It may have been only the third annual Coastal Virginia Wine Fest, but a lot has been said about this popular wine festival held in Virginia Beach.
The Coastal Virginia Wine Fest starts with an excellent location — state of the art building, plenty of convenient parking and several nice hotels just a stone’s throw away. The Virginia Beach Convention Center is the perfect place to play host to an indoor wine festival. It has lots of space, nice restrooms, and plenty of areas to sit and relax — and with the festival being held during the chillier months, it’s a warmer option, nothing too out of the ordinary except that it’s indoors.
The brainchild behind the fest is Vista Graphics President and Publisher, Randy Thompson – perhaps, using a speck of borrowed ideas; the greatest form of flattery. The fest nourishes a devoted segment of tourist and locals, provides the perfect reason for a mid-winter break at the beach — and helps to expose more people to Virginia wine and the Coastal Virginia Magazine.
The focus of the festival is deliberate and intentional, giving the event attendees an opportunity to sample and purchase Virginia vintages and craft brews, and take full advantage of the great ocean front before and after the festival.
“The Coastal Virginia Wine Fest helps to support the resort area,” Lisa Davenport, Marketing Manager says — “and is beneficial to the community because a portion of the proceeds is donated.”
Visitors appreciate the proximity of Convention Center to the beach. “It’s an excellent ocean front location – perfect for a winter getaway,” one guest tells Davenport. “We plan our winter vacation getaway based on the wine fest dates, so we can attend.”
While Virginia wine is the primary focus, that isn’t all; All-Virginia craft beer and purveyors such as The Keswick Candle company play a supportive role in the overall theme, “Local”.
In true festival fashion the event incorporates grape stomp contests and live entertainment and is super fun – that grape stomp contest was absolutely hilarious and I still laugh when I review photos we took.
Our savvy sipper visited a few of the tasting tables and was pleasantly surprised at the number of winemakers in attendance. It’s nice to meet the winemakers personally Erica Chappell says, and it’s great to hear about the wine directly from them. When you can do that it makes the experience better: “you understand more, and you appreciate the wines more,” she says. “The Costal Virginia Wine Fest is like most festivals. Everyone can find something they enjoy about it.”
“Some of the wines are very good,” Chappell says. “Valerie Hill Vineyard & Winery, having one of the shortest tasting lists, impressed me with their wines – each made using estate-grown grapes; Serval Blanc, Cab Franc, Stone Chimney Red, and John Barron Petite Verdot.”
“When talking to Russ AmRhein of AmRhein Wine Cellars, he pointed out the Chardonnay and Traminette as being his two favorite wines,” Chappell says. “I can appreciate why the Traminette was one his favorite wines and does well at wine festivals. Using the winemaking style, German Spatlese makes this wine crisp and refreshing with juicy grapefruit notes.”
We were able to talk to Renee (daughter of Joe and Brenda), who has been an owner of The Homeplace Vineyard for six years. She loves the white wines. Renee says “the Old Green Tractor is a blend of Viognier and Traminette to give consumers wine they feel is perfect for summer.”
Erica noted the popularity of the Chatham Vineyards Chardonnays saying “Their Chardonnays are very popular (at least at this fest) – very few cases of the steel remained (at the time of tasting), and the oak Chardonnay was completely sold out.”
Other interesting selections being offered included Lake Anna’s Concerto – blend of merlot and tart cherry juice. The bottle adorns a custom photo of the of the sculpture “Fractured Violin” Jeff A. Heidig says was crafted by a local artist specially for Lake Anna Winery.
More than 6000 visitors attended the Coastal Virginia Wine Fest this year, with 32 wineries, eight breweries, and 80 vendors participating.
According to Marketing Director, Lisa Davenport the future vision is to expand and make the festival better – still currently, in its infancy.
“The visitors and the vendors determine what’s working and what isn’t though the feedback we solicit,” she says. And the venue does have some restrictions on what is allowed and what isn’t. They have to work within the approved guidelines, Davenport says.
Coastal Virginia Wine Organizers are excited about the future of the event and have already begun planning the next festival for January 28-29, 2017. I can see this as a festival to incorporate into a winter weekend getaway. Whether you attend for the location or the wines and craft beers, this new Virginia wine festival is sure to find a continuing fan base among travelers and locals alike.
A special thanks to contributor Erica Chappell creator of the Blog #757LikeATourist