Chester Gap column for July 31

Chester Gap Cellars

We recently went to Chester Gap Cellars — one of my favorite wineries — for a tasting. Hosted by Ashleigh Hodgson, we sampled five wines: The Viogner, Viogner Reserve, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and the Cuvee Manseng. They are all wonderful and available for purchase.

Two additional wines, the Roussanne and the Vintner’s Red, are also available for purchase (though not for tasting). The Roussanne is a white wine made from the grape that bears its name, and is originally from the Rhone region in France. It is not widely known or used in Virginia; a quick web search showed only two other wineries in Virginia making a Roussanne wine. The Vintner’s Red is a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot.

For those of you who have not been to the winery for a tasting, know that it’s a great place to visit. Bernd and Kristi Jung purchased the property in 1999 after moving here from Florida (where they also had a vineyard). The Jungs wanted property at least 1,000 feet above sea level with eastern facing slopes so the grapes would dry in the morning sun.

They planted their first vines in 2000 and had their first bottling in 2004. They currently have 9.5 acres under vine. Bernd is the winemaker and vineyard caretaker. All their wines are from estate grown grapes — meaning they don’t purchase any from other vineyards to make their wines. Chester Gap Cellars has been on the cover of 2011 Virginia Travel Guide, is a featured stop on the Blue Ridge Whiskey Wine Loop and is a member of the Rappahannock Artisan Trail Network.

The winery is open from 11 to 6 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 11 to 5 on Sundays. They don’t serve food though, so visitors are encouraged to bring a picnic, enjoy the deck, the view and a bottle. (Ashleigh told us that a group from our area regularly takes advantage of the scenery and meets on Friday evenings for a picnic on the deck.)

Fire department news

The Chester Gap fire department’s monthly meeting begins at 7 p.m. Wednesday (Aug. 6) at the fire hall. Anyone interested in volunteering is encouraged to attend. Remember — volunteering is a great way to get a discount on your personal property taxes. Also, tickets for the gun raffle (with a drawing on Sept. 27) are still available for $5. For more, contact Todd Brown or Dave Kane at 540-635-5482.

Did you know?

Triathletes use Zachary Taylor Highway and Chester Gap Road to train for the bicycle portion of a triathlon event. If you pass them on the road, remember the new law states you must give them a three-foot clearance when passing.