Virginian Wine Travels: Glen Manor Vineyards

(Yup, there was some Rosé consumed on the premises!)

Unsurprisingly Rachel and I have spent a fair amount of time wine tasting in Virginia. To begin with it was really because it was the closest wine region to us, but gradually we have come to love some of the wines that they are producing. Don’t get me wrong, there are still some Virginian wines that I wouldn’t touch with a bargepole, but increasingly we have come across some really great wine and some truly lovely people. Without a doubt my absolute favorite vineyard is Glen Manor, situated just outside Front Royal.

We discovered Glen Manor last year during an ill fated trip to the beach that had to be cancelled owing to storms and resulted in the vacation being relocated to one hour from home. I’m not going to lie, I was dubious about the location to begin with but since we were leaving the next day I had to get over it. We ended up with beautiful weather and put our time to good use discovering the very best wine Virginia had to offer.

A recommendation took us to Glen Manor and it was there that we met Jeff and Kelly, the owners and winemakers. The land used to be a fruit farm before being adapted to grow the grapes. It is composed of around 10 acres situated on the Blue Ridge mountains. We went there once and then never looked back, now whenever we find ourselves in Virginia we decide that it probably isn’t that far to Glen Manor (in fact it’s almost 2 hours from home).

Anyway, our recent ‘camping’ expedition gave us a perfect excuse to venture back and as ever the wines did not disappoint. They were tasting 4 of their wines, the 2013 Sauvignon Blanc, 2013 Morales Rose, 2012 T.Ruth and 2013 Petit Manseng.

2013 Sauvignon Blanc. This wine is one of my favorites for sipping outside on the patio. It’s a really well balanced Sauvignon Blanc, with the classic elements without being too acidic like some of the wines we had in Sancerre. There is the classic grass smell with the citrus notes, but then on the palate a little more lemon curd than lemon pith. It retains the refreshing sharpness that you expect from a sauv, but just doesn’t make your teeth hurt at the same time.

(Side note, and just because this is something that everyone should know about, we substituted lemon curd for the chocolate in s’mores and it was pretty much the best thing ever, not technically wine related but more a public service announcement)

2013 Morales Rosé. Well this is one of Rachel’s wines of the summer, consequently we now own a fair amount of it so that we can round out the summer in style! The Rosé is both crisp on the nose and on the palate, it has wild strawberry and a little raspberry on the nose and the light strawberry comes through when you taste it as well. It would be great with food, which many rosés aren’t, but is also perfect on its own.

2012 T.Ruth. This was the only red that we tasted, and it was good, but in my opinion not as good as the Hodder Hill. The T.Ruth is medium bodied wine with softer tannins, it’s 57% Merlot, 29% Cabernet Franc and 14% Cabernet Sauvignon. It has a very herby smell, with hints of black fruit and a little smoke. On the palate you’ll taste dark chocolate and a lot of black currant, with a slightly bitter aftertaste. By no means is this a bad wine, it’s just not complex as it could be.

2013 Petit Manseng. Now as you may have picked up from this blog, I don’t like sweet wine. Just not at all. Rachel keeps trying to convince me otherwise, but I’m holding pretty firmly to that rule, that is until we come to this wine. Now I still don’t really relish the thought of drinking it, but I can imagine that it would pair really well with spicy Thai food and even drinking on its own isn’t the worst thing and I can do it without having to pass it to someone else. There are intense tropical smells, and there is heavy pineapple on the palate. The 1.5% residual sugar leaves you with the sweet taste on the tongue, but a little more balanced than other wines with that much residual sugar.

They weren’t tasting it this time, but if you get a chance to try the Hodder Hill you should definitely take it. It reminds me of curling up in front of an open fire in the winter time, it’s a great comfort wine. Red, bold with complex flavors and a really long finish.

Expect a really friendly and knowledgeable reception at Glen Manor and don’t forget to bring a picnic, (or at least some cheese and crackers, which is about as close to a picnic as we’ve ever come) to enjoy along with a glass of wine or two or even three if you’re not driving.

I was in two minds about highlighting the great wine at Glen Manor, they have run out of wine when we’ve visited in the past and the thought of that happening again gives me heart palpitations, but then I realized that I couldn’t keep this secret. So if you find yourselves in Virginia, or at a loose-end one weekend take yourself out to Front Royal and enjoy!