Frank Morgan lives in Virginia with his wife Acada, and blogs about wine. Frank and I have communicated online in advance of a prior visit he made to our northern California wine country, when I made some wine tasting and event recommendations for his visit.

I received an invitation from Frank to take part in a tasting of wines from Virginia to take place in Sonoma County’s Sebastopol at the home of another fellow wine blogger, Marcy Gordon. Wine bloggers gather each year in a wine area, chat, drink, and tweet. Next year, 2011, the Wine Blogger’s Conference is being held in Virginia. Frank, acting as an unofficial Virginia wine ambassador, mentioned to some of the wineries in his area that he was going to visit northern California and would love to host a tasting for a group of wine bloggers. Several wineries packed up bottles and shipped them ahead of Frank’s arrival to Marcy’s home.

Invitations were sent out, RSVPs were logged, heads were counted, and William Allen showed up to taste with cases of tasting glasses in hand for all.

Most bloggers don’t blog about events like this so much as they tweet 140 character wine reviews via Twitter. I’m a bit more old school. I like stringing more words together, and adding pictures. That said, here is a hybrid entry featuring a bit of both, through organizing the tweets of the attendees and adding my quick notes, to give several views of each Virginia wine tasted.

I hesitate to list the folks who attended, because I can 100% guarantee I will fail, misremembering a name, or forgetting to mention someone who attended – I remember wines tasted 15-20 years ago better than names I heard one minute ago – but here goes anyway: It was great meeting, or seeing again, Frank, Acada, Marcy, Roger, Michelle, Brian, Fred, Eva, Jason, Thea, Joel, Cailyn, William, Rob, Janet, Michael, and most especially because we stood together Sherry and Sherry’s mom. Damn, see there, I forgot Sherry’s mom’s name; I think it was Beth, but I am uncertain.

EDITED TO ADD: One of my readers, and a friend from school, Rick, confirmed that Sherry’s mom’s name is indeed Beth. I guess I can put off the memory aid supplement Ginko Biloba to another day. The naturally occurring Resveratrol in the red wine I taste must be helping my memory.

norcalwingman Hangin w/ @winebratsf @norcalwine @slhousman tasting #vawine

20dollarwine Let the #vawine begin! @norcalwine @marcygordon and of course @winebratsf

SLHousman At a pre WBC11 tasting with @DrinkWhatULike @marcygordon @SonomaWilliam @winebratsf @norcalwingman #VaWines

Kluge Estate Blanc de Blanc Sparkling

JohnOnWine notes: Lively carbonation, bright acid, steely fruit, lemon lime, 7up, Clean crisp citrus nose leads to decidedly citrusy mouth with tart green apple. I would drink again.

marcygordon Starting with @KlugeEstates bubbles dry & yeasty. @drinkwhatulike our host #VAWines

norcalwingman @KlugeEstate blanc de blanc 100% Chardonnay yeasty and crisp not bad in the $20 range #vawine

SLHousman #VaWines really enjoying this Kluge Estate Blanc de Blanc Sparkling lots of citrus gr8 floral nose ( :

cailynq Tasting a sparkling fm @krugestate off the monticello wine trail for #vawine

SonomaWilliam #vawine tasting Kluge Estates blanc de blanc nice citrus, lemon. Very effervescent in mouth #wine nice

CreativeFurnace #vawine Kluge Blanc de Blanc delicious. Nice toasty yeast bright fruit

mwangbickler Enjoying #vawine with some of my favorite wine peeps.

20dollarwine @klugeestate blanc de blanc has interesting notes of citrus and minerals. not low dosage…#vawine


Rappahannock Cellars 2009 Viognier

JohnOnWine notes: Really interesting fruit and spice nose. Oddly hollow mouth. Mouth does not deliver nose’s promise. Tart underipe pear.

norcalwingman @rcellars 2009 viognier tropical fruits backed by Hubba Bubba bubblegum #vawine

marcygordon #vawines @rcelkars Rappahannock Viognier peaches and cream bit of apricot.

