Virginia Wine was humbled to welcome sommeliers from across the country to the Commonwealth for Somm Camp 2019. Over the course of a few days, attendees were introduced to a community of farmers perfecting their agricultural art. They were given the opportunity to feel Virginia winemakers’ adventurous and humble spirits.
Welcome Dinner: Field & Main — Marshall, VA
Neal Wavra proprietor and sommelier at Field & Main Restuarant welcomed campers and offered a first glance of the delightful and unique wines of Virginia.
Does a Region Need a Signature?
Campers had the opportunity to contemplate whether or not a signature is a necessity for the industry. In Virginia, winemakers are true artists in expressing the character of their land. Due to the incredible geological diversity in the Commonwealth, a one-size-fits-all approach is difficult.
Obscure grape varieties like Viognier, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Manseng are taking center stage in Virginia. Focusing on the experimental spirit of Virginia winemakers, attendees had the opportunity to taste unexpected wines that upended every expectation and showed off a character of their own.
Bigger than a drink
Nothing expresses a “sense of place” like well-made wine. Our campers met with Jeff White, winemaker at Glen Manor Vineyards, who established vines on six acres of his family farm, demonstrating that what’s happening in Virginia is bigger than a drink. It’s a way to reclaim our relationship with the land. It’s a celebration of identity and independence from predictability.
Moments in time
Virginia’s vintage variation makes our region unique. Wines from the same terroir can express themselves differently depending on the weather patterns experienced in a growing season. Jay Youmans, MW, led campers through a tasting of a few of our beloved Bordeaux-style red blends through the lens of different years in the Commonwealth. Following the tasting, dinner was prepared by Chef Nicholas Tang & Executive Sous Chef Amin Mina of DBGB, and enjoyed on the picture-perfect lawn at RdV Vineyards.
Led by Luca Paschina at Barboursville Vineyards, our campers learned that every vintage in Virginia is a new adventure. Seasonal variation is a point of pride in Virginia. Instead of conforming to an idea of what our wine should be, we follow what the fruit wants. The outcome is an authentic expression of our place.
Worlds within worlds
Virginia’s diverse landscape and varied conditions demand an attention to detail that has made our winemakers fluent in the language of their land. Somm Camp attendees visited one of Early Mountain’s vineyards and were able to experience the dramatic variation from site to site. Much of Virginia’s evolution has come through exploring this diversity on both the micro and macro level, leading to an uncanny ability to read the signs from the soil. Then, campers and winemakers alike gathered to break bread for a final meal together at Early Mountain, prepared by Shepherd Craig Rogers, Chef Ryan Collins, Chef Aaron Deal, Chef Tim Moore, and Chef Tristan Wraight.
A toast to our campers
We’re grateful that they all set their footprint in Virginia’s wine country. We hope that they will remain curious and know they will always find friends here in the Commonwealth.