After Black Wolf, we headed over to Lake James Cellars, http://www.lakejamescellars.com/ which is one of the wineries we discovered in 2006. Now, in all honesty, we were sort of two sheets to the wind by the time we ran into Lake James Cellars in 2006; we bought some of their wine, and, it was just fine. What I recalled about their wines was, although they did have some "fruit" ones, they were not cloyingly sweet. In fact, their Lineville Mist tasted exactly like fresh green apples. Since we know some folks that come over and visit us DO like wines on the sweeter side, we figured we'd better stock up on a few GOOD bottles of sweet wine. Lake James Cellars also has a more than decent Pinot Noir-ish dry red wine and a wine in the "ice wine" style (we finally drank the bottle we got in '06 at Easter this year). This year, we elected to buy a few bottles of the Pinot Noir-ish (they call it Shortoff Red), a few of the semi-sweet red (nice slightly chilled), the Lineville Mist and the "ice wine". That's what we THOUGHT we bought, anyway. When we opened up the box the next morning, we discovered NO ice wine, only one bottle of the Lineville Mist, and two bottles of something called Southern Magnolia, which, as it turns out, is a Chardonnay-ish wine with peach flavor. Uh, well, I guess we might make some white sangria out of that!
On to one of our new favorite places, Buck Shoals http://www.buckshoalsvineyard.com/. Man, I wish I'd thought to get a picture of the winemaker, Dana. He was something else; he looked like someone that makes booze in the "hills" of NC; think Grandpa Jones with a long grey braid, grey beard, and John Lennon glasses; rail thin and wearing old blue jeans, a plaid shirt and suspenders! That was Dana.
The Real Grandpa Jones
Imagine him with no hat and add a long grey braid and beard and you've got Dana!
Anyway, when we got over to Buck Shoals, not many other tasters were there so we had Dana all to ourselves. He was highly enthusiastic about his wines and almost giddy about pouring them for us. He was so thrilled about his new addition to his line, the blueberry mead, that he started pouring the wines all out of order. No matter. They were all really, really good. Right off the bat, we told him we didn't like sweet wines overly much to which he replied, "Well, then, I hope I can change your mind about something today!" He told us that they make their meads using honey and water and that's it. We first tried the "gold" mead (just that, honey and water); slightly chilled. I was amazed at how unsweet it was. It's hard to describe just what it DID taste like; it had a bit of a sharp honey taste but it was real mellow. Since we didn't pass out, he next gave us the blueberry mead, which turned out to be one of the standouts of the day. A little bit of tangy blueberry, a lot of that mellow honey; oh, wow. Now, I'll admit, I probably couldn't sit there and drink glass after glass of mead, but, it sure is a nice switch from "the usuals". We also tried his apple mead (frankly, he made us try everything) which WAS sort of sweet, but, he told us a lot of folks warm it up in a crock pot (like a hot cider) for the holidays. We could imagine that being fantastic, so, we bought some of that, along with the other meads and something called Vitto's Pride, which was a full-bodied red.
Dana told us that his winery is about ready to offer their own apple brandy and some other "distilled" beverages. This is one place we might have to just get into the car and visit one of these days.
So, we spent something like 20 minutes standing there talking to Dana. At one point, there was a foursome standing next to us and one of the "ladies" in the group was a real bitch on wheels. I think, in hindsight, that she was annoyed that we were standing there for so long, but, Dana didn't ignore them. This broad kept saying, "I don't want any of the sweet ones, just the dry reds!" to which he replied (as he had to me), "I hope to change your...." interrupted by "I don't THINK so!" She kept shoving hers and the other three glasses under my right elbow to put them onto the table. He would start to pour something while describing it; she'd snatch her glass away saying "I don't want THAT!" When he started talking about the meads, she said, "No! Too sweet!" one of her group standing behind her said, "What is mead?" and she said "It's really sweet, like Muscadine!" I turned to her and said, "No, it's not; it's made with honey and it is not overly sweet at all". She looked at me as if to say, "Who the hell asked YOU?" Well, I didn't care; I thought she was being rude to the poor winemaker who was so excited about his wines. Finally, she trounced off with a sniff.
You know, I don't mind the folks at the festival who line up to get all of the sweet wine. I find it amusing; but, hey, if it is what they like, that's cool. And, it is interesting to talk to the winemakers and the other patrons who know a thing or two about wine, even if some of them might be a tad snobby. But, there is nothing worse than a person who THINKS they are a wine snob but, in reality, doesn't know shit about wine.
Our other "new" favorite winery up next!