, but one thing we do know…it’s really delicious.
Overall, it was an amazing experience at both Pearmund Cellars and The Winery at LaGrange and we would absolutely recommend visiting both! In addition to being convenient for Northern Virginian’s, the wine they are both making is fabulous, creative, and refined in the grand scheme of Virginia Wine.