Our newest wine makes its long awaited debut

Virginia wine, Verdejo and ViognierWe never intended on making a Verdejo wine; the fruit was sold off to another winery because, quite frankly, we felt the wine to be uninspiring and rather bland. It so happened that when half our Viognier crop was lost due to the Easter Weekend frost in 2006, we kept the Verdejo fruit out of necessity, and so began one of our most successful and widely anticipated wines we currently produce. Such was the response to this unknown grape from Spain’s Rueda region, that we have increased our acreage thereof and see it is one of our most important wines moving forward.

If Viognier and Sauvignon Blanc had a baby, it would be called Verdejo.

The wine is sharp and focused with mineral accents and vibrant flavors of stone fruits with some salty undertones, yet it has a textural quality and richness I associate with Viognier. It is versatile with a variety of dishes, but easily enjoyed on it’s own during the warmer months. I have fallen in love with this grape and the wine and am very excited about the future.

In the harvest of 2012, following the rather challenging harvest that was 2011 [note the subtle sarcasm], we harvested perfectly ripe Verdejo. We also picked some Viognier intended for our entry level Les Vent d’Anges brand Viognier the same day. Harvest went well, the fruit was clean and 12 hours later the fruit was sitting in cold storage. I had a plan for processing and the press was prepped and cleaned for receiving the fruit the next morning; home time!

Do you ever get a feeling when something is not quite right, a feeling in your gut that the stars are just not aligned perfectly? Driving to the winery I had such a feeling, no reason why but just did not feel too good. I am pretty sure a refrigerated truck is supposed to cool fruit, imagine my surprise and few choice words when I discovered that our truck was actually heating the fruit and that the inside temperature was 88 degrees, LOVELY.

Previous processing plan out of the window, new plan: toss the Viognier and Verdejo fruit together into the press and then deal with it in the winery. And so ladies and gentleman, our newest addition, the  V², was born. Our intention with this wine was to try and mimic the previous Verdejo versions that were more Sauvignon Blanc in character, showcasing green apple and stone fruit tones. I think what ultimately saved the day was the fact that our LVD Viognier grapes are picked a little earlier and do not exhibit the floral and tropical aromas usually associated with the grape.

The blend came out at 51% Verdejo and 49% Viognier and after fermentation and racking, started to really grow on me. The problem with wine nowadays is that consumers want what they had previously and the challenge with this wine was to re-introduce and re-brand the Verdejo grape and wine. We decided to bottle this wine early since it was 100% tank fermented, thereby giving it a few months in bottle before releasing it. The name V² represents the two varieties that make up the wine and with much trepidation was released to the public in early April.

Instant success; you loved it! It was quickly snapped up in the tasting room and then we started getting asked “When will the next one be available?”. Oh No, no next one, this was a once off thing due to a mistake in the …, who am I kidding? The next one is being released next weekend the 14th of June. How do you deny your customers? You don’t. We make wine for people to enjoy and get excited about and if they loved the first V², they will love the latest version.

The blend is Viognier heavy this year, with only 19% Verdejo and as such the wine is richer and more complex. The Verdejo plays an important role in that it provides the acidity and minerality, that ultimately keeps the flashier Viognier in check.

The wine was fermented in tank and saw no oak. I used a South African yeast, widely used for Sauvignon Blanc production. After minimal handling, protein stabilization and sterile filtration, the wine was bottled April 5th 2014. After 2 months in the bottle, it makes its long awaited and much anticipated appearance in our tasting room. It is a different style than the previous version and each year the blend will differ slightly, what remains the same is that this wine is just good.

I love the V², I really do and my hope is that when you taste it, you will love it too.

Let me know what you think.


Stephen Barnard


Keswick Vineyards



The Verdejo is here

I love releasing a new wine to the public, after all the joy of wine is being able to share it with people. Tomorrow marks the official release of our new 2010 Verdejo, coinciding with Semana Santa [or holy week in Spain]. Normally found in the Rueda region of Spain, Verdejo has done surprisingly well in the climate of Virginia, but this grape has not always been a favorite at Keswick Vineyards.

Up until the 2006 harvest, the fruit was sold as we did not believe it made wines of a superior quality, but as luck would have it, the Verdejo survived a horrendous frost and since the Viognier was hardest hit, we decided to keep the fruit to make wine as we knew we would be short.

The juice reminded me a lot of Sauvignon Blanc, lots of acid, lower sugar levels and greener flavors of melon, pear and apple. And that is how I decided to make it: cold fermentation in stainless steel tanks, preserving the natural acidity by inhibiting  secondary fermentation and ensuring the wine is bone dry. We have played around with various percentages of Viognier to add some brightness in terms of aroma but resisted that temptation in 2010 and only blended 3% of Viognier into the final blend.

This wine has acid as sharp as a razor blade and flavors greener than Dublin on St Patrick’s Day. Apples and grapefruit flavors are dominant with underlying minerality creating a wine that is a perfect accompaniment to shellfish and a variety of salads, lthough quite enjoyable on its own in the sun. With only 221 cases made, this wine promises to sell out quickly so come on by and get it while you can!

I have to give a special mention to Sandy Dowling [our book keeper] who has long preached the quality of our Verdejo. She must know what she is talking about as the 2010 Verdejo has just been awarded a platinum medal at the San Diego International Wine Competition [given to less than 4% of the total wines entered].

As a side note, I did want to point out subtle changes we have made to our packaging. The 2010 Verdejo is bottled with what will be our new label and the bottle we are using is 200 grams lighter than the previous bottles which should minimize our carbon footprint.

Other than that, the wine is hopefully everything you have come to expect from our Verdejo, a great bottle of wine that is perfect for this time of year.

I hope you enjoy drinking it as much as I enjoyed making it



Keswick Vineyards