Our last day of vacation was at the plantation and visits to the local vineyards in the area. Our first stop was to Ingleside Vineyards and their Harvest Fest. We had been invited by Chris Flemer, one of the family members who founded Ingleside.
Here is a little history from their website:
“Built in 1834, it first served as a boys’ school known as Washington Academy. During the Civil War it was used as a garrison and later a courthouse. Since 1890, the Flemer family has owned and operated this grand estate encompassing more than 3,000 acres and for the first fifty years it functioned as a dairy farm.
However, in 1940 Carl Flemer Jr. had bigger plans and throughout the years the estate evolved into Ingleside Plantation Nursery and then Ingleside Vineyards after stumbling upon the fact that our location and conditions are prime for growing high quality wine grapes.
Opening in 1980, under the direction of Doug Flemer, Ingleside Vineyards is one of Virginia’s oldest and largest wineries and produces over 18 varieties of wine from estate-grown grapes. For over thirty years, our hand-crafted wines have won numerous awards and top honors in state, national and international wine competitions, such as the London International Wine & Spirit Competition, the San Francisco International Wine Competition and the Virginia Governor’s Cup Competition. Our winemaker, Bill Swain, has brought Ingleside wines to a new level with his passion, skill and thoughtful approach to the craft of winemaking.
Ingleside was the first winery in Virginia to produce a methode champenoise sparkling wine. We were also the first winery in Virginia to bottle a varietal Petit Verdot, now one of our flagship wines and recent winner of “Best Petit Verdot” at the 2012 San Francisco International Wine Competition.”
When we arrived we were greeted by several members of the staff. As we talked to Chris and told him about our wonderful plantation, those staff members looked on and spoke of their need to come and stay with us. We even had one ask if she could come live in exchange for free house cleaning or anything else we might need.
Chris talked to us about ways we could work together through tasting and coming to be a part of events we may have. We were excited to hear that we will be working together. We love Ingleside Wines and can’t wait to share their wonderful vino with everyone.
After we talked, we had a chance to walk around the festival. We met some really wonderful vendors and got a chance to find some of the local items that you may be able to experience at Belle Grove in the days to come.
If asked which wine we would suggest, we have to say the Virginia Gold. It is one of the Reserve Labels. The Winemakers notes: “This elegant, ruby colored Bordeaux blend exhibits aromas of cherry, raspberry, and vanilla with a smooth concentration of flavors that linger on the palate.”
It has won the following awards:
GOLD – Town Point Wine Competition 2011
SILVER – San Francisco International Wine Competition 2012
SILVER – Virginia Wine Lover Wine Classic 2012
BRONZE – Virginia Governor’s Cup Competition 2011
BRONZE – Virginia Governor’s Cup Competition 2012
Once we left Ingleside, we headed to our next vineyard, Oak Crest Vineyard and Winery. We had an appointment to meet Conrad and Dorothy Brandt, owners of Oak Crest. We have been to Oak Crest before and were excited to return.
Here is a little history from their website:
“A Long time effort by the Conrad Brandts family culminated in the opening of Oak Crest Winery in 2002. The winery’s creation involved a combination of genetics, scientific bent, fortunate opportunities, and the urge to create good wine and share it with others.
Conrad’s home wine-making dates back to the 1950’s and the family’s wine grape growing in Virginia dates to the early 1960’s. Participation in the King George Chapter of the American Wine Society has provided breadth and depth to the Brandts’ wine knowledge and appreciation.
They developed preferences for Bordeaux style red wines and Rhine style white wines. When they purchased their current house site in 1971, the Brandts’ recognized the grape growing potential of the adjoining 14 acre tract. In 1986 they acquired that tract and began planting the sandy 8 acre plateau-like field with grafted Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc grapevines procured from Gabriele Rausse. Gabriele invested his time teaching the Brandts’ how to bench graft and today many of the vines in their vineyard are the results of bench and field grafting. The old-world vitis vinifera vines are grafted onto American rootstock. Anticipated customer needs dictated planting the limited acreage to half red and half white grapes. Jacques Recht, famous as a Virginia winemaker, advised that the red Bordeaux varities would do well in the Northern Neck area but was pessimistic about producing good wine from locally grown Reisling grapes. Reisling, Emerald Reisling and Sauvignon Blanc were grown experimentally, but did not prove to be satisfactory.
On a winery surveying trip through California, the Brandts’ got a lead on Symphony and followed through with a visit to Harold Olmo at U.C. Davis. After a meeting on campus, a visit to his winery and lunch at his house the Brandts’ were convinced to try Symphony. Symphony is a cross of Muscat of Alexandria and a rose of Grenache and produces wine similar to Riesling. Immediately after the vineyard site was acquired, sketches and calculations were initiated for a winery design. Average vineyard yield, grape-to-wine-to-bottle process flow, bulk wine aging, bottled wine aging, energy consumption, waste disposal, aesthetics, and target market were a few of the factors that influenced the final design. The design has proven to be very energy efficient and elegantly functional.
All of the family’s talent and time resources were challenged when construction of the winery began in the spring of 1999. At harvest that fall, Oak Crest had licenses to produce commercial wine in the basement fermentation room while the roof was still under construction.
An informal “name the winery” contest was conducted among the local American Wine Society members and family friends. “Oak Crest” was selected because of its depth of meaning, the oak trees that grow on the edge of the crest surrounding the vineyard, Oak’s use in wine making, and the presence of an oak tree on the family’s German crest. The acorn, a bit of Dorothy’s artistic license, was added to brand the tree as an oak tree. Our goal is to become ‘The Best Little-Ole Winery in Virginia’.”
Our meeting was wonderful. We learned that both Conrad and Dorothy were transplants from Ohio just like Brett. We also talked about the area and learned a lot. We talked about having them come to the plantation for tasting and to be involved in events we will have in the future. We are excited to have their wines to offer our guest. This wine using the Symphony grapes is a wonderful surprise and is one of our favorites.
If asked which wine we would suggest, we have to say the Hot Jazz. This wine is made with Symphony grapes and less than 1% Jalapeno peppers. It is a smooth and spicy blend that is a unique and surprising pleasant wine. It isn’t too hot even with the Jalapeno in it. This wine is award winning!
Brett and I are very excited to have both of these Chesapeake Bay Wine Trail Vineyards working with us. We are proud to have their wines as part of our wine stock and will enjoying sharing the great taste of Virginia Wines with our guest.
Don’t forget to Like Us on Facebook!