Location: Whitby, Ontario, Canada

Born in Malta but in Canada since age 5. Has written three books and presently does several columns about wine and food for various magazines.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Day Five: November 6th, 2014: Morning at Rodes Farm, Cardinal Point Winery, Afton Mountain, Bold Rock Cidery, Veritas Reception, Wild Wolf Brewery

November 6th, 2014: Morning At Rodes Farm
I was up early that morning. The weatherman was wrong yet again. After a rather stormy night where the expected rain did come, the clouds cleared and the rays of the sun came out. I had promised one of the other writers that I would meet her at Mark Addy which was about one kilometre away to go for a walk.
As I left the Guest Cottage I noticed once again the huge Magnolia which height looked even more impressive than the night before. It was about twenty feet away from the house!
"If that tree would ever fall onto the Manor House," I remarked to myself, "There would be no Manor House left!"    
The air was fresh as started down the path. A gentle but cool morning breeze brushed my face and the sound was silence. Far to my right the silhouette of the Blue Ridge Mountains looked mysterious. Shrouded in an enveloping mist, they presented an eerie sight--in the silence of the morning.
In the distance I could see the stirrings of the day. Two horses moved towards each other then immediately lifted their head toward me as I approached their paddock. A dog at the end of a long driveway guarded it jealously and uttered a faint but threatening growl as I walked by and a lone vehicle came up behind me---passing me and thus disturbing my meditating trance as I walked quietly down the road.
As the Sun's rays made their mark, lighting up the shadows, I saw the Mark Addy Inn in the distance.
Outside, photographer Mick Rock, part of our Circle of Wine Writers tour, was out trying to capture images in his camera. I respected this professional and knew that anything he did would be not less than perfect. I have seen his work. I was right!
I met my walking partner and off we went---heading back to Rodes Farm to do a bit of exploring.
We walked to the farm stables where the horses had just been taken out to pasture. I laughed as I thought of my last words to my daughter. No way horses! Here I was calling these magnificent examples of Hunters over to me.
We then turned our attention to walking over to the foot of the closest hill. The warming Sun filtered is rays through the trees which were orange and gold in preparation for their coming slumber and the grass was still green. The splendidly painted houses in their whites and reds stood out against---- yet were a part of-----the greens, yellows and oranges of this season called Autumn---- like an Impressionist's painting depicting serenity and harmony in the country. There was happiness, silence and peace at that moment.
We then went to the Manor House where our lovely and gracious host, Barbara Funke, made a superb breakfast for us in preparation for our trip to wine country. The sausage patties were terrific as were the pan cakes.
One thing that I have to mention about Barbara, our hostess, prior to us leaving Lovingston Winery, I had clumsily caught my camera strap on a glass of red wine which spilled onto the table and also all over my jeans. When I arrived at the Manor, our hostess (Barbara)  took and cleaned them. When I arrived that evening I came to the Guest House to find my jeans neatly folded on the bed and ready for use. i can assure anyone who goes there that they will fall in love with this gracious and wonderful woman who brighten up even the gloomiest of days and makes a bright day even brighter.
Cardinal Point Vineyard and Winery
9423 Batesville Road
Afton, Virginia 22920 
Cardinal point is a family run business (as are many in this area) that has its "roots" in Germany. The owners Paul and Ruth Gorman were living in the Nahe area via the United States Army. Upon retiring in 1985, Paul planted a four acre vineyard with Riesling and Cabernet Sauvignon. Their three children took on responsibilities with daughter Sarah looking after the business end; son John doing the designing and son Tim taking on the viticulture and winemaking duties. The place has flourished to the size of 15 aces of prime vineyard land.
Cardinal Point Green 2013 50% Petit Manseng/50% Chardonnay

