The day started early. Trying to beat the heat, I hit the back yard around 8am (thank you dogs for letting me sleep until then!) and put in 2-1/2 hours of gardening. Ann joined in a little while later. It's quite the chore trying to grow things in solid shale that was scraped bare by the contractor who then just threw sod on top of the shale. After getting a lot of work done, I sat in the shade and started putting together a plan for the remainder of that gorgeous day.
Ever since Boxwood announced a month ago that they would be opening to the public, we had wanted to get over there and see their state-of-the-art winery. So, that had me thinking in the direction of Middleburg. I thought we might go to the east side of Middleburg and visit Chrysalis, then start heading back towards Winchester and perhaps stop at Swedenburg and say hi to Marc before touring Boxwood. By then, we'd be good and hungry and could stop at Hunter's Head for a late lunch before heading to Berryville to pick Carter up from his father.
|Breakfast of Champions: Pluots and Porchetta|
The plan having come together, we hit the shower and then the restaurant to grab the camera and a quick bite to eat. No wine tasting on an empty stomach! We each grabbed a pluot and a slice of my porchetta, cured Berkshire pork loin stuffed with black garlic and fennel sausage that I made from the loin trimmings. Ann couldn't resist the temptation to snap a photo of me tasting tasty salted pig parts while wearing my shirt that says "tasty salted pig parts."
|Tasty Salted Pig Parts Indeed!|
Camera in hand and stomachs sated, we started off on the leisurely drive out route 50 through horse country to Middleburg and Chrysalis. I was surprised to see that there is a new vineyard going in just west of Chrysalis on the north side of the highway, a vineyard called Cana. Wineries seem to be popping up everywhere these days, a good sign for the industry even if it will be 5-7 years before this new winery comes on line with its own grapes.
|Entry Portico at Chrysalis Vineyards|
|Outdoor Tasting; Norton Vines in Background|
Tastings at Chrysalis are held outdoors in nice weather under canopies like the one above. We did the reserve tasting of 12 wines. We weren't wild about any of the reds, but of the reds, the Norton and the Norton reserve were the best of the bunch. I'm not crazy about the flavor or the abundant acidity of Norton; it's just not a grape that appeals to me. The other reds, such as Petit Verdot and Tannat, seem like they were abused during pressing: the tannins are way out of balance. Perhaps new winemaker Alan Kinne is turning things around: his whites seem much better than those of his predecessor (who is now at Swedenburg). Of the whites, the 2011 Albariño and 2011 Viognier are both pretty good. The Viognier in particular is much, much better than the overoaked and overwrought Viogniers that Chrysalis had been making previously.
From Chrysalis, we headed back to Middleburg and as you read already, starting poking about back roads looking for Boxwood. I decided not to stop at Swedenburg in part because three wineries is one too many in a day and I really wanted to see Boxwood. The first thing I noticed at Boxwood is how immaculate everything is, from the boxwoods outside the tasting room to the grounds and the gleaming stainless steel in the winery.
|The Chai, from the Outside|
|Tastings are Outside at Boxwood in the Courtyard|
|Feeling No Pain!|
|Detritus from our Debauchery|
|We like the Cab Franc-Based Topiary|
|From the Catwalk above the Fermenters|
|The Barrel Cave|
|Ann, Reflected on the Side of the Bottling Line|
I had worked up a pretty good hunger by the time we reached the Hunter's Head Tavern in Upperville. A pluot, a slice of porchetta, and a few nibbles of cheese and sausage do not fortify an Ed. I was ready for a burger and so was Ann. I have bought Ayrshire beef for the restaurant for a good while in the past and was always having to fight the Hunter's Head for the prime cuts, so I know how good their beef is.
|Hunter's Head Tavern, Upperville|
|We Ate Inside; Too Muggy Outside|
|Leaning Against the Phone Booth|