Keswick Vineyards is a family-owned winery about 20 minutes from James Madison's Montpelier estate. They do an outstanding job on the hospitality front with a well-appointed tasting room, a covered-porch for outdoor tastings, hosting periodic winemaker dinners, weddings, and offering family picnics where even the family dog is invited. Keswick is one of those wineries that knows that the business of wine is really about relationships, treating visitors as honored guests and inviting them into the wine country scene with gutsy wines and down-to-earth winemaking philosophies.
Kudos for Keswick Vineyards:
Keswick ups the hip factor when it comes to a winery’s relationship with its adoring public. They’ve got the standard bases covered: a solid Facebook, Twitter and blog presence, but they push social media to draw on their fans' input for tweaking wines and even vines. Keswick builds community by giving folks an opportunity for input. Case in point, they routinely post pieces on wine education to help get people acquainted with the winemaking process, and then they run Facebook polls to see which direction friends would like to see a wine go - whether it’s a decision on which yeast to use or a vote on bottle labels.
Wines to Try from Keswick Vineyards:
The Keswick Vineyards 2009 Viognier – a highly aromatic white wine with the rich scents of both tropical fruit and green apple on the nose and a good bit of pear and Granny Smith apple on the palate all wrapped up in a lively bout of acidity. Keswick Vineyards 2007 Cabernet Franc ($27.95) this wine is built for aging, but has the versatility to be enjoyed today. The warm scents of mocha and spice greet the nose and ripe cherry and jammy plum laced in vanilla dominate the palate. The tannins are tenacious, providing both support and longevity and wrap up in an engaging finish.
Keswick Vineyards Wine Club:
Wine club members are not just passive quarterly receivers, but active participants in specific parts of the winemaking process. Sixty lucky wine club members have the option to spend a weekend sitting around tables with pipettes and beakers to create their own red wine blend, then each table presents its best blend for a final vote and the winning blend is the exact wine that will be bottled for distribution to the wine club members. The wine is lovingly and appropriately dubbed, “Consensus.”
Keswick Vineyards Contact Information:
1575 Keswick Winery Drive
Keswick, VA 22947
Phone: 888-244-3341 or 434-244-3341
Keswick Vineyards Winemaking Philosophy:
Keswick Vineyards enjoys a healthy combination of adventure and tradition with regards to their winemaking philosophies. All of Keswick Vineyard's grapes are estate grown, giving them ample opportunity to not only manage risks and improve quality on a given lot of vines, but also the occasion to experiment with grapes that bust the paradigm for Virginia soil - like the Spanish Verdejo or Portugal's Touriga.
Keswick Vineyards winemaker, Stephen Barnard, confesses to being thick-skinned and routinely pours (incognito) in his own tasting rooms, “To hear direct feedback on his wine,” recognizing that, “We won’t grow without good information and both positive and negative feedback are equally important.”
This adventurous and thick-skinned winemaking philosophy has served Keswick well. They are the recipients of more than just a few prestigious awards, competition medals and critic kudos. But beyond the tangible recognition, is the personal recognition that they recieve day in and day out by wine club members, visitors and online customers. If you are looking for some stellar red wines on the Monticello Wine Trail then by all means, check out Keswick's Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot or Petit Verdot offerings. You won't be disappointed.