Taste is everything. CAN’T-MISS SIPS: We’re starting with Lightwell Survey’s Strange Hybrid Moments. PAGE 17
VERY FINE WINES What to drink, where to drink it, and who to know in the world of Virginia vino
the baker with no bakery
SUSHI! Thai meets Japanese at the hands of the Tauchis PIZZA! A Lampo alum takes his slice of the local pie game BURRITOS! Lucky Blue’s Bar serves up something for everyone
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TA B L E O F C O N T E N T S The Dish 7 Pastry pedigree Meet a new local baker with chops.
9 Pour one out Twisted Branch’s tea ritual brings it “om.”
11 Best buys Cavalier Produce celebrates 20 years.
13 Solid work At Lemongrass, the Tauchis keep hustling.
14 Not sad about it
Citizen Bowl revamped as Lucky Blue’s.
15 Pie in the sky Is Aaron Hill reinventing pizza?
30 The Last Bite
The Charlottesville wine scene is changing—from where to buy your wine right down to what experimental varietals you’ll find in your glass. In this issue, we’re exploring what’s new, what’s different, and— most importantly—what you should be drinking this season. PAGE 17
Time to carbo-load.
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The Dish TRENDS, TASTEMAKERS, AND FOODS WE LOVE
Bake it till you make it
Christina Martin brings an impressive resume to C’ville’s hot baking scene BY SHEA GIBBS
LOVE IS IN THE AIR...
THE DISH CONTINUED FROM PAGE 7
ow many badass bakers can one modest hamlet support? Seems Charlottesville is determined to find out. Christina Martin comes to Charlottesville trailing a wake of Michelin-starred experiences by way of the West Coast and Chicago. She most recently wrapped a short stint at The Inn at Little Washington. Now, Martin’s putting out pastries under her microbakery label, BakerNoBakery, and stalking the local farmers’ markets while plotting her next move. K&F: So, you’re a baker with no bakery? CM: Actually that was an Instagram name that originated in high school, when I was making pastries— mostly cakes and cookies—for birthdays. I’ve just kept it up, through culinary school at Johnson & Wales University, through some internships, and up to now. Your most recent restaurant stop was The Inn at Little Washington. Where were you before that?
I got a great internship at Grace in Chicago. I moved there in the middle of my junior year and was finishing my bachelor’s degree online. The restaurant closed six days later. It was a hard and fast reset for my career. I helped open two restaurants and closed two in a year and a half and worked at a total of four. It was intense.
Then I moved back home to the San Francisco Bay area. When the pandemic hit, the restaurant I was going to work for in L.A. ended up having its opening pushed back. My cousins own Guajiros Miami Eatery here in C’ville, and I was doing bakery pop-ups at the time out of my parents’ house; my cousins said I should come and do pop-ups out of their restaurant. And then you just happened upon a job at another three-Michelin-starred restaurant. I booked all my travel and had a sublet set up, but it was a scam. I needed a job and saw an opening as the pastry chef de partie at The Inn at Little Washington. I had been in fine dining of that caliber, so it was a linear move. How did you get from there to your own business? Through my pops-ups I started wholesaling cookie dough to my cousin. Then, because I had worked in multiple cities and met a lot of people, I started shipping bread—sending all these flavors and fun things I was working on around the country. And Charlottesville was drawing me in. But you left the Inn. I love the environment of fine dining, but I really believe my path in life lies with being an entrepreneur, as scary as it is. So, currently I’m doing production out of a commercial kitchen from 3-7:30am three days a week. I still think of myself as a baker without a bakery. With the way my creativity is, retail doesn’t really work. I enjoy the free form of the farmers’ market. Then I can spend my weekdays foraging or going to source ingredients. What’s your baking style? I like to describe it as Americana-diversity. I work with a lot of traditional American and French techniques but modify them, incorporating the diversity that is this country. I’m half Latin and half white but grew up in the Bay Area, where there are a lot of Asian and Hispanic influences, as well as modern gastronomic techniques.
Wedding pros work together at The Bradbury downtown
How to use styled shoots for inspo
Don't toss the bouquet— a new way to keep it 'alive'
A month-bymonth guide to the big day
Four weddings—from itsy bitsy to Italian-inspired—that got every detail just right
S T A N D S
N O W !
Speed round: favorite pastry to eat, favorite local pastry, favorite pastry to bake. I love a perfectly executed kouign-amann. It’s a French pastry that is laminated like a croissant, but the last two folds are done with sugar instead of flour, giving it this caramelly crust. The matcha mint chocolate chip cookie from Bowerbird is ridiculously good. And I love baking caramel buns because laminating by hand is a really fun process, and it’s different every time.
