Black Women Who Wine Loves Barren Ridge

For our April meetup we ventured to Fishersville, VA, to Barren Ridge Vineyards. Co-owner Angela Higgs reached out to invite us earlier this year and this visit was honestly one of the best tasting experiences we’ve had. Angela’s years in the wine industry shine through as she talks about the wines that her family business produces.

Everyone in our group agreed that Barren Ridge has something for everyone, and its Merlot was so smooth and well-balanced it made believers out of those who normally don’t enjoy reds. Angela joined our group at a table she’d prepared and walked us through what seemed like the entire wine list, including some not usually included in tastings. It was a real treat and she as the perfect host.

Black Women Who Wine at Barren Ridge

Now for the wine. We tasted the following:

  • 2016 Meritage
  • 2017 Port
  • 2018 Cabernet Franc
  • 2018 Merlot
  • 2019 Christof
  • 2019 Harmony
  • 2019 Red Barren
  • 2019 Touriga
  • 2019 Traminette
  • 2020 Rosé
  • 2021 Apple Wine
  • 2020 Vidal Blanc

That’s a lot of wine! Honestly, there wasn’t a bad choice, but of course we had our favorites. Mine included the Traminette, Meritage, Merlot, Harmony, and Red Barren. Traminette is one of my favorites and it’s harder to find wineries around here that produce it than in Northern Virginia. This one was pretty dry and citrusy, so somewhat different from others I’ve tried, but it was still enjoyable. The Merlot was one of the best Virginia Merlots I’ve had. It was surprisingly light with notes of cherry and some spice on the palate, finishing on a dark berry note.

The group agreed that the Touriga, Red Barren, Harmony, and Port were all excellent and some did enjoy the ice dessert wine, Christof. One of our attendees asked Higgs what wine she’d consider an aphrodisiac, she said the Touriga. Touriga Nacianal is another varietal we don’t see here very often, so this was a treat. On the palate you get hints of red cherry, raspberry and plum, with minimal spice.

Barren Ridge gets 5 of 5 stars from us and we’ll definitely be back.

Notes from Pippin Hill

Last weekend Black Women Who Wine got to once again experience Pippin Hill Farm and Vineyards. Pippin Hill first extended an invite to us last summer and was happy to host our first meet-up of 2022 recently. The significance of the Pippin Hill events are that it is the only winery that has fully sponsored any Black Women Who Wine event and we’re super grateful to them for providing the experiences.

Black Women Who Wine on the Hill

Located in North Garden, Va., Pippin Hill always tops the list of wineries to visit not only in Virginia, but on the East Coast. It’s beautiful for sure and is just as much a culinary destination as a wine one. While there we tried various dishes including pizza, buffalo cauliflower, charcuterie, sliders, and desserts.

Photo: Courtnee Durrett

We tasted reds and whites, with the reds being the standouts here. The Cannon Red, a blend of Cabernet Franc, Chambourcin, Merlot, Tannat, and Viognier, was highly drinkable with notes of blackberries and plum. Red Pump, another red blend was also a favorite. A bit spicier but also lighter than the Cannon Red, it also had notes of berries as well as peppercorn and tarragon. Both were pleasing on the nose and palate and didn’t leave a smokey aftertaste.

Other wine notes. The Rose here is good. Even those who don’t normally enjoy Rose reached a consensus on this. Of the whites we tried, the Zero White was the group’s least favorite. The blend made mostly of Vidal Blanc landed as the least favorite of the group. The white that ranked highest was the Petit Manseng. The crisp finish made this almost refreshing and I’m sure it is especially popular in the summer.

How to be a Black Woman Who Wines

How does one become a Black Woman Who Wines? We get this question all the time. Currently, there is no membership process or fee to join in with us. Anyone can show up to most monthly meetups and have a great time with us.

However, there are certain criteria you can fulfill to be considered part of our core group and receive the latest news and invites before anyone else, as well as priority registration and sign-up for tours and guided tastings with limited seating.

To always be invited:

  • Sign up to receive emails from Black Women Who Wine
  • Participate in monthly meetups.
  • Attend our annual Fall Winery Tour.

You do not have to live in central Virginia to participate in this group/organization. While most of our activity is focused on Central Virginia and the Shenandoah Valley, we also visit wineries in Northern Virginia and other parts of the state.

We hope to see you soon!

Enjoying the 2022 Fall Winery Tour

Why Wine and Cheese?

Today is National Cheese Lover’s Day. Many people love cheese, not just wine lovers, but have you ever wondered why wine and cheese is a “thing?” Surprisingly, a lot of it simply has to do with the historical close proximity of the two.

French and Italian wine regions are home to wines and cheeses. As pointed out here, the French Brie region is well known for Brie cheese, but also tannic wine varietals. The world over you can find Brie accompanying wine during visits to wineries and tastings.

As you may have guessed there is also a science to pairing wine and cheese. A 2012 study took a look at astringent and fat sensations.

Photo by Anastasia Belousova from Pexels

Where did we go in 2021?

As 2021 comes to a close, we’re looking at what a great year we had. We turned two this year and visited a total of 31 wineries – 28 in Virginia and 3 in Maryland. So where did we go? Check the list below.

