07 June 2007

Lovingston makes it 3

2007 is definitely the Year of Pinotage in Virginia. Lovingston Winery tell me they have released their first Pinotage, bringing to three the number of Pinotage wineries in Virginia. Horton Vineyards and Grayhaven Winery also launched varietal Pinotages this year.

Owner Ed Puckett told me “We discovered about a third of an acre of Pinotage growing at a rather large vineyard about an hour’s drive from our vineyard and winery . Our winemaker is a South African fellow named Riaan Rossouw who insisted that I buy the grapes although I did so with much trepidation. We are currently selling the 2005 vintage which is our first. It has been a fantastic hit with all the wine shops and restaurants in the Central Virginia area. Our production has been basically depleted in about 3 months.

“The interesting thing about Virginia Pinotage is its lack of some of the gamey characteristics that I’ve noticed in South African versions. I call it Pinot Noir with balls. We have subsequently taken cuttings from the vineyard after having tied up it’s production for the next 3 years and have sent them off for grafting. We’ll plant them in the spring of 2008.

“Our fruit came from a vineyard that had been planted by Horton on leased property. Horton subsequently lost the lease and the vineyard reverted back to the landowners who operate a turkey farm there. So we call it the 'turkey hill' vineyard although I think they have a fancy name for it. Their plan is to rip out a lot of the varieties over the next several years and plant with more traditional grapes -- we have convinced them to keep the Pinotage vines for 3 years which will allow us to get our Pinotage vineyard going here. We currently grow Merlot and Cab Franc at our vineyard but will plant the Pinotage next spring.”

Seems like Pinotage has found a new home in Virginia.

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