Vincabulary – Maceration

Maceration is the winemaking process where the phenolic materials of the grape—tannins, coloring agents (anthocyanins) and flavor compounds—are leached from the grape skins, seeds and stems into the must.

Cold maceration is skin contact before the beginning of the fermentation process. Some winemakers allow the skins to remain in contact with the must after fermentation is finished. This is known as extended maceration.

Carbonic maceration allows grapes to ferment without intentionally breaking the skins. Must is the mixture of solids and grape juice before fermentation begins. Up to a quarter of the must is skins and other debris, known as pumice. The amount of contact with these solids is one of the major ways a winemaker can craft the wine.

(Source –, UC Davis)

Posted in Vincabulary | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Editor’s Note Septmber 2013


We are just back from a great weekend at The Virginia Wine Festival.  While the entire VA Wine Club crew had a good time, I likely had the best time hosting the “You Be The Judge” Tent where we tasted over twenty of the finest Virginia wines by varietal.

I also spent some time last week catching up with my wine growing friends.  Reports from Crush’13 are mixed.  Some vineyards have reported significant animal pressures (deer, bear bird and even squirrel).  In the central part of the Commonwealth, some are blaming the increased pressure on the Brood 2 cicada emersion.  While these bugs did not harm the grapes (generally) they did take away other dining options for the wildlife.

Some winegrowers have indicated the last two weeks of heat have helped save the year but anticipate lesser yields.  One mentioned the significant amount of hand sorting that is being conducted both in the vineyard and at the sorting table.

At the halfway point in Crush’13, it looks like an OK vintage but not stellar.  So far, we have not yet seen much hurricane activity but we also did not see significant heat in August.  I believe those courageous wine growers that allow their fruit to hang well into late October, may be rewarded with increased flavor profile complexity.  Of course there is just one letter difference between guts and nuts.

As always, thank you for including me on your Virginia Wine Journey.

Respectfully Submitted,

Neil Williamson, Editor VA Wine Journal & Chairman, VA Wine Club Tasting Panel

Posted in editor's note | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Boneyard 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon

All winemakers know that farming is at the heart of all wine growing.  You are always at the mercy of Mother Nature.

2011 was a bit of a challenge for winegrowing but as this wine shows vineyard management can make a difference in the bottle.

The grapes are 100% from Tranquility Vineyard in Purcellville.  Lower than average yields produced longer hang times on this fruit than anything else.  The result is a medium bodied Cabernet that is loaded with character.

Looking in the glass the color fills the glass from rim to rim with a dark ruby hue.  The red fruit filled aroma exudes baked cherries and a touch of pie crust.  The attack is balanced with plum and coffee undertones.

The well structured midpalate is supported by smooth tannins with an undercurrent of Black Currant and licorice.  The finish lingers on the rear of the palate highlighting a touch of mint.

In selecting pairings for this wine, I lean toward seasoned beef and lamb; perhaps even an elegant standing rib roast.  The well-structured body and expansive midpalate will stand up well to most peppercorn or béarnaise sauces.

Drinking well know, I tend to think this wine will increase in complexity over time.  Proper cellaring will reward the patient club member with an increase in depth and breadth of the midpalate.


Posted in Tasting Notes | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Boneyard Red 2011

Many Virginia winemakers know winemaking in not only both an art and a science; it is also about the art of the possible.  It is a matter of balancing what the fruit gives you and how you can balance that with what you (or ownership) perceive as the market demand.

That may be why the 2011 Boneyard Red is so refreshingly different.  Unfiltered and unrefined, this wine does not try to be something it is not.

Deep dark garnet in the glass, the mysterious core only hints at the complexity contained within.  The jammy nose is filled with strawberry, plum and licorice notes.

The subtle attack features sneakier than average tannins that continue into an expansive mid palate filled with blackberry and black currant.  The tannins actually retract a touch in the finish opening up additional dark almost dried fruit tones of raisin and strawberry jam.  The finish lingers nicely but does not extend as long as one might anticipate.

In pairing this proprietary red blend, I am drawn to meats such as marbleized steak or lamb chops.  It will also pair well with marinated tofu kabobs with green peppers, mushrooms and onions.

I believe this wine is at the start of its journey.  Additional bottle aging may extend the finish and soften the transition between attack and mid palate.


