It’s a beautiful reminder of the terroir, but the vineyard staff also use the wall as something of a “canary in the coal mine.” Battling Virginia’s wet climate is a challenge for all winemakers in the area, and so they hope and check to make sure the wall— still gleaming wet in late June—is “dry by the Fourth of July.”
three finches—two looking to the future and one looking back to honor the past. de Vink’s Marine training is evident in the attention to detail, as well as a small floor tile engraved with the words “Semper Fidelis” in the caves. However, winemaking is equal parts art to precision, a truth that de Vink and the RdV team have embraced with vigor.
Every vintner in Virginia contends with this struggle. A wet growing season promotes fungus and other harmful pests. The winemakers at RdV employ an approach they call “lutte raisonnée”, French for “reasoned struggle”. It is impossible to control the climate, but they manage the fickle weather with sound vineyard practices and a small army of vineyard technicians.
For visitors who want to take a piece of the exclusive RdV experience home, the winery offers access to the Ambassador’s Club. Although most wineries in Virginia offer a case club programs that offer loyal clientele perks and discounts, the Ambassador’s Club at RdV has taken this concept to another level. While the price of admission runs higher than most case clubs in Virginia, the perks do too.
A shelf of work boots, gloves, and hats tucked just behind the beautiful tank room remind one that, at the end of the day, a vineyard is just a farm, and the land is ultimately in charge.
Some major benefits include exclusive wine dinners with celebrity chefs, such as José Andres, the exclusive opportunity to purchase the “Friends and Family” label, invitations to cocktail parties and hosting privileges in the wine library. The Ambassador’s Club has also raised the bar of the ubiquitous case club, giving its members complimentary access behind the gates to spend a quiet country afternoon on the impeccably kept grounds.
Continuing with the tour, guests enjoy the vineyard’s two cuvées in the tank room, accompanied by local cheese and charcuterie. RdV’s two wines, “Rendezvous” and “Lost Mountain”, are both Bordeaux-style red blends, retailing for $75 and $95 per bottle. The wines are exceptional and not just by Virginia standards. Slipp describes them as exhibiting the “ripeness of California without the over-extraction . . . the restraint of Bordeaux.“ It is a marriage of styles appropriately reflective of the land on which the grapes are grown. These are serious wines that oenophiles will no doubt love, but accessible and delicious even to the untrained palette. While touring RdV I couldn’t help but be taken aback by the exquisite architecture, courtesy of Andy Lewis. The winery is centered on an impressive staircase in a silo, a distinct homage to the property’s past life as a farm. Wherever you are on the property, there is a glimpse to another part of the winery. I notice distinct reflections of the vines in the windows as I sip wine in the lounge with a view through to the silo. There is an inherent sense of time, history, precision and rhythm to winemaking to which the RdV team adheres. Owner Rutger de Vink’s family is from Amsterdam, and the family name is Dutch for finch. An homage to this lineage, the wine labels feature
The Club is growing, and counts First Lady Michelle Obama among its members. On a recent June visit she commented, “We need this wine in the White House” and then, “Can I purchase two bottles to give to Oprah?” No word yet on what Oprah thinks, but I’m betting she might be doing some couch jumping of her own after she gets a taste. Visitors can make online reservations at rdvvineyards.com or contact the winery by phone to arrange tours. Follow Alison on Twitter @districtwino, on Instagram @Bonvivantdc, on Facebook @BonVivantDC, and visit her on the web at bonvivantdc.com.
Published on Sep 1, 2014
Published on Sep 1, 2014
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