Archive for November, 2011


Vinosity Wine Shop Moves On Up

Posted on Nov 30 2011 | By

 Culpeper Purveyor of Fine Wines Opens at New Location 

What’s the velocity of Vinosity?  Over four hundred distinctive wines and eighty artisan beers in a single visit.  An impressive pace.

Kim Kelly

Kim Kelly, proprietor of Vinosity—formerly Chateau du Reaux—recently moved diagonally across the street and about eighty paces from her old store and is now located at 174 E Davis Street.  While she has been operating in a “soft opening” mode for the last few weeks, the shop was officially opened on Wednesday, November 16.  Her customers couldn’t be happier.

Kelly, a former marketing and wine distribution maven, entered wine retailing back in 2008 when she purchased Chateau du Reaux.  “We built our business during the recession, achieved success and needed to expand.  This location is ideal and more than doubles our previous square footage.  We also have a lower level that provides for further expansion in the years ahead,” says Kelly.

This year the United States became the largest wine consuming nation in the world, making it an ideal time to be in the business.  However, experience and professionalism must be brought to bear to earn success in the competitive world of retail wine sales.

Upon entering the store you will find an extensive array of wines arranged by region and country with New World and Old World selections. New World wines hail from Argentina, Australia,Chile,New Zealand,South Africa and the United States.  Old World renditions emanate from France,Italy,Germany, Austria and Spain.  Both styles are popular in this full service wine shop which carries ample choices from around the globe.

In addition to wine, Vinosity is also a craft beer lovers playground, with an impressive selection of micro brews; domestic and international producers.  Cider, Port, Sherry and Madeir around out the shops offerings.

In the center of the boutique store are long hand-crafted tables and chairs for in-store shop tastings which are held every Friday from 5-8 pm.  “Either I or an industry representative will present 3 or 4 wines for tasting each week, describing palate flavors and appropriate food pairings.  We stress wine education and strive to build the knowledge base of our customers.  The more you know about wine the greater your appreciation,” emphasizes Kelly.

While the shop carries a diversity of wines ranging from inexpensive to ultra- premium, the emphasis is on high quality affordable bottlings.  “I spend a lot time seeking out wines that are excellent and reasonably priced.  We have over a hundred and seventy-five wines priced at $15 or less.  Wine drinkers love discovering a great bottle at an affordable price,” she says.

In addition to wines, the new shop will feature an assortment of hand cut cheeses and freshly baked artisan breads.   “With the addition of a kitchen in our new space, we are excited about the opportunity to expand our offering of complimentary products with an emphasis on local purveyors,” Kelly says smiling.

To round out the emphasis on upscale enjoyment, a fully stocked humidor of hand rolled cigars, fine stemware, and other wine related accessories are available for purchase.

Typical of many of her regular customers, Jeff Southard says, “Kim Kelly has a passion for wine and I’ve learned a lot from her.  Her shop offers a wonderful selection of wines at good prices.  What more could a wine lover ask for.”

A visit to Vinosity is like a step back in time while being thoroughly modern.  From the polished wood floors and high ceilings to the seemingly endless racks of wine, the ambiance invites one to linger and enjoy.  Much like a fine glass of wine.

Vinosity is open six days a week: Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday, 10am to 6pm; Friday, 10am to 8pm; Sunday, noon to 5 pm; closed Monday.  Visit or Facebook for information on upcoming shop events and more, or call 540.829.9463.

Published in the November 10, 2011 issue of the Culpeper Times.

End of Harvest

Categories : WINE ARTICLES

World’s Busiest Tasting Room

Posted on Nov 17 2011 | By

Is It Located In Napa, Burgundy, or Bordeaux?

Here in Virginia a typical tasting room might host a few thousand to perhaps 40,000 tasters a year.  A lot of sipping is occurring in the Old Dominion, indeed, but it’s difficult to imagine the traffic generated by the major wineries in California who annually see hundreds of thousands of wine lovers hoist a glass at their tasting bars.

Nonetheless, where might the most frequently visited winery on the globe be located?

Tick, tick, tick, tick.

Time’s up.  The answer is…North Carolina.  Say what?  Yep, North Carolina.

