Thom Jefferson would be proud…

Timing, as they say , is everything.  Thomas Jefferson may have been a couple of centuries too early when he tried his hand at planting Bordeaux varietals in the Virginia countryside, but wow has Rutger de Vink nailed it!

I recently had the opportunity to take a ride about 60 minutes west of Washington, DC  into the buccolic, rolling hills of Middleburg, Virginia, America’s newest AVA.  It’s a bit of time warp out here as you pass through Revolutionary-era villages that have remained relatively unchanged since Jefferson’s time – with the exception of newly planted vineyards.

My destination was RdV Vineyards in Delaplane.  When a winery/vineyard comes highly recommended by no less than two Masters of Wine, Geoff Labitzke and Jay Youmans, and Master Sommelier, Kathy Morgan, you listen!   And judging by the very favorable press given by Jancis Robinson, you knew this was to be a very special occassion!

Meeting former Marine Corps vet Rutger de Vink at the winery, I quickly learned that this passionate Dutchman did his homework in selecting this 16 acre site to plant his vines – and that he is clearly, and unabashedly, staking his reputation on Virginia wine.

Rutger makes just two wines, a Right Bank and Left Bank style blend – a term he eschews at the risk of  downplaying the fabulous strides Virginia wines have made of late, but the cabernet-dominant Lost Mountain and the merlot-inspired Rendevous, makes it’s difficult not to draw parallels to Bordeaux’s best.

Two things stood out for me – yes the wines are delicious, but it was also interesting to learn that a major step in the blending process is that Rutger overnights barrel samples to his consultants in Bordeaux!  His partners in this venture include the renowned oenologist Eric Boissenot, who works with the likes of Latour, Lafite, Margaux and others, and Kees Van Leeuwen, viticultural consultant at first growth Château Cheval Blanc in St-Emilion.

The second thing that struck me was that Rutger is so  confident in the terroir and wines of RdV’s granite hillside vineyards, that he offers visitors an opportunity to blind taste his two blends along side two legendary icons – Caymus Special Select and Chateau Lynch Bages!  Few vintners, old world or new, would be so daring, but the wines clearly reflect the sun, soil and Rutgert de Vink’s passion and drive to produce world-class wines in Virginia.  Judging by the wines I tasted from the 2009 vintage, RdV has achieved that lofty goal!

For more on RdV, visit their website

Better yet, plan a visit to this incredible vineyard overlooking Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains!


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