JBR Vineyard – the initials of the owner/winemaker, Jessee B Ring – is practically the definition of what I’d call a mom & pop winery. The tasting room is actually the owner’s home, and you sit down at their dining room table. How’s that for a welcome!
This was my first visit of a 3 day excursion to this part of Virginia. Fortunately I was able to get an early appointment, so after a 4.5 hour drive from home, here I was.
You might say JBR Vineyard is a hobby gone wild. The owners bounced around the USA for work until returning to Jessee’s roots here in SW Virginia. In 2006 he planted a few trial rows of grapes, eventually deciding to concentrate on only two; Riesling and Pinot Noir. Now, they have a total of 2.5 acres between an off-site vineyard and a much smaller one in their front yard.
That JBR focuses on only two wines is a good thing. For one, it simplifies their vine management. Moreover, if you’re going to do something, you may as well do it well. JBR does both well.
You’ve probably not had many Virginia wines made from either Riesling or Pinot Noir. There’s a reason for that – both are notoriously difficult to grow in the state. They produce very tight clusters of grapes, making airflow difficult – hence susceptible to mold in Virginia’s humid climate. Fortunately, at 1800 feet JBR has the type of terroir to mitigate this problem. Jessee must have been thrilled to know that his front yard has the right conditions to grow some of his favorite wines.
I sat down for a flight of both wines accompanied by a cheese board. As I sampled, Jessee and his son gave me the run-down of the winery. What I tried:
2017 “Giles County” Pinot Noir: Jessee called this his steak wine. Cherry notes, very nice.
2017 “Virginia Mountain Red” Pinot Noir: Served chilled. Very light color; more of a festival or pizza wine.
2017 “Country Gentleman” Pinot Noir: Tiny bit lighter; more plumb than cherry. His ‘pasta wine’.
2018 Riesling: Made with juice from Washington State, as in 2018 JBR lost their own Riesling crop. Excellent wine; full mouthfeel.
2017 Riesling: Lemony, almost citrus notes, full mouthfeel. More citrus-forward than other Rieslings but still very enjoyable.