Ahhhhhhh North Gate. It was my first winery love, and to this day it holds a special place in my heart. Our first visit to North Gate Vineyard was a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. No wait, that’s a different story. It was definitely a long while back but I still vividly remember meeting one of the owners, Vicki Fedor, in her driveway. Yes that’s right, we have been fans of North Gate since before they even had a building! That’s what you call dedication folks. We were out and about enjoying the Spring Farm Tour when we first visited and met Vicki. She walked us through a tasting of their wines in her driveway, then asked if we wanted to see where they made the wine. Of course we did, so we got the extensive tour of their winemaking facility, a.k.a. garage. The wines were great and we absolutely adored Vicki (still do), and thus a friendship was born. We visited Vicki in that driveway/garage right up until they finished their building and opened it to the public in March of 2011.
A little over six years later and they are still going strong, and yes, I’m still a huge fan, maybe even huger! You never forget your first love, right? In my humble opinion, North Gate has become one of the premier wineries in the area. Their consistency and quality are top-notch, and Vicki and her husband Marks dedication and obvious love for what they do is unrivaled. Over the years we’ve gotten to know the entire staff well, and they are simply wonderful, each and every one of them. Vicki and Mark have sought out and found a team that shares their passion, not only for wine, but for creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere. We visit a lot of wineries and enjoy them all, but North Gate was our first, and is in many ways our home base and one of a few that we return to again and again.
On to the wine! That’s the point right? Today, North Gate’s lineup is as impressive as ever. The current tasting menu includes three whites: 2015 Rkatsiteli, 2015 Viognier, and 2015 Chardonnay; three reds: 2014 Merlot, 2014 Petit Verdot, and 2015 Chambourcin; as well as their staple and incredibly popular Apple Wine. Each of these wines is fantastic, not one in the group that I wouldn’t readily drink. In fact if you were to look in our wine cabinet you’d see quite the impressive collection of North Gate wine.
My favorite wine on the current menu is the Chambourcin (you might have guessed that if you’ve been reading along since I started this blogging journey), it is just slightly sweet and incredibly smooth. It’s truly a red wine for all occasions. They also serve it slightly chilled, which is my preferred way to enjoy a glass. I drink it with just about any food, or all by itself. It’s a great wine for that glass you just need to drink while you sit on the porch and unwind after a long and stressful day at work. You might consider it a stretch for me to say that a glass of North Gate Chambourcin has saved the lives of many people who’ve irritated me over the years, but well, it’s my story and I’m sticking to it!
As trustworthy as I clearly am, you don’t just have to take my word for the quality of North Gate wines. As a clear statement to their consistent quality, they have won numerous awards over the years, far too many for me to list here. Their crowning achievement has been having their 2011, 2012, and 2013 vintage Meritage win Gold in the prestigious Virginia Governors Cup Awards. And not only did they win Gold all three times, the Meritage scored high enough all three times to make it into the Governors Case, which consists of the top twelve scoring Virginia wines. Now that’s an achievement! We’ve got a couple of bottles of these mega-award winning wines in our cabinet, and no you can’t have any.
The Trellis Club, North Gates wine club, recently celebrated its five year anniversary, and as you might have guessed, we’ve been members since day one. Membership in the club is free, all you have to do is agree to purchase 3 bottles of wine per quarter for a minimum of one year and you’re in! Once in the club you get free tastings for the member and one guest every time you visit, as well as tastings for the member and up to three quests once per quarter. Also included are a 10% discount on bottles, and 20% discount on cases of wine. Their quarterly wine pickups are always fun and informative and include a tasting of each wine in that pickup as well as a food pairing for each wine.
I feel like I have to take just a minute and talk about their building because it’s not just any building, it’s one of only two winery buildings in the state that is built to LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) standards, and the only one to obtain Gold status. Woohoo go North Gate, save the earth! Their operation is 100% solar-powered and in fact sells excess electricity that they generate back to the power grid. You can learn all about their building and amazing green initiatives by visiting their website, or better yet by visiting the tasting room! They’ve got a really cool TV display thingy that shows you all about their power production and green initiatives. It’s quite nifty.
In addition to being a really cool place to hang out in general, they regularly have live music, food trucks, and special events. We recently attended their very first vertical tasting where we sampled five vintages of Meritage as well as five vintages of Merlot (2008 through 2012 of both wines). North Gate has been the host to some wonderful plays, we particularly enjoyed ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ a couple years ago. Another play is on the calendar for July, so keep an eye out for that. They also have a vibrant artist in residence program that features the work of local artists on a rotating basis. The only piece of original art in our home was purchased at North Gate!
One of the fun things about getting to know a winery and winemakers is you get a front row seat from which to watch the magic unfold. I’ve witnessed the ever-increasing quality of North Gate’s wines and their dedication to excellence. I’ve seen the business grow from Mark and Vicki’s garage into a beautiful tasting room that is often bursting at the seams with people on a busy Saturday afternoon. I’ve also been lucky enough to see that the commitment to providing an excellent experience to everyone who walks through the door remains. It has been amazing to watch North Gate grow and prosper, while maintaining their commitment to quality and down to earth, welcoming vibe. To me, a successful business is one that finds ways to grow and evolve and embrace the future while never losing sight of who they are and what really matters. North Gate has nailed it. But don’t take my word for it, go visit and see for yourself! Remember to tell them the LoCo Wine Squad sent you.
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