  1. Stone Tower Winery
  2. Bluestone Vineyard
  3. Blue Valley Vineyard and Winery
  4. Merriemill Farm and Vineyard
  5. Albermarle Ciderworks
  6. Chestnut Oak Vineyard
  7. Barboursville Vineyards
  8. Early Mountain Vineyards
  9. Hazy Mountain Vineyard
  10. King Family Vineyard
  11. Glass House Winery
  12. Keswick Vineyard
  13. Mt. Ida Reserve
  14. Crosskeys Vineyards
  15. Barron Ridge Vineyards
  16. 12 Ridges Vineyard
  17. Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards
  18. Wisdom Oak Winery
  19. The Reserve Tasting Room and Lounge
  20. Brix & Columns Vineyards
  21. Lazy Days Winery
  22. Creeks Edge Winery
  23. Eastwood Farm and Winery
  24. James River Cellars
  25. Mountain House Trading Company
  26. Stable Craft Brewing
  27. Aspen Dale Winery at the Barn
  28. Veritas Winery
  29. Orchid Cellar Meadery
  30. Olney Winery
  31. Red Heifer Winery

Ending a Year of Meet-Ups at The Reserve

For our last meet-up of the year we made the hour-long trek to Lynchburg to visit the Reserve Tasting Room and Lounge. If you’ve never been, it’s worth a trip. This cozy, well-decorated tasting room features wines from various Virginia wineries that you can enjoy inside or outside. If you want to sit inside, I highly suggest that you make a reservation as seating is limited. The tasting room also serves up amazing snacks, including one of the best boards we’ve experienced all year.

Photo credit: Courtnee Durrett

With a friendly and attentive staff and a prime location near plenty of resteraunts and shops, there’s honestly nothing bad about the Reserve.

Now, the wine. You can purchase flights, glasses, and bottles. Most of our group got the sweet flight or the featured flight. The sweet flight was nice because it included some favorites we’ve tried before like th Bluestone Bridgewater Gold and Cross Keys Joy White. Plus, these are by no means dessert wines or those with an elevated amount of residual sugar.

The featured fligt included a white, rose, and two reds. The Effingham Tannat and NV Reserve Jefferson Street Red were the standouts on this flight.

We’d defintely recommend a visit to Reserve and will be going back ourselves.

Christmas is a month away and for those with items still on their lists, time is winding down. Wine, cider, spirits, are all great gifts, but we know we all have friends and family members who do not drink, are too young to consume alcohol, or who live further away and we don’t want to ship liquids to. So, here are our picks for wine (and non-wine) gifts for everyone on your list. This list highlights Black and brown businesses (both big and small), as well as local, Virginia wineries and other businesses.

For your best gal pals

  • Unique, campy gifts from Faded Poppy Mercantile in Waynesboro, VA. Honestly, just support this business. One of the most respected businesses in the Valley, Sarah and Jason continue to be allies for LGBTQ, Black and other communities of color, and pride themselve on providing a covid-safe environment for customers and clients. Check them out for everything from fresh flowers to candles, mugs, bath and body items, and more.
  • Shop Shaniece B for candles. Black and woman-owned, this one-stop wellness shop is expanding into the growing luxury picnic arena in 2022.
  • Darling Boutique is a favorite in Charlottesville and it’s easy to see why when you step into this downtown shop. Woman-owned and operated, Darling offers a plethora of gifts and features Black and other small businesses and creatives of color frequently. It’s really a one-stop shop to pick up something for yourself and gifts for others. If you’re not already sold, it frequently helps raise funds for local nonprofits. Shop gifts online or in-store.

For your sister and your self

  • Renee’s Boutique is ready to meet all of your holiday season needs. Black and female-owned, this online retail destination has everything from holiday looks for you to great gifts for all of the important people on your list.
  • We hear a lot that there is no black-owned book stores to support in Charlottesville, and that’s true, but you can support the book shop in the Alumni Room at the Jefferson School African American Heritage Center. You can check the website to see what items are available or visit the shop in-person.
  • Mim Beauty is located in Waynesboro and a great place to stock up on stocking stuffers. The staff here is great and makes the store all the more fun to visit. It also has a great selection of wigs and hair to get you ready for the holiday season or to gift to someone else.
  • If you have people on your list who love plants, check out WeGrow in Scottsville.
Photo by Marcus Loke on Unsplash

For the kiddos

  • Pufferbellies in Staunton is a whole destination. While this bright, fun space has some popular toy items, most of what you’ll find here are unique choices that will encourage learning through play. The store also includes a candy section.

Wine gifts

  • Support a black-owned wine brand and try Harmony Wine. Founded by Matt Harmon, Harmony Wine offers six wine selections currently. You can order online so really sending to friends and family is hassle free.
  • Cheese board deck at Anthropologie. Honestly, I’m giving these to all of my friends this year. What could be more fun than a deck of cards all about cheesboard and charcuterie inspiration? Not much.
  • Gift cards to wineries are still great gifts. Give them to some favorites or to new ones you know friends and family want to try out.