Tasting Room

According to the Biltmore Estate Winery in Ashville, NC, “…approximately 1 million visitors stop by to sample award-winning estate wines each year.”  One million.  How can this be?  There are about a 100 wineries in the entire state, ranking it tenth in the Nation.  California posts the number one position with over 3,000 wineries.

The secret to the Biltmore’s success is a house—called simply, you guessed it, the Biltmore House.  Let’s visit its web site and hear the story:

The celebrated architect Richard Morris Hunt modeled the house on three châteaux built in 16th-century France. It would feature 4 acres of floor space, 250 rooms, 34 bedrooms, 43 bathrooms, and 65 fireplaces. The basement alone would house a swimming pool, gymnasium and changing rooms, bowling alley, servants’ quarters, kitchens, and more.

The chateau was finished in 1895 after several years’ construction and is a bona fide wonder of the world.  In 1985, the estate dairy barn was converted to a winery and tasting room capable of hosting over a hundred tasters simultaneously at five separate islands.  And it is packed every day.  It’s impressive in concept and size and is in keeping with the scope of the House and the surrounding 8,000 manicured acres.

Recently, my bride of many years, Jean, and I spent a week in the mountains of North Carolina at a delightful venue called Lake Lure.  It’s less than an hour’s drive from the Biltmore House in Asheville.  We devoted an entire day to touring the estate and winery.  It was festively decorated for Christmas displaying 57 Christmas trees, four miles of fresh garlands and tens of thousands of lights and ornaments.  Rather than describe the impressive house tour we took, simply check out this video:

After spending over two hours at the House, we drove three miles of scenic lanes to the winery where we tasted Biltmore wines, had lunch and shopped in Antler Hill Village, an upscale suite of shops with a petting farm of friendly goats, horses and other pastoral animals.

I also had an opportunity to interview one of the senior tasting room personnel.

While the web site states a million visitors a year taste the wines it’s likely a bit less.  Not every one who tours the House is going to sip the wine.  Whatever the number, it’s still impressive.  The winery produces some 200,000 cases of wine a year.  Surprisingly, about 85% of that production comes from fruit or wine from California,Washington state and Oregon.  Over forty different bottlings are produced annually, the majority of which are Chardonnay, Viognier, Riesling, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon.

If you haven’t visited Biltmore House, it’s well worth the trip.  The region has many quaint towns with antique shops, art galleries, beautiful golf courses and numerous other sightseeing opportunities all of which make it a memorable getaway destination.

The North Carolina state motto is Esse quam videri; To be, rather than to seem. The Tar Heel state certainly seems to be all it wants to be.

Biltmore House

Categories : HAGARTY TALES

Wine & Food Conundrum

Posted on Nov 02 2011 | By

White with fish.  Red with meat.  Right?


Today, the creativity emerging from kitchens—both professional and in-home—is turning one of the oldest cooking chestnuts into a thing of the past.  More than ever, thinking outside the conventional wine & food box can be rewarded with wonderful matches that seemingly defy conventions of just a few years back.

The successful uniting of wine & food is analogous to an episode of Dancing With The Stars.  Shortly after the dance competitors’ take to the floor, they separate and perform tightly choreographed moves, independent of each other.  But, as the performance evolves, they increasingly embrace and begin displaying a singularly beautiful oneness. When the dance ends, the partners are breathlessly locked in each other’s arms.

OK, that’s stretching it a bit.  But that is what a perfect wine & food match should seek to achieve. Of course, it won’t happen every time. But when it does, you will have enjoyed a memorable dining experience.

Fusion cooking has gained popularity in the last decade or so.  This style of food preparation seeks to blend and contrast a number of ingredients and flavors to increase the overall palate complexity of an entrée.  It also presents a wider range of wine pairing opportunities. Often, it’s the sauces and spices that drive a wine companion decision, rather than the main entrée itself.  In the past, much of our dining was simply a meat and potatoes approach to eating.  Nourishing, yes.  But also a bit boring.

The availability of everyday cuisine meals has even been extended to the frozen food aisle of our favorite grocery store.  Boxes and bags of intriguing Thai, Asian, Mediterranean, and other ethnic foods have become widely available.   All of this is great news for our dinner tables as it offers more exciting wine pairing possibilities.