Steeped in it
Christina Wagner’s tea ceremonies blend tradition and transformation By Alana Bittner
itting on the back deck at the Twisted Branch Tea Bazaar, Christina Wagner carefully measures out tea leaf with her fingers. “Tea is a great place to exercise intuition,” she says. Laid out on the table before us are the elements of a Chinese gong-fu tea ceremony. There’s a metal teapot filled with hot water heated by a candle, an empty glass pitcher, and a traditional Chinese gai-wan—a tea-steeping cup with a saucer and lid. We each have a tiny tea bowl, and an offering cup sits nearby. In Mandarin, gong-fu means “with skill.” In a tea ceremony, this refers to the effort of drawing out the best possible flavor from the leaf. To do so, a gong-fu ceremony uses more vessels than your typical teapot and mug. To begin, Wagner puts the loose leaf tea (a Chinese green called Ancient Forest) into the gai-wan and covers it with hot water. After 15 seconds, she deftly picks up the gai-wan with one hand and tilts the lid back with her finger, letting the liquid strain into the glass pitcher. This is also called the fairness pitcher, since it halts the steeping process and lets everyone taste tea that’s the same strength. Wagner holds the pitcher up to the light, admiring the “clean golden color.” The first serving goes to the offering cup, as thanks. The next pour is for us. The first infusion is the time to notice the tea’s lighter, more floral tones. As we go through the infusion process four more times, the florals are replaced by a fuller mouthfeel and a strong taste of camphor emerges. We learn how one batch of tea morphs and evolves. “You would never brew it fewer than three times, because it’s disrespectful to the leaf,” says Wagner. Growing up in Madison County, tea wasn’t a large part of Wagner’s life. After graduating from UVA and moving to Portland, Oregon, she took a job at a shop called Tao of Tea. “I didn’t even know that that level of tea world existed,” says Wagner. For training, she toured warehouses, tea packing facilities, and teahouses. When she wasn’t preparing tea ceremonies for others, she was trying new teas, working her way through Tao’s extensive menu. When
UVA alum Christina Wagner says she’s drawn to tea ceremonies because of the community they create.
she returned to Charlottesville in 2015, her next career move seemed obvious—the Twisted Branch Tea Bazaar was started by a former Tao of Tea employee. Wagner says she’s drawn to tea because of the community it creates. “I would rather drink mediocre tea with good people and share that,” she says, “than use that time to source excellent tea and drink it all by myself.” She loves how once tea is served, time gets stretchy. It gives space for people to relax and open up. Deep conversations flow, connections spark. She calls it steaming open the time-space continuum. When tea gatherings became jeopardized during the pandemic, and Twisted Branch shut down for months, Wagner decided to share her ceremonies through Zoom and launched the Twisted Branch Tea Club. Participants preorder the tea of the month, which can be picked up at Twisted Branch or shipped to your address. It’s recommended that the ceremony be held in a quiet space, where you can gather around your teaware, log
onto a computer, and go through the infusions along with the rest of the club. In each session, Wagner walks through the infusions and discusses the tea’s flavor notes and origins. When she began the tastings in February, she had no idea if it would take off, but a passionate group of customers coalesced, eager to jump in. “They’re really great about being inquisitive minds,” says Wagner. “Everyone brings a really different perspective, and the questions are all different angles on the same thing.” It’s gone so well, in fact, that Wagner isn’t sure she’ll transition off Zoom. Some participants are tuning in from other states, and she doesn’t want to leave them behind. She will also continue to host Sunday Afternoon Tea, a drop-in, in-person event at IX Art Park on the last Sunday of the month. Back on the deck of Twisted Branch, five infusions and almost two hours have slipped by. As I leave, I see Wagner pick up the offering cup. She gently pours the tea into the soil of a nearby plant.
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Rounding the plate
Cavalier Produce celebrates 20 years of fresh, local food By Megan Irvin
t first, produce distribution might not sound all that exciting. But imagine a world where your favorite restaurants don’t have the fresh lettuce, sweet corn, and tangy tomatoes they need to create their specials—it’s a dark image. For 20 years, Denise and Steve Yetzer have kept that from happening. The pair runs Cavalier Produce, which distributes fresh ingredients to restaurants throughout the area. From the moment they bought the business—then called Four Seasons Produce—the Yetzers found that highlighting local farmers and purveyors in central Virginia and connecting them with chefs, restaurateurs, and the community is extremely rewarding work. In Charlottesville, the pair strove for something special: “We envisioned providing high-quality ingredients and excellent, personalized service to people who are passionate about creating great food,” says Denise Yetzer. “Our company has always focused on building great relationships—with our vendors, our customers, and our team.” Though 2001 marked the couple’s first time running their own business, it was not their first foray into the produce world. The duo found themselves hooked on the industry after working in the field in different roles in the Washington, D.C., area—Denise as a produce importer and wholesaler and Steve in an operations role. But as the Yetzers’ wholesale division grew, space increasingly became an issue, and in 2014, they made the difficult decision to close the Belmont retail operation that had been part of the original business. Now, they focus solely on providing high-quality ingredients to the restaurant and food service industry. Brian Helleberg, owner of Fleurie and Petit Pois, says the secret to his restaurant’s longterm relationship with Cavalier Produce is the customer service. “Cavalier has been great to work with,” Helleberg says. “Denise, Steve, and Spencer [Cavalier’s customer care manager and local program coordinator] have always treated us as valuable customers and continue to nurture our relationship…which I value since we work with them every day.”
Twenty years in, Cavalier services over 500 customers a week, delivering fresh produce, meats, cheese, and specialty items on a daily basis.
