Almost a year to the day later, I found myself back in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of central Virginia, ready for a girls’ weekend filled with horse races, vineyards, and general debauchery while visiting Sadie at the University of Virginia. First stop was a marathon vineyard visit at Pippen Hill Farm and Winery, a new winery with a breathtaking spot in the hills just outside Charlottesville. As a skeptic of Virginia wines, I have to say I was impressed with both the variety and richness of Pippin’s wines (particularly the Cabernet Franc and rosé). What was more impressive however, was their attention to aesthetic detail in their blending of rustic Americana country and Provencal style. I was also pleasantly surprised with their food; I wasn’t expecting such an across the board quality eating and drinking experience, particularly at such a new winery (they are just around one year old). Small plates of crunchy fried oysters, croque monsieurs with carmelized onions, and rustic cheese and charcuterie boards loaded with Virginia ham were devoured quickly.
Part of my plan for the weekend originally involved dragging Sadie to Foggy Ridge Cider for some market research, but upon realization that it was a three hour trip, I instead purchased a bottle of their Serious Cider to taste and compare with a Farnum Hill Dooryard #1108 leftover from this summer’s batch. We brought the ciders, along with a variety of other treats from the amazing Feast to the Montpelier Races for a day of horse racing and tailgating. Although I was relived that our fellow tasters preferred the Dooryard, I myself was excited to try another orchard-based, highly regarded cider and wasn’t disappointed. Particularly compared to the lighter Dooryard #1108, Foggy Ridge’s Serious Cider was a bit more earthy and full-flavored, but still one of the more high-quality American ciders I have tasted.
Both of the ciders paired well with Virginia made McClure cheese, a pungent, hard Swiss style cow’s milk from nearby Mountain View Farm, a white bean dip with salty prosciutto, and some chevre that was whipped with pumpkin! Sadly, I brought my camera but no memory card, so I did my best with my i-phone to capture the gorgeous views and most scrumptious moments.