have a nice flight: wine on water.

I love running into former students and finding out what’s happened to them since high school. In many cases, they’ve furthered their education and traveled around and worked here and there and had lots of enlightening experiences… things I can only dream of accomplishing. And I love hearing what they’ve learned along the way. This was a night I learned a lot.

Brandy, Denise, and I met at Wine on Water last Tuesday evening to sample some wine. Our wine host was the lovely Katrina Hudy, who manages the establishment and graduated from BHS years ago. While Wine on Water is owned and operated by the folks at Cave Ridge Vineyard, they serve more than just Cave Ridge wines (something I didn’t know). They also feature wines from Wisteria Vineyards, Shenandoah Vineyards, Cedar Creek Vineyard, Bluestone Vineyard, and Barren Ridge Vineyard. By doing so, Wine on Water can promote the Valley wine industry: it takes time for individuals to visit several vineyards and sample their wines. This way, customers can taste wines from all over the Valley without leaving their bar stools. Katrina does all the work for you: she travels to vineyards hither and yon and chooses what they’ll serve at Wine on Water. Helloooooo, dream job. I also learned from Katrina that Virginia’s hills and valleys create “microclimates” that allow several different varieties of grape to thrive. This variance in grapes yields a broad assortment of wines… versus a place where the landscape is flat and therefore only produces one or two kinds of grapes. See? Another reason I love my Burg and am grateful I live in this area. It’s the little things, you know.

Wine on Water’s beautiful tasting room/bar is adjacent to All Things Virginia and contains Cuban Burger, which serves food Wednesday through Saturday. Wine on Water is open Tuesday through Saturday noon to seven, and they have Happy Hour on Friday and Saturday from five to seven (ooo, the elusive Saturday happy hour!). You can also ask them to host your private event.

So here’s how it works: you can select three wines from their list and get a two-ounce tasting of each, for $7. This is called a “flight,” and it’s only $5 during happy hour. There are other options, too, including buying by the glass, the half-glass, and others. Not all the wines they carry are available every day that they’re open, but the selection is ample and you’re sure to have a different experience each time you visit. The wines that we chose happened to be all Cave Ridge wines. They were the Fandango Port, the Riesling, Sangria, the Chambourcin, and the Viognier. The Riesling was very good–crisp and refreshing, a good hot-weather wine. The Sangria was made from Rambling Rose, so it was not the dark red Sangria I expected. It also contains guava nectar, pineapple, and cinnamon stick. It was MAJOR yummy. Brandy and Denise both also like the Chambourcin, and Brandy also had the Viognier, which–another thing I learned–is the Virginia State Wine. I don’t know the state bird and flower and all that, but now I know the state grape.

don’t leave a drop, denise!

I have to say… although it was a hundred degrees out that day and Port is not your usual “summer wine,” we loved that Fandango Port. We ended up ordering a glass of it after the tasting. My roommate during my freshman year of college, Darlene, kept a bottle of amaretto in our dorm room, and I’ll never forget one night after a couple of swigs, she said, “I have warm ears.” Port is a “warm ears” wine. It reminded me of the time I was backpacking across Europe and got stuck all night in the train station in Basel, Switzerland. Thank heavens for Port that night. And it makes me think of Jack Kerouac (“life must be rich and full of loving—it’s no good otherwise, no good at all, for anyone…”), and it makes me think of Christmas.

As usual, our conversation meandered along several bizarre paths. Katrina mentioned that You Made It! had a craft day at Wine on Water, and I thought to myself, “See? That’s how it should be. The barter system all the way.” We don’t even need money. Then I had a great idea: all of Harrisonburg should live in a giant castle together and just use the barter system for everything. We have plenty of people to provide food and beverages and entertainment and education and health care. Then we started thinking of things we want in our castle. Brandy wants beverage spigots like the ones at Wine on Water. You could get any beverage you want on this biiiig wall of spigots.

