It had been too long since I last visited The Williamsburg Winery, but this past weekend turned out to be the a prime opportunity – nothing on the calendar – to enjoy a day of wine and seafood on the property. The 300-acre property known as Wessex Hundred encompasses The Williamsburg Winery, the Wedmore Place – a 28-room boutique hotel and two restaurants – Cafe Provencal and Gabriel Archer Tavern.
My husband and I started off our visit with a reserve tasting in the tasting room. The day that we visited the tasting consisted of these 7 wines that were poured by Joe:
2015 Wessex Hundred Viognier ($24)
2015 Acte 12 Chardonnay ($22)
2015 Petit Manseng ($28)
2014 Wessex Hundred Merlot ($24)
2014 Wessex Hundred Petit Verdot ($32)
2014 Trianon ($40)
2014 Gabriel Archer Reserve “New Release” ($42)
As always, I enjoyed the tasting and some of the wines were certainly noteworthy – but, since the wines weren’t really the focus of my visit this time, I will reserve my tasting notes for a future post. Let’s just say we did not return home empty handed.
The Gabriel Archer Tavern patio was significantly busy on this early afternoon with wine and seafood lovers enjoying a perfect day of weather. We managed to find a couple empty chairs in a prime spot (my opinion) at the bar – perfect for chatting with the chef, and photographing the locally sourced menu items.
The wineries “New” Wine & Brine Experience is designed to promote sustainable fishing practices, which ultimately benefit ocean life. “[The program] is all about local seafood — that is not over-fished and or harvested in an environmentally destructive way,” said Michael Kimball, Vice President of Marketing at the Williamsburg Winery. “It’s not mass-produced seafood.” according to a recent WYDaily article.
Known as the oyster capital of the East Coast – with eight distinct oyster regions – the Commonwealth is the largest producer of fresh, farm-raised oysters in the country.
We started our dining experience with one dozen freshly shucked oysters accompanied by fresh seaweed, champagne mignonette, and a side of horseradish sauce (optional). The Wild Chincoteague Salt Oysters from Cherrystone Aqua-Farms were amazingly clean, beautiful and delicious – the salinity was perfect.
Cherrystone Aqua-Farms is part of a family of companies owned by Ballard Fish and Oyster Company. Their website provides an abundance of information about the operation, including this statement: “Our farm-raised are committed to providing healthy, ecologically beneficial, and sustainable products. Our farm-raised clams and oysters are grown in the high-salinity, ocean-flushed waters surrounding the Eastern Shore of Virginia—the same location where much of the available wild shellfish is harvested. And because they are grown in the same open water, our shellfish feed on the same naturally-occurring organisms as their wild counterparts do, making their flavor equally delicious. What’s the difference? Our cultured shellfish are sustainable and available year-round.”
Enjoying the company of the chef, we decided to spend a bit more time basking in the atmosphere. We opted to continue our experience by indulging in chilled shrimp cocktail ($11) and a healthy sized Pei Mussel Pot ($13), served in a white wine and garlic sauce with a baguette on the side. Needless to say, like the oysters, both dishes were equally delectable. The mussels are served in a small pot that reminded me of a small roaster (novel idea) – the kind my mother used for the one-pot family meals – and, there was plenty for two.
The Wine & Brine outdoor Lounge at the wineries tavern is open Saturdays and Sundays, 11AM to 4Pm for a limited time during the season. Each week they feature a different oyster from within the region. The winery is absolutely beautiful and the oysters are amazing! Highly recommend visiting if you can!
For more detailed information visit: Wine & Brine Lounge