Swirl and sip

Virginia Wine Festival returns
Whether you’re an oenophile, a Hokie fan or just looking for fun, the Central Virginia Wine Festival is the place to be.

The annual event will be held May 12 at the SnagAJob Pavilion at Innsbrook.

“It’s a fantastic, fun atmosphere,” said Michael Eck, founder and chairman of the event.

This year’s event will showcase 15 wineries from around the Commonwealth, feature live music, food and arts and crafts vendors. And, of course, there will be plenty of Virginia wine (and also beer).

The event benefits the Virginia Tech Alumni Association - Richmond Chapter. “This is our only fundraiser of the year,” said Eck. “It supports scholarships for Richmond area Virginia Tech students.” The festival raises $15,000 to $30,000.

Many of the 14,000 area Hokie alumni will attend, but admission certainly isn’t limited to them, said Eck, a 1998 graduate. “We get a broad group of people.”

Are U.Va. fans welcome?

“Of course,” he said. “Anybody – as long as they’re not wearing West Virginia University gear. No, on second thought, we’d love to have them, too.”

The first festival was founded in 2005. Its most successful year, not surprisingly, was 2007, in the wake of the shootings at Tech. Organizers have moved the event up from June to have cooler weather.

And though there’s plenty of excellent wine to taste, Eck stressed that there also is beer available, as well as non-alcoholic beverages and a family-friendly atmosphere.

“We’ve been there every year since the beginning and it’s one of our favorite festivals of the year,” said Max Abrams, a co-owner of Grayhaven Winery. “It’s a lot of fun for us – and we have some Hokies in the family.”

Musical entertainment includes The Escorts from 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m., 44 Diesel from 2:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. and Big Enough from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Wineries represented include: Belle Mount Vineyards, Warsaw; Byrd Cellars, Goochland; DelFosse Vineyards, Faber; Grayhaven Winery, Gum Spring; Horton Wine, Gordonsville; Huntington Creek Vineyards, Trailclover; Lake Anna Winery, Spotsylvania; Lazy Days Winery, Amherst; Peaks of Otter Winery, Bedford; Rebec Winery, Amherst; Sans Soucy, Brookneal; Saude Creek, Lanexa; Stone Mountain Vineyards, Dyke; Veritas Vineyard, Afton; Well Hung Vineyard, Charlottesville.

Virginia wines have become respected throughout the world in recent years and there currently are about 200 wineries in the state producing about one million gallons per year.

How to taste wine
Impress your date and taste wine like an expert with these simple steps:

• Be sure to check the temperature of the wine before opening. After opening, let the wine breathe (for red wines, aerate in a carafe, if desired).

• Pour a small amount of wine into the glass, and hold the glass towards the light to note the clarity of the wine and the depth of color.

• Gently swirl to release the bouquet. Sniff the wine (the smell of wine is called the nose) with your mouth open.

• Take a small sip of wine, allowing it to coat the tongue. Swirl in your mouth for a few seconds.

• Swallow, if you wish, or spit out (there will be a bucket or other receptacle for this). Observe the finish of the wine, or the time it takes to dissolve in your mouth.

If you go
What: The Central Virginia Wine Festival

When: Saturday, May 12, noon- 6 p.m.

Where: SnagAJob Pavilion at Innsbrook, 4901 Lake Brook Drive, Glen Allen, 23060

Cost: Tasting tickets $20 in advance, $25 at the gate; general admission tickets $8 in advance, $10 at the gate. Advance tickets on sale through May 11 at Martin’s or by calling (804) 794-6700

Details: http://www.centralvirginiawinefestival.com

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