Of course, the key to the company’s success is also its produce. “Shop seasonally, shop fresh, shop local,” says Denise Yetzer. “It is a great time of year to visit local farmers markets, to get to know what is available locally and support local farmers and producers.” Last year brought new challenges for the business with the coronavirus pandemic. “The restaurant and food service industry were dramatically impacted, as well as the entire food industry, from growers to shippers and distributors,” says Denise. “No one was insulated from the closures and health concerns of the pandemic. It was a very difficult year, and we are so proud of our staff and customers who weathered the storm with us.” Early in the pandemic, Cavalier Produce felt it had to do something, leading to the Industry Tight food box program, which distributed fresh produce boxes to food service workers who had lost their jobs due to COVID-19 (at no cost to recipients). The company also began selling directly to the public through its Buy A Box, Give A Box initiative, reaching consumers who wanted to take advantage of online ordering of fresh
produce, grocery items, dairy, and meats while also giving back to those in need. More than 3,000 boxes were sponsored, and Cavalier continues to support the local community through food donations. Today, Cavalier services over 500 customers a week, delivering fresh produce, meats, cheese, and specialty items on a daily basis. The company’s 66-person team works with customers throughout central Virginia, from Charlottesville to Blacksburg to Richmond to Virginia Beach, and everywhere in between. Always at the mercy of mother nature, the changing seasons and weather events guide menus and product availability, and keep things interesting for the team. Denise says not a day goes by that they aren’t looking for an unusual ingredient, running a last-minute delivery, or fulfilling a special request. “Food connects people,” she says. “Building relationships and helping chefs put their best food forward by helping them service their customers well—that is really what it has always been about. The food and the people. We are honored to be here and so grateful for the opportunity to do what we do.”
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Sticking it out
Meet the restaurant veterans keeping Lemongrass afloat By Erika Howsare
oshihiro Tauchi is tough. When he developed back problems decades ago while butchering tuna at a New York fish company, his way of “taking it easy” was to switch to restaurant work. After he healed up he started his own fish company in Washington, D.C. That was only the beginning of his adventures in the U.S. Tauchi and his wife, Yukiko, arrived from Japan 36 years ago and have been working hard in the food world ever since. They’re warm and accommodating people with a wry sense of humor. As they tell the story of their intertwining careers, Yukiko often translates for Yoshihiro, and they finish each other’s sentences with the ease born of a long partnership. The two moved to Virginia in 1998 to help Foods of All Nations launch the concept of takeout sushi in Charlottesville. By the time the landmark restaurant TEN opened in 2006 on the Downtown Mall, Yoshihiro’s skills as a sushi chef were recognized enough around town that he was invited to come to TEN as a sous-chef. He spent nearly eight years in that renowned kitchen, while Yukiko stayed at Foods of All Nations. The couple dove back into entrepreneurship in 2013, buying the sushi spot in York Place then known as Miyako. The Tauchis changed the name to Kokoro—meaning “heart.” But Kokoro turned out to be a popular name, and the couple ended up on the wrong end of a trademark lawsuit. Ever resilient, they changed their name to “Mican”—a tribute to the Mandarin-type oranges popular in Tauchi’s hometown on the island of Shikoku—and served up a sophisticated menu of classic Japanese food, including sushi, donburi, and ramen. Their food earned glowing reviews. It was hard going in that location, though— so close to the bustle of the mall, and yet oddly quiet. So when their friend Pham, the owner of the Thai favorite Lemongrass, got ready to retire in 2016, he proposed to the Tauchis that they might have an easier time in his wellplaced Corner location. They bought Lemongrass and merged the two menus, Thai and Japanese. Pham thought they wouldn’t have to work so hard there.
At Lemongrass, Yoshihiro (pictured) and Yukiko Tauchi bring the know-how (and the flavor) from their former posts, from Foods of All Nations to Ten.
“But not true!” says Yoshihiro, laughing hard along with his wife as he continues the tale. For one thing, although Pham provided recipes, and one of the Lemongrass chefs stayed on to help, Yoshihiro had never cooked Thai food before. Even as he worked on learning this new cuisine, he faced new competition— the Charlottesville scene saw more and more Thai and other Asian restaurants opening all the time. And then COVID-19 came along, forcing them to survive on takeout only. The Tauchis just kept on weathering the storm, though, showing the same grit that’s carried them through so many challenges in
the past. And things are looking up. “Business is getting better,” says Yukiko, now that inhouse dining has returned. They’ve gotten to know their new customer base—largely made up of students, who tend to order pad Thai or panang curry more often than sushi or donburi. And they’ve figured out how to adapt those flavors to American tastes. “South Asian food has very strong fish flavors, but we changed that to be more mild,” says Yukiko. After 23 years in Charlottesville, these two are as much a part of the local scene as anyone. And they’re still bringing the deliciousness, one Volcano Roll at a time.
