Travel Trip Virginia Vineyards

If warmer weather inspires a switch from heavy reds to refreshing whites and rosés, vintages from Barboursville Vineyards include award winners worth a try.

A change in weather means a change in wine-drinking habits for some.

Heavy reds are shelved by many for something lighter on the palate, such as whites and rosés.

Sauvignon blanc, pinot grigio, viognier, even chardonnay, become spring and summer white-wine choices.

Let’s throw another into the mix: vermentino. And no one makes it better than Luca Paschina at Barboursville Vineyards.

Barboursville vermentinos have been awarded gold medals three of the past four Virginia Governor’s Cup competitions and have been judged among the top 12 wines in the state two of those years.

Vermentino grapes are grown in great quantity in Italy — and quite successfully in the Piedmont region of Virginia around Barboursville.

Barboursville’s estate-grown grapes produce a light and nicely acidic wine that goes so well with the seafood dishes that seem to be more prevalent this time of the year, though both the food and wine are constants throughout the year.

Because of their vibrant citrus aromatics and crisp, lemon and mineral flavors and lingering finish, the Barboursville’s 2016 and 2017 are worthy of spring-to-summer treats.

Both vintages won gold medals, and the 2016 is available at the winery for $22.99 ($23.99 at Once Upon A Vine-MacArthur). The 2017 vintage will be available late this summer at the same price. Both can be special-ordered at your favorite local wine shop.

Swinging back to other white wines, one area couple goes against the ABC (Anything but Chardonnay) crowd.

“We definitely drink more whites as the weather warms up, and our favorite is chardonnay,” said Jim McDonald, echoing the thoughts of his wife, Sherry. “We love the many different variations of Virginia chards, particularly the Monticello Wineries — some oaky, some a little oaked, some unoaked, some even blended with other whites.

“We recommend trying the many different Monticello-area winery chardonnays and guarantee you will find a few you like.”

So, if you’re looking for that winter-to-spring-to-summer transition wine, below are numerous recommendations from Virginia wine lovers (winery prices are listed):

2015 Horton Vineyards Black Cat Chardonnay: This wine has a rich creamy mouthfeel and texture with balanced oak spice, vanilla, and ripe juicy flavors that last to the finish. One of the first Virginia chards we ever tasted, and it continues to be one of our favorite go-to wines. ($18) — Jim and Sherry McDonald, Lake Anna

Michael Shaps Viognier 2016: An interesting white because it is typically dry, more complex or bold, yet has fruitiness that gives it a sweeter taste, which makes it ready for spring weather and lighter food. However, it stands well with heavier warm-weather fare because of its more substantial body versus other common white wines, such as pinot grigio. We sometimes find viognier surprisingly full-bodied or heavier for a white wine; however, the Shaps 2016 vintage strikes a lighter balance for a warm-weather Virginia wine. ($28) — Aaron Mathes, Midlothian

2017 Elk Island Rassawek Chardonnay: Light, crisp with citrus notes and hints of caramel and melon. Smooth as butter! One of our favorites. ($18) — Jim and Sherry McDonald, Lake Anna

Veritas Vineyard & Winery Sauvignon Blanc 2018: Very aromatic, crisp and fruit-filled, citric but not overpowering. Goes well with seafood or appetizers. ($25) — Lynn Shewey, Henrico County

King Family Vineyards Crosé 2018: A dry merlot-based rosé with undertones of apple and strawberry. To be enjoyed as an aperitif or with cheeses and lighter fare. ($20.95) — Bill Shewey, Henrico

Horton Vineyard’s NV Sparkling Rosé: Done in the traditional méthode champenoise style, it is unique because the grapes are 100 percent early-pick syrah; very unusual; dry with strawberry aromas and flavors and a long and pleasant finish; perfect as a year-round choice for just about any event, but also the start or finish for dinner, or special occasions. It is especially wonderful and refreshing to drink in the warmer weather. ($35) — Dennis Sugumele, Chesterfield County

Early Mountain Vineyards Rosé 2018: This blend of 66 percent merlot, 26 percent cabernet franc and 8 percent syrah is what a rosé should be: wonderful aromas, bright acidity, fresh strawberries and a hint of citrus. ($25) — Jack Berninger, Henrico

Keswick 2017 Signature Series Viognier: It’s wonderful. It’s a very fruit-forward, easygoing wine. Goes well with spicy Indian food. The fruit helps counter the spice, and it’s big/complex enough that it can hold its own. ($28.95) — Lora Loftis, Henrico

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Jack Berninger’s column on wine appears monthly in the Culture section. Contact him at

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