Local restaurants and wineries gear up for Virginia Wine Month
Last week, Governor Terry McAuliffe announced that sales of Virginia wine increased by nearly 2 percent from fiscal year 2014, with wineries in the commonwealth having sold more than 6.5 million bottles (more than 524,000 cases). Since 2010, according to the press release, sales of Virginia-made wine have increased by 26 percent. This announcement came out right as wineries and restaurants from Blacksburg to Norfolk to Alexandria were gearing up for October, also known as Virginia Wine Month.
“October is toward the end of the harvest in Virginia, and the weather gets good so people start getting out and about and going to wineries,” says King Family Vineyards owner and Virginia Wine Board Chairman David King. “It all seems to happen at the same time, so it makes sense that wine month is in October.”
So what does the 27th annual Virginia Wine Month mean for those of us who live in or around Charlottesville? We already know that Central Virginia is quickly becoming the Napa Valley of the East Coast—King notes that his winery was the 75th in the state when it opened in 1998, and that number has grown to more than 250 since then—so we certainly don’t need state officials to remind us of that. Well, it may mean battling droves of boot- and sweater-clad visitors from out of town who want to get in on the wine-and-pumpkin action of Virginia in the fall. But it also means events at wineries, such as harvest dinners and special wine pairings at restaurants and shops all over town.
Keswick Vineyards offers Around the World in a Glass: Wine 101, monthly courses designed to introduce you to wines you may not have the chance to try otherwise. The October installment is A celebration of Virginia wines—Best of Virginia, which includes current and past Governor’s Case winners.
Burtons Grill is celebrating Virginia Wine Month with a prix fixe menu and wine pairings. The three-course meal features wines from Barboursville Vineyards, Lovingston Winery, Jefferson Vineyards and White Hall Vineyards.
Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards offers regular monthly cooking classes, and the focus in October is Tuscan fall fare, featuring chef Bill Scatena’s favorite Tuscan recipes.
It may not be wine exactly, but dry cider is carving its own niche in the Virginia farm winery industry. Saturday, October 10 is Foggy Ridge Cider’s Apple Harvest Celebration, where $10 covers cider and apple tasting, and cookbook author Elizabeth Wiegand will discuss her latest book and talk about cider recipes and pairings.
‘Blue jeans and burger dreams’
It sounds just crazy enough to work, especially in Charlottesville.
On Friday, October 9, the guys at JM Stock Provisions are pausing their regular sales for an event that will involve burgers, fries, shakes and…blue jeans. According to co-owner Matt Greene, since opening a second location in Richmond, he and the team have developed a rapport with Shockoe Atelier, a Richmond–based clothing store featuring jeans made by hand in the shop. After a successful collaborative event at Shockoe this summer, the owners of the two businesses decided to team up for something different in Charlottesville.
“We just love what they do. All their products are hand-stitched in-house in Richmond,” he says. “We got to thinking about this idea of handmade and doing everything ‘the long, hard, stupid way’ as [renowned restaurateur] David Chang calls it. That’s what we do and that’s what they do.”
The event, which they’re calling blue jeans and burger dreams, will include a pop-up shop featuring a selection of Shockoe clothing and a dressing room, plus a simple menu of flat-top griddled burgers and French fries, and either milkshakes or Coke floats featuring local ice cream or gelato.
“The idea came from the movie American Graffiti, with the hot rods, denim, burger stands at night, just that whole part of American pop culture,” Greene says. “What goes better together than jeans, Chuck Taylors and burgers?”
Green notes that the whole-animal butcher shop, which opened its doors on West Main about two years ago, is not a deli counter or sandwich shop, and serving burgers for an evening certainly won’t make it a burger shop. He’s the first to admit that with the JM Stock business model comes cost constraints for customers, but they try to “offer a little something for everybody,” and events like this are designed with the local-loving but cost-conscious in mind.
“There are a lot of young professionals in this town, and their spending power isn’t great, but the idea is that we want to be able to grow with them,” Greene says. “These events are fun, and they’re directed at our clientele that don’t have a lot of money but are very conscious of how they spend it.”