Glory of The Grape In Virginia
By Lynne BrandonWine is sunlight, held together by water" - Galileo Galilei (1564-1642)
Driving down the long dirt road, reminds of the scene in "Letter to Juliet" in which a car in the Italian countryside sashays down a similar dirt road surrounded by grape vines. Instead of Italy, I am driving toward Wessex Hundred, the local name for the 320-acre farm known by visitors as Williamsburg Winery (www.williamsburgywinery.com).
Williamsburg Winery is styled to look like an old-world European village and home to award-winning Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Also, it is home to Virginia’s largest winery, no insignificant feat in a state with more than 190 highly-regarded wineries. Here the summers are warm, but not too hot, and winters are mild- all the ingredients for growing superior grapes to make outstanding wines.
The first harvest was in 1988 and today the winery produces between 55,000-60,000 cases of wine from a number of varietals. The area includes a bottle museum about the history of glass making that displays more than 300 onion bottles (called for the bulbous shape) dating back to the 17 and 18th century.
"Most of our wines are made in a dry, medium-bodied, European style and are meant to be paired with food," said Kenny Bumbaco, Manager. Names like Ligonier, Samuel Argall Dry Riesling, Gabriel Archer Reserve, Adagio and Vin Licoureux de Framboise roll off the tongue as easily as they are paired with exquisite cuisine.
Seafood lovers should especially enjoy the 2008 Samuel Argall Dry Riesling, a very dry wine with citrus and apple tones that pairs exceptionally well with shellfish, especially oysters on the half shell. The 2009 Viognier is a dry, floral white wine which pairs well with many hors d'oeuvres. And for capping off a great meal, the Vin Licoreux de Framboise, a Merlot blended with raspberry juice, is a decadent dessert wine, a perfect accompaniment with chocolate.
For the perfect pairing of Williamsburg wines with local gourmet cuisine, a visit to The Gabriel Archer Tavern (www.williamsburgwinery.com/gabriel-archer-tavern.htm) is obligatory. Located on premises, the tavern has been featured in The New York Times.