The Downtown Mall gets Lucky
The former Citizen Bowl Shop gets a new look—and sound—in its rebirth as Lucky Blue’s bar By Nathan Alderman
“Coming out of the pandemic era—that’s what we’re doing, right?—I felt that what I, and everyone atrick McClure had spent four happy years really, needed, was a comfortable neighborhood bar running Citizen Bowl Shop on the Downto help us ease back into our formerly normal social town Mall—“Well,” he says, “not 2020”— behavior,” McClure says. “Lucky Blue’s is intended as when he decided it was time for a change. that ‘something for everyone’ kind of place, where you You wouldn’t know it from the outside, where can have a civilized lunch with friends or co-workers, the old CB sign still hangs. But the old Bowl Shop’s a lively dinner of comfort foods and beverages that been reinvented on the inside as Lucky Blue’s, a bar don’t require lengthy explanations, or blow off steam where rock n’ roll, burritos, and killer cheese steaks after dinner, whether you’re a bourbon aficionado or happily hang out alongside vegan tofu bowls. love shots of Fireball.” Lucky Blue’s beverage menu balances variety with simplicity, offering enough beers, wines, ciders, and cocktails to give imbibers plenty of choices, without ever feeling overwhelming. McClure describes Lucky Blue’s as a throwback to the days of “good bar, great jukebox”—even if it doesn’t actually have a jukebox. Having traveled the country as he wandered in and out of the orbit of his and his brother Andy’s various Charlottesville restaurants, McClure wanted to evoke the old bars of San Francisco, which “feel worthy of reverence, yet look like places your mother might warn you about.” He’s dreaming of live music one day, when health and safety permit, but for now, he’s making do with some truly excellent playlists. Though cheesesteaks and burritos remain Lucky Blue’s mandate, McClure’s equally proud of the bar’s less artery-clogging offerings. “The Bowl Shop menu lives on, and my amazing lunch regulars that depended on that healthy-eating ethos will not be forgotten,” he says. So far, McClure says, the Delta variant hasn’t squelched Lucky Blue’s success. “We have to take everything with a grain of salt, dash of Tapatio salsa, and a cold beer these days, but people have really enjoyed our space, and the feedback has been tremendous!” he says. “That, despite the lack of a new sign and very little advertising, shows us that we’re on our way Lucky Blue’s owner Patrick McClure envisions his new bar as a to being a Downtown Mall ‘must do.’” day-to-night kind of eatery.
Any way you slice it Buzzy new mobile pizza kitchen takes tradition to task By Shea Gibbs
f you want to make Neapolitan-style pizza in Charlottesville and you’re not from Naples, being from Lampo is probably the next best thing. But let’s back up. Aaron Hill’s pizza-making days started well before he served as the Belmont restaurant’s sous chef from 2016 to 2019. His first serious dough-flinging foray was at another member of the city’s Mount Pizzamore: Dr. Ho’s Humble Pie. Over two separate stints, Hill spent more than five years helping turn out the Doc’s Wonka-like creations, which couldn’t sit further from the strictures of Neapolitan style and its D.O.C. mandates. “A lot of my style is definitely a blend,” Hill says. “I don’t go out of my way to do anything... by the rules. I think it’s more important to follow your own taste. There is no real point to [D.O.C. certification]. I see it as a racket.” It’s that perspective that’s led to Slice Versa, Hill’s seven-month-old mobile wood fired pizza kitchen. From his custom trailer-slash-oven, he’s been turning out zingy Neapolitan-ish and Sicilian-style ’zas since spring 2021 and drawing fans around the county at breweries, wineries, farmers’ markets, and beyond. To top his sourdough-based pies, Hill seeks out local cheeses, cured meats, and vegetables. “We’re not in Italy, and I’m not going to be importing every ingredient I have,” Hill says. “I can get black walnut oil or hickory oil or olive oil that is just amazing stuff—all from Virginia. I want to represent this climate and our food system and be sustainable.” Lending Slice Versa another pizza-loving perspective is co-owner Emma Luster. Hill and Luster met and married in 2019, drawn together in no small part by a certain round, mozzarella-topped delicacy. Luster kept a “pizza diary,” both dreamed of running a food truck, and as they probably say in Sicily, the rest was storia. Hill’s favorite Slice Versa pizza so far has been a black walnut number he hopes to bring back to the menu soon. For those clinging to
Local pizzeria veteran Aaron Hill is pushing the boundaries of pie with mobile kitchen Slice Versa.
tradition, he’s also got the Cheesetown—four cheeses, garlic, chili flake, wild oregano, and EVOO over a crushed tomato base—and bestselling margherita.
“Wherever you are, everyone eats different— that’s been one of the coolest parts of this,” Hill says. “Kind of the point is to break the rules and have more options for more people.”
“I can get black walnut oil or hickory oil or olive oil that is just amazing stuff— all from Virginia. I want to represent this climate and our food system and be sustainable.” Aaron Hill Knife&Fork 15
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WAY WINE TO
When it comes to the Charlottesville wine scene, the ideas are swirling—and we’re sipping. Changes are afoot, from the way winemakers are creating our wines (read: hybrid grapes! Bourbon barrels!) to the places we’ll find our next favorite bottle (find five of our recommendations on page 19). Let’s end the year on a high note (or a fruity note, or a floral note, or...), shall we?
