Valley Road’s motto should be ‘Go big or go home’. I first visited when they opened at the end of 2016, right after they converted the old plant nursery into a tasting room. Not a year later, one of their wines was included in the Virginia Governor’s Cup. If that’s an indication of their future, sign me up!
Owners Barbara and Stan Joynes didn’t start off with plans to open a winery, but their ideas kept morphing until that’s what occurred. “How hard could it be?” Stan mused as I questioned him, as he recounted the days when they first debated building a vineyard (and ONLY a vineyard). When this location became available, the Joyners snapped it up – mostly because the granite slope behind the nursery was an excellent site. Well…if you already have a vineyard, a winery seems a lot less farfetched. And so a winery was born.
Of course they had help – in fact, the best kind of help you could hope for in such a venture. Their friends the King family gave them access to their excellent production facility, just down the road. But least as important was the assistance of Matthieu Finot, who hands down is one of the best wine makers in Virginia. Mix together a great vineyard & wine maker, and a dream came to fruition (pun intended).
I started my visit with a tour of the vineyard – which is nearly tied with wine drinking as my favorite part of any winery visit. Their vineyard manager took me to their 3.75 acres of vines, right behind the winery (they have another 6 acres in Lovingston). This location has a lot of great ingredients; it sits right outside Rockfish Gap, giving their vineyard great airflow. It has a really steep slope, so excellent drainage and elevation. The granite underneath the clay forces the vines to struggle. The view tops it all off.
Vineyard touring is thirsty work, so back to the tasting room we went. All the wines were products of Matthieu except the sparklings (from Mike Shaps). They make around 2000 cases/year.
2018 Sauvignon Blanc: Stan’s favorite; citrus notes but not overwhelmingly so.
2017 Chardonnay: Light, hint of oak.
2016 Destana (Nearly split into 1/3 of Pinot Gris, Viognier and Petit Manseng each): An off dry (I think) wine that had a nice nose and natural sweetness.
2018 Viognier: More body than I’m used to, plus honey notes.
2016 Petit Verdot: Soft by PV standards.
Sparking Viognier: Not overly sweet but I swear, you could taste the bubbles! Lots of strawberry notes, plus some body.
Sparkling Rose: What you might call a ‘kitchen sink style’, since it’s made with all the grapes that were left over. Some body to it.
2017 Cabernet Franc: Baking spice notes, as opposed to the pepper that I’m used to. Medium bodied.
2017 Torn Curtain (93% Chambourcin with 7% PV): Strong cherry notes; the PV was an excellent edition since I’m not always a Chambourcin fan but I liked this one a lot.
2014 Merlot: Amazing!!! One of my favorite Merlots in all Virginia. I was very surprised this one didn’t make it into the Governor’s Case. Perfect amount of body.
2015 Meritage: Pepper and leather notes
2014 Meritage: Lighter, more black cherry.
Not tasted today was their 2014 Petit Verdot. How good is it? If getting into the Governor’s Cup wasn’t enough, a good friend who’s a PV fanatic said this was the best PV she’s ever had. Now THAT’S a compliment!