SonomaWilliam 2009 Rappahannock Cellars viognier lots of citrus and acidity; lemon in mouth not as floral or flabby as many others. #wine #vawine

20dollarwine Nice balance on @rcellars 2009 Viognier #vawine


Jefferson Vineyards 2009 Viognier

JohnOnWine notes: Bigger nose than previous wines, sweeter wine. Much more apricot and pear fruit, and honeysuckle floral sweetness. Caramel.

marcygordon Jefferson Vineyards @ th_jefferson 09 Viognier. Unctuous smooth richness Silky soul of Viongier. #VaWines http://twitpic.com/2ug938

CreativeFurnace #vawine bubblicious with good acidity.

norcalwingman @th_Jefferson 2009 viognier the nose doesn’t say anything about the residual sugar bomb #vawine

SonomaWilliam 2009 Jefferson Vineyards viognier more traditional nose, honey, stone fruit, nice finish;wish was dry, slight RS, nice overall #vawine #wine

20dollarwine @th_Jefferson 2009 Viognier ..a bit too sweet for me. RS 2%? #vawine


Breaux Vineyards 2009 Viognier

JohnOnWine notes: Floral and mown hay, just right, medium sweet edge. Steel citrus and crushed pineapple. Mouth watering acidity.

cailynq @breauxvineyards just tried the 09 viognier as part of #vawine west today…

marcygordon 09 Viognier from @BreauxVineyards citrus and lime tropical flavors. Bit thin on my palate. Need some thai spring rolls. #vawines

SLHousman Wow @DrinkWhatULike is putting on an awesome Pre WBC11 tasting of #VaWines Thanks Frank ( :

20dollarwine 2009 @breauxvineyards Viognier nice melon and lemon notes …also a bit too sweet #vawine

SonomaWilliam 2009 Breaux Vineyards again high acidity and citrus. I like the non flabbiness but not very viognier like #wine #vawine

DrinkWhatULike http://twitpic.com/2ugcgk – Great crowd here in Sonoma for the Intro to #Vawine tasting

Linden Vineyards 2007 Hardscrabble Chardonnay

JohnOnWine notes: Over barrel fermented, burnt crème brule caramel and green apple.

marcygordon Linden Vineyards 07 Chardonnay from the cement eggs tanks. juicy and toasty I like the balance. Would pair this with S’Mores. #vawines

SonomaWilliam 2007 Linden Hardscrabble Chardonnay nose of stone fruit, great acidity; oak and ml; very well balanced, nice finish #wine #vawine

norcalwingman Linden vineyards Chardonnay funky and oaky light and crisp acid finish #vawine

Doukenie Winery 2009 Chardonnay

JohnOnWine notes: Lighter pineapple and cream, bright acid, off nose. Lemon and vanilla cream mouth. Acidic finish.

marcygordon Doukenie 09 Chardonnay for my palate this is a bit medicinal like novacaine #vawines

norcalwingman @doukeniewinery Chardonnay citronella and deet somethings not quite right? The Wife says ” fast fermentation ” #vawine

20dollarwine chard with little oak from @doukeniewinery #vawine

SonomaWilliam 2009 Doukenie Chardonnay tropical from oak comes thru on nose, + slight off smell; cellar to let oak integrate #wine #vawine

Jenialphabet Drinking #vawine with new friends

Blenheim Vineyards 2008 Chardonnay

JohnOnWine notes: Very drinkable, most familiar, similar to Chardonnays regularly enjoyed. NOT a barrel fermented malolactic monster, nice apple fruit expression, tartness, nice acid balanced by vanilla cream.

SLHousman the owner of this winery is Dave Matthews the Dave Matthews ( :

norcalwingman Dave Mathews @Blenheim Chardonnay soft and easy, light oak to no oak and decent minerality #vawine

marcygordon 08 Chardonnay @BlenheimWines appley and pineapply fruity creamy finish. Not too oaky. #vawines

Jenialphabet Blenheim vineyards chard. Drymouth with a musty aftertaste. Not a good match for me. #vawine

SonomaWilliam 08 Blenheim Chardonnay fave wine so far; light straw, apple, stone fruit, balanced, great finish, kudos! #wine #vawine


Rappahannock Cellars 2008 Chardonnay

JohnOnWine notes: Nice nose, fleshy tropical fruit. Lemon orange citrus.

cailynq 2008 Rappahannack cellars Chardonnay mellow and buttery…#vawine @rcellars

marcygordon Rappahannock 08 Chardonnay lemmony and fresh but my heart belongs to their Viognier @Rcellars #vawines

norcalwingman @rcellars 2008 Chardonnay very tropical on the nose surprising for a chard #vawine

mwangbickler Queen and King of the #vawine tasting in Cali. http://twitpic.com/2ughqy

