Over the past several years I have had the privilege of participating in many social media based wine chats; in part, due to Frank Morgan’s #VAWineChat.

Founder of Drink What You Like wine blog; wine writer, Frank Morgan conducts virtual tastings monthly (usually), gathering wine bloggers, winemakers, and consumers to join in the conversation via Twitter. Participants spend time interacting with Frank, and his guest(s) during a one hour timeframe – which, usually ends up feeling more like a mere 30 minutes. Generally, the discussions are fast-paced, but intriguing, providing those who participate in some fascinating facts, in addition to excellent clarity about Virginia wine. 


Created and moderated by Frank, Virginia Wine Chat (#VAWineChat) featured sparkling wines and cider for Decembers chat from:

Line Up

  • Castle Hill Cider
  • Early Mountain Vineyards
  • Veritas Vineyards
  • Rappahannock Cellars

About the Juice

Castle Hill Levity Cider

Castle Hill Cider

Levity Cider 2017

Fermented in Qvevri (an egg-shaped earthenware vessel used for aging wine). 

Bursting with bubbles! 

Aromas: Fresh crisp apples and honey.

Taste: Mouthwatering citrus, stone fruit, baking spice and honey. 


Generally, I am not a big fan of cider, a victim of faulty thinking; based on my handful of cider tasting experiences. However, I am not alone according to Stuart Madany, Cidermaker and Orchard Manager at Castle Hill Cider who stated “…the two most common misconceptions about cider are that it’s very sweet…” I enjoyed experiencing a cider that lacked the sweetened flavor I was familiar with, and definitely would love to revisit this one in several months to taste the flavor development.

“From the Cidery “Cidermaking for the Levity was really minimal intervention. Wild yeast ferment, no additions, blended “at the press (before ferment), natural carbonation. Temperature controlled by being buried (~43°). It’s our first cider with 50% estate fruit.”

—The Cidery
Early Mountain Pet Nat

Pét-Nat (Pétillant Naturel)

Early Mountain Vineyards

Fermented in the Méthode Ancestrale method (primary fermentation is stopped before completing, and a secondary fermentation occurs in the bottle).

Aromas: Stone fruit and florals

Taste: Tropical fruits, pear, and honey. Zippy acidity.

In the bottle, the juice is cloudy, unlike most wines. The ancient method yields a more rustic sparkling wine, unfiltered, and generally bottled with a crown cap, instead of a cork. Capping the wine encourages immediate consumption.

Pét-Nat is made of 100% Malvasia Bianca, and began being produced at Early Mountain Vineyards “…as a hobby in 2104 as a gift to give folks who helped in production over harvest,” says Maya Hood White, Associate Winemaker & Viticulturist. “Currently, only 50 cases are produced at the vineyard making the wine highly sought after.” Of course, it is currently sold out

“With such a non-interventionist style of winemaking, Pét-Nat offers a unique glimpse into the characteristics of the vintage.”

—Early Mountain
Veritas Vineyards Scintilla


Veritas Vineyards

Made in the traditional Champagne method, Scintilla’s second fermentation is completed inside of the bottle, thereby, allowing the bubbles to be trapped. 

Aromas: Baked apples, yeast, and pear

Taste: Crisp tart green apples, citrus zest, toast, creamy mouthfeel.

This sparkler is elegant with bright acidity.

“The vineyards that we use for sparkling are actually some of our highest elevation and therefore retain more acidity” Emily Pelton, Winemaker at Veritas says – “Sparkling wine is defined by the quality of its acid to start the aging process to build in brioche and nutty yeasty flavors.”

—Emily Pelton
Rappahannock Cellars Rose

Sparkling Rosé

Rappahannock Cellars

Grapes are a blend of several vineyard sites in RC county,  and Shen County.  Rappahannock (900 ft elevation)

Aromas: Juicy red fruits, raspberries being the standout

Taste: Mimic the aromas – ripe raspberries, cherries, and asian pear with crisp acidity.


This sparkling Rosé has deep rich flavors – which, for me tasted exactly like I believe one would expect, considering the varietal makeup of the wine. It is clean and uninterrupted. Nicely surprisingly, unsurprising (if you will).

“Two-thirds of the ferment occurred in 3-year-old French Oak puncheons, one third occurred in stainless. All blended then transferred to bottle for tirage / secondary ferment.”

—The Vineyard

To sum it up:

commitment and passion of each curator’s artistry.

It was a privilege to participate in the chat. Having been a fan of Virginia wines for many years, each opportunity to experience something ‘new to me’ is a real pleasure.

Sparkling wines aren’t just for the holidays. Yes, the holidays are an excellent opportunity to share some bottles of Virginia wine with friends and family. However, you might want to grab a few extra to stow away for yourself.

Disclaimer: media samples, Opinions expressed are solely my own