My fiance and I are wine lovers, bordering on the ‘geekish’ varietal, and are always looking for new experiences for our palates. Unfortunately for us, living on the east coast can present an issue in traveling to the more renowned west coast locales like Paso Robles, Willamette Valley for the Pinot, or Washington State for their remarkable Cabs. We love to travel, but reality as it is tends to dictate our traveling terms to us more than allowing us to hop from Rhone to Tuscany.
We’re not “extraordinarily rich”, if you get my drift. Being a wine lover, you would think this would stymie many an adventure, but this past January (of all months), Beth and I took a trip to Virginia wine Country, and stumbled upon what may be one of the best kept little secrets on the East Coast of the U.S. or anywhere else: Virginia Wines- particularly the whites- are getting quite good. The experience that secured that sentiment to my taste buds was a visit to Keswick Hall of Monticello to taste some of the wines from “up & comer” Blenheim Vineyards.
While Blenheim is in the midst of some remodeling they decided to host the tasting of their wines at Keswick Hall of Monticello- a massive and gorgeous property not far down the road from the Vineyard itself. That’s what led Beth & I to Keswick’s door, and upon sharing this with the manager (a friendly young chap named Jarrod) we were guided to a cozy little table near the dining area of the Estate. An “official” tasting wasn’t even going on at the time, but Jarrod leapt clearly out of his way to get us comfortable. Upon seating us and pouring us a glass of the first wine (the ’05 Viognier- crisp and delicious) we looked around and began to realize just how beautiful our surroundings were.
After trying five of the Blenheim wines it was clear to both of us that the Viognier was in another league, and comparable to the kinds of wines one can get from Sancere in France. The reds, while not in the typical “blast thee upon thy mouth” style of other new world reds, very much held their own and were delightful. The Petit Verdot offered up hints of the Right Bank’s velvety smoothness, and the ruby-red Meritage reflected a character more in tune with the left bank wines of Bordeaux in its attack with ripe, forward fruit and a well-rounded finish that lingered pleasantly and surprisingly.
Now keep in mind, these wines are not near the level of Bordeaux’s “First growths”, and neither should be your expectations, but I found them delightfully composed and lovingly inspired. One could almost feel that, while young, how “at home” the vines felt in the soils. It is a lighter-bodied, more European style than the blockbusters from the west coast- but it’s got its own place upon the American palate for certain, and that style is going to continue to grow and gain attention in the years to come and as the vines take deeper root.
Upon chatting with Jarrod, we were invited into the Keswick Cellar to have a quick look at their extensive inventory- the perfect way to end such an event. We strolled briefly among the selection of Super-Tuscans, California Cults, and even some remarkably well-aged Madeira available at Fossett’s Restaurant, located at the Estate.
From there, another gentleman greeted us and continued our impromptu tour and showed us several absolutely remarkable banquet halls, meeting rooms, and a number of other areas with views that continued to stop us in our tracks, giving us time only to gather our gaping mouths at the simple beauty and classic design of the place.
After big pours of five different wines, an ample helping of bread, cheeses, even a quiet sampling from their delicious daily buffet, a tour of their impressive (and well controlled might I add) wine cellar, and an impromptu tour of the estate the total bill came to: $16.00. With tax. I’ll spell it out: SIXTEEN BUCKS, for a day of casual tasting, noshing, and touring-about a truly remarkable place, for two people. The welcome we got was so warm there, even their outdoor ‘Infini pool’ was a toasty 80 degrees, and damn tempting, in the heart of January.
It’s a ridiculously good deal and a fantastic secret for both the wine as well as the service. It’s one I think your readers would love to experience for themselves. Particularly the wine lovers in the midst who may not be “extraordinarily wealthy”.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- History and spectacular landscapes come together at Charlottesville, where Thomas Jefferson country meets Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains. Celebrated landmarks, including Jefferson's Monticello and the University of Virginia, are clustered here among swathes of the East Coast's most beautiful scenery, home to renowned horse races, hunts and vineyards. This is the setting for Keswick Hall & Golf Club, an impressive resort with 48 newly refreshed guest rooms, a luxurious spa and the award winning Pete Dye golf course, Full Cry. Enjoy tennis, archery, award-winning dining, croquet, children's activities and more. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Keswick Hall Hotel Keswick
- Hall At Monticello Charlottesville Keswick