A Year Later – Petit Verdot, Veritas Winery

This wine was a media sample from Veritas Vineyard and Winery.

What a difference a year makes.  It was just a short year ago that I attended the Wine Blogger’s Conference in Charlottesville, Virginia.  Not only did I have the time of my life, I met some great like-minded people and had the pleasure of tasting some phenomenal wines.  One of those wines was a 2009 Petit Verdot from Veritas Vineyard and Winery.  They actually provided me with two bottles.  One I wrote about as soon as I got it; the other I have held onto for the last year so I could revisit this wine and taste the difference another twelve months in the bottle makes. (The original blog post can be found here:  http://wp.me/py9Ic-1q.)

I was very excited to open this wine!!!  The deep purple hue in the glass and the hint of chocolate on the nose let me know that I was not going to be disappointed.  Following the standard protocol for tasting wine, swirl, sniff, sip, (let linger for just a few seconds) and swallow.  On the palate I got hints of vanilla and cherry wrapped in mocha with a touch of coffee to go along with the lingering finish of this well-balanced wine.  “In Vino Veritas,” the trademark of Veritas Winery rings true once again.

I didn’t see this wine listed on their website when I checked.  I do hope they still carry it.

Varietal: Petit Verdot          Alcohol:  13%            Price: (last year – $29)

I haven’t been back to Virginia to tour any wineries since the 2011 conference.  It is one of those things that we always talk about, but just never seem to find the time to actually do.  I have always heard that if you put something in writing, that it is much more likely to happen.  So I am committing this to writing today – within the next year, I am taking a long weekend and hitting the Virginia Wine Trail.  Stay tuned!

Boxed Wine Gets a Make-Over

This wine was a media sample from Cal Naturale

A few years ago before I had developed my passion for wine, I worked with a person who loved wine.  He drank wine every evening, but he didn’t believe in drinking “good” wine.  I don’t know if he was just cheap or if he preferred boxed wine.  I won’t call the wine by name, but it was probably the first wine to come in a box.  At that point in my life I failed to see how efficient boxed wines could be.

Then came the Red Truck Mini Barrel.  I read an article in Food & Wine Magazine about how good these wines were and how the system kept the wine fresh for days.  So the next time I went to our local Sam’s warehouse store, they had the Red Truck Mini Barrels and I just had to have one.  For the grand price of $19.99 we got the equivalent of four (4) bottles of wine in a great recyclable plastic barrel.  And the wine was good – as good as the bottled Red Truck I had tasted.  I had some friends though who snubbed their nose at it.

Fast forward another 2-3 years and boxed wine is really in vogue and being written about by some of the best writers in the wine industry. One of the best boxed wines to come out of California is CalNaturale.  I received this sample at the Wine Blogger’s Conference in Charlottesville, Virginia in July, 2011, which means I kept it cellared 10 months.  This Cabernet Sauvignon is rich and full-bodied, inky black and jammy with a wonderfully long finish.  The wine comes in a Tetra Pak which is similar to a milk carton, screw cap and all.  This allows for easy resealing of the wine, but I couldn’t find anything that suggested how long the wine would keep once it had been opened.  I kept mine for 3 days with no problem.  Not sure what I expected when I first opened it, but what hit my glass was a pleasant surprise. 

Boxed wines today are popular due to organic farming and wine production as well as saving the environment.  If the quality is there, do we have to have the prestige of the bottle? 

Varietal: Cabernet Sauvignon                        Alcohol: 13.8%                         

To read more about CalNaturale and the Red Truck Mini Barrel



Eating Dinner In

This wine was a media sample from Breaux Vineyards

One of our new favorite ways to eat dinner out is to eat dinner in and it saves so much money!  You can call any restaurant and order from their menu then stop by and pick your order up to take home.  Lots of restaurants now offer a special curb side service where they bring the food to your car and others have a special door for you to enter if you are waiting on a to-go order.  You get the same great quality as if you had eaten your meal at the restaurant but you eat in the comfort of your own home and there is no mess to clean up.  You can also pair dinner with one of your favorite wines – either from your wine fridge at home or by stopping by your local wine store and picking up that special bottle.  This is a better option that taking your wine with you to the restaurant and paying a corkage fee.

So that is what we did tonight.  We had been out of town all weekend.  On the way home we were discussing what we would do for dinner when hubby suggested we call and order something to pick up on the way home.  We ordered from Romano’s Macaroni Grill



I already knew what wine I was going to open when I got home – a 2005 Nebbiolo from Breaux Vineyards.  I had gotten this wine sample last summer at the Wine Blogger’s Conference” in Charlottesville, VA.  (If you recall, I have been digging through my wine collection over the last couple of weeks and pulling out some real gems!)

When taking my first sip of the Nebbiolo, I had to actually stop and look at the label again.  This wine was so spicy and peppery, that it could easily have been mistaken for a Syrah.  Had it not been for the prominent tobacco on the nose, I would have argued the point.  Nebbiolo may be one of my new favorite wines!  From checking their website, it looks as if the 2005 might be sold out, but they did have the 2006 listing in their online store.


