Last year Ryan and I went to the Mount Vernon wine festival and had a fantastic time! So, just to make sure we got tickets this year, I set an outlook reminder on my work computer for the first day of sales….hahaha. I know it’s lame, but I wanted tickets and I was rewarded for my nerdy efforts.
Unfortunately, even with my reminder, Friday had already been sold out and we had plans for Saturday night (the camping trip to Shenandoah with our infamous ranger friend from a previous post). Sunday, October 3rd was the only other option, so while not ideal, we took it because really there is no bad time for a wine festival.
The weekend came and was one of the nicest, warmest fall weekends. That is, until Sunday. Sunday was rain and lots of it! However, people are not to be deterred from their need to imbibe. Boots and rain jackets donned, we headed to our first president’s fine estate.
On the one hand, the cooler temps were nice because the wine warmed you right up! On the other, because of the rain, more people continued their tastings longer rather than settling on a bottle or two and sitting out on the lawn listening to the band. This made for a rather crowded tasting tent, but the more the merrier!
In total 17 vineyards from around Virginia attended the festival and for $30 plus tax and fees, you have unlimited tasting, admission to Mount Vernon and a souvenir tasting glass….not bad at all! Plus, you are hanging out where George Washington did, so that’s pretty cool.
According to American Presidents.com, George himself found wine to be one of life’s simple pleasures:
My manner of living is plain and I do not mean to be put out of it. A glass of wine and a bit of mutton are always ready.
Who am I to argue with our first president? Let’s get to the wine!!!
In reality, most people don’t stop at every vineyards booth, so you kind of carve out a game plan based on which ones you are set on tasting and which ones look like they have space for you to saddle up to the table. Ryan and I both like Horton, so we wanted to save that for last. Other than that, we just went wherever we found space.
The man who conducted our tasting here was knowledgeable but a little soft-spoken for such a loud and widely attended event. The wines were pretty good, with the standouts for me being their Liberty (a Chambourcin, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot blend) and Independence (a Traminette and Riesling blend). Plus, both of these wines are service dog wines, meaning that a portion of the proceeds go to the Saint Francis Service Dog Foundation and the Service Dogs of Virginia.
The woman at this booth was doing the vineyard a major disservice. She was unfriendly and not engaging. We were some of the first people to walk up and she did not say one word to us. When we engaged her, it was like pulling teeth to get this lady to talk about the wines. Unreal. Maybe it was the bad start to this tasting, or maybe her dull personality is a true reflection of their wines, but I only really liked their Cabernet Franc and even that was not anything spectacular.
West Wind Farm
Overall, I really liked the wines that this vineyard put forth. Of course, the Riesling was tasty (after living in Alsace, Rieslings are my favorite!) but I also really enjoyed their Chambourcin and their Galena Creek Peach. The Galena Creek Peach was incredibly sweet and you guessed it, peach-flavored. It would be a nice wine to use with desserts or maybe mixed with Champagne.
Again, another fairly good offering. The Merlot was better than I anticipated as someone who is not inclined to choose a Merlot. The Rapidan River Semi Dry Riesling was also very good.
Horton far and away had the best atmosphere. How do you create atmosphere in a booth? Their pourers had personality, so even though at times one of them was a little out there, they still had a way better vibe than any of the other vineyards. Horton also brought the most options for you to taste. My favorites here were the Eclipse White which was absolutely fantastic and their Vintage Port. The Eclipse is smooth and sweet, but not too sweet and would be absolutely the best summer wine for an outdoor party, picnic, or day out on the boat.
Horton also had an interesting array of fruit wines and chocolate wines. Both the lighter and darker chocolate wines were pretty good. I preferred the lighter one. Their peach was not as good as West Wind’s, but their raspberry and pomegranate were both great!
After Horton, it was time to make our purchases and get home to some cooking and more wine drinking!
Raspberry Wine Chocolate Cake
Taking the suggestion of our rather crazy wine pourer from Horton, I made a cake using their Raspberry wine. I bought a double chocolate fudge cake mix and substituted the wine for the water.
After it cooled, I iced it with cream cheese frosting and sprinkled dark chocolate shavings on top. Eating this cake with the remainder of the raspberry wine was a fantastic dessert! I can only imagine how much better it would be if you have some legit baking skills and made a cake from scratch doing this. I highly recommend giving this a try.