Bites: ‘Virginia Wine Country Travel Journal’ helps drinkers navigate the winery scene

After twenty years exploring local wines, Nancy Bauer compiles a guide to drinking in the state. Plus, here’s her picks for the Virginia Governor’s Cup Case.

Virginia Wine Country Travel Journal
Courtesy of Nancy Bauer
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Wine is art, something delicious, an agricultural product, the inspiration behind a never-ending supply of memes and cliches, and the gateway to a husband and a career—at least for Nancy Bauer.

She says visiting wineries with her then-boyfriend, now-husband, Rick Collier, was a “wonderful, magical way to get to know someone.” The two continued on the wine trail, tasting at 150 Virginia wineries in as many days, sometimes stopping at 10 on one outing. With that research, the couple launched the app Virginia Wine in My Pocket. It’s now a site, a brand and a full-time job for Bauer, who has a new book out: the self-published Virginia Wine Country Travel Journal.

Two thousand copies will land on Bauer’s door by the end of this week, where she’ll sell them online and at various wineries around the commonwealth.

The notebook, small and spiral-bound, “has to work on the tasting bar,” says Bauer, keeping the last 30 pages for tracking visits, rating wines and general note-taking. The majority is dedicated to maps, winery bios, wine trails and trends. (There’s a quote from me about Early Mountain Vineyards’ pet-nat.)

Having visited 200 Virginia wineries in the last decade, the Alexandria resident understands the scene. She knows Petit Verdot is on the rise. “It’s typically used as a blending wine, but here it performs so well it’s being made as a single varietal,” says Bauer, adding, “that’s not being done anywhere else in the world.” And, Traminette might have already seen its heyday.

Before next week’s unveiling of the Virginia Governor’s Case, the 12 wines representing the best of the wine scene (out of 440 submitted to the Governor’s Cup competition), here are the bottles Bauer thinks will make the cut:

  • “Red blends from some perennial winners, including Barboursville Vineyards’ Octagon, King Family Vineyards’ Meritage, as well as Glen Manor Vineyards’ Hodder Hill and Pollak Vineyards’ Meritage.
  • Petit Verdot should be well represented, perhaps by both DuCard Vineyards and North Gate Vineyards.
  • The reds may be rounded out by Breaux Vineyards Nebbiolo and Keswick Vineyards’ Cabernet Franc.
  • For the whites, I’m going with Michael Shaps’ Petit Manseng, Veritas Vineyards’ Viognier and Early Mountain Vineyards’ Chardonnay.
  • The dessert wine entry in the Case may be a shake-up, with CrossKeys Vineyards Ali d’Oro nudging out previous winners (and 2018 Gold Medalists) King Family Vineyards Loreley and Barboursville Vineyards’ Paxxito.”