The Dog and Oyster Vineyard Review
Address: 170 White Fences Drive Irvington,Virginia 22480.
Phone Number: 804-438-9463
Tasting Hours: See website for wine tasting details.
Region: Northern Neck George Washington Birthplace AVA, Virginia
Reviewer: Kat Collins
Review Date: 7/6/2016
Reviewer: Kat Collins
Arriving at The Dog and Oyster Vineyard, you can feel the quintessential Southern ambiance. Large swaths of vibrant, green vineyards line the meandering, dirt road. Slowly, after a right turn just past the Merlot, the vines part to reveal The Wine Stand. It’s a quaint cottage-like tasting room with a screened porch similar in concept to a local, country fruit stand. Glistening, crushed oyster shells pave the parking lot reminding visitors that theyre in oyster country.
In 2011, the owners of Hope & Glory Inn and their son Mark Hollingsworth had an opportunity to acquire a nearby vineyard. The Dog and Oyster is a quirky name for a vineyard. It is named after their rescue dogs that saved the grapes from hungry wildlife and for the Chesapeake Bay Regions most famed asset oysters. Their wines are specifically created to pair with oysters, although they pair deliciously with a variety of foods, and the multitude of awards prove they are doing it right. Mark is considered one of Virginias rising stars in the winemaking world and made wine for the first time with the 2012 harvest. He surprised everyone by winning medals in competitions ranging from Americas #1 competition in San Francisco to the 2014 Virginia Governors Cup.
We had a choice of sitting in the screened porch area at long, weathered wooden tables, piled with oyster shells bearing messages of goodwill from previous customers, or standing at the modest tasting bar indoors. We chose to sit at the tables on the screened porch for our tasting. The sun was blazing hot, but the lazy fans oscillating in the screened porch area cooled the steamy day.
A tasting is $7.00 per person for a taste of five wines. Oysters and other specialties are offered April through November on the weekends. Unfortunately, due to visiting during the week, we didnt have that option. The young woman who led our seated tasting was exceptional and full of knowledge. She could answer almost every question we threw at her and then some! It was clear she was passionate about the wines. Once we tasted them, we completely understood. We were blown away by the whites and rose, clearly realizing how well they would pair with oysters, but also numerous other dishes that required a bright, zesty, and ultra clean wine. All of the wines are 100% estate grown and produced.
We started with the Oyster White which is 100% Chardonel. We have never had the chance to experience Chardonel, which is a cross between parent grapes Seyval and Chardonnay, but after this tasting, were going to start seeking it out! Ultra fresh, clean, bright, with notes of citrus and Granny Smith apple, angular and direct on the palate with a smooth, lingering finish. There is no oak contact with this wine at any stage of development. It is like the intense, more direct child of an unoaked Chardonnay. This wine is easily paired with the bracing succulent oysters, however, it would be equally delicious with a variety of seafood and cream sauces.
Rosie, another wine we were impressed with, is made of a 25% tank bleed of Merlot and 75% Vidal Blanc. This is similar to a French style rose with clear, bright strawberry and key lime notes, brilliant pink color with a slightly orange hue, and a smooth, clean, lingering finish. We also fell in love with their Pearl wine which is made of 100% Vidal Blanc. We were fortunate to have a chance to taste the award-winning 2013 Pearl, of which they were almost sold out. Luscious notes of white floral, lemon zest, pineapple, stone fruit, a touch of bracing minerality to brighten the fruit, and a honey smooth finish. The newer 2014 Vintage of Pearl was equally as good, but the 2013 stole our hearts. We ended up going home with bottles of each of these wines.
The Hope & Glory Inn at Dog and Oyster Vineyard has been named Top 100 in the World twice and Top 10 in America four times. We can see why with their impressive wines, multitudes of awards, and warm, welcoming hospitality. If you are in Virginia, make it a point to seek out this little gem. You wont be disappointed.