Grapes are co-fermented. Aged in Stainless Steel.
On the nose: apple citrus, crisp
Palate: as above with nice acidity crispness
Cardinal Point A6   2012    Blend of BF/BAged Viognier and SF/Aged Chardonnay.
On the nose: apricot/peach/citrus
Palate: Fruit forward, medium body, long finish  
Cardinal Point Quatro2013 Blend of  Riesling 51%, Gewurztraminer 33% , Traminette 10%,Viognier 6%
On the noste: apple,pear, peach, nectarine   
Palate:Medium body, nice acidity, notes of apple/pear with pleasant finish.
Cardinal Point India Pale Chardonnay (Hopped Chardonnay) 2013
Chardonnay made with American Cascade and New Zealand Nelson Sauvin hops.
On the nose: citrus, herbal spice, tropical notes
Palate: Light to medium body, tangy, citrus lemon, crisp acidity/citrus on finish ab
Cardinal Point Rockfish Red  2013 Cabernet Franc
On the nose: vanilla, ripe cherry/raspberry
Palate: light to medium, ripe red fruit, slight oak spice on finish
Cardinal Point Clay Hill 2012 Cabernet Franc
On the nose: black cherry, plum, vanilla, pepper spice
Palate: Full bodied, dark fruit,some chocolate, vanilla. Nice finish---long!
Cardinal Point Union  2012 Petit Verdot 72%, Cabernet Franc 17%, 11% Tannat
On the nose:  Powerful, dark fruit and berries, vanilla/oak, leather, tobacco
Palate: dark cherry and blackberry, plum, cocoa, mocha, tobacco
 The Cardinal Point were certainly interesting wines---some of which were made in unusual ways but it worked. Next we were off to Afton Mountain Vineyard where we stayed for lunch.
 Afton Mountain Vineyard
234 Vineyard Lane 
Afton, Virginia 22920
Located in another area where the view is stupendous, Afton Mountain Vineyards were first planted in 1978 on the side of Afton Mountain. Here at approximately 1000 feet above sea level, the vines are protected from frost, too much rain and the vines are dried/protected by the air current breezes which makes sure that pests like mildew do not occur.Afton Mountain Vineyards are one of the oldest vineyards in Virginia.  Tony and Elizabeth Smith are the owners of this lovely vineyard and winery. I asked Elizabeth about the history of the vineyard and here is what she said.
"The first owner of our property was David Mefford. He planted the first vines in 1978 and the property was called "Bacchanal Vineyards". He had health issues and did not commercially produce wine.  2nd owners were the Corpora family from the late 80's til 2009.  They named the property Afton Mountain Vineyards; opened the tasting room and released the first vintage in 1990.  Our 2014 wines when released will be our 25th vintage.
Tony and I are originally from nearby Charlottesville. We had property in proximity to other local Cville vineyards and were interested in planting grapes on our properties.  We took courses in viticulture and enology through our local community college and realized that our properties were not suited to growing the grapes that we were interested in. 
That started our search for the best vineyard site in the area; a consultant brought us to Afton and said it was where we wanted to be. Though we intended to start slowly by planting our own vines and growing into winemaking and a tasting room, one look at this beautiful property and we were sold. So we went from slowly easing in on a 5 year plan, to buying an existing and ongoing business and jumping in headfirst! We're now heading into our 7th vintage, we've purchase an additional 30 acres and doubled our acres under vine since our acquisition. We're proud of what we've accomplished and are looking forward to continuing to support Virginia's growing reputation for quality wine."
Afton Mountain Chardonnay 2013
On the nose: apple, tropical fruit, grapefruit citrus, butter, toast, vanilla
Palate: Medium body, tropical fruit/citrus, vanilla oak, cream, toast, nice finish
Afton Mountain Pinot Noir 2013
On the nose: Red fruit, melon, earth
Palate: Medium body, nice acidity, strawberry, cherry, melon with cherry finish
Afton Mountain Cabernet Franc 2013
On the nose: dark berries, plum, mint and a hint of chocolate
Palate: Medium body, dark berries, plum, black cherry finish
Afton Mountain Bacco 2012 Sangiovese 40%, Merlot 30%, Cabernet Sauvignon 15%, Petit Verdot 15%
On the nose: Floral rose, red fruit,vanilla, pepper
Palate; Medium body, well balanced acidity, red fruit and a hint vanilla oak with a sharp cherry finish
Afton Mountain Petit Verdot 2012
On the nose: Rich, bold, dark berries/fruit, dark chocolate
Palate: Full bodied, rich, ripe dark fruit, strong and powerful finish----needs more time! Very dark wine!
After the tasting we had a prepared lunch at Afton and then we were on our way to the next destination. 
Bold Rock Hard Cider
1020 Rockfish Valley
HWY (Rt. 151)
Nellysford, Virginia 22958
The Beginning 
According to the website, it started with two men; one a Virginian who liked open spaces and the other a seasoned New Zealand cider maker who had become an acclaimed expert consultant in the cider making of many countries. Virginian John Washburn called New Zealander Brian Shanks and proposed an idea of making top quality cider in Virginia.They met. They Talked. They Partnered!
The rest is history as Bold Rock is the largest winery in Virginia.
The Ciders  
Bold Rock Virginia Apple 
On the nose: apple
Palate; Effervescent, crisp, acidic, apple taste, acid finish.
Bold Rock Virginia Draft
On the nose; Mixed apple flavours, floral, spice
Palate: Smooth, mellow, sweet, ripe apple cinnamon spice, rich and sweet lingering finish.
Bold Rock Vat No. 1
On the nose: apple honey, mixed apple flavours, rich. sweet spice
Palate: Full bodied, effervescent. rich, complex flavours, nice mid sweetness, lingering taste.
Bold Rock Vintage Dry
On the nose:  apple spice and flavour, dry fruit
Palate: Dry, smooth, full bodied, apple with some citrus undertones, lingering dry apple finish
Bold Rock Pear Cider
On the nose: Floral, pear notes with apple undertones, vanilla
Palate: Pleasant body, sweet, apple-pear flavours, lingering fruit finish.
While I do not usually deal in ciders, I found this visit quite informative and interesting.
Our next visit was back to Veritas Winery for a general reception of a few wineries.
Veritas Reception 
Veritas Winery
Back we went to a reception at Veritas where several wineries had gathered to display their wares.Among them were: Democracy, Flying Fox, Veritas, Delfosse, Afton, Mountain Cove, Cardinal Point.
Again we tasted some exceptional wines but soon were on our way to the last winery and dinner for the day!
Wild Wolf Brewimg
2461 Rockfish Valley Hwy
Nellysford, Virginia
At Wild Wolf Brewing we were welcomed to not only a superb meal but also some of the most interesting animal displays and pictures anywhere. I think that the Circle of Wine Writers were very taken by all this since they took massive amounts of pictures of the displayed animals and birds. In addition the other visual offerings are many, ranging from the Biergarten, pond and Gazebo to a working water wheel, outdoor dining pavilion and wrap around porch ----- all within or around the main building which is a century old school house.
There was still one more treat that I remember well and that was the matching beverages for the meal were both Wild Wolf Beer and wine from various estates. Never had this before and it was marvelous. Here is the menu! 