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SHOW UNDER-THE-RADAR WINES YOU SHOULDN’T MISS BY PAUL TING
here is much to look forward to as the Virginia wine industry matures, and as more and more high-quality wines are produced. Varieties such as cabernet franc and petit manseng are becoming recognized as grapes that flourish in the region. But a growing industry also gives space for smaller producers, new grape varieties, and creative winemaking techniques that result in interesting bottles that may give a glimpse of things to come. Here are five you shouldn’t miss.
AMÉLIE SPARKLING ROSÉ (NON-VINTAGE) FROM KESWICK VINEYARDS ($25) How it tastes: A darker rosé-style sparkling wine. Red and black cherry flavors dominate with lingering tartness on the finish. Pair it with: Stir-fry mushrooms, pork tenderloin, roasted duck
Notes: Made from norton, the only wine grape native to America. Although Missouri claims it as its state grape, Virginia had the first plantings of this variety. Like many, Keswick winemaker Stephen Barnard freely admits that he does not like the flavors of norton as a red wine, but he crafts an enjoyable rosé sparkling from the variety.
2020 CABERNET FRANC FROM VINO DAL BOSCO ($25) How it tastes: Fresh, bright flavors of red berries along with plum, green herbs, and a hint of licorice. A medium-bodied wine that would benefit from a slight chill and evokes a walk in the forest during autumn. Pair it with: Braised pork stew, black beans and rice, roasted quail, burgers off the grill
Notes: A product of Gabrielle Rausse Winery, where sons Peter and Tim are largely responsible for the winemaking. The Vino dal Bosco label highlights wines with no added sulfites. The cabernet franc was aged half in stainless steel and half in clay amphora.
2018 SLY FOX CABERNET FRANC FROM FLYING FOX VINEYARDS ($40) How it tastes: Aging in used bourbon barrels yields a combination of red fruits and spiciness with vanilla, coffee, biscuit, and smoke. The palate is rich and full of flavor with slight sweetness. Pair it with: Barbecued ribs, steak, smoked vegetables, your favorite cigar Notes: Sly Fox is the experimental label of Flying Fox Vineyards and gives the winery permission to play with some non-standard techniques. Winemaker Emily Pelton takes the opportunity here to do something that is perhaps a bit controversial, but unique and creative—and full of flavor.
2020 STRANGE HYBRID MOMENTS FROM LIGHTWELL SURVEY ($25)
2019 FIANO RESERVE FROM BARBOURSVILLE VINEYARDS ($25)
How it tastes: Red fruits and perfumed roses on the nose. The palate carries this forward with strawberries, roses, and a hint of white pepper and tar on the finish. A touch darker and more flavorful than most rosés with persistent acidity on the finish.
How it tastes: Very floral nose leading to flavors of grapefruit, apricot, and pear. Balanced with lingering acidity and a hint of white peaches on the finish.
Pair it with: Blackened fish, fried chicken, sushi
Notes: Barboursville first released its Fiano in 2015, and was the first winery on the East Coast to produce wine from this ancient variety originating in central Italy. The 2019 vintage was an excellent one in Virginia and this bottle is perhaps the best Fiano from Barboursville to date.
Notes: A blend of vidal blanc, chambourcin, blaufränkisch, petit manseng, and traminette. Winemaker Ben Jordan is focused on the potential of hybrid grapes (vidal blanc, chambourcin, and traminette) as part of the future of Virginia wine and showcases them here in this singular blend.
Pair it with: Grilled seafood, pasta with cream sauce, goat cheese
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The Locals’ Shopping Destination Since 1994 22 Knife&Fork Spring
isitors to Merrie Mill Farm & Vineyard, one of the newest offerings in the Keswick/Gordonsville area, can enjoy wine and food and friends in a lovely setting. It’s all leisurely charm—with a roller-coaster backstory. It began four years ago, when Guy and Elizabeth Pelly came over from London to attend a friend’s wedding at Castle Hill Cidery and decided to start a vineyard. The idea was not as random as it sounds. Elizabeth, a UVA alumna, came from an American family steeped in hospitality (her grandfather founded Holiday Inn). Guy, who grew up on a small farm in Britain, owned and managed entertainment venues, but was looking for a career change better suited to his new and growing family. A month later, the Pellys came back to Charlottesville to look at a mid-19th century Keswick farm that had run to seed. Seeing possibilities, they bought the farm. The Pellys began renovating the old farmhouse and planning the vineyard—working with a consultant, researching grape varieties, and hiring soil testers. One pleasant surprise: Amidst the acres of red clay, one field was Manteo soil, an excellent variety for viniculture. For the first 18 months, Guy recalls, “[the vineyard] didn’t look like much. We did think, ‘What have we done?’” By their second year, prospects for the harvest looked good—until a historic frost on Mother’s Day 2019 took half their crop. Then, of course, came the pandemic. But while preparation and hard work can’t prevent bad luck, there is always serendipity. Guy and Elizabeth had made friends with neighbors whose grapes were going into Veritas Vineyard’s True Heritage label. True Heritage was only selling wines at retail; the Pellys had a tasting room under construction in an old barn; and voila, Merrie Mills Farm & Vineyard opened as lockdown was easing in 2021.
