My friend, Laura Beth, and I went to Stinson Vineyards on one of the most perfect, spring-like, February Saturdays. The weather must have been almost 70º, the sun was shining, and I had Monday off for a holiday. Visiting Stinson Vineyards was an added bonus to an already wonderful weekend!
After visiting UVA in the morning (Wahoowah!), Laura Beth, and I drove the 20-30 minutes through the rolling hills of the Blue Ridge Mountains (or the Monticello AVA area) to Stinson. When we arrived, we marveled at how quiet everything was. We are so used to the hustle and bustle of the DC city/suburban life, and we took a minute to just enjoy the peace and calm.
Stinson has a very small tasting room. So small, in fact, that we thought we had missed it! The tasting room looks like someone’s home, which was very welcoming. Stinson is nothing less than rustically adorable with a picturesque view of the mountains. There is a patio with tables or picnic tables where you
can either bring your own picnic, or buy food at the venue. They have a menu of sandwiches and salads, as well as a cooler full of cheeses, grass fed/farm-raised meats, local produce,breads, chips, and premade salads.
Tame chickens from the farm next door roamed around the property, which made the already adorably rustic
area appear more so.
At the tasting, we were greeted by Rachel, the winemaker. She clearly has passion about her job, as she explained the tasting notes of each grape and blend with such pride and detail. She told us so much more about the wines than what was on the tasting card, which was such a great experience because she, being the winemaker, was able tell us things about the wine that no one else could. It was like we had a backstage pass! Thank you, Rachel, for such an informative tasting!
A tasting at Stinson is $10 and they pour you six tastings and have oyster crackers on the side. At today’s tasting, we had:
- 2015 Sauvignon Blanc: Reminded me a lot of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, with lots of lemongrass and citrus notes. I got a lot of lime and grapefruit. It was nice and crisp, and would make an excellent patio wine! I could see this also going really well with a Thai Seafood Curry or even a simple salad with a vinaigrette dressing.
- 2014 Chardonnay: Lots of lemon zest and green apple. Since it was only lightly oaked in French barrels, there is a slight caramel/vanilla undertone. I thought the taste was more crisp than oaky, which is how I usually like Chardonnays. This would be great with a Tuna/Chicken/Seafood salad on a bed of lettuce or as a Melted sandwich…yum!
- 2015 Sugar Hollow White: A Vidal Blanc that is mostly dry with a slight sweetness from the citrus. Not usually an enjoyer of sweet wines, I can honestly say that the sweetness is only slight, and was a nice touch to the wine. A broth based vegetable or chicken soup would be a nice compliment, or even hard, white cheeses.
- 2014 Meritage: A Bordeaux Styled blend of 56% Merlot, 20% Cab Sav, 12% Cab Franc, and 12% Petit
Verdot. I got a lot of vanilla, plum, and chocolate. It was dry and lighter than I expected, which I could see going well with stews or tomato based dishes. I liked the fact that the body was more medium than heavy. This one was tied for my favorite.
- 2012 La Tour d’Afton: Made with grapes from a nearby winery, this was a blend of 40% Petit Verdot, 20% Cab Franc, 20% Merlot, and 20% Malbec. Petit Verdot and Cab Franc are usually beasts of wines, and are used in blends to give body and tannin. However, I got a really fruity nose. On the palate, I got lots of black currant, cherry, anise, and herbs. There was a tannic structure at the end of the taste. To me, the tannins weren’t so overbearing that you had to have food. In fact, I found it rather easy drinking, and could see myself enjoying it by the fireplace, if I had one! It would also go with heavier roasts or balsamic-based dishes.
- 2014 Petit Manseng: Woah! Check out the honey on this guy! The nose oozed of honey and orange. It was sweeter, but surprisingly refreshing! It would also go well with shellfish, like boiled shrimp or lobster with butter on the side. I also heard from someone at the vineyard that they had it with popcorn and loved it!
Overall, I would recommend Stinson mostly for adults. While kids and dogs are allowed, and there is some land to run around in, the area is small. There weren’t any children when I was there, so perhaps I would have said differently if otherwise, but I don’t know that I would bring kiddos. Glasses of wine range from $4-10, and bottles from $13-39. Stinson is open Thursdays-Sundays and holiday Mondays from 11-5. Check out their website, Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter for more information! As always, let me know if you go and what you thought!