SonomaWilliam 08 Rappahannock Chardonnay fragrant nose nice acidity w lemon, citrus in mouth, bit odd finish, cellar a tad? #wine #vawine


Keswick Vineyards 2007 Heritage Reserve (Cabernet Sauvignion/Merlot)

JohnOnWine notes: First, if you are going to make a Meritage, pay for and use the M. Heritage will be increasingly used to identify Zinfandel blends. Got that? Thanks. Oak, fruit on nose. Slightly closed, yet nice cedar and berry burst comes through. Could be pretty good with a host of foods if allowed to open a little more.

marcygordon Keswick 07 cab/merlot nice nose of fruit and lavender. Chewy mouth and tabbaco notes, need some time with this one @KeswickVineyard #vawines

SLHousman #VaWines I’m really liking this @rcellars 07 Meritage Gr8 aromas full of dry fruit! Yum!

cailynq @keswickvineyard thanks for sending Heritage to the #vawine west fest

norcalwingman @keswickvineyard cab/merlot: tight and smoky sour cherry fruit comes out finish hints of the future #vawine

SonomaWilliam 07 @Keswickvineyards Keswick Cab, unfined/unfiltered nose of spice, red fruit, nice fruit mid palate, tad tannin on finish #wine #vawine

Rappahannock Cellars 2007 Meritage

JohnOnWine notes: Willy wonka cherry flavored Lik-m-aid sugar powder and oak. Nose is more complex than mouth.

marcygordon Rappahannock @rcellars 07 Mertiage– blast from the past grape & cherry Pixie Stix flavor. Makes me want to jump on a Sip n Slide. #vawines

20dollarwine Diggin the @rcellars 2007 . Structure, balance. Gimme a grass-fed steak frites #vawine

norcalwingman @rcellars meritage, interesting fruit notes on the nose reminiscent of Zinfandel light tannins eh… #vawine

SonomaWilliam 07 Rappahannock meritage vibrant dark red; soft in mouth, bright Red fruit but not Jammy, great finish, well done. #wine #vawine

Fabbioli Cellars 2008 Tre Sorelle Dry Red Wine

JohnOnWine notes: Blackberry and chocolate nose, lush, not overpowering mouth, nice acidity, cedar, tannin. Berry and plum fruit taste. Good food wine.

marcygordon 07 Fabbioli tre sorelli blend elusive nose with less structure than expected for this blend. @fabbiolicellars #vawines

norcalwingman @fabbiolicellars dry red wine. Reminds me of Alexander valley cab, me likey! #vawine

SonomaWilliam 08 Fabbioli meritage tad funky nose (blew off) bit thin, good acid #wine #vawine


Breaux Vineyards 2007 Cabernet Franc Reserve

JohnOnWine notes: Loved the nose, was surprised by the aggressive mouth. Dry tannic cedary wood. Others like it more than I do, but Can Franc is one of my least favorite varietals. 16.4% alc, we had to check the label twice, it didn’t seem like an alc bomb.

marcygordon @BreauxVineyards Cab Franc sweet as baby’s breath. Like to eat some duck with this. #vawines

norcalwingman @breauxvineyards cab franc, big tannins and big licorice with healthy backing of black fruits #vawine

cailynq @breauxvineyards jenn..congrats on the little one! Wish we had more 07 cab franc @drinkwhatulike s west #vawine event

DrinkWhatULike Moving on to reds – @BreauxVineyards 07 Cab Franc Res a big hit at ‘Intro to #VaWine ‘ tasting…

SonomaWilliam 07 Breaux Vineyards Cab Franc classic nose, lush mouth, bold Rex fruit,tad sweet mid palate, offset by slight tannin on finish #wine #vawine

Jenialphabet Tasting @BreauxVineyards cab franc reserve. Full bodied. Makes me want a big steak. Cheers to u Jen for raising the bar in VA. #vawine

Rappahannock Cellars 2008 Cabernet Franc

JohnOnWine notes: Dusty cocoa and dry berry fruit. Vegetal and ripe blackberry. Vinuous.

marcygordon 08 Rappahannock Cellars Cab Franc string Green pepper and wheat grass element to nose. Palate a vegans dream. @rcellars #vawines

norcalwingman @rcellars cab franc smoky if not burnt overbearing on the red fruit #vawine

SonomaWilliam 08 Rappahannock cab franc, tad bell pepper on nose (softens); aerate to expose fruit, clean finish #wine #vawine

Jenialphabet #vawine. @rcellars. Tasting cab franc. smells like burnt tire. Tastes similar. Overly oaked. Needs remix. Harsh. I’d rather drink Nyquil.