One Wine Weekend in October

Over the past weekend, Black Women Who Wine explored three wineries never visited before.

On Saturday, we held our October meet-up at 12 Ridges Vineyard on the Blue Ridge Parkway. It is a high altitude winery focused on sparkling wines using the Traditional Method originating from the Champagne, France region. This winery opened in 2019 so is fairly new and the location was previously Skylark Farm, a popular spot for Christmas tree shopping.

The wine selection is currently not completely focused on sparkling and includes wine from other wineries and vineyards in and out of Virginia. 12 Ridges promises a unique experience and it delivered. The high elevation means you get beautiful views on your drive to the vineyard and once you arrive. We went on a rainy day, but this still didn’t stop people from flowing in throughout our visit to enjoy live music and a food truck, as well as wine. This vineyard is meant to be enjoyed outside and only 3 tables are available inside. Staff was pretty nice here and Leslie, the tasting room manager was excellent at making our group feel welcome and chatting with us.

Enjoying the views and sips at 12 Ridges Vineyard during our October Meet-Up

On Sunday, I moved from Central Virginia to Northern Virginia and checked out two of the Delaplane wineries – Aspen Dale Winery at the Barn and Blue Valley Vineyard. Aspen Dale was a surprise hit. It offered red, white and sweet flights, snacks and wine slushies. I had the sweet flight and a wine slushie. Don’t be fooled by the sweet flight, it included a sangria and a sparkling cider, but also a sauvignon blanc/viognier blend and a rosé. This winery was super family friendly with plenty of outdoor seating and open space for play.

Next I headed to Blue Valley, which was literally just around the corner. Blue Valley has been on my list to visit for a long time and it didn’t disappoint. Honestly, this was more my style than Aspen Dale. Beautiful and spacious inside and out, great snacks, and wine choices anyone can enjoy. I had the pre-selected tasting of 5 wines and also enjoyed trying the Sangiovese (which was excellent) and a blend called Remembrance (Chambourcin with a touch of Vidal Blanc. 2.4% residual sugar) that were not part of the tasting.

Of the three wineries visitied this weekend, Blue Valley was my favorite and I’ll definitely go back again.

Hello Skin Contact Wines

Skin-contact, also known as orange or amber wines because of their hue, are wines made from white grapes that are vinified in the same way red ones usually are. The longer contact with skin aplifies flavors and give the wine a bolder hue.

One, where do you get these wines from? Even though they are growning in popularity and trendy right now, skin-contact ones still aren’t exactly found wherever wine is sold. This weekend, Chisolm Vineyards in Earlysville debuted a skin-contact Chardonnay, so there’s that. But to find my first skin-contact wine to try, I went to Crush Pad Wines in Charlottesville. The day I visitied, only two skin-contact optoins were in stock. I went with what the staff member said was the most popular option.

Wanting to try more than one, I also ordered a skin-contact pinot grigio from Total Wine.

Having the two bottles inhand, I invited the Black Women Who Wine exective committee over to try these two options with me.

First, the bottle from Crush Pad. The Coenobium Monastero Trappiste Vitorchiano 2019 was an option from Italy. This white blend included Trebbiano, Malvasia del Lazio and Verdicchio.

Honestly, everyone agreed this wine was nasty. The mineral flavor shines through. Flavor notes include those of hay, wild herbs, humus and ripe white fruits. Unfortunately, the hay and humus are more prominent than the others.

Our next wine tried was Sun Goddess Pinot Grigio. This option is better for anyone looking to try skin-contact wines for the first time. Being that it’s not a blend, the Pinot Grigio flavor is familiar even if the production method is not. This is bolder than the average Pinot Grigio with notes of peach, melon and blackberriess.

If you’re in the Charlottesville area looking for skin-contact options, try Crush Pad or The Workshop at the Wool Factory.

Fall Winery Tour 2021: A Recap

On September 18, we embarked on our first ever Fall Winery Tour. Eight Black Women Who Wine visited three wineries – Barboursville Vineyards, Chestnut Oak Vineyard and Early Mountain Vineyards.

We received excellent transport service from A&A Limousine based out of Charlottesville.

First stop: Barboursville Vineyards

Our first stop, Barboursville Vineyards, was a fan favorite and has a unique tasting experience. Pay a tasting fee of $15 for six one ounce pours self-dispensed by automated Winestations. The selection of reds here stand out. The Merlot, Sangiovese Reserve and Nebbiolo Reserve were favorites with our group. As for whites, the 2019 Vermentino Reserve stood out and the Philéo was liked by sweet wine lovers.

Second stop: Chestnut Oak Vineyard

Chestnut Oak was the only stop on our tour that none of us had visited before. Well, it definitely will not be the last time we visit this vineyard. Customer service was excellent and we all had flights. We enjoyed the 2017 Ascension Petit Verdot, 2015 Petit Manseng, and 2017 Sparkling Wine.

Last stop: Early Mountain Vineyard

Our last stop was Early Mountain for lunch and more wine. The great thing about Early Mountain is that it offers wines from wineries across Virginia. It is currently offering three different flights to choose from as well as wines by the bottle and glass.