Valhalla Vineyards

As I was driving up the mountaintop towards Valhalla it should have been obvious that this was an aptly named winery. Valhalla of Norse mythos is said to be an enormous drinking hall where fallen warriors would wine & dine after a glorious death. Well, I’m not a Viking and I didn’t have a Valkyrie guiding me to the afterlife (I was driving a Hyundai Sonata instead of a winged horse, to be truthful about it), but I was totally down with the ‘wine and dine’ part. Heck, the tasting room is even reminiscent of a longhall.

Valhalla Vineyard is one of the older wineries in the state, opening its doors in 1998. That means its these are old vines, which tend to produce more layered wines. At 2000 feet of elevation, the site’s 20 acres have amazing drainage, lots of sun, and cool air; just the right conditions for great wines. The fact it has a fantastic view of Roanoke is an added bonus.

I arrived close to closing time on a Sunday but they still kindly sat me through a full tasting. Several options were available, but of course I went with the Reserve tasting and got pours of several other vintages on top of that.

Choosing wines from here was drafting a fantasy football roster with an unlimited number of picks. At some point I just stopped taking notes as my taste buds became overwhelmed with liquid goodness. And if this I wasn’t already spoiled enough, they kindly allowed me to take home the bottles that were open, rather than pour them out at the end of the day. SCORE!!!

This place is unabashedly about big, bold red wines; and well aged ones at that. Their average tasting is the equivalent of a library tasting elsewhere. What I tried:

2008 Gotterdammerung: Red blend that was still fruity and a bit spicy. And it was only $22 (!!!).

2005 Cabernet Sauvignon: Extremely smooth.

Sangiovese (didn’t get there year): Light color but enough bite to keep me happy.

2002 Cabernet Sauvignon: Nice, although it was getting past its prime.

2008 Cornucopia (red blend): It was bold for my palate, although maybe not to the same standards as others on this list.

Non-vintage (NV) Valkyrie: Red blend made with grapes from different years. Actually one of my favorites of the bunch.

2007 Valkyrie: Cab Sauv/Shiraz blend: My favorite; still bold after all these years. Only $28.

Alicante Bouschet: A French hybrid still planted worldwide (including southern France).

I will definitely be back here; preferably as my first option of the day, with food pairings to go with everything. The only downside is I might not make it to any follow-on activities.

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