Now that I have gotten the teens back and school, I can finally concentrate on stuff that matters – WINE.
When last I checked in, I was heading off to Charlottesville, Virginia for the annual Wine Bloggers’ Conference.
This was exciting to me as I had always wanted to see Monticello. Instead, when I was 10, my family visited Mount Vernon. George Washington may have been the founder of our country, but he had nothing on Thomas Jefferson. He wrote the Declaration of Independence as well as being an architect, inventor, diplomat, President and of course, Gentleman Farmer. Probably less known was that Jefferson was something of we now call a foodie.
Our third president was a lover of wine and tried to grow vinifera grapes at Monticello without much luck. Why? a little critter called Phylloxera which killed off a huge number of vines throughout the world (once it got out of the US, that is). While trying to grow wine grapes himself, he also worked with, Filipo Mazzei (founder of what is now know as Jefferson Vineyard) , John Adlum and John James Dufour all of whom were influential in American viticulture.
Oh, and in the food department he popularized macaroni and cheese (though he referred to all pasta as macaroni).
Naturally, I was raring to go! But better yet, we bloggers discovered that we would have a dinner and wine tasting reception at Monticello! The only part of the event that was disappointing was the weather. While the sun was shining the temperature was about 105°. And not the Arizona dry heat kind that everyone says is better (it isn’t). Despite that we were served fantastic wine, a really nice buffet that included fried green tomatoes and shrimp and grits and PLENTY of water. Oh. and fans. As the evening progressed there was a certain antebellum flair to the proceedings as we all fanned ourselves.
And for those of us who wanted to really cool off? Well, house was open to us. and it was air conditioned. YEAH! The interior of the house was amazing, unfortunately, I was not allowed to take pictures (flash or otherwise). Naturally wino’s wanted to see the dumbwaiter that brought wine bottles up from that cellar. And we got to see if from two perspectives. One from the dining room and the other from the wine cellar that has just been renovated. If you are looking at slideshow? Yes, that is Jancis Robinson. She gave the keynote at the WBC. Wow.
As for the wine tasting? Viognier is the white wine of choice in Virginia. I tried several that ranged in their fruitiness and minerality. All were very pleasant and I wish it had been cooler so that I felt like tasting more. Additionally, the standout wine of the evening was a Virginia Pinot Noir from Chateau Morrisette.
The highlight of evening was the presence of TJ himself (or a reasonable facsimile thereof). Now this was the guy to feel sorry for in the heat. We could all wear light clothing but he was stuck in full period regalia and in BLACK to boot! But he spoke eloquently and then wandered around taking pictures of everyone. What a trooper!
Gretchen Neuman, VinoVerve Editor August 25, 2011