 From The Garden: 
Turnip the Beets Mixed Greens; 
Grilled lemon vinaigrette, pumpkin spent grain croutons, fresh parmesan 
Wild Wolf Brewing Company Kick IT/ Afton Mountain Estate Reserve Chardonnay 
From The Farm : 
Indian Summer Risotto; 
11/5 Harvest Vegetables, garden broth 
Wild Wolf Brewing Company Howling Pumpkin/ Cardinal Point A6 
From the Field: 
Pan-Roasted Rack of Lamb Served Family Style; 
Turnip the Beets charred red pepper, Twin Spring Farms kohlrabi, Peppercress 
Wild Wolf Brewing Company Wee Heavy/ Flying Fox Table Red 
From The Dairy: 
Caramont Goat’s Milk Esmontonian; Critzer Everberries, homegrown habaneros, Local Raw Honey Drizzle 
Wild Wolf Brewing Company Primal Instinct/ Veritas Sauvignon Blanc 
From The Hearth: 
Classic Cinnamon roll, vanilla currant icing, Trager Brothers Coffee “Secret Stash” syrup 
Wild Wolf Brewing Company Dry Stout/ Trager Brothers Coffee Ethiopian Blend        

Wild Wolf Kick It
On the nose: citrus, honey, bread
Palate: Good head, full body, cream,citrus/hops, honey mead, refreshing finish  
Wild Wolf Howling Pumpkin
On the nose: pumpkin, toast, caramel, mushroom. earth, nutmeg 
Palate: Robust, pumpkin pie, sweet molasses, honey, nutmeg, spice finish
Wild Wolf Wee Heavy
On the nose: Peat, toast, smoke----Islay Scotch!
Palatre: Smoky peat, caramel/toffee, burnt toast, nice fizz finish, Islay scotch notes.
Wild Wolf Primal Instinct
On the nose; Citrus, banana, mango, pine nut
Palate: Robust, bitter, citrus, pine nut, bitter finish
Wild Wolf Dry Stout
On the nose: Mocha, cocoa, coffee
Palate: caramel/toffee, toast, smoke, bread, chocolate, bitter but smooth
Corresponding Wine      
Afton Mountain Estate Chardonnay
Cardinal Point A6
Flying Fox Table Red
Veritas  Sauvignon Blanc
The above wine reviews can be found within the respective winery descriptions.
Trager Brothers Ethiopian Coffee
Strong, full bodied floral  
The dinner was amazing and the experience terrific. Shortly after the sumptuous meal and lovely beer and wine we were on our way to Rodes Farm for one more night's stay.
End of Day Five