Virginia Wine isn’t here to play, it’s here to win!

Much discussion of, “Is Virginia the next Finger Lakes?” wine region has been had at my monthly wine group: The Cork Dorks: The American Wine Society Philadelphia Chapter (which I am the chair of). This week we tasted a nice lineup of various award winning wines that Virginia has to offer. Today I’m going to break away from my normal topics of food and travel to talk about wine, I mean, wine is food and travel, and history, and religion, and pleasure, it’s all wrapped up into a bottle of (hopefully) fermented goodness.

When you think of American wine, most people think of California, Washington, Oregon, and then maybe the Finger Lakes region in New York, but today I am telling you that yes, Virginia needs to be top of mind when thinking about American Wine.

A few of the wines we had lined up to taste!

During our tasting, we invited special guest Alex Scadden, from Morais Vineyards in Bealeton, VA to talk to us about Virginia wines. This is the big thing that stuck out to me when talking about wine regions on the East Coast of the USA: We asked about comparing Virginia wine to the New York Finger Lakes region, what is the difference? Without missing a beat, Alex answered that Virginia offers bigger, bolder, reds, Bordeaux style, Portuguese style, etc. The Finger Lakes touts some incredible whites but Virginia can do both. The climate in AVAs (American Viticultural Areas) of Virginia parallels some areas of France’s top wine producing regions, so I think it’s fair to say we should expect incredible things from Virginia wine.

The Cork Dorks is filled with wine professionals and collectively we have identified a few favorites from our Virginia themed tasting event. Scroll down for the winners.

The final lineup after everything had been poured.

The wines we tried…

  • Veritas Wines – Scintilla 2015
  • Barboursville Vermentino Reserve 2021 
  • King Family Vineyards 2021 Crosé 
  • Michael Shaps 2018 Chardonnay
  • Michael Shaps 2019 Petit Manseng
  • Muse Vineyards Roussanne 2021
  • Lagrange Wine 2019 Petit Verdot
  • Jefferson Vineyards 2019 Petit Verdot Reserve
  • Morais Vineyard Single Varietal Touriga
  • RdV Rendezvous 2014

The winners of the tasting…


Our favorite white of the evening came down between the two Michael Shaps wines but with 85% of the vote, the clear winner was the Michael Shaps 2019 Petit Manseng. This wine was such a surprise! A gorgeous gold color with aromas of honeysuckle, tropical fruit, and white blossoms. On the palate it treats you to notes of ripe apricot, smooth butterscotch, and an “outrageous mouth feel” as some in the group noted. With a nicely balanced acidity, the medium (plus) bodied wine concludes with a little bit of oak and spice on the finish. The wine is truly outstanding. Would pair well with a nice heavy, creamy soup like butternut squash soup. More about Michael Shaps wines here.


We narrowed the reds down to our top three:

#3: Jefferson Vineyards 2019 Petit Verdot Reserve: This was our favorite of the two Petit Verdots we tried. This was the most well balanced of the two, with nice juicy ripe black plum flavors and a smooth, oaky finish. Visit the Jefferson Vineyards website here.

#2: RdV Rendezvous 2014 comes in at second place. I want to note that I think this wine is a little overrated and hyped up beyond it’s price. The bottle price is somewhere around $90 and you can find bottles that will do the same thing for a lot less. That being said, we all really liked the wine, and I, personally am a big fan of the Bordeaux style red blends. I truly believe this was the number 2 wine of the night. This is your classic Bordeaux style wine made up of mostly Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. A nice aroma of oaky pencil shavings and black currant with flavor notes of black plum, black cherry, dark chocolate, and pomegranate with great acid. A little dusty but still room to age, the wine is very nicely balanced with a smooth finish. If it weren’t for the price, I could drink this all day. More about the RdV Rendezvous here.

#1: Morais Vineyard Touriga 2020 wins it all. There was no question that this was the most incredible wine of the tasting. This is one of those wines that sort of makes your eyes bulge as you taste it because it’s so dynamic and complex. Multiple people in the group uttered the word “outstanding” in regards to the Touriga and when asked if we should move on to our next tasting someone said, “Sorry, I’m having a love affair with this wine, I think I need a minute.” This wine has a gorgeous deep ruby red color with nice oak and cherry on the nose. The surprise is how many well balanced flavors come at you one right after the other from pepper, to licorice, red cherry, other notes of red and black fruit, as well as a nice earthy oak, all while serving up perfect tannins and a nice acidity with a long finish. The general agreement is that this wine would pair well with just about anything, or nothing at all. If you can get your hands on a bottle of this, you will impress any guests you invite to enjoy it with you! One final note about this wine is that it was foot crushed… which I’m not sure if that has anything to do with the flavor but I sure enjoyed knowing that other people’s feet crushed the grapes I was drinking 😍You can learn more about it and purchase the wine here.

Incredible Virginia Wines


In my research as I compiled a list of wines for the tasting group to try, communicated with wineries, and read a lot of Virginia wine articles out there, I really believe Virginia has it all… Wine trails, wineries / chateau you can stay at bed-and-breakfast style, beautiful places for wedding among the vines… If you are planning a wine trip on the East Coast, Virginia should be your top consideration.

Next step for Virginia wine is to get on shelves at wine shops across the country. You can find a few things here and there but if this is the type of juice they have to offer, we need more!

The Virginia Wine organization has some incredible resources for planning trips and tastings. You can check it out here.

I have to add one final note that the Crosé from King Family Vineyards was a perfect summer rosé. I have spent a lot of time drinking rosé in the summertime and this one gets the Dan stamp of approval. I served a bottle of it to friends last night with some bruschetta and it got rave reviews. I can’t wait to grab a bottle for my front porch this summer!

Cheers to your next glass of Virginia wine!

American Wine Society – Philadelphia Chapter: The Cork Dorks

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