On the last day of our family reunion in Colonial Williamsburg, my parents, brothers, my wife and I decided to take a trip to visit Williamsburg Winery, located just off route 199 about 10 minuets from the center of Williamsburg.
We decided to take the Tour and Tasting. The price was nice at $ 8.00 per person. It started with a video, which we missed. Then we had a tour of the winery. We started in their entertaining room, Wessex Hall. It has a 18 century feel, with iron chandeliers, old wood and Spanish body armor statues. They use this room for entertaining and weddings. My wife said that when she gets married again, this is the place.
We then went on to the barrel room in the cellar. The room is kept at a temperature of 55 to 60 degrees and a humidity level of 80%. There were alot of barrels there and the room had a wonderful aroma of wood. They mainly use American oak, but a good amount is in french oak.
We then went on to the production area. There were able to watch them bottle their Dry Riesling. We saw them rock and label and seal the bottles. This was very entertaining for those on the tour who never saw this before.
We then walked through the museum which houses bottles from the colonial days that were recovered from the area and some vintage bottles that the owner, the Duffeler family has acquired over the years. The highlight of this part was to see an actual part of the cork tree. They use all natural corks from such tree. We then also saw the stainless steel tanks that they use to ferment their white wine.
Next we went on to the tasting. This is where I was disappointed. First the pourings were about a half of a jigger…they had liquor bottle pourer on all the wine and our guide did not give a full pour.
We tasted seven wines, one of them was a reserve wine. The wine’s I liked were the following:
Samuel Argall Dry Riesling 2007: this wine is only sold in Virginia. This was the first wine we tried and liked alot. On the nose, some granny smith apple and lemon. On the palate it was very crisp, lip smacking crisp and very dry. This was a favorite of mine and my mom.
The Williamsburg Winery Acte12 Chardonnay 2006: This Chardonnay is aged and fermented in French Oak. Now I don’t like Chardonnay aged this way, but this is French Style and it was well done, not to oaky. On the nose it was fruit foward, it had a slight toasty aroma, but the fruit came through. On the palate, it all fruit. The Chardonnay fruit was all there. Some apple and peach were there and the finish was just buttery enough. This Chardonnay was named one of the worlds best by Decanter Magazine.
Barrel Aged Claret: This is a Bordeaux style blend made of 44% Cabernet Sauvignon, 45% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Franc and 5% Syrah. It has wonderful red berry aroma and some cherry was there. On the palate it was a little smoky and peppery. It is medium to light body wine that has a nice clean finish. I would consider this wine for my wine cellar. This one I wish I had more of a tasting.
My overall impression with Williamsburg Winery is this, it was missing something and more of a pour was it. I also found it interesting that they only have 30 of the 50 acres planted with grapes. They do obtain grapes from other parts of America, like Washington, California, Virgina and New York if they are looking for a certian grape. I feel that they could be more of a grower than a maker, they have the land for it. It appears to me that they are more focused on making wine than growing wine. I understand that sometimes winemakers need to get grapes from other vineyards, but there is just something about farming you own fruit and producing your own product from your own back yard that makes that wine extra special. You can taste it.
The next time I am in Williamsburg, VA, I will take advantage of their Reserve Tour. This is a $30 tour, which according to there website, “are available by appointment only in our private wine cellar. You will sample and compare some of the reserve wines produced at the winery with selected vintages from our library collection. A country sampler of assorted cheese and crackers will complement your personalized tasting and you will take home an oversized etched reserve wine glass to remember your tasting.”