Posted in Tasting Notes | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Boneyard White 2011

In launching a new wine label, Tarara Winery looked to their “Boneyard” for inspiration.  The Boneyard is the field where old equipment goes to sit (and be used for spare parts).  In developing the inaugural Boneyard White blend Winemaker Jordan Harris wanted to express his imagination and fun rather than being restricted by terroir and varietal correctness.

He hand selected vineyard lots to be a part of this bright new white wine.

The resulting somewhat irreverent wine is both delicate and full of vivacity.

A blend of Chardonnay, Viognier, and Petit Manseng the wine’s pale straw color permeates the glass with just a hint of richer yellow.  The nose is filled with white citrus, crisp granny smith apple and a touch of honeysuckle.  The slightly acidic attack has a generous herbaceous quality.  The midpalate is not incredibly expansive but includes subtler, not bright, tropical notes.  The finish is surprisingly long for a wine that is 90% stainless steel fermented.

The winery recommends pairing this wine with fresh greens and light appetizers or simply sitting on a patio in the heat of summer as an aperitif.  They also recommend serving with Roasted Ayrshire Farms Chicken Breast with white wine and basil served with quinoa pilaf and ripe avocado.

Drinking very nicely now, I do not anticipate significant complexity with additional bottle aging.


Posted in Tasting Notes | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Boneyard Collection

In the world of wines, there are many paths to launching a new brand.  In the case of this case, the Boneyard Collection can trace its parentage to the talented winemakers and winegrowers at Tarara Winery but this concept is far greater than just secondary label for Tarara.

Much like an artist entering a new phase of his work, the Boneyard Collection respects centuries of wine artisans but does not take it too seriously.  Winemaker Jordan Harris has a no-rules head-first dive into creating what he describes as “some rockin’ wine”.

The Boneyard Collection is a new line of wines designed to free the winemakers from traditional flavor profiles.  By being willing to throw the rule book out the result is a wine that can be more accessible, enjoyable and approachable to everyone.

In time the collection may include wines ranging from easy going blends from vineyards around Virginia to single vineyard and single variety and even sparkling wines that are easy to understand without compromising on having the very best quality.

The conductor for this fun and freewheeling winemaking adventure is Jordan Harris. Canadian born and trained, Harris brings a wealth of knowledge, inquisitiveness and passion to his post as Boneyard’s visionary. In general, Harris tends to focuses his goals on best expressing the vintage, the vineyard and the variety as it relates to that vineyard.  Well respected throughout the industry Harris is listed Wine Enthusiast’s 2013 “40 Under 40: America’s Tastemakers”.

Wine Enthusiast editors said this of Harris, “While many of Virginia’s vintners are concentrating their efforts on the sure sellers … Harris champions varieties that are oft overlooked in the Commonwealth. Pushing the boundaries of his blends, Harris is blazing trails in the state”.

Even the sales of Boneyards Wines will be innovative.  While members of The Virginia Wine Club have an opportunity to taste these new vintages, not all of Boneyard’s wine will go into general distribution.

Some limited production offerings (the Prestige bottlings, Sparkling wine, etc.) will often only have guaranteed amounts for the aptly named Boneyard Club.  These wines will only be released to the general public after the club is filled and the club members have had first crack at buying any extra.

Sourcing only the best Virginia fruit, the Boneyard Collection promises to provide winemaker Harris a new creative outlet for his more fanciful “concept” wines.  Based on Harris’ success with the wines of Tarara Winery and his leadership in the industry’s Quality Assurance Program, we fully anticipate The Boneyard Collection will be making news for vintages to come.

Posted in WInery Profile | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

July Sweet Wine Selection Stone Mountain Vineyards Bacon Hollow Revenuers’ Select

bacon hollowLocated in an area of Greene County long known for moonshine “We pump the sunshine in and the moonshine out” according to local lore; Stone Mountain Vineyards created this wine as a tribute to the moonshiners and the revenuers who chased them.  The winery proudly declares on the bottle “While we are not the first to produce alcoholic beverages in Bacon Hollow, we are the first to do so legally”.

A proprietary white blend, this wine is just what the doctor ordered for a hot July/August afternoon.  Bright citrus nose leads to a viscose attack, refreshing midpalate and a crisp but lingering finish.



Posted in Tasting Notes | Leave a comment