Briede is a very different experience than most other wineries. For one it’s small – 5 acres of vines (half Cayuga and half a Cornell University hybrid grape called Arandell), the tasting room is tiny, and it’s a good distance away from…well…basically anything else. That said, I loved my experience.
Owners Paul and Loretta Briede were serving when I visited. They kindly gave me the history of the place, and explained how their love of wine and Champaign in particular encouraged them to build their own vineyard. Afterward Paul gave me a personal tour of his vineyard, including how he wanted to keep it as ‘organic’ as possible (2019 update: because of how bad the 2018 growing season was, they eventually introduced non-organic pesticide to combat black rot).
When I visited, four tasting options were available; 1) wines from the winery’s own vineyard, 2) a trio of roses, 3) an assortment of imported (but reasonably priced) French sparklings and roses, and 4) an assortment of even fancier sparklings. I did options #1 and #3.
When I saw they had Cayuga on the menu, I privately despaired – since I’ve always HATED this grape. Neither did I have high hopes for their Arandell, as hybrids are hit or miss for me. But color me shocked when I enjoyed both! Not surprisingly their wine maker is Matthew Finot, who is one of VA’s best.
The Cayuga is made in an almost Champaign style, and the Arandell is kinda-sorta like some Italian varietals I’m more used to. It’s hard to describe, but this is definitely one of the best hybrids I’ve ever found.
Yes it’s far, but the chance to experiment with new wines and a great selection of imported sparklings makes it worth the trip.