The view between the vines: streaming for wine lovers
Alexandria, VA – Living and working vicariously through streaming media and zoom platforms has become a way of life since 2020. Virginia wineries quickly offered virtual tastings when COVID shut down tasting rooms. Wine sales in the state and across the country soared.
Spotting an entertainment trend, TV production companies quickly churned out not one but four shows for the lone Z~oenophile to binge: Beneath the vines, the kings of Napa, promised land, and Great crew.
under the vines, from AMC Networks streaming on ACORN, is a seductive tale as old as wine: two estranged family members inherit a vineyard in Central Otago, New Zealand. Urban socialite Daisy Monroe played by Rebecca Gibney and town attorney Louis Oakley played by Charles Edwards (The Crown, Diana) are vying for vino accolades with local winemaking maven Marissa after a surprise victory for Oakley Wine in a prestigious competition.
Since Kiwi vino is supposed to be all about sauvignon blanc in the United States, that’s what we’ll highlight for a under the vines frantic party. Walsh Family Wine, formerly the Northgate property in Purcellville, offers two Sauv Blancs. The 2020 Bethany Ridge and 2020 Twin Notch Sauvignon Blancs are ready to roll. Both are classics without being too herbaceous and grassy. Appropriate notes of kiwi imbue with the expected citrus of grapefruit, lemon, lime and a whisper of bergamot.
The husband and wife team of Nate and Sarah Walsh founded Walsh Family Wine in 2014. Previously, Nate was the award-winning winemaker at Sunset Hills and 50 West. Before opening their brick-and-mortar operation, he and Sarah sold their wines at farmers’ markets and garage tastings and at local restaurants. In 2014, the two Canney wineries added a Walsh Family Wine label Sauvignon Blanc to the wine list, featuring Sarah’s elegant abstract mountain ridge design, which inspired the label of Walsh family.
The Kings of Napa is from executive producer Oprah Winfrey for her OWN streaming channel. Reginald King, family patriarch and founder of the house of kings wine, dies suddenly as his family bickers over control and management of the vineyard. The show is Falcon Crest meets the Shores of Bel-Air. With episode titles like “She’s Gotta Crush It”, “What’s Port Got To Do With It?”, “How Stella Got Her Pinot Back”, “Mo Bottled Blues”, and “Judas and the Black-Owned Vineyard”, you know the bashing above the wine swirl gets real right off the bat. The Kings of Napa is “all about black excellence in motion ~ wine, style and cuisine.
So where to put your King? For that Napa experience, you can’t go wrong with Breaux Vineyards in Hillsboro. The majestic stucco and tile-roofed Tasting Palace blends Spanish mission with New Orleans razzmatazz and French savoir faire. Sitting on the Vidal Patio overlooking the vines cascading towards a horizon of rolling hills, you can easily imagine that you are in Napa.
Another option is the King Family Vineyard in Crozet near Charlottesville. Their merlot could give the house of kings and Stella a run for their Pinot. The 2018 Seven (named after the seventh chukker in a polo match), a fortified red wine aged two years in Kentucky bourbon barrels, answers the question… What do port and polo have to do? with that ? Yes, there are polo matches, a polo school and classes at Roseland Polo Club.xd
But if it’s pinot noir you’re looking for, you’re headed to Ankida Ridge in Amherst. Atop an Appalachian mountain nearly 2,000 feet above sea level lies a microclimate where the impossible happens. Owners Christine and Dennis Vrooman grow some of the best pinot noir in the United States. It’s the only Mid-Atlantic wine invited to the International Pinot Noir Celebration held in Oregon each July.
An accidental winery, the vineyard was born when the contractor mistakenly cleared an extra acre of woods on the property. Chickens strut around the vines for natural pest control, while Katahdin sheep, mother nature’s weedkillers, graze on land that was once as high as Everest. If you can’t make the three hour drive or don’t like heights, Ankida Ridge ships. They also have foothills tastings and a shop in Charlottesville.
Paradise Springs is the closest to Alexandria and the first bi-coastal winery in the United States. Their Sauvignon Blanc, amusingly named 2018 F’ing Merlot, is rated 93 points by Wine Enthusiast Magazine. The 2018 K III is a delicious Rhône-style GSM blend (Grenache-Syrah-Mourvèdre) with a spicy, peppery kick, bright, not-too-fruity berries exhibiting hints of cloves, river rock and can cigar box, a perfect Big Bang expression of Central Coast bravado. Even better, opening hours in Clifton have been extended to 7 p.m. daily and Fridays to 9 p.m.
Promised land originally aired on ABC and last month moved exclusively to Hulu. Set in Sonoma, the saga pivots from 1987 when brothers Sandoval Joe and Billy Rincón, along with friend Lettie and her sister Rosa, cross the border into Mexico in search of a better life in (you guessed it ) the promised land – the wine country of California. The four arrive at Heritage House Vineyards, where they toil in the vineyards of Oliver M. Honeycroft. Joe (John Ortiz~ Silver Linings playbook, replicas) marries Margaret, Oliver’s daughter, although he and Billy are hopelessly in love with Lettie.
Fast forward to 2022. Joe has divorced Margaret, taken over the vineyard and is now married to Lettie, raising a combative blended family rivaling the Kings. Billy is an estranged priest from the family. Margaret returns from a long vacation in Europe, a successful hotel magnate reconnecting with her adult children while seeking revenge on Joe.
In an episode last month, siblings Veronica and Antonio Sandoval took part in a blind tasting of six bottles at Bottle Shock, including a 2003 Chardonnay. Chardonnay can indeed age 20 years. You’re unlikely to find a 2003 Virginia Chardonnay, except maybe in my cellar gathering dust somewhere.
Pearmund Cellars’ award-winning Old Vine Chardonnay, grown on the Merriwether Vineyard in Fauquier County, is Virginia’s oldest Chardonnay vineyard. It was named Virginia Grand Cru Vineyard by the American Grand Cru Society. This extraordinary wine is 100 percent malolactic fermentation, sur-lie, and aged for nine months in French oak barrels. A classic buttery and woody Swiss chard. Try it, you will like it!
The crew on Great crew don’t descend much from Chardonnay. They’re all about big, bold reds. Great crewairing on NBC, is Black Friends of the 20s. Six friends, three guys and three girls, with a brother and sister among the group, meet at a wine bar in Los Angeles’ Silver Lake neighborhood called Cru.
For episode 9 on March 1, the team headed to a vineyard in Santa Barbara. Paradise Springs maybe? Stream the show on Peacock to find out. To quote the crew, “Bespoke this! Check your feelings. Time to drink.
So let’s hang crew for a bottle of white, a bottle of red, maybe a rosé instead. Make yourself comfortable near the screen, face to face with under the vines from Napa Kings in the Promised land with your Great crew.
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