Chrysalis Vineyards is one of the easier vineyards to get to in Northern Virginia, just off Route 50 in Loudoun County. Set on 412 acres in the rolling hills of the Piedmont region, the vineyard specializes in unusual Spanish and French varietals and Norton, a native Virginia grape, as well as traditional grapes, a total of over 20 varieties. The tasting room is open daily from 10 to 5:30, and the friendly folks there will be glad to set up a tasting for you.
My first visit to Chrysalis Vineyards was in late November before the Thanksgiving holiday. The harvest was over and the grapevines were mostly empty, save for some clusters of mostly dry grapes and a few dead leaves still clinging in the wind. A vineyard looks very different in cold weather, like it’s resting, waiting. Michael and I did a tasting, a mix of reds and whites, and I ended the day with three favorites.
The first favorite is the 2009 Norton Locksley Reserve, a big red wine with peppery chocolate notes, one that I would savor with an elegant dinner of prime rib or lamb. My second favorite was the 2008 Papillon, a blend of Petit Verdot and Tannat, which yields a fruity red with touches of cedar and coffee and a hint of pepper. This is one that would age nicely and go very well with venison. And finally, one that I instantly thought of for summer pitchers of sangria, the 2010 Sarah’s Patio Red, a light semi-sweet wine that just needs some fruit and it’s ready to go.
The winery is open year round, and I look forward to another visit this winter. In the meantime, I plan to enjoy some mulled wine that I made with their Sara’s Patio Red, which is 100% Norton grape. No sugar required for this semi-sweet red, just some warm spices and a hot mug.
Sarah's Patio Mulled Wine
- 2-quart heavy bottom saucepan
- 750 ml Chrysalis Vineyards’ Sarah’s Patio Red wine (semi-sweet light red, 100% Virginia Norton grape)
- 3 green cardamom pods
- 6 whole cloves
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 1 orange peel (in wide strips, without the pith)
- Pour the wine into the saucepan and stir in the spices and orange peel. Warm over medium low heat until the wine is infused with the flavors, about 10 to 15 minutes. Just warm the wine, do not allow it to boil. Strain the spices and pour the wine it into mugs and serve. Garnish with cinnamon sticks or orange slices.