Abingdon Vineyard & Winery Review
Address: 20530 Alvarado Rd. Abingdon,Virginia 24211.
Phone Number: 276-623-1255
Tasting Hours: Mar 15-Dec 15: Tues-Sat 10:00-6:00, Sun 12:00-6:00
Reviewer: Brian Yost
Review Date: 8/30/2014
Reviewer: Brian Yost
Southwestern Virginia does not immediately come to mind when one thinks of Virginia wine. Its a particularly rugged and mountainous part of the state tucked up against the North Carolina, Tennessee and Kentucky border. Nevertheless, there are a few wineries of note spread throughout the states Blue Ridge Wine Region. Abingdon Vineyard and Winery is one of them.
Driving south on Interstate 81, Abingdon and MountainRose Vineyards are the last two wineries you’ll come across before crossing into North Carolina. It is just a short distance east of the highway, at the confluence of Louse Creek and the South Holston River, in a setting that seems more rural than it really is. The winery buildings lend to that backwoods feel, and it seems a natural destination to snuggle up in front of the fire on a cool fall or winter afternoon.
The grounds surrounding the tasting room have been carved out of the surrounding forest. Nevertheless, they are well-groomed and offer ample space to sit along the banks of the creek. Seating is also available on the patio at the rear of the tasting room. There is more than enough space to linger and enjoy the mountain air with a glass of Abingdon wine.
Janet Lee Nordin and Bob Carlson started planting their twelve acres of vines in 1998 at an elevation of 1950 feet. These may be the highest vineyards in the state and this protects them from the worst of the Virginia heat. Unfortunately, it does not shield them against the regions high humidity, which can lead to fungal infestations. As a result, the grapes are picked early with lower than desired sugar levels and high acidity.
As a result, a feature of the Abingdon wines is high acidity. This doesnt necessarily apply to early-ripening varietals, and for those that need more time on the vine, balance can be achieved by adding sugar. Theres only so much you can do with a dry-style wine, however, so acidity becomes a factor. Depending on your point of view, this can either be a curse or a blessing. One consequence is that many of the wines are not ideal for simply sitting around and drinking. On the other hand, acidity is a trait that makes wine ideal for pairing with food.
Abingdon offers something for everyone. I only tasted a half dozen of the twenty-three wines on the menu, but they range from bone dry to sweet. A tasting flight of six wines can be had for five dollars. I tasted only the dry-style wines, so youll have to stop in and render your opinion of the sweeter offerings. The Viognier and White Pinot had the typical characteristics of those grapes as well a nice, crisp acidity. All were well crafted.
Among the reds, I tried the Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon, which spent twenty-three and nineteen months in oak respectively. Both displayed typical varietal characteristics, but also contained the acidity I alluded to earlier. The final wine of the flight was Our Special Red, which is a blend of Norton, Cab Franc, Chambourcin and Cab Sauv. It saw extended barrel ageing and was drinking very well.
Much of Abingdons business comes from visitors drawn to the area by the many outdoor recreation opportunities. The Virginia Creeper Trail, an old narrow-gauge rail bed converted to a thirty-five mile multi-use trail, is very nearby. Paddling opportunities are available on the areas rivers and streams. Mount Rogers National Recreation area offers hundreds of miles of horse and hiking trails. Of course many visitors are just passing through on the interstate, but my point is that there are many other area attractions.
This is probably the most beautiful part of the Blue Ridge and, as I pointed out, there are many things to do locally. While in the area, dont forget that Abingdon is definitely a winery of note and its an attraction that should not be overlooked.