Located on Harpers Ferry Road in Purcellville, Virginia is a food and wine lover’s paradise home to some fabulous old world style wines, Cardamon Family Vineyards. Their craft wine however, is not the only tasty item on the menu at this family owned and operated winery. Winemaker and trained chef, Chuck Cardamon, is also serving up some fresh and fabulous salsas to accompany his wines. While we’ve done many food pairings in the past, they typically range from meats, cheeses, and chutneys, so this is something different and delicious for Virginia Wine Country and a new and unique experience for the palate.
The relatively new tasting room is located on the family’s property accessible directly from Rte. 9. Pulling into the property we loved the curb appeal of the building with its large windows, shade trees and bright red umbrellas adorning the outdoor seating area offering quiet and scenic Loudoun County views. Stepping inside the warm and inviting Tuscan inspired tasting room, we were greeted by the friendly Cardamon family and their adorable dogs.
After exchanging friendly pleasantries with the Cardamons we learned about the family history and the vineyard. Chuck began his interest in wine making from the tender age of 6 but took a required sabbatical from the process after a bottle of red wine exploded in his room as a child. Chuck joined the Navy and traveled the world, experimenting with brewing beer and eventually heading to culinary school to become a trained chef. Rekindling his appreciation of wine while living in Northern California, Chuck began creating salsas for a Cinco de Mayo event at Livermore Valley Cellars, SalsaVino. Chuck found that pairing a glass of fine wine with homemade, fresh, and local ingredients created the perfect combination of flavors. In addition to his involvement with SalsaVino, Chuck spent time working at the winery, expanding his knowledge and perfecting the craft of wine making. A move brought them to Loudoun County, where the Cardamons established their Vineyard and created this unique tasting experience.
Our tasting consisted of 5 wines, 4 of them paired with Chuck’s homemade salsas. We tried 2 whites and 2 reds crafted by Cardamon Family, and one chilled dessert style red purchased from Above Ground Winery. Truly a family business, all of the wines are named after family members. The wines we sampled and their accompanying salsa pairings were:
- Macha paired with the Tomatango Salsa: 100% Seyval Blanc, fermented in stainless steel and aged for 9 months. We got tropical and citrus notes. The Tomatango complimented the acidity of the Macha nicely.
- OFDIL (Our Favorite Daughter In Law) paired with the Peach Chutney: 100% Vidal Blanc, fermented in stainless steel with 3% residual sugar for a slightly sweet finish. We got notes of peach and pineapple and the salsa brought out the stone fruit flavors.
- Bubo’s Rojo: Blend of Cab Sauv, Cab Franc, and Merlot aged in American Oak for 2 years. This unfiltered wine provided smokiness on the nose with a bit of tannins. Not paired with a salsa.
- Peter Pie paired with Chocolate Covered Cherry Salsa: Our favorite, a blend of Cab Franc, Merlot, and Cab Sauv, this smooth medium-bodied red had notes of cherry and blackberry. When paired with the chocolate cherry salsa, the wine was even smoother and more delectable.
- Wild River Red (Above Ground Winery) paired with an Apple Berry Salsa: this chilled red wine with 4% residual sugar it offers berry and cherry notes and is a tad sweet for us, but was a nice compliment to the salsa pairing.
Upon completing our tasting we struggled with the decision of what to take home (there were too many delicious options). We decided on a bottle of Peter Pie and the Tomatango and Chocolate Covered Cherries salsa, as well as the recipe book that Chuck put together featuring salsa and wine pairings. We can’t wait to experiment ourselves!
In our opinion, Cardamon Family Vineyards offers something special and unique in Virginia Wine Country. The family’s passion, creativity, customer service and welcoming spirit combines perfectly to create a top notch tasting experience. Next time you’re heading out to Purcellville make sure you save a little room for some Salsa and Vino!