The 5TH annual Stone Tower Winery Fall Harvest Feast occurred this past weekend. I was the lucky lady with two handsome escorts…my husband and his father. With the cooler autumn weather really settling in last week, it really helped to build the anticipation and harvest feel of the day. We pulled up to the winery just before dusk and caught a breathtaking view of the last bit of sun setting behind the Tower View Tasting Room as we hopped out of the Uber. (Gotta be responsible with 5 paired courses!)
We were greeted as we entered by managers Jeremy and Sarah, offering us with a glass of Blanc de Blanc sparkling wine. All smiles and warm welcomes as usual. It’s no surprise to get that type of greeting at Stone Tower. While mingling and taking in all the fall decorations, we got to visit with Jillian the Wedding Manager, who helped with all the coordination of our wedding there and Cort, who manages the Harvest Barn. Servers were making the rounds with three different hors-d’oeuvres.
The first we tried was a butternut squash soup sip with a bite-sized grilled cheese which was a perfect touch to warm up from the chilly outdoors. Next, we…well I, had two of the dill garnished, smoked salmon on a mini pancake because Kris hates dill (BAD Swedish boy!). This was fine by me though because they were delicious. Last, was a culinary marvel…flank steak wrapped french fries with a garlic truffle aioli. Meat and potatoes…every Irish girl’s dream! I think we will be attempting this on at our house for Thanksgiving.
Owner Mike and his daughter Lacey mingled as the guests, about 150, assembled and eventually made their way up on the stair landing to greet everyone. Always personable, Mike welcomed the group and gave the news that the harvest was completed and that all the grapes were inside and being prepared to make the next batches of delicious wines. The weather this year and grape crops in Virginia are rumored to be influential in really making Virginia a notable wine producer. Mike and Lacey offered a toast and then directed us to head down to the Banquet Hall for dinner.
The Banquet Hall looked lovely, scores of candles, pumpkins and autumn flowers covered the tables creating a very elegant fall festive feel. There were three long tables spanning the large room, but it felt warm and cozy with the soft lighting and layout. We found our seats at the end of one of the tables, which offered a great view of the entire table. Mike, Lacey, and the other staff were spread throughout the tables so that they were dining with us which was a really nice touch. The dinner was open to anyone, not just wine club members, so this offered guests the opportunity to chat with the team behind the winery.
Our first course was an endive and little gem salad with figs, pecorino, roasted blush potato and citrus wedges which was paired with the 2016 Estate Sauvignon Blanc. The salad was delicious, a nice mix of sweet and savory and the Estate Sav Blanc is my favorite white that Stone Tower offers…Kris’ favorite was up next!
The second course featured thyme, parsley and hazelnut encrusted wild halibut filets and hand-rolled gnocchi with sweet peas, heirloom tomatoes, and smoked mozzarella…hungry yet!?? Another solid course and the gnocchi was the talk of our end of the table. The course was paired with 2016 Estate Viognier which caused some serious debate amongst some of my new friends dining near us on whether it was better or the Sav Blanc. You know my vote…though this is a very good white.
The main course was so hearty it was paired with two wines; the 2015 Estate Wind Swept Hill and the 2013 Estate Petit Verdot. The roasted ribeye with cardamom buttered leeks, and Wind Swept Hill red wine pan sauce and roasted sunchoke and wild mushroom risotto had me switching back and forth between the two wines for every bite. Both reds are among my top three favorites at Stone Tower. I think I drank more of the Petit Verdot with the food than the Wind Swept simply because I really enjoy it on its own and wanted to savor every sip. Mind you the servers were refilling the glasses but we still had one course still to follow…I had to be able to read my notes to tell you all about our night! Time, the winemaker offered a description of the wines prior to each course but below is my recap so far:
- Wild Boar Blanc-de-Blanc – Who doesn’t like sparking? None that we know…or care to. 😉 This bubbly does not disappoint. Much more on the dry side. Refreshing. Apple and some tartness present.
- 2016 Estate Sauvignon Blanc – Unlike a lot of Sauvignon Blanc’s, this wine is not done in stainless steel, but rather a number of different oaks to include American, French, and Puncheon. This big bodied white resembles a Chardonnay to the eyes, but not anywhere else. To the nose, you get some of the typical Sauvignon Blanc characteristics…citrus and elderflower…even some apricot. It’s not grassy like cold-climate varietals, but not tropical like those from the hot. To the pallet, it remains consistent. For me, this is a perfect fall white!
- 2016 Estate Viognier – Big bodied white. Kris’ favorite white. The honeysuckle and floral notes shine in this wine. The malolactic fermentation gives it the big body while softening the acidity allowing the true essence of the Viognier grape to showcase itself.
- 2013 Estate Petit Verdot – This red is about as bold as you get. A big-bodied wine showcasing dark fruits on the pallet. We’re talking blackberry, blueberry, and plum. What is great about this wine are the hints of floral flavors that are complemented by the smoke and vanilla coming from the oak. Plenty of tannins for you loves are there. Having tasted this wine from the barrel years ago and then again, this evening, it’s amazing the changes and what a delicious treat it was to get.
- 2015 Estate Wind Swept Hills – This right-bank Bordeaux style red is dominated by the Merlot Grape, but there’s plenty of Cab Franc and Cab Sav with it. Additionally, some Petit Verdot gets thrown into the mix. What a delicious full-bodied wine! Cranberry and Cherry present with hints of tobacco and chocolate.
At this point, everyone was feeling pretty fat and happy but there was more…we joined our new friends that we met around the table at dinner and headed back upstairs to the tasting room for some cheeses and sweets and a glass of their Porton…Stone Tower’s take on Port wine. Gonna be honest here…as mentioned above, we were well into the evening by this point. The Porton was delicious. Were we paying attention to all the details it presented…maybe not. Ooops! We do have an unopened bottle here at the house and will do a future tasting to share our experience with it.
The deserts of the evening consisted of a Fruit Tart filled blueberries, strawberries, and kiwi over vanilla cream, a Crème Brule Tart, a Dark Chocolate Maple Mousse, and highlighted by the Pumpkin Pie cup and Chocolate Éclair topped with Bacon!!! Who doesn’t love bacon??? What a fantastic and delicious way to finish the evening.
It was a very enjoyable event in all ways…great food, wine, and we even met some new friends to meet up for future wine tasting adventures. I truly hope that we can attend next year for the sixth annual feast.