Wines flow at Green Park Inn's Winterfest wine tasting


By Dathan Kazsuk

It's Blowing Rock. It's Winterfest. It's a lot of wine at one of our favorite places to stay – The Green Park Inn.

The 16th Annual Winterfest Wine Tasting, which is presented by the Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce and sponsored by the Blue Ridge Mountain Club is the perfect chance to mingle with other wine lovers and try a wide variety of reds, whites and sparklings. And you are getting your drink on for a good cause – as proceeds of the tasting and live auction goes towards helping out the Western NC Chapter of the Alzheimer's Association.

With 60 wines available to sample … what was our plan? Start with all the whites available, then double-back for the reds? Go from whites to reds at each vendors table? Just go with the reds? We ended up picking the latter – and did half the wines – which ended up being around 30 samples of red vino.

So we started our wine-drinking adventure in the Garden Room. The Garden Room is hidden on the other side of the restaurant – so Jen came to the conclusion that this would be the best place to start. In that room was the Raleigh-based wine distributor, Juice Wine Purveyors. There we went down the list of red wines:

    • Allamand 2012 Malbec, Valle de Uco Argentina

    • Highflyer 2009 Centerline Red, Napa Valley

    • Pennywise 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon, California

    • Rusina 2010 Symposia Red, California

    • Sivas Sonoma 2009 Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast

    • Three 2012 Zinfandel, Contra Costa County

    • Verso Rosso 2012 Red Blend, Salento IGT Italy

We weren’t too impressed with the first set of wines. The Malbec had a very strange taste. The Pennywise light-bodied Cabernet was somewhat mediocre. Even the Rusina 2010 Cab blend wasn’t something to write home about. I hope this wasn’t a taste of things to come.

Don’t worry … it wasn’t.

Next were the wines in the Tea Room. Skyland, Fine Wine Trading Company and Constellation Brands were the three distributors in this room. There we tried the following:

    • Carnivor 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon, California

    • Don Miquel Gascon 2012 Colossal Red, Columbia Valley

    • Emerald Bay 2010 Merlot, Central Coast

    • Anderson Conn Valley 2010 Prologue Cabernet Sauvignon, California

    • Casarena 505 2012 Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina

    • Ramsey 2012 Pinot Noir, North Coast

    • Tait 2011 “Ballbuster” Shiraz, Barossa Valley

    • Wild Horse 2012 Pinot Noir, Central Coast

    • Robert Mondavi 2011 Pinot Noir, California

Live auction following the wine tasting

Live auction following the wine tasting

This batch of wines had some nice standouts for the price. The Tait “Ballbuster” was by far our favorite. Normally selling for $20.25, one was able to purchase bottles for $16.75 that afternoon. We also enjoyed the Anderson Conn Valley Cab and the Ramsey Pinot Noir.  

Now it's back to the Divide Tavern for wines from Raffaldini Winery and Tryon Distributing. We tried the two red wines from Raffaldini – the 2011 Sangiovese and Montepulciano reserves.

The guy pouring for Tyron was a good sport. Originally he was going to set up at the bar, but there were too many people – doing what you do at a bar – drinking! So they moved him to a table between the men’s and women’s restrooms. There we tried four reds:

    • CH Les Granges 2011 Red Blend, Bordeaux, France

    • Legend of the Vine 2012 Vermentinu, France

    • Line 39 Pinot Noir 2012, Central Coast

    • Writer’s Block 2012 Counoise, Lake County

The Writer’s Block had mixed reviews from us. I thought the counoise grape gave this wine a unique flavor, while Jen wasn’t too happy with the taste. Probably our favorite at this table was the Vermentinu from France.

Then it was off to the History Room with The Country Vintner behind the table. This room kept pretty busy the over fifteen different wines to select from, and only one distributor pouring for the patrons. Just like all the other rooms, we stuck to the red wines and had the following:

    • Besson 2011 Givry Haut Columbier Pinot Noir, France

    • Clos Cannon 2007 St. Emillion Gran Cru, France

    • La Fleur d’Or 2011 Sauterne, France

    • Vinaceous Red Right Hand 2011 Shiraz/Grenache, McLaren Vale

    • Vinaceous Snake Charmer 2011 Shiraz, McLaren Vale

    • Vinaceous VooDoo Moon 2012 Malbec, Australia

So in the end, I didn’t quite sample half … but almost. In the two hours the event was held I sampled 26 wines. Next step is to see if my local wine shops can order a handful of the ones I really enjoyed.