Varietal:  Nebbiolo               Alcohol:  13.8%              Price: $38.00

Virtual Riesling Tasting: Finger Lakes Wine

Shortly after the 2011 Wine Blogger’s Conference in Charlottesville, I received an email (or a link via email) that led me to a request form where I could request wine from the Finger Lakes Alliance.   Let’s be VERY clear here, I LOVE getting free wine, so obviously I completed the form and submitted it.  This was late July/early August.  With life being what it is, I have trouble remembering what happened yesterday, let alone 6-8 weeks ago; so when I walked into my office on Monday, September 19 and saw a wine shipment sitting at my desk, I was thrilled!!!!  (I actually just assumed it was a wine club shipment as it is that time of year.)  Then I realized that the shipment was from the Finger Lakes Alliance which peaked my interest even more, so I grabbed something sharp to cut the box open.  I couldn’t remember ever tasting any wines from the Finger Lakes region so I was pleasantly surprised to see 6 bottles of Riesling neatly packed inside along with a letter thanking me for requesting the samples.  Quite frankly, I don’t remember requesting these wines but since I LOVE getting free wine samples, I wasn’t complaining, actually  I was absolutely giddy!!!!

The letter enclosed explained that the Finger Lakes Alliance simply wanted me to sample their wines.  The mayor of Geneva, New York had declared Thursday, September 22 as “Riesling Day.”  There was going to be a live tweet-up of people tasting a variety of 30 different Finger Lakes Rieslings and posting their comments.  I was under no obligation to participate, but I truly enjoy participating in virtual wine tastings and  interacting with all the other winos on Twitter so there was no way I was missing this opportunity!

I had six different Rieslings to choose from for the virtual tasting.  I opted to   only open two of them for the tweet-up and save four to review at a later date.  The two that I opened were Anthony Road 2010 Dry Riesling and Rooster Hill 2010 Medium Sweet Riesling.  I was looking for true variety in the tasting. 

The two things made this virtual tasting/tweet-up so unique was that the samples could be tasted in any order the participant chose and we had not all received the same wines.  The shipments were mixed.  Not only did we have tweets coming from all over the country, we had tweets being posted about wines that we might not have received or that we might not have opened yet.  You wanted to know what everyone else was tasting and what they thought about it especially if it was sitting at your house unopened!

There were a lot of people on Twitter participating in the Riesling Launch 2010.  I would venture to guess that it was a hugely successful launch party.  This lends itself to the question then, how do you host a successful virtual wine tasting?  We can definitely take some pointers from the Fingers Lakes Alliance and the Finger Lakes Wineries.  Here are a few other pointers that you might want to consider:

1.      Promotion:  Promote your virtual tasting.  Use the social media outlets that you already use to make your announcements (I.E. Twitter, Facebook, etc.)  Announce it and occasionally remind people about it.  Provide a link back to your website so people can read the details for wine selection, date and time of the tasting.

 2.      Your Website: Find a prominent spot on your homepage to promote your virtual tasting.  Again, provide details for wine selection, date and time of tasting.  It is entirely up to you if you want to offer discounts on either shipping or the wines being tasted for your virtual event.  

 3.      Newsletter:  Email a special edition of your newsletter to let people know about the virtual tasting.  There will be questions on how to participate so be sure to provide a link back to your website where all the questions can be addressed (see #1 above).  Make sure people know how to order or purchase the wines you have selected for your virtual tasting.

 4.      Invite a few guests (6-10) to participate in the wine tasting at a chosen location.  With your winemaker and tasting room manager at the tasting, you should be able to answer all the questions you will get from the virtual participants.  If you have someone who handles your social media, they need to be there as well.

 5.      Providing wine samples to some known bloggers or active Tweeters, will increase your exposure and keep the virtual tasting hopping with questions and comments.  

Money can’t buy the marketing you get from a properly executed tweet-up.  Most everyone who receives free samples will not only post during the tweet-up, they will also follow up with a blog post and links back to the winery(ies).  Who knows, your event might even go viral!

I want to take this opportunity to thank the Finger Lakes Alliance for the opportunity to be part of the Riesling Launch 2010.  It was lots of fun and I got to try some great wines that I would have never bought but are now on my list of greats to try again and find the perfect pairing for.

From Speed Tasting to Slow Sipping

I’m sure most everyone is tired of hearing how much fun we all had at the Wine blogger’s Conference, 2011 in Charlottesville, VA a few weeks ago.  So I apologize in advance for yet another post that is a result of the conference although this one is a little different.

I participated in the “Speed Tasting” portion of the conference.  Speed Tasting is sort of like speed dating.  The tasters take a seat at the table and the participating wineries go from table to table pouring their wine for you to taste and tweet about.  The night we speed tasted reds, I had the pleasure of tasting the 2009 Petit Verdot from Veritas Vineyard and Winery.  I was so impressed that I would have bought some on the spot except no wines were being sold – just tasted.  So the winemaker, Emily Hodson Pelton, and the Vineyard owner, Andrew Hodson invited me to stop by the winery on my way home from the conference.  And I am so glad I did!!!

