I also made my first visit to Briede Family Vineyards today. This very small winery (only about 1,000 cases annually) is located just to the north of Winchester. The winery name is pronounced “Brie Day” (that was my first question). I enjoyed tasting their Sparkling Winchester and Marquette at the Shenandoah Valley Wine Trail Cup event on Friday night. Although they do produce a small amount of vinifera such as Cabernet Franc and Tannat, their main focus is on hybrid grapes.
Loretta, their owner, guided me through their portfolio. The 2020 Sparkling Winchester is 100% Cayuga, made in the traditional Champagne method. The first disgorgement was zero dosage with lovely yeast aromas and a very bright finish. We had a lively discussion about Cayuga. Including the sparkling, they have 5 different styles available and have a Sauternes-style dessert version in barrel that will be bottled next month. The fruit and acid profile reminded me somewhat of Chardonnay, which is why it worked so well for bubbles. The skin contact version (Agathosune 2022) was also intriguing.
On the red wine side, the Marquette, a Pinot Noir-driven hybrid that is very popular in Vermont, Minnesota, and other places with a short growing season was very tasty at the Cup event. It hasn’t officially been released at the winery yet. They were offering both 2020 and 2022 vintages of Arandell. This hybrid grape was developed by Virginia Tech and Cornell. Briede was the first winery in the U.S. to produce a commercial version of this grape. The 2020 version was very complex with a red fruit nose and earth/spice finish that drank very much like Cabernet Franc.
They also produce La Crescent, a white hybrid grape that has done very well in the Midwest. I took a bottle home although I hadn’t tried it. It was a really informative visit featuring some delicious wines made with less traditional hybrids (for Virginia). Nate Walsh makes their wines.
By Kenny Bumbaco