Michael Wangbickler on May 5th, 2010

(The title is for you, Jeff. A nod to last year’s post on Texas wines)

This past weekend was the 2010 Drink Local Wine Conference. Media, bloggers, and consumers gathered at the Lansdowne Resort in Loudon County, Virginia to discuss and taste local wines from Virginia and Maryland. After two days of drinking the local wine and sampling the local fare, I am now five pounds heavier and thoroughly impressed with the quality of the wine and winemaking in Virginia. I’m actually quite surprised. I don’t know why I should be, since I’m a big proponent of local wine. But, I guess, even true believers can have preconceptions. Consider me convinced.

In my humble opinion, the Viognier produced by Virginia wineries in general was far and away superior to ANYTHING that California can produce (sorry guys). I’ll be the first to tell you that I’m not a big fan of Viognier. I find it too perfumed, too alcoholic, and too flabby. With so many producers (from California) producing the wine in this style, I guess I figured that it was just the grape itself. Nope! Virginia Viognier is fragrant (but not perfumey), light, and snappy. All in all, it was lovely. Virginia wineries also do Cabernet Franc and Merlot very well. They tend to have that herbal edge that I think these two varieties SHOULD have. Some of the more interesting trials and ones I think have real promise are Albarino and Petit Manseng.

During the conference, there were three panel discussion, one of which I was moderator. My panel was concerning Social Media. What else would it be about? It was a good discussion, with great participation from the audience. I had the discussion videoed and include it here for your pleasure. What are your thoughts?

DLW 2010 Social Media Panel from Michael Wangbickler on Vimeo.

I have a few other videos and photos that I will post on the Caveman Wines Facebook Fan Page later.

By far, the most beneficial aspect of this conference, for me at least, was meeting a bunch of folks I hadn’t yet met face-to-face and meeting a bunch of new folks. I think we can too often overlook the “social” part of social media. Gatherings like this provide a great opportunity to establish new connections and make new friends.

In addition to my own observations, several other friends and colleagues have posted some good reviews of the conference and their opinions of Virginia/Maryland wine.

David McIntyre (Washington Post) – Wine: Locapours drink and Tweet

Dave Falcheck (Empty Bottles) – Todd Kliman flambés restaurants for shunning local wine

Frank Morgan (Drink What You Like) – Virginia Wine and Social Media – Part I – Breaux Vineyards and Virginia Wine and Social Media – Part II – Doukenie Winery

VA Wine Diva/Grape Envy Guy (Swirl, Sip, Snark) – Thinking About Drinking Local and More Thinking About (and Drinking) VA Wine

John Witherspoon (Anything Wine) – Drink Local Wine Conference 2010 and Virginia Wine Twitter Smackdown

Terry Sullivan (Wine Trail Traveler) – Drink Local Wine Conference Session Axes Cabernet Sauvignon

Lenn Thompson (New York Cork Report) – Drink Local Wine 2010 Conference: It’s About the People

Brian Kirby (The Other 46) – DrinkLocalWine.com 2010 Conference: Reflections

Dezel Quillen (My Vine Spot) – DrinkLocalWine Conference 2010: Spotlight on Virginia Wine

Cathy Harding (C-Ville) – Social networking and the rise of the regional wine movement

Sean Sullivan (Washington Wine Report) – Don’t know Virginia makes wine? Chances are, some day you will.

And, of course, you should visit the growing list of articles on DrinkLocalWine.com.

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7 Responses to “Holy Sh*t! They can make wine in Virginia!”

  1. Great seeing you at DLW10 Michael. Wish we would have had more Californians there. I’m glad to read that you enjoyed Virginia’s version of Viognier – light, fragrant, but not perfumey (the way Viognier should be).

    Hope we can connect during next trip to NoCal.


  2. Ditto Frank. It was great seeing you also. I really enjoyed my time in Virginia.

  3. Pleasure meeting you Michael at DLW10. Great job with the social media panel, easily the panel of the day. Also love this,

    “Virginia wineries also do Cabernet Franc and Merlot very well. They tend to have that herbal edge that I think these two varieties SHOULD have.”

    I hope Virginia sticks with the herbal edge and doesn’t move towards more fruit. Time will tell. Thanks for supporting local wine. Cheers!

  4. Makes me wish you’d been around on Friday night for the NC late harvest viognier I brought up.

    It made an impression, and I wish I’d gotten yours.

    Great to meet you. Hope to converse more on the growing wine industry in the south.

  5. Virginia wineries have been out of diapers for a long time now! They are progressive, forwardlooking, and, in fact, quite popular. Some Virginia winemakers are now so respected and secure in their positions that they can take risks. Lately, many local winemakers are not only trying out nontraditional barrel fermenations using stave woods like acacia, but also at times embrace unconventional “natural” yeast fermentations which turn out to be engagingly unique and successful. A few Virginia wineries are so established and highly regarded that they offer on-site US internships for French oenology students. The Institut National Polytechnique de Toulouse has historically maintained a decade-long collaboration with at least one Virginia Winery . . . the winery where I work! Applications for oenology internships in Virgnina have been increasingly competitive and prestigious.

  6. Thanks for sharing your recent experiences of wine in Virginia, and in New Mexico. I have yet to be swayed by Virginia wines (and have never had a bottle from New Mexico), but that doesn’t mean I’ll stop trying. It’s important to continually drink, learn, and discover — and give credit where it’s due.

  7. Brian: Agreed.

    Leanne: That may be so, but I think there is still room for improvement. If they want to compete against all the imports from California and elsewhere, they’ll need to create a signature varietal or two for themselves. Napa = Cab, Russian River = Pinot, Oregon = Pinot. You get the idea.

    Jolan: Yep, keep trying. But also, keep commenting. The more feedback these wineries receive, the more they will be encouraged to make further strides in quality.

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