CrossKeys Vineyard & Estates Review
Address: 6011 East Timber Ridge Road Mt. Crawford,Virginia 22841.
Phone Number: 540-234-0505
Tasting Hours: Apr-Oct: 11:00-7:00; Nov-Mar: 11:00-5:00
Reviewer: Brian Yost
Review Date: 6/14/2014
Reviewer: Brian Yost
Everything about the Shenandoah Valley indicates that it is one of the most ideally suited regions in Virginia to practice viticulture. The higher elevations, soil composition, drier growing season and cooler temperatures all point toward this conclusion. Winegrowers were initially slow to recognize the Valleys potential, but in recent years many exciting new wineries have opened. CrossKeys Vineyards is one of those.
On their first visit to the property, when they were still contemplating the possibility of a winery, Bob and Nikoo Bakhtiar were initially struck by the absolute beauty of the location and its stunning mountain views. It was only later that they discovered the terroir was perfect for grape cultivation.
The Bakhtiars began planting in 2002 and then let the vines mature for another seven years before producing their first vintage. I must point out that this is almost unheard of in the Commonwealth. Most wineries begin to harvest and process their fruit after only three years, but the Bakhtiars were determined to produce the best possible wine, and their early vintages lived up to that expectation.
Today all of the suitable sites on the property have been planted, and the winery has a total of thirty acres under vine. When the most recent plantings mature, the hope is that CrossKeys will be able to increase production from 5000 to about 10,000 cases per year. As a result, they will never become large commercial producers, but they seem to be content. They can concentrate on making world-class wine, which is their prime objective.
In my opinion, CrossKeys has nearly achieved their goal. The wines are well crafted and of exceptional quality. The tasting began with a Chardonnay and a Vidal Blanc, which were quite good and demonstrated the typical varietal characteristics. The reds, on the other hand, were uniformly extraordinary. CrossKeys produces a Pinot Noir, which is fairly common in the Valley. Its on the lighter end of the spectrum, but well made nevertheless. Cabernet Franc is particularly well suited to Virginia, and CrossKeys produces a very fine example. The same can be said for their Merlot and Meritage. Oh, but the Petit Verdot is particularly special, with its black fruit and slightly jammy character. Its a lovely wine.
I visited on a weekday just as the tasting room was opening, so I have no sense of the winery during higher-traffic times of the week. Having said that, I felt that I received the full attention of the wine steward, and I found her to be both friendly and knowledgeable. I did not feel rushed and all my questions were answered. The crossed key icon is an ancient symbol of hospitality, and I felt that they represented the industry well in that regard.
Outside the tasting room, the property is gorgeous. The winery buildings display stonework and archways that give the property a slightly Mediterranean feel. There is a large patio with an abundance of seating and some covered space on either side to escape the weather. The vineyards spread out in front of the winery, while the other three directions offer amazing views of the Blue Ridge. The mountains are very near and the vista is absolutely breathtaking. The winery also has a bistro where visitors can find meals that pair perfectly with CrossKeys’ wines.
CrossKeys should be on everyones watch list. The quality of the wine and the beauty of the venue intersect to make this a must-see winery. CrossKeys is located in the midsection of the Shenandoah near the city of Harrisonburg. Its just a few miles from the Interstate 81 corridor, so it is easily accessible. If youre visiting or passing through, I strongly recommend a visit.