Gabrielle Rausse 2008 Cabernet Franc

JohnOnWine notes: Less forward nose than other Cab Francs. Candied fruit berry flavor and drier oaky notes.

marcygordon Gabirele Rausse Cab Franc rose and blueberrys on the nose, escapes the norm & the form for a Cab Franc to my palate but I like it. #vawines

SonomaWilliam 08 Gabriele Rausse cab franc 13% alc (bravo)black fruit on nose, approachable, moderate red fruit, pair well w many foods #wine #vawine

SonomaWilliam 08 Gabriele Rausse cab franc 13% alc (bravo)black fruit on nose, approachable, moderate red fruit, pair well w many foods #wine #vawine

Mountfair Vineyards 2008 Wooloomooloo (Petit Verdot)

JohnOnWine notes: Just when I note a nice round plum note, it clashes with a green woody note. So close to love, but too green.

norcalwingman #vawine@mfvvinotweets I think I’m getting to know the character of this AVA smoky and green tannins w/ red fruits

marcygordon Mountfair Vineyards Wooloomooloo 2008 Petit Verdot 60% Merlot 30% Cab Franc 10% & a dash of Wooly Mammoth w pepper @MFVvinotweets #vawines

20dollarwine Really liked @mfvvinotweets 2008 Wooloomooloo Bordeaux blend #vawine

SonomaWilliam 08 Mountfair Wooloomooloo 60% petit verdot 30% merlot; tad thin, acidic, tannic finish not personal fave but others like #wine #vawine

Linden Vineyards 2006 Petit Verdot

JohnOnWine notes: A well known wine vlogger likes it, gave it a 91/100. Not me. Not what I expected, sour cherry note. Not lovin’ it.

marcygordon Linden Petit Verdot from @drinkwhatulike personal stash. Complex nose w a deep coco puffs & earthy palate. I’m cucko for coco puffs #vawines

Jenialphabet Tasting @lindenvinyards petit verdot with #vawine. Smells like chemical perm. Kinda tastes like it too. Try again next year.

norcalwingman Linden Petite Verdot heard @garyvee gave it 91… Must be the big funk, this wine has some complexity and layers #vawine

SonomaWilliam 06 Linden petit verdot funky nose, not my Fave varietal solo anyway. Others liked it me not so much #wine #vawine

Gabrielle Rausse 2008 Pinot Noir

JohnOnWine notes: No. Just no. Having grown up in the Russian River Valley, I have a home palate for Pinot. I haven’t found an Oregon Pinot I love as much as the best RRV and Sonoma Coast Pinots I have tasted, not even close really. This, however, is a ballsy winemaking choice, good for you for trying, but no. Oh my God, no.

JohnOnWine Thx to Frank and Macy for putting on today’s #VaWine tasting for a group of NorCal wine bloggers. Great people.

DrinkWhatULike @vcuspoon Had a great tasting here… New #VaWine fans here… #WBC11 will be an epic event

marcygordon The aftermath #VaWine Thanks to @DrinkWhatULike for organizing the event and to everyone who attended. http://twitpic.com/2uhhph

For me, the best part of yesterday’s tasting was that, overall, the wines were good, that they were tasted with the same critical skill applied to any other bottle, and that no one ever said “for a Virginia wine.” All of the wines were tasted and judged on their own merits, in the middle of northern California’s wine country. Some of the wines were loved, and some weren’t. Some varietals showed better than others. The experience was the same as it would be for any wines from any area. I learned a lot about Virginia wines, I found I like the whites better than the reds generally, but that reds can be made pretty tasty as well.

Thanks again to everyone responsible for this wonderful event, Frank, Marcy, the wineries, and the other attendees.

Virginia will be a good host state for next year’s Wine Blogger’s Conference.