Yes, it’s cold outside. But while the vines at Orange County’s wineries have gone dormant for the winter, the wines will keep you warm and cozy making this a wonderful time for a wine excursion. Our Vineyards are ready for you to come explore their properties and relax in the fresh air of the award winning Central Virginia wine country.
What is a Winter Wine?
In general, winter wines tend to be more complex, full-bodied reds that pair well with heartier dishes. And, of course, sparkling wines add merriment to any gathering. That said, life is too short to drink wine you don’t like, so visit these Orange County wineries and do a tasting before buying a bottle to enjoy by the fire:
Honah Lee’s quaint tasting room also offers great locally made goods to take home to enjoy. Jellies & candles made right there on the farm, along with other local products; Toad A Lee’s honey and Falling Bark Farms’ Hickory Syrup. Honah Lee bottles their own wine along with that of various other vineyards.
Their recommended winter white is the Honah Lee Petit Manseng. It’s oaked, giving it a warm body, with a lingering candy-like flavor. The taste has many layers, just like the outfit you might wear to a vineyard in wintertime. For a winter red, try Honah Lee’s Captain. It’s dark red and peppery with notes of tobacco and wild berries – perfect for a blustery day – and it pairs well with almost anything. Honah Lee also offers Meads to try from Saga Meadery.
2020 Virginia Governor’s Cup Award winning wines from Honah Lee’s collection: Gold – 2017 Petit Manseng; Silver – 2017 Tannat, 2017 Petit Verdot, 2017 Captain, & 2017 Viognier; Bronze – 2017 Chardonnay
Tasting Room open Thursday – Monday (January – March)
Down the road completely unexpected, Horton Vineyards looks like a castle from another time and place. Horton is offering self guided tastings, glass and bottle sales, cozy green houses for outdoor seating and unique virtual tasting experiences with the Horton family. Curbside and online ordering. Open Daily 10 am – 5 pm.
Horton bottles a delicious and attractive Nebbiolo Rosé in the winter, which pairs perfectly with a spicy dish, or with something Asian-inspired. Their Malbec (2016) soft in tannins and lower in acidity with strong raspberry fruit and herbal aromas pairs well with earthy flavors mushroom medley, roasted beet salad, bacon cheese burger or duck comfit. Do not miss the award winning Horton Cabernet Franc (2016). It is a bit of spicy oak for your glass. Smooth, dark plum flavors melt into a black pepper finish and pairs with grilled Portobello mushroom burger, porterhouse steak, thick rib eye or chocolate goats cheese topped with fresh raspberries.
Earning a special spot for producing the only Grenache (2010) in Virginia (and promptly sold out), Reynard Florence is a gorgeous, efficient and friendly vineyard. Roe and Dee, the vineyard’s founders, plotted the land thoughtfully. They value quality over quantity, so they train their vines to curve for maximum sunlight and, consequently, sugary grapes.
Tasting Flights $12: Enjoy their self led tasting flights available
Due to Covid19, they are serving tasting flights outdoors. They have fire pit seating and heated seating available on a first come, first served basis as well as plenty of socially distanced seating. In the event of inclement weather, they offer indoor seating on a first come, first served basis.
Their featured grape, Petite Manseng, is currently only available by the bottle, but it’s a limited production, so take a chance and take it home! The Petite Manseng has a lengthy finish and pairs well with rich and spicy foods. And of course, Grenache is always a treat in Virginia, where the humidity provides a tough environment for the varietal.
Open Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and holiday Mondays.
No visit to Orange County would be complete without a stop at Barboursville Vineyards, a gorgeous 18th-century estate that offers a tasting fee of $15 which includes a choice of six one ounce pour among sixteen wines self-dispensed by automated Winestations at ideal temperature in fine crystal stemware, including a variety of excellent winter wines.
Now, a section of BBV original winery building, overlooking an expansive slope of Cabernet Franc at its door and the Blue Ridge beyond, has been remodeled for comfort and contemplative tastings throughout the year. In the Library, selected vintages are offered with culinary pairings and a tasty menu to complement any tasting at BBV.
Mark your calendar as Eli Nichols, of Oyster Catcher Sea Farms, will be shucking his “Revival” oysters for you January 17th, February 21st & March 21st
If you’re in the mood for fine dining, visit the on-site Palladio Restaurant where the sommelier will be happy to help match the seasonal dishes with the best wines Barboursville has to offer. If you’d rather just take a bottle of wine to go, you can always count on their famous Octagon blend, a red wine with a highly distinctive character.
Speaking of taking a bottle to go, “picnic vineyard” Chateau MerrillAnne offers a selection of delicious boutique wines throughout the winter – Just call to order at 540.656.6177 , prepay your order and they will meet you at the tasting room. Curbside delivery available also.
Winter favorites include their 2018 Founded 1734, a red wine with layers of fresh dark fruit and subtle spice notes, and their 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon, a medium-bodied red with rich fruit flavors highlighted by notes of leather and smoke. This wine pairs will with red meats, grilled foods, and dark chocolate. Chateau MerrillAnne reopens with regular hours in March.