It couldn’t have been a better day at King Family Vineyards in Crozet, VA if we had planned it. It was February, 70 degrees, and perfectly sunny with white, puffy clouds. We’re talking puffy like the kind of clouds you drew in 1st or 2nd grade when you drew and landscapes. Pixar could have used these clouds as inspiration for the movie, “UP!”. That kind of fluffy. The polo fields and grounds had children running, men wearing T-shirts with UVA logos throwing footballs, and families having picnics. It was crowded, but since the grounds are enormous, it wasn’t overbearingly so.
After marveling at the grounds and taking a walk around, my friend, Laura Beth, and I went into the tasting room. There is a large bar area, little shopping area, and fridge full of cheeses and meats upon entering the room. The decor was that of a classy barn, with fine wood work and barn-like accessories. Awards were everywhere you looked, which was a good testament to their wine.
We were greeted by Carol, our taster for the afternoon. Laura Beth and I both though Carol was an excellent person to give us the tasting. It was crowded, so she tended to the crowds when needed, but when she was pouring us a taste, she was really with us. She wasn’t pouring our taste with her eyes over her shoulder to see what she needed to do next, but rather she was really with us. She told us about the wine we were tasting, asked me what food it should go with, and then she would tell us a little more about how the wine was made. We loved how attentive she was! Thank you, Carol, for a wonderful tasting and experience at King!
At King, you pay $10 for 6 samples; two whites, the rosé, 2 reds, and a dessert wine. No crackers are given, but there are water jugs on the side. The wines that we had the pleasure of sampling were:
2015 Viognier: Virginia’s grape is Viognier (they like the alliteration), and this one was a prime example. It had many citrus and honeysuckle flavors, with a hint of jasmine flowers. I had a very bright and crisp finish. My mind instantly went to Ceviche for a pairing, and I would imagine, any citrusy fish (e.g. lemon marinated flounder, shrimp tacos…)
2015 Roseland: A white blend of Viognier, Chardonnay, and Petit Manning. The Chardonnay was fermented in steel, which made the blend very refreshing and crisp. There is a ton of pineapple and peach, with a little green apple at the end. The food pairings are endless. Any fish or light poultry would go well with this, especially if there is a citrus in the dish.
2016 Rosé: Rosé!!! I love me some rosé, and on a day like today, a rosé is exactly what I wanted/needed. This one is 100% Merlot. The flavor is very, very light, almost too light for food. Unless you pair it with something else that is light (boiled shrimp, boiled chicken), the taste will be lost. However, it is an excellent patio wine, wine to drink while you are cooking, wine to drink while you are writing a blog post about the vineyard, etc…. There is peach and raspberry in the flavor, and has quite nice acidity.
2015 Cabernet Franc: When I think of Cabernet Franc, I think deep, bold wine. All of the Virginia Cab Franc that I have had has been ultra tannic and with huge flavors. I was absolutely floored when this one had a light body, almost as light as a Pinot Noir. Not in a bad way, just in an unexpected way. The flavor packed a huge punch, with red cherry, violets, and something like oolong tea. The power of the flavor and the light/medium body of the wine is what I loved. This would be fantastic with rotisserie chicken or roasted pork wine. I think it would even be light enough to go well with a cedar plank salmon.
2014 Meritage: 50% Merlot, 23% Petit Verdot, 21% Cab Franc, 6% Malbec. This Meritage is a prime example of how Virginia does Bordeaux Style blends. The nose on this guy was very spicy with cloves, dried flowers, and tar. However, the flavor was mostly fruity, with red cherry and red currant. The Meritage was a wonderful cycle of spicy nose to fruity palate, blending all of the flavors together. With so many experiences and senses of flavor, this would be a fine, steak pairing. Think a steak stir fry, steak fajitas, hanger steak salad, blue cheese burger, oh my, my mouth is salivating!
2014 Seven: This dessert wine was made from Petit Verdot, spent 22 months in a bourbon barrel, and was fortified with Brandy. With such sweet notes of blackberries and creme brûlée, I was shocked to learn that there was only 3% residual sugar! Wines like this often have way more sugar, so it was as if you were drinking “diet” dessert wine! However, the 18% alcohol will remind you that it is not. I imagine drinking this after you start the dishwasher at night, when you’re almost ready for bed, but looking for a reason to stay up.
I was oh, so happy at King Family Vineyards. Maybe it was because the day was so beautiful, maybe because we had a great taster, maybe because the wines were delicious. All in all, King knows that wine is just as much about the experience as it is the wine. As I mentioned before, it is very kid and dog friendly. If you don’t bring your own picnic, shelves of crackers and breads, and coolers of cheeses and charcuterie are provided. There is a ton of land to walk around and enjoy, including a Waterfowl Reservation. During the season, Polo games are played that you can enjoy watching. King Family Vineyards are open daily from 10-5:30, with the last tasting at 5:00. On Wednesdays, they are open late until 8:30. Visit their website, Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram for more information. As always, let me know if you go and what you think!