A NEW KESWICK WINERY WOWS, DESPITE SOME INITIAL SNAGS BY CAROL DIGGS
A TOAST TO TWO MORE NEW WINERIES ITALY IN AFTON As you wind your way up the driveway to the large Mediterranean-style structure atop Turk Mountain in western Albemarle County, nobody would fault you for thinking you made a wrong turn and somehow landed in Tuscany. Welcome to Hazy Mountain Vineyards & Brewery (hazy-mountain.com), which opened in Afton last summer. In addition to an Italian vibe, Hazy boasts to-die-for views and both wine and beer, courtesy of winemaker Luke Trainum, who also heads Hazy’s brewing program. And if you’re looking for something delicious to soak up, say, the recently released 2019 Cabernet Franc, you have your choice of flatbread pizzas (we recommend the fig and prosciutto); fruit, cheese, and charcuterie boards; Bavarian pretzels with beer cheese; and the must-try ice cream sandwiches. Hazy’s tasting room hours are Wednesday through Sunday, 11am-6pm, and Thursdays, 11am-7:30pm. Coming soon: a private events space for weddings, re-
unions, and other special gatherings.
HEAD EAST(WOOD) When you’re kicked back in an Adirondack chair, enjoying the sweeping Carter’s Mountain vistas with a glass of
For now, the tasting room offers True Heritage’s rosé, viognier, white blend, red blend and petit verdot. But Guy says Merrie Mill Farm’s harvest has already gone to be blended and bottled at Veritas by noted winemaker Emily Hodson, so their own wines will be available next year. For the tasting room, Elizabeth—who has degrees in art and museum studies—wanted “a place that feels like you’re walking into someone’s home. I’ve seen several lovely tasting rooms with a lot of wood, in a converted barn style, and I wanted to set us apart.” Working with designer Jenn Grandchamp of Kemble Interiors, Elizabeth gave free rein to her own whimsical style. As a result, the tasting room has the homey feel of a British private club; over the large central fireplace, a portrait of Guy’s great-great-grandfather Oswald Burley surveys all sorts of African and Indian curios, as well as some eminently sittable overstuffed sofas. But the space could also be some marvelous antique store. Elizabeth says, “the early museums were
cabinets of curiosity or ‘wonder rooms’—I took a lot of inspiration from that concept.” The result is breezy, light-hearted, and fun. A stuffed sea lion (“her name is Chantal—we found her in Amsterdam”) floats above one tasting bar; a 4-foot high corkscrew sculpture hangs from the ceiling. Quirky touches are everywhere—on the walls, modern sketches hang next to Victorian collections of butterflies and seaweed; alcoves are wallpapered with menagerie designs; the high-top tables are slices of an Osage orange tree cut on the property, and a section of its trunk is out on the lawn as couch seating (with plenty of throw pillows). Guests can hang out in the tasting room, or on its covered patio and lawn (reservations are encouraged but not required). An indoor balcony room offers a space for small gatherings. The second-floor outdoor porch, with its groupings of couches around glass coffee tables, is a great spot for enjoying the weekend bands—or views of the vineyard and the southwest mountains any time.
Eastwood Farm & Winery’s (eastwoodfarmandwinery.com) Tall Tails Chardonnay in your hand, it’s easy to forget you’re a mere five minutes from downtown Charlottesville. But before you make your way up the graduated terraces to those chairs and that view, where you can also take an outdoor yoga class or hike one of the trails, start your visit to this woman-owned winery at the Barn, which opened last February. Its warm wooden walls, beamed ceiling, and copper bar provide the perfect cozy atmosphere for sampling three different tasting flights, wine slushies, and sparkling rosé and Prohibition cider on tap. It’s also the place for rotating art exhibits, Trivia Thursday, and Live Music Fridays. Snacks from Caromont Farm, Harvest Moon, and Gearharts Fine Chocolates are available, as are bottomless sno-cones for kids on Thursdays and Sundays. Eastwood is open Wednesday-Sunday (hours vary). —Susan Sorensen
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826 Hinton Ave • tavolavino.com
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please call 434.972.9463 to reserve in advance 434.972.9643 826Hinton HintonAve Ave•• tavolavino.com tavolavino.com 826
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Lizzy Trevor became wine director at Tilman’s on the Downtown Mall a year ago, coming to the position by sheer force of will. The oenophile, who recently aced the Wine & Spirit Education Trust’s level 2 examination, is completely self-taught and self-driven. She started working at Tilman’s two years ago as a team member and climbed into the wine director’s chair with no previous professional experience. Trevor says her focus is on making esoteric wine varieties approachable to casual consumers. Courtenay Tyler, the restaurant’s co-owner, who also operates Tonic on Market Street, says she couldn’t be happier with Trevor’s programming, which involves setting the eatery’s wine menu, selecting wines for its wine club, organizing eventws, and training staff. Prior to turning her hobby into a career, Trevor had been an esthetician. Now, she only has eyes for the vine and is looking ahead to taking the WSET level 3 and 4 tests. “I just love geeking out on wine,” she says.—Shea Gibbs
A GLASS ACT
As the self-taught wine director at Tilman’s wine and cheese bar, Lizzy Trevor offers customers a chance to explore pairings by way of her wine geek wisdom.
