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Local wineries win medals at competition

By Ryan Cornell

Three area wineries have something to toast about.

Cave Ridge Vineyard, Cedar Creek Winery and Fox Meadow Winery each took home several awards from the Atlantic Seaboard Wine Association Wine Competition in July.

Held in Haymarket on July 20-21, the competition featured 588 wines from 116 wineries in 11 states across the East Coast.

Cave Ridge Vineyard in Mount Jackson won "Best of Category" for Red Interspecific Blends with its 2010 Fossil Reserve. The wine is a blend of Cabernet Franc, Chambourcin and Petit Verdot.

"It's one of the best categories to win," vineyard owner Randy Phillips said. "Blended red wines are some of the best red wines in the world. Blending is one of the most artful aspects of working here."

Other Cave Ridge wines that garnered medals were its 2011 Petit Verdot, grabbing a silver, and its 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon and 2011 Viognier-Barrel Aged wines, both snatching bronze medals. The 2010 Fossil Reserve also won a gold medal at the competition and won a silver medal at the Governor's Cup earlier this February.

"I use three grapes to bring together the flavors," Phillips said. "Chambourcin adds more fruity character and reduces some tannin. There are black cherry notes, some tobacco and some leather from the Cabernet Franc and the Petit Verdot."

He added the Fossil Reserve is a good match for a hearty stew or any red meat, and said the wine is one of the vineyard's most popular varieties.

Phillips, who said his vineyard only enters two competitions each year, called the Atlantic Seaboard Wine Association a "premier competition." He said it helps give more distinction to wines from the East.

Cedar Creek Winery won a gold medal at the competition for its 2011 Cabernet Franc.

"We were really pleased because 2011 was not a particularly good year for growing grapes," Cedar Creek owner Ron Schmidt said.

He said the high rainfall and overcast skies during that year didn't allow Northern Valley grapes to ripen properly and caused some fruit rot to set in. Because the cabernet is free-run rather than pressed, he said the wine has less tannic acid and is remarkably smooth.

"We think it has cherry notes, cola notes, a very nice drinkable wine," Schmidt said, mentioning that the wine pairs well with steak and red meat.

Cedar Creek also was awarded a silver medal for its 2011 Chardonnay.

Schmidt said his winery might not produce any Chardonnay or Cabernet from this year's grape crop because of the extensive damage resulting from a late spring freeze in May.

The Linden-based Fox Meadow Winery earned a number of awards, winning silver medals for its 2010 Cabernet Franc Reserve, 2010 Le Reenard Rouge, 2010 Owner's Select Meritage and bronze medals for its 2011 Merlot, 2012 Pinot Grigio, 2012 Pinot Gris and 2010 Syrah.

Overall, the Atlantic Seaboard Wine Association issued 62 gold medals, 174 silver medals and 221 bronze medals, awarding 78 percent of the competition's entrants.

Twenty judges from California, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and Virginia formed the panel to select the winning wines.

Maryland's Boordy Vineyards won Best Of Show with its 2010 Cabernet Franc.

Contact staff writer Ryan Cornell at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or rcornell@nvdaily.com

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