Smoky Rose at Stinson Vineyards in Virginia

By Thomas Madrecki

As someone who has tasted my fair share of Virginia wines from across the Commonwealth, I generally will not make the inflated defense of local bottlings that some of my peers will make. Though I don’t think it fair to dismiss Virginia wines out of hand – the Viognier really can be quite good – I also don’t think there is any way to avoid talking about some of the very obvious flaws with most of them: Green fruit, a certain musty quality, tannins and alcohol that aren’t quite incorporated, etc.

Long story short, it’s still kind of hit or miss if we’re looking at Virginia wine objectively. The good news is that when you roll the dice, there’s at least a chance you’ll get lucky.

Such was the case during a trip last week through Crozet, just outside of Charlottesville in the Monticello appellation. While in town for a meeting, I made it a point of dropping by a few wineries I’d never had the chance to visit.

Stinson Vineyards is one of the newest boutique wineries in a state that seems hell-bent on adding new wineries every week. Little more than a year old, Stinson’s current releases are based on grapes bought nearby; this harvest should provide the first grapes from their actual property.

Still, despite this situation, visiting Stinson now is a pleasure, not least because of their welcoming (if entirely unpretentious) tasting room in a renovated garage. The rolling countryside of Virginia offers up a scenic backdrop and the current releases are enjoyably accessible. It’s refreshing to see a Virginia winery not aim to replicate California or Oregon styles – why not just let Virginia wine show Virginia qualities?

Stinson’s affordable rose, crafted from 100 Mourvedre, is a great example. Initially fruit-driven with cranberry and grapefruit notes, there’s a palpable presence of fruitwood smoke that envelops the mouth. With only 75 cases produced, snap this one up before I visit Stinson again!

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