With living in Staunton, VA, I was within 45 minutes of at least 25 wineries. However, it really wasn’t till this year that I started taking advantage of that opportunity. The reason I did was because of my friend Ellie who enjoyed planning wine tasting adventures for our group of friends. She’d pack a lunch basket, we’d load into her car, and go to three (or four) wineries. It was fitting that the last adventure for Ellie and I before I move to Nebraska was do one last winery/brewery tour. So, we visited Whitehall and Wild Wolf Brewery, a recently opened brewery in Nelson, Va.
The adventure to White Hall almost didn’t happen. Ellie and I had planned on visiting King’s Family Vineyard and Whitehall; but, we were thwarted by a Christmas parade that blocked our route and took us on a roundabout journey through the labyrinth of Crozet. Luckily for us, the visit was worth all the pursuit.
On the day there, White Hall offered a tasting of eight wines for $5.
For whites, there was a Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, and Gewurztraminer. When my friends and I go wine tasting in groups, I always ask the “car favorite.” Since it was just Ellie and I, there was a strong risk of a split jury. Although potentially debate filled, we were both in agreement that the favorite was the Gewurztraminer. The other two were valid contenders. The Chardonnay had brightness and a bit of burliness, a spicy nose, but maybe a little too much citrus. The Pinot Gris, which is less than 10% ice wine, had a really bold and fantastically fragrant nose . Though they were both good, the Gewurztraminer stole the show. There was cinnamon, cloves, lychee, and honey, making a very rich offering of flavors that were surprisingly balanced.
For the reds, there was a Cabernet Sauvignon, Touriga, Petit Verdot, Cuvee des Champs, and the Edichi (the wine of the month). All were fantastic wines. The Cabernet Sauvignon was rich with plums, spice, and tempered with some acidity. The Cuvee des Champs also had richness from dark chocolate and rich plum hints. Then, on the sweeter side, was the Edichi that is portly with quite a rum raisin finish.
Again, all fantastic, but still nothing compared to the two best, the Touriga and the Petit Verdot. When I sipped the Touriga, I figured that was the favorite of the day. With jam, raspberries, spice, licorice, and tobacco, how could there be one bolder and more intriguing? Then, I tried the Petit Verdot. Rich. . . Bright cherries and currants . . Vanilla, cedar, dark chocolate, and tobacco . . . Quite a mouthful. Voted by Ellie and I as the "car favorite."
I had very high hopes for White Hall. Then, after all the comedy of errors of the trip, I worried that no winery could compete with so much build-up and thwarting. It did, though, and I was glad it was the last Shenandoah Valley winery I got to visit before moving.