Taste of Terroir: Valley Road Vineyards

If you know us, you know that we won’t pass up any opportunity to travel to the Charlottesville area.  So earlier this Fall when a new winery reached out to us to pay them a visit we happily accepted!  This week, we’re sharing our fabulous experience at Valley Road Vineyards, the newest Virginia wine gem to hit the Charlottesville craft wine, beer and food scene!

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The History.

Route 151 just outside of Charlottesville is a road frequently traveled by Virginia wine and Virginia craft beer enthusiasts.  Off of this road you’ll find Veritas Vineyards and Winery, Blue Mountain Brewery, Turk Mountain Vineyards, Afton Mountain Vineyards, and the newest addition, Valley Road Vineyards.  Valley Road Vineyards was founded in 2015 by a group of friends who were interested in taking their love of wine to the next level.  Bonded by their talents in and success in law, insurance, real estate development and writing, Valley Road Vineyards was conceptualized.  Co-founder and CEO Stan Joynes set to work to find the perfect location for a vineyard and tasting room.  He discovered the perfect slice of property within the Monticello AVA at the head of the Rockfish Valley in Afton– the soils were tested for growing, the views from the future vineyard were phenomenal, the property had character and it was conveniently located off of 151.  The group was sold.

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The Vineyard.

Valley Road Vineyards is located in the Monticello AVA which is known for its excellent topography encompassing the Blue Ridge Mountains, rolling countryside and deep valleys.  The area has a growing season of almost 200 days.  Valley Road just recently planted their first 4 acres of vines in the Spring of 2016. This means that they are not able to source their own fruit yet, but they are working with other growers primarily in the Monticello AVA to fill their grape gap.  In addition, Valley Road is currently searching for additional acreage to plant.  Although not currently yielding any crop, the vineyard is a a beautiful site to see on the property.  Planted on a large hillside, with spectacular views of the valley and surrounding mountains from the top (you’ll get a bit of a lower body workout making the climb!) this site is well-suited to grow some fabulous fruit.

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The Winemaker.

Although there are plans to eventually move all wine production to the Valley Road Vineyards property, wines are currently being produced at King Family Vineyards in Crozet.  Matthieu Finot of King Family is currently the winemaker.  Originally from France in the Rhone Valley where he grew up amongst a family of viticulturists, Matthieu was well-immersed in wine from a young age.  Matthieu moved to Virginia in 2003 following positions with wineries all across France, Italy and South Africa.  He is well known in the world of Virginia wine and has worked with a number of wineries across the state, bringing his incredible knowledge of winemaking and the classic French style which works so well with Virginia varietals.

The Tasting Room (SIP).

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The tasting room at Valley Road Vineyards is the perfect spot to enjoy some wine, a picnic and a little live music!  Officially opened in August of 2016, the tasting room was given the fitting name of “SIP” and is the ideal spot for experiencing a taste of the Monticello AVA.  The building structure was designed to resemble a large red barn and features large windows on the sides, front and the top allowing for the natural light to pour in.  The tasting bar is quite expansive, made from reclaimed materials, and there is ample seating indoors with a combination of rustic and modern decor.  Additionally, through a partnership with Flora Artisanal Cheese, you can order a variety of cheeses to accompany your wine (the winery also offers a Wine & Cheese Pairing in addition to the traditional wine tasting).  For the outdoor lovers, there is a large and spacious patio for enjoying wine outside with friends (which is dog-friendly!).

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The Wine.

For a brand new winery, Valley Road is producing some high quality Virginia wines.  Offering a mix of both whites, reds as well as a newly released sparkling Viognier, their wines offer texture, balance and a true taste of the Monticello AVA.  For our feature, Valley Road was kind enough to provide us with a bottle of the 2015 Viognier, 2015 Rosé, the 2014 Meritage and their Petit Verdot.

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2015 Viognier

Admittedly, we’ve not always been fans of our Virginia state grape but lately we have to admit that we have become Viognier lovers.  It seems that over the past few years growers and winemakers have worked together and really nailed this grape down!  We’ve observed that Viognier used to be overpoweringly floral (a little bit like our grandmother’s pot pourri), but over the last 2 years it feels like it’s undergone a big change.  Tropical fruits, hints of citrus, and crisp acidity has replaced that intense floral scent.  Valley Road has done just that.  Their Viognier is aged in both stainless steel and French oak, offering a nice crisp acidity coupled with traditional oak flavors of vanilla and caramel.

  • Where would we drink it?  With Thanksgiving behind us, this would be the perfect bottle for a fun holiday gift for friends.  We always love to give wine and this bottle will offer friends and family a taste of Virginia.  Bonus?  We also love their labels and think this would look pretty perfect in a stocking!
  • Recommended food pairing? A classic Viognier pairing is to match this wine with a hint of spice or a nice light protein.  Think sushi– try it with a spicy tuna or yellowfin roll, or it if you’re looking for that holiday pairing this would go great with some light apps or the salad course!

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2015 Rosé

Ah.  Rosé.  We simply love these dry, French-style rosés.  Winemaker Matthieu Finnot has produced a fabulous rosé using 100% Merlot grapes.  The wine is aged briefly in stainless steel, it’s crisp and refreshing, it offers a full mouth feel with notes of strawberry and raspberry on the palate and it finishes nice and dry, leaving you wanting more!

  • Where would we drink it?  We know that rosé season is behind us, but hey, there’s nothing wrong with drumming to your own beat and throwing this one in the fridge for a winter sipper!  In fact, why not throw a beach themed summer party this season and heat things up!
  • Recommended food pairing?  Pair this wine with some of the similar flavors that the wine offers.  Strawberry shortcake for dessert, or for a main course, a rack of lamb in a raspberry glaze!

2014 Meritage

This classic Bordeaux-style Meritage is a blend of four grapes and is comprised of 40% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Franc, 16% Petit Verdot and 4% Cabernet Sauvignon.  The wine was aged for 18 months in French oak to offer a nice texture and complex flavor profile.  It has some subtle tannins that are not overpowering and it’s smooth on the finish.  This guy should drink well for the next few years, so we recommend enjoying a bottle now and putting one in the cellar for a few years down the road!

  • Where would we drink it?  After a day spent finding the perfect Christmas tree, we’d warm up with a glass of this easy-drinking red.
  • Recommended food pairing?  We’d pair this Meritage with a phone call to our favorite local pizza joint!

Petit Verdot

Last but not least, the best of the best!  With winter approaching its time to stock up on your big reds.  Make sure you include this one!  Comprised of 100% Petit Verdot, this wine offers a bold dark fruit nose and subdued tannins that lead to a soft mouth feel and a long finish.

  • Where would we drink it?  This is our winter Friday night, movie and a fire wine.  Put on your cozy socks and put up your feet after a long week, decant this baby for an hour or so and enjoy the smooth full-bodied red while the flames crackle in the background.
  • Recommended food pairing?  Petit Verdot really stands well on its own, but with any deep red wine a dark chocolate truffle would be a nice combination.

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If you’re planning a visit to the Charlottesville area make sure to stop in at Valley Road Vineyards!  You can also follow them on social media @valleyroadwines to keep up with their latest adventures.  Cheers friends!

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