White Hall Vineyards Review
Address: 5282 Sugar Ridge Rd. Crozet,Virginia 22932.
Phone Number: 434-823-8615
Tasting Hours: Wed-Sun 11:00-5:00
Region: Monticello AVA, Virginia
Reviewer: Brian Yost
Review Date: 9/4/2014
Reviewer: Brian Yost
In the late 1990s, I visited friends in Germany, who were very serious oenophiles. At the time, I had not lived long in Virginia, but I thought I would share some local wine with them. I took a couple bottles of White Hall Vineyards Cabernet Franc. To say that the wine was a hit would be an understatement. My friends were just completely blown away.
I’ve long been a fan of White Hall’s wines and I’ve visited their tasting room on many occasions. The winery is a short, but picturesque, drive from Charlottesville. The route winds past the horse farms and estates that line Old Garth Road. As you make the drive, the Blue Ridge Mountains draw near, and when you arrive at the winery, you will be only a short distance from the boundary of the Shenandoah National Park. Spectacular mountain views will surround you. It is an absolutely beautiful venue.
When Tony and Edith Champ produced their first vintage in 1994, White Hall was the state’s 49th winery. They had started planting grapes a couple years earlier, so twenty plus years later their vines are fairly mature. They now have fifty acres under vine that yield all but fifteen percent of the fruit used to produce between six and seven thousand cases of wine each year. So they have remained a modest boutique winery with no intention of ever exceeding ten thousand cases. The priority has always been on quality.
Today, White Hall holds down its corner of the Monticello AVA, while other wineries have opened nearby. As one of the best-known and most-respected wineries in that part of Albemarle County, it remains one of the primary draws for the wine-drinking public. Despite the crowds, only about twenty percent of their wine is devoted to direct sales. The bulk is earmarked for distributed throughout the state. They do a brisk retail sales business, and their wines are in high demand.
Mike Pancsak has been the winemaker at White Hall for more than ten of the twenty years they’ve been in operation, so he has been instrumental in developing the wineries reputation and style of wine. He came to Virginia by way of California, where he gained extensive experience in the Santa Maria region.
Pancsak does make a range of exceptional wines primarily in a dry style. The Chardonnay and Viognier are exceptional wines, but among the whites, the Gewürztraminer is of particular note. It recently won gold in Virginia’s prestigious Governor’s Cup.
Among the reds, there is of course the Cabernet Franc I mentioned earlier, and Pancsak crafts a particularly good Petit Verdot. The Cuvee des Champs, however, is probably the top wine in the White Hall arsenal and ranks among the finest wines in Central Virginia. This Bordeaux blend is produced only in odd years and this wine alone makes the drive to White Hall worth your time.
My visits to the tasting room over the years have all been positive. The staff is perennially well-trained and capable of educating visitors. In addition, they are typically able to speak in broad terms about the winery and the industry in general. This, coupled with the quality of the wine, makes a visit to White Hall an absolutely first-class experience. There are many really great wineries in Central Virginia, and White Hall certainly is one of them. If you have plans to visit the region, this is a winery that should definitely be on your short list.