A TOAST TO THE FRONT LINE BLENHEIM’S SEASONAL OFFERING IS A BOON TO FIRST-RESPONDERS BY CAROL DIGGS
lenheim Vineyards is encouraging everyone to raise a glass to our first responders…literally. In a collaboration between the vineyard and renowned chef José Andrés’ international nonprofit World Central Kitchen, Blenheim’s On the Line wines are helping raise money to provide healthy meals for those still fighting the pandemic. Dave Matthews, musician, philanthropist, and owner of Blenheim Vineyards, connected with Andrés last year, when World Central Kitchen was helping gear up a Charlottesville chapter of Frontline Foods. The effort was designed to support local restaurants and food producers by purchasing meals to distribute to health care workers and other first responders in the area. Blenheim had the wines, WCK had the boots on the ground, and Matthews had the idea: produce and market wines aimed at raising money and support for those on the COVID front lines. Blenheim’s winemakers created a red blend and a white blend; Matthews designed the label; and the wine was sold either direct to consumers at the vineyard or on the Blenheim website, with a portion of the proceeds funding World Central Kitchen and Frontline Foods. Blenheim was able to reopen its tasting room in July 2020, which helped spur sales.
“Response has been great,” according to sales, marketing, and events manager Tracey Love. She says the 2019 vintage—347 cases of white and 329 cases of red—sold out completely; for the 2020 vintage, the vineyard has bottled more than 500 cases of each blend. With additional distribution through retailers and restaurants in Virginia, Maryland, Washington, D.C., and New York City, so far On the Line has raised close to $75,000, helping World Central Kitchen provide meals for first responders and others in need. (Frontline Foods was merged into World Central Kitchen in August 2020.) The On the Line blends were created specifically for this fundraising effort, and designed to be “a refreshing, easy-drinking wine,” says Love—and affordable, at $20 a bottle. The red is 63 percent cabernet franc blended with merlot, cabernet sauvignon, and petit verdot (“with notes of crushed raspberry, tobacco, and baked plum,” according to the website). The white—64 percent sauvignon blanc with rkatsiteli, chardonnay, petit manseng, and viognier—is fermented and aged in stainless steel. Buy a bottle (or a quartet, or a case) and toast the masked health care worker on the label. Heck, you can even get the T-shirt—it’s for a good cause.
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CRUSH A LOT
FINE DINING VET VINCENT DERQUENNE DROPS NEW WINE SPOT BY SHEA GIBBS
incent Derquenne has been at the center of Charlottesville’s fine-dining universe for nearly 30 years. And certainly wine service has been somewhere in his orbit over the decades. Now, he’s bringing it closer than ever with the launch of Crush Pad Wines, a bar and bottle shop across the Downtown Mall from Bizou, the restaurant Derquenne has run alongside Timothy Burgess for 25 years. To bring Crush Pad to life, the France native rounded up some of the top minds in the local vine game: Rachel Gendreau, Tom Walters, and Wes McCullen. Derquenne and Gendreau recently talked to Knife & Fork about the venture.
Do you have some current favorite wines? Derquenne: They are like kids—they are all my favorites. Now that the season is changing, something that was my favorite a month ago is not going to be my favorite now. But it is okay, because they are going to come back next year. A
What can people expect from the food at Crush Pad? Derquenne: The food is there to match the wine. It is a wine bar and wine shop, not a sitdown restaurant with a chef that only cooks the food and doesn’t understand what is around him. The focus point is the wine. The food is simple and easygoing for people to enjoy. I don’t want them to feel scared about the food we are doing. You’re going to have a good time. Everything is going to be okay.
K&F: This seems like a bit of a departure for you, Vincent. Derquenne: Rachel and I have thought about this for quite a while—four to five years. So, I’m not the only one in this. Tom has been in the wine business for 25 years, and Wes has been in it for around 40. Rachel is working on her master sommelier [certification]. We have a very good team. We want to bring our knowledge and sell the right bottles to the right people. Gendreau: We also want it to be fun. Wine is fun, and I think sometimes that can be a little lost in the sauce. There is this preconceived notion that, as you enter the higher echelons of great wine and drinking with knowledgeable people, it is very serious. We want it to be light and approachable for everyone, whether you are a serious collector or you just love wine and don’t know that much about it.
many of our guests are mindful in their purchasing. We have had many folks ask for female-owned wineries, female winemakers, and I love that.
Vincent Derquenne and Rachel Gendreau
wine you can drink outside in a courtyard or your backyard might be incredible, but two months later it doesn’t taste the same. Right now, we are going to the reds—the burgundies, the cabernet sauvignons, the pinot noirs from the West Coast. But there are also always a couple little wines that we misjudge, then they come back to you and say, “Hey, I am here.” And you say, “Yes, you are right. That is what you are here for.” It’s a whole relationship. Wine always surprises us. What are you seeing consumers gravitate toward? Gendreau: I have been really pleasantly—not surprised—but it has been lovely to see how
Do the two of you have some favorite pairings? Gendreau: I know we are out of tomato season, but I was loving this off-dry riesling with a tomato sandwich. The sweetness of the wine and acidity of the tomato—it is transformative. Derquenne: We are doing a raclette, and if you take the raclette with a dry white wine from the mountains, it is beautiful. Matching the wines sometimes surprises you. You can take a red wine and find an ingredient inside the recipe and somehow things match. And I will say something about matching. Champagne matches with everything. It has got to be the bubbles. Gendreau: Yes. It goes with breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
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COME VISIT MARIEBETTE OFF THE DOWNTOWN MALL.
