Tuesday, May 22, 2012

North Gate Vineyard in Virginia, USA – A Profile

Picture: Christian G.E. Schiller and Mark Fedor

I had a chance to get to know North Gate Vineyard in Virginia during TasteCamp East 2012. A Saturday night tradition at TasteCamp, the BYO Bottle Dinner took place at North Gate Vineyard. In addition to the excellent wines brought by the TasteCamp 2012 participants, we were also treated to the wines of North Gate Vineyard winemakers/owners Mark and Vicki Fedor.

See: TasteCamp 2012 in Virginia, USA – A Tour d’Horizont

North Gate Vineyard

Vicki Fedor explained: “We started in 1997 by caring for a few neglected grape vines on the North Gate property we had just purchased. That small effort has led us down a path which we are still walking. Along the way we have learned by doing. We've made some mistakes, had some successes, worked hard, and had a lot of fun.” From 2003 through the 2006 vintage, Mark and Vicki were the winemakers for Corcoran Vineyards in Waterford, Virginia.

North Gate Vineyard is situated on 26 acres in the northwest part of Loudoun County, Virginia, nestled against the eastern base of the Short Hill mountains (foothills to the Blue Ridge).

Pictures: North Gate Vineyards

North Gate's Tasting Room was built to LEED Gold specifications and is 100% solar powered. On the roof are 96 solar panels that most of the time produce all the electricity that is needed to run the facility and at some points sends electricity back to the power company.

The building includes many elements from reclaimed wood, local stone and mantle, and tile floors. It features indoor and outdoor fireplaces, a covered patio, and beautiful views of the mountains and the vineyard.

Wine Making Style

Mark Fedor explained during the tasting of the wines: “First, our goal is to make wines that show the character of the varietal that is making up a majority of the wine.  For instance, we do not want to try to make a big Bordeaux red out of a Chambourcin grape. Second, in general, we use less oak in our wines so the fruit characters of the grape show through and are not masked.  The amount of oak we use depends on the variety and style of that specific wine. Third, we like to make white wines as much as we like to make reds. Our whites tend to be crisp, fruit-forward, stainless steel fermented with varying degrees of oak-time, specific to the variety, to soften up and balance against the alcohol and acids. Fourth, we believe that blending allows us to kick our wine up to another level and allows us to achieve our final goals on a wine.  However, we are cognizant of #1 above and are careful not to overblend!"

Pictures: North Gate Vineyard winemakers/owners Mark and Vicki Fedor at North Gate Vineyards

The North Gate Vineyards Portfolio

White Wines

2010 Chardonnay

This lighter, "fruit-forward" Chardonnay was fermented and aged in a combination of older (neutral) and new oak. The barrel aging augments the stone fruit and citrus flavors of the Chardonnay grape with soft tannins and a bit more depth.  With a sophisticated balance of acidity, alcohol, and fruit flavors, this wine provides a unique complexity from the initial taste on the palette through a bright, lemony finish.  Pairs well with many poultry dishes, or try with a salmon burger, hot off the grill.

Retail price: $18
Vineyard: Wild Meadow (Jack and Cindy Lowther)
Case Count: 115

2010 Viognier

This Viognier starts with aromas of sweet jasmine and tropical fruit with a touch of vanilla and butterscotch.  The medium bodied nature of this wine includes a wide mouth feel and soft textures on the palette which can be attributed to 6 months of aging in neutral French oak barrels.  There is a nice balance of acidity and spice throughout, leading to a lingering finish with subtle hints of grapefruit. Classic pairings include crab cakes and any "kicked up" shellfish or poultry dishes with a little spice.

Retail price: $20
Vineyards: North Gate, Weather Lea Farm (Pamela and Malcolm Baldwin)
Case Count: 172

NV Apple

This is a return to our roots – the first wine we ever made.  We think it tastes just like biting into a crisp, sweet, juicy apple!   We used a nice mix of sweet and tart apples, so there’s a good balance of flavors.  Just a touch of sugar remains to make this a pleasant aperitif, table wine, or even dessert wine with a fresh fruit tart or angel food cake. The perfect picnic or patio wine. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of this wine are being donated to Blue Ridge Greyhound Adoption.

Retail price: $13
Case Count: 471

Red Wines   

2010 Cabernet Franc

Spice and bright red cherry fruit up front, followed by a smooth black pepper finish that is characteristic of this varietal in Virginia.  Hints of chocolate and coffee complement the oak from American and French barrels.  Look for these flavors to continue to intensify with age.  Enjoy this with a slow simmered beef stew or any tomato-based dishes, such as Italian cuisine. We're also finding it's our default wine to pair with an evening in front of the fireplace.

Retail price: $18
Vineyards: North Gate, Weather Lea Farm (Pamela and Malcolm Baldwin)
Case Count: 305

2009 Merlot

This medium-bodied Bordeaux is showing deep aromas of dark, jammy wild cherries, roasty oak, and a hint of earthiness.  Aging in French oak and a touch of Petit Verdot integrate Old World structure and tannic strength into this soft, supple, easy going red. Try with grilled pork tenderloin with cranberries.

Retail price: $16
Vineyard: Ridgeside Vineyard (Mitch and Betsy Russ)
Case Count: 138

2009 Meritage

Science gives way to art when a winemaker puts together a blend of wines that is greater than the sum of its parts. We evaluate the characteristics of the parts we have to work with and then create a blend that shows the best of our Cabernet Franc, (47%), Cabernet Sauvignon (26%), Petit Verdot (21%), and Merlot (6%). The result is a full-bodied wine, complete and complex from start to finish.

Retail price: $20
Case Count: 351

2009 Petit Verdot

We are proud to offer our first Estate grown wine. 100% of the Petit Verdot comes directly from our own vineyard. This Bordeaux varietal is often used for blending and brings rich tannins and deep color to any wine it is matched with.  We also believe this grape can make a nice varietal wine, showcasing its intensity and complexity to make it the big, bold red in the line-up. Sweet violet aromas, fresh cedar and just the right amount of French oak integrate into a soft start, bold mid-palate, and lingering finish. Pairs well with a classic steak dinner.

Retail price: $24
Vineyard: North Gate Vineyard
Case Count: 100

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