Much of the wine/food advice from the past tended to limit, rather than expand, our gastronomical delights.  In reality, it’s harder to mismatch a wine and food pairing than to create synergy at the table.  A wide variety of wines can go perfectly fine with a wide variety of entrees.  The key is to look for the melding of the two components that results in something greater than just the wine and just the food.

Perhaps one of the easiest ways to understand the art of marrying wine and food is to picture an obvious pairing clash.  What would be your reaction to dining on a tender, flaky serving of Mahi Mahi while sipping a glass of jammy, spicy, high alcohol Zinfandel?  Eeeeyew.  I don’t think so.  The wine would crush the flavors of the delicate fish.  To better match a wine with food simply think…compatibility.

To enhance the pairing of the vine and the table, let’s first examine some simple, time proven strategies that can brighten your next dining experience. 

Match the color, weight  & texture of the food with the color, weight & texture of the wine.   If the main dish is a succulent, baked chicken breast with mushroom sauce, try pairing it with a white wine displaying a creamy mouth feel.  A nice match would be a full-bodied, oaked California chardonnay, which typically shows these characteristics. If you are having the gang over for an evening of spicy chili, grab a couple of bottles of rich, full-throttled Californian Zinfandel at your local wine shop. Or, consider melding the flavors beef stroganoff with Merlot.  Here both components display soft, medium textures that nicely compliment each other.

Match acidity in the wine with acidity in the food.  Shrimp Orzo with lemon zest and a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc would nicely showcase the acidity of each component.  Or, duck with orange sauce would be enhanced with a glass of dry Riesling from Alsace or Australia.  The acidity in the food needs to be matched with acidity in the wine; otherwise, the wine will come off flat and dull.

Match salty or spicy foods with an off-dry, or slightly sweet, wine.  Thai or Asian dishes offer wonderful, zesty spices that would clash with a higher acidic wine.  Rather, seek out a nice off-dry Riesling.  The slightly sweet wine will tame each mouthful of the spicy food.   It’s fun to experience how such a pairing actually diminishes the sweet effect of the wine, almost transforming into a dry wine.  Each bite of the spicy dish is followed by a sip of wine, cleansing and softening the palate, and setting it up for the next bite of food.

Match the food of a country with its wine. This is an easily remembered pairing.  Italian food with Italian wine.  French food with French wine. California cuisine with California wine.  We could go on with numerous examples, but you get the idea. What’s the reasoning here?  Local wines have been matched with local foods for extended periods, in some cases, centuries.  The natives long ago figured out what dishes go best with their local wines.  No need for us to try and reinvent these classic matches.  So yes, veal parmigiana will swoon with a bottle of Chianti Classico—the Sangiovese grape—simply because our Italian brothers figured out long ago that the medium-bodied, higher acidity wine blends nicely with the meat, cheese and tomato sauce of the veal.

Let’s wrap up our culinary discussion with some not so obvious pairings.  Rather than set out any rules here, let’s just go with some recommended matches.

  • Jamaican jerk seasoned chicken and Zinfandel.  The spice elements of the chicken with dovetail nicely with the spicy, rich Zin.
  • Parmesan encrusted boneless breast of chicken and Sangiovese.  A Chianti Classico’s medium bodied weight, with good acidity, makes this combo work.
  • Veal cutlet with artichoke hearts and Pinot Grigio.  Artichoke is a difficult food match but it adds body to the normally lighter style pinot, making it a more full-bodied companion.
  • Tacos and a dry Rose’.   The dry wine with lots of fruit flavors will accent the meaty flavors of the taco.  
  • Smithfield country ham and Chenin Blanc.  The light styled white wine with nice fruit and a bit of sweetness will tame the salty component of the tasty ham.

Perhaps simply following your instincts can be the most fun in wine and food pairing.  After all, you don’t think twice about matching corn on the cob with salt and butter.  Or, building a ham and cheese sandwich with Dijon mustard.  Even linking chocolate chip cookies with a cold glass of milk comes to you effortlessly.

Let your dining imagination take you to places even the experts might not have thought of.  It’s just another way to expand your enjoyment of a delightful bottle of wine.


Categories : WINE ARTICLES