105 E Water St, Charlottesville · 434.284.8903 · mariebette.com
WHERE OH WHERE SHOULD YOU WIND YOUR WAY WHEN IT’S TIME TO WINE? LOOK NO FURTHER THAN THE LIST BELOW, BECAUSE WE GOT YOU, OENO-FAM BY SHEA GIBBS Springhouse Sundries springhousesundries.com
Relative newcomer Springhouse Sundries focuses on the accessible—wines at a reasonable price we can all wrap our minds and taste buds around. Springhouse is a side project of the Wine Guild of Charlottesville, so it comes with some serious cred. Industry insiders Priscilla Curley and Matt Hauck pick the poison and offer the recs.
The Workshop When you think of the Workshop, you likely think about tasty pastry and jolty java. But don’t sleep on the café’s non-caffeinated bevies. The Wool Factory-based spot specifically excels on local plonk and is in the process of rolling out its own wine line.
Market Street Wine marketstwine.com
Market Street Wine is the OG, and the downcellar digs ooze historic charm. MSW’s fantastic Friday Night Wine tasting events are still on hiatus, but be on the lookout for occasional virtual events where you can taste along with industry experts. And cross your upturned pinkies that the tastings come back soon.
Bottle House bottlehouse.net
Public Fish and Oyster’s Daniel Kaufman, alongside Guillaume Gasparini, whose family owned the renowned but now-closed Pomme restaurant in Gordonsville, opened Bottle House to help folks select the perfect beverage for every occasion. Having opened during the pandemic, they’ve also focused on delivery, bringing bottles straight to your door. “Local is a
big part of it,” Kaufman says. “We are lucky to live in a wine region that is making better and better wines all the time.”
Superette Saison championbrewingcompany.com
Fun fact: Champion Brewing Company and Superette Saison owner Hunter Smith actually grew up around the vine—his parents own Afton Mountain Vineyards. At Champion Hospitality Group’s newish superette, situated next to beer-focused bistro Brasserie Saison, you’ll find a European-style market and café with an extensive wine selection.
The folks behind Tilman’s say they make “people happy with cheese and wine,” and it’s that straightforward approach that has helped them carve out a niche in the local wine scene since 2017. The Tilman’s wine club, curated by the shop’s self-taught wine director
Lizzy Trevor (see page 25), is one of the best in the city.
Beer Run beerrun.com
Beer Run’s been slinging package bottles and in-bar booze since before it was the cool thing to do, and it’s easy to forget the shop has a great wine selection as well as lagers and ales. On the vine side, the beer mecca focuses on value picks, organic bottles and dynamically produced selections, including a solid list of uber-popular natural vinos.
In Vino Veritas invinoveritasva.com
Is it worth the 15 minute drive out of town to visit In Vino Veritas in Keswick? Hell yeast. Sommelier to the (Michelin) stars, Erin Scala’s stylish and impeccably organized wine shop and gourmet grocery has it all: carefully curated bottles, hand-selected cases, unique events, and a superb monthly wine club.
Tastings of Charlottesville tastingsofcville.com
Local fine dining dynamo Vincent Derquenne says it all about Tastings of Charlottesville: “Their knowledge is incredible.” Bill Curtis is a true patriarch of C’ville wine—when he opened Tastings in 1990, the idea of an integrated wine shop and bar was basically unheard of. Tastings ain’t flashy, but its somm cred is second to none.
The Wine Guild of Charlottesville wineguildcville.com
The university of Charlottesville wine shops, the Wine Guild is where the local vintellectuals come together. With a star-studded staff, the small shop makes up in quality what it lacks in quantity. And its member structure offers a unique way to stay current with what’s poppin’ in wine. Members receive a discount on retail sales, private tastings with winemakers, wine dinners, and local vineyard tours.
The Last Bite
Cupcake walk Norkeita Goins understood the assignment: Create a mouth-watering dessert brimming with flavor and Instagrammability (whoever made the assignment also made up that word). Each of the baker's Caked Up creations—from towering wedding cakes with edible gold leafing and bright embellishments to (our favorite) Oreo cupcakes overloaded with crumbles of the classic cookie—hits the sweet spot. 30 Knife&Fork
A ROOM WITH A VIEW The Legendary Mill Room
The Mill Room Restaurant is a highlight of Boar’s Head Resort and the go-to destination in Charlottesville. Our chefs infuse old-world cuisine with modern techniques, sophisticated plating and beautifully choreographed service. Reservations: BoarsHeadResort.com/Dining or (434) 972-2230
Owned and operated by the UVA Foundation
Hark Vineyards is a family-owned winery, focused on the belief that beautiful views and delicious wine can bring people together.
available for private events
1465 Davis Shop Road 434-964-9463 (WINE)
Earlysville, VA 22936