During my visit at Veritas, I had the pleasure of sitting and chatting with both Andrew and his wife, Patricia.  They both love the winery and what it brings into their lives.  The Hodson’s refer to their winery as ” Folly et Deux” – loosely interpreted as fun for two.  Their daughter, Emily, is the Winemaker and their other daughter, Chloe, is the Event Manager and is an invaluable asset in running the tasting room.

We sat and chatted in the tasting room which reminds you of an old Southern parlor with leather sofas all around and huge fireplaces on each end.  It was huge and open but still inviting, cozy and comfortable – perfect for the hot sweltering days of a Virginia summer or the nippy cold of  an East Coast winter.  We chose a discreet corner of the room so we could talk uninterrupted about wine, the conference and life.   You could look across the tasting room at all the guests sipping wine and just tell how comfortable and at home they felt; but then with more than 100,000 people visiting this winery every year, it stands to reason Veritas would know how to treat their guests.

Having opened the winery in 2000, Veritas now has around 1,500 members in their wine club and as many as 4,000 people attending some of their events.  Petit Verdot is one of their signature wines.  In the interest of full disclosure, they gave me 2 samples of the Petit Verdot for this post.  As this wine could be cellared for 3-5 years, I will put one up and save it and then revisit this post at a later date with an update on how the wine is maturing.

Veritas – 2009 Petit Verdot (Virginia, Monticello AVA)

Alcohol – 13%

Price – $29

This wine is a deep violet color with earthy aromas.  It is rich and full-bodied with hints of black fruit on the palate.  The flavors explode in your mouth so that you can enjoy every second from the initial sip to the lingering finish.

Virginia’s Take Away From the Wine Blogger’s Conference

The wine blogger’s conference 2011 (#wbc11) has come and gone, but I for one, have not come down from the excitement high I got from being part of it all.  I was ecstatic when they announced last year that the 2011 conference was going to be in my own back door (Charlottesville was only a 3 hour drive for me).  Getting to meet some of the great people I share tweets with on a regular basis and getting to taste all those greatVirginia Wines had me walking on air before the conference ever started.  They even threw in some educational sessions!  The conference schedule kept us hopping but I still had so much fun and will make every effort to attend again next year in Portland, Oregon.

So I walked away having had a great experience, some fun memories, lots of new friends, and a little more knowledge about wine; but what did the Virginia Wine Industry get from the conference?  What did the Virginia Wineries take away from this 3-day marathon of pouring wine, hosting bloggers at their wineries and doing interviews?

Virginia Wine Board:  Annette Boyd from the Virginia Wine Board  had only surface knowledge about the Wine Blogger’s Conference prior to being contacted by Allan Wright from Zephyr Adventures in the Spring of 2010 to see if there would be any interest in hosting the 2011 conference in Virginia.  The Virginia Wine board had just finished hosting a Drink Local Wine Conference in April, 2010.  This conference had created a lot of buzz about Virginia wines and had people talking.  There was about 30 attendees at this conference and all of them had been invited.  Even though this conference was considered successful, it paled in comparison to the Wine Blogger’s Conference that was to come.

The Virginia Wine Board is still very excited about #wbc11.  The conference was sold out.  There were only 45 attendees from California which meant the door had opened wide for attendees from “the other 46.”  Having the conference on the East coast broadened the reach of the conference and elevated it to a whole new level.   Annette has read numerous passionate discussions and blogs since the conference – some good, some not so good.  But the BIG positive is that people are talking about Virginia wines.  The “Common Wealth of Wine” is on the map!

Keswick Vineyards: Keswick Vineyards had never heard of the Wine Blogger’s Conference until it was already set up to come to Virginia but they decided to jump in head first and be part of everything that was going on over the course of the 3-day conference.  The winemaker, Stephen Barnard, realizes that there will not be an immediate impact on wine sales for any of the Virginia wineries, Keswick included.  But, like Annette Boyd, Stephen is thrilled that so many people are talking about Virginia wines.  This captive audience was far-reaching and it is impossible to measure the value of the marketing the Virginia wine industry received as a result of the conference; after all, we are still talking about it.

Even though Keswick Vineyards participated in every event the conference had to offer, Stephen’s highlight was the media tour of the winery where they served lunch to all of us and he had the chance to interact with each of us on a more personal level.

Veritas:  “In Vino Veritas” ~ “In Wine There Is Truth” Veritas Vineyard & Winery, like Keswick Vineyards, was not at all familiar with the Wine Blogger’s Conference prior to the announcement from the Virginia Wine Board that we were coming to town but they caught on quickly.  Veritas not only participated in all the events as a winery, the owner, Andrew Hodson, was actively involved in all the events.  He poured wine for the Speed Tastings, joined us for dinner and even went on the Rioja pub crawl with us.  Andrew’s take-away from #wbc11 was that it was sort of  like a “shot of steroids” for the Virginia wine industry and one of the best things to ever happen to the industry.

Everyone is in agreement that Virginia will soon be considered a destination for their wineries and a favorite vacation spot for the consummate wine lover.  Everyone I talked with would do it again and if the opportunity presents itself, they will attend #wbc12.

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