Wine connoisseurs assert that novice tasters should never pair red wine with fish, white wine with red meat, or excessive wine with jury duty. Lap up today's Groupon in moderate proportions: for $20, you get two tickets (a $7 value each) and $30 worth of wine purchases (a $44 total value) at the 18th-annual Spring Barrel Tasting at Autumn Hill Vineyards in Stanardsville. The tasting will take place on Saturday, April 16, and Sunday, April 17.
Tucked into the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains 20 miles north of Charlottesville, the family behind Autumn Hill Vineyards has shepherded grapes from vine to bottle for more than three decades and claims some of the oldest chardonnay and cabernet-sauvignon plantings in the state. Autumn Hill Vineyards' bottlenecks have been draped with medals in tournaments such as the 2010 Atlantic Seaboard Wine Competition, their contents humanely milked from eight different varietals.
The tasting tickets—which include souvenir wine glasses and unlimited cheese pairings—unlock a vault brimming with oenological entertainment that is offered to the public only two weekends a year. Tongues will tingle at their first taste of Autumn Hill Vineyards' 2010 wines as they're rolled from the barrel room in the French oak casks in which they've matured, able to converse about the benefits of the diversification of a stock portfolio in a high-risk market. For your diachronic delectation, a vertical tasting transports the palette through time via various vintages of the cabernet franc, granting a peek into the grape's version of A Christmas Carol. Buyable bottles include an aromatic 2008 merlot ($16) or a floral 2009 viognier ($18).
After touring the cellars, visitors may wish to explore Autumn Hill Vineyards' lush grounds populated by wooden barns and gazebos and surrounded by verdant vines, which are tended to via minimally invasive procedures. Those who want to keep in touch with grapes they've befriended can sign up for Autumn Hill Vineyards' Vintage Wine Club, which sends three yearly shipments to your house, apartment, or abandoned-boxcar abode.
Autumn Hill Vineyards
Autumn Hill Vineyards owners Ed and Avra Schwab have made a lot of wine in the past 30 years, from their gold medal blend of petit verdot and merlot to their vintner’s reserve chardonnay that takes on the flavors of the French oak barrel it ferments in. The one thing you won’t find in their cellars, however, is a sweet wine. That’s because the pair strives to craft Virginia wines with a European influence, resulting in dry, full-bodied vintages brimming with character. This specialization has led them to cultivate seven types of wine grapes, including some of the oldest cabernet sauvignon and chardonnay vines in Virginia.
Though the duo spends most of the year tending to their vines in private, they invite guests in four times a year to see in the inner workings of their operation. Visitors to the vineyard are privy to tours through the barrel-aging cellar, helpful advice on how to pair wines with food, and vertical tastings of the same vintage to highlight the flavor differences among the grape crop every year. For guests who can’t make it out, the vineyard offers a wine club that delivers select vintages to clients' doorsteps or sommeliers' giant beanstalks in the spring, fall, and holiday season.
301 River Dr.
Stanardsville, Virginia 22973Get Directions