Hunting Creek broke the mold of what was in danger of becoming a very repetitive series of Southern Virginia AVA wine blogs. In nearly all my previous (and many subsequent) visits to local wineries, the vineyard was an old farm now growing hybrid or American grapes, or they focused their production on wines using sources other than grapes. But at Hunting Creek, they are dedicated to wonderful, wonderful vinifera.
Owners Milt and Sandy Ligon first planted in 2002 as a purpose-built vineyard. Unlike their neighbors, they knew early on they wanted to focus on vinifera. Fortunately they picked a great location for it – a low hill overlooking the nearby farms. I was shocked to hear that Jason Murray – co owner of Arterra Wines and one of my all-time favorite wine makers – was one of their early consultants. I knew I was going to like this place, but my jaw dropped when they mentioned him.
Finding the winery is a bit of a challenge. The road looks like the beginning of a driveway (somehow I missed the big sign saying “Hunting Creek Vineyards”), and your phone signal is likely to be weak. But after a half mile or so, I found the tasting room – a reconstructed barn that was brought here from New York. Sadly they are only open on Saturdays, so plan appropriately.
Sandy (who’s also the wine maker, BTW) brought me up to speed on the wines. Currently they only have 5 acres of vines (plus a pair of local growers including Pinehaven Vineyard) and make 600-800 cases/year. If they wanted to they could expand a little more, but she seems to like it on the small side. And fun fact – her son Jeremy is the winemaker at Creek’s Edge.
I forget how it got started, but most of the wine names follow the same theme; Decadence; Innocence; Repentance; Indulgence; Confession; Forbidden; Seduction. It’s like going to church, but with better wine! Actually the barn doors did come from an old church, so maybe there’s something to that.
What I tried:
Pure Luck (Viognier & some Chardonnay): Liked it a lot; very dry.
Pinot Gris: Very flowery.
Innocence (Traminette): One of only two hybrids they utilize. I liked it even though I’m not usually a fan of this grape. Kudos for lacking the overpowering nose I’m usually accustomed to.
Rose: Made of Chambourcin (the second hybrid they use).
2017 Indulgence: Signature red blend. Good body, big mouthfeel; I liked it so much I bought 2 bottles. That little bit of Malbec went a long way!
2017 Decadence: 95% Petit Verdot and – unusually enough – 5% Viognier. Unlikely any other PV’s I’ve had recently; very soft.
Repentance: Light, semi-sweet Merlot and Cab Sauv blend (probably from 2018). Not my style, but I bet my sweet-wine drinking friends would go for this.
2016 Seduction: Chambourcin port-style.