Here’s one of our occasional report on Virginia wineries.
Early Mountain is the buzziest winery to come along in Virginia in awhile.
AOL founder Steve Case bought the former Sweeley Vineyard out of foreclosure, and apparently set about spiffing up the already spiffy Madison County estate and tasting room before opening it in 2012.
It’s certainly an attractive space, with a central fireplace, large tasting bar and tons of space to spread out. We had a crying baby with us, and easily slipped into a corner until he chilled out. There’s also a full-service kitchen that appeared to be turning out real food.
The tasting experience is unique, at least as far as these parts go. When we went on March 1, they were pouring four flights of four 2 oz. pours for $12 a piece. Perhaps because there’s only so much Early Mountain wine at this point, the flights are made up in part of what it calls a selection of the “Best of Virginia.”
We had a red and white mixed flight, and an all-red flight, which was a mix of some nice pours and some clunkers.
And that’s my only problem with what appears to be a great place to drink wine.
The purported showcases of the “Best of Virginia” is instead something of a grab bag of seemingly random wines. I’m not sure who’s curating the selections, but there was a fairly unpleasant Chardonnay on our white flight, alongside some other pours that would best be described as “meh.”
There’s no King Family, no Linden, no Pollack and no Glen Manor, to name just a few. In other words, the Best of Virginia is nowhere to be found. (Although the Linden rose is available by the bottle).
But, but, but…this is a really nice place! They have additional offerings by the bottle and glass, as well as three types of local cider. Like a place such as Veritas, I’m sure it will be very popular with a crowd that just wants to kick back in a comfortable wine-y environment.
And, importantly, all the people working on March 1 were welcoming and friendly.
So, at this stage, it’s impossible to say how good the Early Mountain wine will be, although clearly they have the capabilities to make the product shine. And while the “Best of Virginia” offering as of March 1 is a little off, I like the idea, and can imagine this becoming a premiere wine destination.