DuCard Vineyards

I often wonder if a winery’s convenience is inversely proportional to the quality of its wine. It makes sense – if it was super easy to visit, then wineries would have little incentive to provide a high quality product. The fact that DuCard inspires loyalty despite being off the beaten trail tells me they must have great wine.

DuCard is in a natural bowl-shaped valley, not far from Old Rag Mountain & Shenandoah National Park. In fact, lots of patrons are hikers unwinding after a long excursion. Given its location, visiting here is one of the prettiest drives you’ll take to any Virginia winery.

Currently they manage 3 vineyards totaling 17 acres. In fact, except for their Traminette all of their 2000 cases/year are made with estate fruit. But what makes their vineyards extra-special is it isn’t just a vineyard – it’s a classroom!

Students from Piedmont Virginia Community College ‘adopt’ a row of vines as part of their viticulture certification program. As I was visiting a class lead by their winemaker Julien had just finished an event and were relaxing on the patio. Where were these classes when I was in college? I didn’t know enology was even a thing! Oh…the path not taken…

DuCard is also very “green”, and I’m not talking about the scenery. The entire place is solar powered, to the point they sell back electricity. Heck, even the cutlery is bio-degradable. That’s admirable, but what really captured my heart was how they donate to local charities, including one of my favorite historical locations – James Madison’s Montpelier.

Neither owner Scott Elliff or tasting room manager Marty Mitchell were available the day I visit – which is a shame since they’ve greeting me nearly every other time I visited. Fortunately Cora was more than up to the task of going over their wines with me.

2018 Vendi Viognier: Light notes of honeysuckle and a really nice finish

2016 Gibson Hollow: Off dry Traminette; easy drinking, without the bite that I sometimes see on this grape

2018 Shenandoah: Another Traminette made in an off dry style. Kudos to DuCard for donating part of the sales of this wine to the Shenandoah National Trust.

2018 Rose (40% Petit Verdot/60% Cabernet Franc): Dry and had great color, enough to remind you of Provence (which shouldn’t surprise you given who their wine maker is).

2016 Popam Run Red (Bordeaux blend that was high on the Cab Sauv): Medium bodied, red fruit notes, spreads out nicely over the palate.

2016 Petit Verdot: Dark fruit, soft for a PV (but of course still liked it)

2016 Cabernet Franc: Not spicy or leathery, light on the nose.

2016 Norton: Nice nose, some spice. Blended with a little Cab Franc I think to take away the ‘foxiness’ characteristic. Actually one of my favorite Nortons around.

2014 Triskelle (Bordeaux blend): Good fruit flavors, bold-ish

2015 C’est Trop: Very nice!!! One of my favorite ports in all Virginia. And somehow even better with chocolate

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