The Taste of Monticello Wine Festival returns on April 13th through the 15th for its 5th year. Presently consisting of a group of more than 30 member wineries – all located within 25 miles of Charlottesville – The Monticello Wine Trail is an active association whose members consistently craft award winning wines on the state, national and international levels.
The festival, presented by Mercedes-Benz of Charlottesville, a partnership between the Monticello Wine Trail, Sprint Pavilion, and the Jefferson Theater.
“The mission of the MWT is to promote the strength of the region, and the commitment to selling the brand,” Emily Pelton, winemaker at Veritas Vineyards says – “we want to grab the attention as a group!” Strength is powerful in numbers, and it is certainly paying off for their team – if, the mounting awards are any indication.
Emily Pelton, who was recently named Virginia Wine Person by the Virginia Wineries Association for her work in founding the Virginia Winemaker’s Research Exchange took a moment to chat with me over the phone about her personal success, and that of the MWT wines and the upcoming festival.
Wines associated with the trail gained 60% of the Gold medals awarded at the Virginia Governor’s Cup Awards, and 5 out of the 7 received more than one gold. 8 MWT wines reside in the 2017 Governor’s case. “Last year had the same trend,” Pelton says, “this year it is more of a trend.”
A few of the existing wineries have a deep history in those hills, “…a longer story, more mature vines, it’s about what you can get out of what you have in the ground” Pelton says – “what you can get out of four great vines of the 400…”
Pelton (below, right), who will be pouring Veritas Viognier, Cab Franc and a few other wines at the festival and is excited about the spirit of the winemakers in the region. She enjoys being a part of the close-knit group, and says “the common focus is to showcase Monticello, the trail, and to be the group that is well received everywhere.”
While she admits, the traditional wine festival is not at the top of the list of favorite things to do for most winemakers, Pelton says “standing with a bottle of wine with peers is an awesome feeling.” Demonstrating the strength of the wine community helps to command the attention the group is pursuing. As Pelton put it “we just want to imprint Virginia Monticello Wine in their minds…” “…make it something that is familiar.”
The Taste of Monticello Wine Festival certainly contributes to achieving the attention the group seeks to gain. The festival lends a unique twist to the typical wine festival, by establishing a goal to have only owners or a winemaker do the wine pouring. According to those attendees, we spoke with at last year’s event; additional desirable features include the limited number of wines at each tasting table which helped to eliminate the long waits. Another plus, the VIP “having the option to purchase a VIP pass is a real plus” said Julie, a VIP guest.
VIP Area Cuisine
Our Savvy Taster, Erica left us with these savvy “TIPS” in the wrap up of last years event:
– Grab the VIP ticket. It is worth it! Use the first hour to taste the wines on the floor before the crowd enters. After the general admission opens, head for the VIP section and sample the wines available exclusively to VIP members, and enjoy the amazing spread of food.
– If VIP is not your thing, general admission will not be a let-down. There’s plenty of space to spread out a blank and chairs on the lawn while you relax and enjoy your favorite bottle of wine from your favorite winery.
– If your plans are to hit up the food trucks, there is plenty variety ranging from vegan to soul food. Get to the to the trucks early, or you just might miss out on their more popular dishes.
See the full wrap-up of last year’s event here.
The festival is the finale to three exciting days of wine, food, and fun. Other events include the prestigious Monticello Cup Awards held at the Jefferson Theater, Thursday, April 13 and on Friday, April 14 individual wineries will host a variety of activities during the day followed by a series of winemaker dinners at some of Charlottesville’s best restaurants that evening. For full details on all of the events and tickets visit http://monticellowinetrailfestival.com/
If you have the time, we suggest making it a mini vacation. The area has so much to offer and is amazingly beautiful. Nearby activities in the area include the Appalachia trails, Crabtree Falls, and Blueridge Parkway for the nature lovers. Take a jaunt outside of Monticello and experience the food culture. Progressive dinners and high-end cocktail bars are becoming very attractive. “Make Dinner reservation now,” says Pelton – “don’t wait until the day of the festival.”