Virginia wineries tend to be a good distance from me. But this place was a special journey. In the mountains that separate West Virginia and Virginia, Cedar Creek is about as hidden away as a winery can get.
Owner Ron Schmidt purchased the land in 1999 and started growing grapes at the suggestion of a friend. He didn’t know anything about viticulture or wine making at the time – everything was ‘OJT’, if you will. But he unwittingly picked a fantastic location for vines. At 11,000 feet it has great elevation, and the fieldstone gives good drainage. It’s also in one of the driest parts of Virginia, so this place is a win all around. Not coincidentally, Sunset Hills owns some land nearby for a vineyard of its own.
His 5 acres is all Chardonnay and (mostly) Cabernet Franc. The tasting room is tiny; it’s more a showcase for his memorabilia than anything else. While you can bring food, this is definitely an appointment-only tasting experience. Ron used to sell his grapes, but when they started winning awards he decided to get into the wine making business himself.
The tasting was nothing except different flights of Chardonnay and Cabernet Franc from different years. Every vintage had its own character, so it was a delight to do them side by side.
2011 Chardonnay: Made in steel & some oak. Pretty good
2012 Chardonnay: Lots of granny apple notes
2014 Chardonnay: Crisp & good acid
2009 Cabernet Franc: Lots of black cherry
2010 Cabernet Franc: As you would expect from a good growing year, very big with lots of tannin
2011 Cabernet Franc: This was the shocker of the bunch. 2011 was a hurricane year so the wines tend to be very light. But this was absolutely outstanding. Low on tannin as well.
2014 Cabernet Franc: Young, tiny bit jammy but will get better with age.