And Denise would want some mode of transportation within the castle, like Segways (“with cupholders!”, inserted Brandy) or maybe those motorized grocery store carts so you can carry stuff around. Then there was some confusion about a matador versus a troubadour… but we want both. And instead of a moat filled with deadly alligators and shrieking eels, the castle could be surrounded by one of those lazy river things they have at nice hotels… you know, for the kids. Because no one would ever want to attack Castle Harrisonburg–we’re the Friendly City, for Pete’s sake!

Where were we?

So, back to reality… Wine on Water is hosting a cool event this Thursday, July 19, called “It’s All About You, Ladies!” It’s not exactly a castle, but it is a getaway of sorts. For $12, ladies (only!) can enjoy wine, appetizers, massages, skincare, and makeovers, plus be entered to win prizes, and receive a complimentary gift bag! This event is sponsored by Shenandoah Concierge, All Things Virginia, and Wine on Water, and only 50 tickets will be sold, so get moving!

And if you can’t make that, be sure to stop in on First Friday, August 3, to hear music by the Harmolodics and see art by Chie Tamaki. Cheers!

Copyright © 2012 · All Rights Reserved · ilovemyburg.com. Photos by Brandy Somers. Written content by Katie Mitchell. This material may not be copied, downloaded, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting our intellectual property.

here’s to the burg no. 4: downtown wine and gourmet

Despite what Jay says, I don’t think I’ve been to a wine tasting at Downtown Wine and Gourmet that wasn’t hoppin’. Brandy and I were hard pressed to get there by 7, when the free tasting technically ends—arriving by a narrow margin of eight minutes—but it looked far from over to us. What Jay meant was that the closing of Callie’s temporarily (and imperceptibly, to me) decreased traffic in the store, but now that the Capital Ale House is open, all’s well. Folks waiting for a table at the Ale House, as well as the general public, can, from 5 – 7pm on Fridays, moisten their palates with a fine sampling of featured wines at the wine shop. People always linger beyond 7, and no one’s gonna yank the glass out of your hand.

Owned by Jay and Amanda Monger, Downtown Wine and Gourmet is located in the Court Square Theatre building. They’re not just a wine shop, despite the cork floors and merlot-colored walls. They also sell cheese and other gourmet foods, coffee, brewing supplies, and a fine, FINE assortment of beer. Mm. Mm. Mm!

So… we tasted: Chateau De Fontenille White Bordeaux—delish. Kanu Chenin Blanc—delish. Vina Borgia Garnacha in a BOX (now we’re talkin’!). And Hendry HRW Zinfindel, which was a bit dry for me… but only because as I’ve aged, I’ve somehow become a thirstier person. Oh yes, and one “contraband” offering. Wait, did I type that or just think it? Woopsie.

Sean was our pourer—very friendly, thorough, and knowledgeable, even about each wine’s aroma… which I admit sorta fell on deaf ears (noses?) because I don’t wanna smell my wine—I wanna DRINK IT.

During our tasting we ran into the always delightful Tony Lopez of the local improv group No Strings Attached. Note to self: do a piece on them. That’s another great thing about the wine tasting: you run into folks you know, and then it’s like you’re at this fabulous cocktail party, minus the little black dress and pantyhose that keep getting twisted. And staticky.

Anyhow, I had to browse the beer while I was there (where you can build your own six-pack, and every time you do, you think, “I have created the best six-pack EVER!” until the next week when you top yourself. It’s quite a boost to the self-esteem.). It’s fun to peruse the beer section because of the labels. I know, I know—never judge a beer by its label, but when it features really great art, it’s pretty much irresistible. One of our faves is Flying Dog, whose labels feature art by Ralph Steadman (friends with George Stranahan and Hunter S. Thompson). See how educational this is? I mean, come on, people.

And that’s when we saw it: BACON AND MAPLE BEER. Breakfast beer! That ranks right up there with the purse closet at Granny Longlegs and Sunday brunch at the Grill. Hmmmm… brunch beer? And by the way, Downtown Wine and Gourmet hosts a free beer tasting every Saturday from 1 – 4pm.

Whether you need beer, wine, gourmet foods, coffee, or even handmade gift baskets, Downtown Wine and Gourmet has it all, and their laid-back, knowledgeable staff is more than happy to help you. Catch you there this Friday… and, why not, Saturday, too. <clink!>