Friday, January 15, 2016

Wineries Visit

Last weekend, I visited a few wineries in Virginia. I think the Unicorn Winery was the only other one I had visited in the Commonwealth (Note: While I love unicorns, the wine was awful!). Here are my reviews for the two I visited this time:

Image found here.

1. Pearmund Cellars

As you can see from the photos below, Pearmund doesn't have too much atmosphere. There's just an open room with a bar for tastings and tables for sitting. There were no other customers there when I visited, so it was kind of dead (although it was a rainy day...), which didn't make the place seem any more appealing...

Image found here.
Image found here.
The barrel room. Image found here.
As for the actual tasting, things didn't get much better. Of the nine wines I tried, I did not contemplate buying a bottle of any of them. I was disappointed that there were twice as many reds to try as there were whites (since I prefer white wine), and all of them were dry (whereas I like sweet wines). So the tasting was unfortunate.

I did appreciate the good customer service, and the girl helping with the tasting was somewhat knowledgeable and taught me some things I didn't know about wine. Another employee also tried to push their "Barrel Owner Membership." This means that if you pay $1,000 for an annual membership (for four years, so actually $4,000+ in the end), you get complimentary wine tastings, invitations to exclusive events, four cases of wine (one per year), and once your barrel (with your name on it!) is empty at the end of the four years, you get to keep it. BUT, seeing as I didn't like the wine, why would I want all those tastings and cases of wine? Or spending $4,000?!

I think the only thing remotely interesting about Pearmund was the fact that a Barbie doll was hanging from one of the light fixtures...

Did Barbie get drunk on Pearmund wine?

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2. Mediterranean Cellars

I wanted to go to this winery because I had a Groupon deal that was about to expire. The deal included a tour, two wine glasses, a corkscrew, and a basket with sausage and cheese. Let me tell you this: the deal is kind of a scam. Here's why:

A. Since the deal was offered in the fall/winter, the tour is short since it's cold out; you also can't go into the cellar because it's too small for groups. AND most of their vines mysteriously died this year, so you couldn't even see the grape vines! The best part of the tour was petting the VERY fat cat on the property, Lucky.

Note the sad looking vines. Image found here.
B. The basket, sausage, and cheese I got were SO tiny! I don't think I've ever seen a smaller sausage or tinier wheel of Smoked Gouda in my life. And the basket is plastic and poorly made: I'd recommend just throwing it out. The corkscrew was equally as cheap and flimsy.

C. The tasting isn't included! I wrongly assumed that a deal for a winery would include the very reason anyone ever goes to a winery!

*Perhaps I shouldn't complain, since this WAS a deal and I didn't want to pay full price for this experience. But I've bought many Groupons before that I have been very happy with, so this one fell short.

But enough about the deal itself...

The space is actually quite nice! It's warm and inviting, homey actually. The winery was founded by a Greek man and his wife (the wife was actually there that day!), and I think they take great pride in this family business. 

The main room. Image found here.
A large side room for events, like birthday parties and the like. The carved table in the front of the photo is made from a 200-year-old olive tree! Image found here.
The barrel room. A bar is on the opposite wall (which you can't see). A blown-up photograph of the founder's parents is in this room, continuing to show his family pride. Image found here.
I love this table! I want a cork table! Image found here.
Not only was the atmosphere warmer here than at Pearmund, but the wine was exceptionally better! Here are my notes on a few of the ones I tried:

2011 Chardonnay: fruity, almost like a Kosher wine (if you've ever had Kosher wine, you know what I mean.)

2010 Pinot Grigio: clean and crisp

2011 Moscato: It's slightly pink because the grape skins were left in for a little bit. But it's NOT sweet! It's probably the only Moscato that I've ever had that I didn't like.

2010 Viognier: It almost has a thicker texture to it, and smells like gasoline. Ew!

2011 Chambourcin: You can definitely taste the blackberry flavor at the front of your sip. Yum!

2007 Romance: This is a mixture of four grapes (you don't know which ones or in what proportion; it changes every year).

2008 Sweet Lucia: This is the founder's grandfather's recipe. It's 13.5% alcohol, and is also Kosher-like.

2012 Penteli: This port wine from the mountain region of Greece is 17% alcohol (!) and made from a mixture of Cab Sauv/Chambourcin/brandy. It is SO GOOD! It is very thick, super-sweet, and because of the high alcohol content, you can't even buy a glass of it at the winery! (You can get a tasting or buy a bottle.)

There was also a Rechina (pronounced "ret-SEE-na"), which is a wine that is aged in clay pots. This is the only winery to make this wine in the US. I will say, I thought it was disgusting. I get that this must be the ancient way to age wine, but...I'm not a fan.

Here are the Premier Wine Club Benefits for this winery:

50% off two bottles of wine each month (chosen by the winemaker)
25% off one mixed case or more, your choice
30% off a case or more of the "Wine of the Month" (chosen by the winemaker)
Two wine & snack events each year
One winemaker's dinner at the end of the year
A traditional Greek recipe emailed to your once a month
10% when you buy 1-5 bottles of wine
15% off when you buy 6-11 bottles of wine
NOTE: Free tastings are NOT included!

So...really you just get discounts on stuff, some of which you may not even want! I think it's safe to assume that the wine chosen by the winemaker will be the stuff that's not selling (i.e. what people don't like). And paying for an e-blast?! Who ever heard of such a thing? I can Google "traditional Greek recipes" and have a million at my fingertips instantly! And tastings are what wineries are all about (in my mind), so that's the main thing that should be included! I should also note that neither on the website nor on the actual membership form is it stated how much the membership costs. I would recommend NOT blindly just writing down your credit card number on the form and handing it to them...

Visiting wineries is a fun way to spend an afternoon, but I'm not sure the drive was quite worth it this time. But if you visit either of these wineries, let me know what you think!


  1. Kathryn:

    I'm a member at Med Cellars. The membership is free! What you are getting are 2 bottles of wine at half price a month. No, they are not the ones that are not selling. Many times, the wine club members get a pre-release or they get a wine that has sold so well it has been pulled due to low quantity. Just thought you would want to correct the facts. BTW, the Rechina was made in clay pots in long ago, before wine was made in barrels. When it starting being made in barrels, the Greeks made a resinated wine like they had been making in the clay pots in the barrels. Some people love it and some people don't. That is what is so special about wine. Just because someone doesn't like one, doesn't make it a bad wine or "wrong". It simply means it didn't suite that person's taste. Someone else may love it. That is why we can all be friends regarding wine.

    1. Thank you so much for taking the time to read my blog post and for leaving your comment!