’09 Viognier Recipe Contest

June 16, 2010 § 15 Comments

You don’t have to be a world-class chef to make a dish that pairs perfectly with Viognier, and here’s your chance to prove it.

To celebrate the release of our international award winning 2009 Viognier, we’re holding a Viognier recipe contest, and you’re invited to compete.

Here’s the scoop:

Simply submit an original recipe that either pairs with or is made with our ’09 Viognier no later than Tuesday, June 29th, and you’ll be automatically entered to win the grand prize.

“But Suzanne,” you ask. “Your ’09 Viognier isn’t out yet. How do I know what to pair with it?”

Excellent question. And here’s the answer.

Starting immediately, we have “pre-released” ’ our 09 Viognier, and it’s now available in our tasting room to anyone who wants to take a bottle home for the contest.

And if you’re anxious to start cooking up a storm now, here’s a Viognier flavor profile and suggested pairings from winemaker Nate.

Typically, people describe Viognier as having aromatics of apricots, honeysuckle, white fruits, stone fruits, peaches, and melons.

Our 2009, in particular, has big white floral aromatics, a fruity, medium-bodied mouthfeel and a lightly-spicy, lightly-acidic finish.

This wine pairs well with seafood, poultry, spicy or exotic dishes, nuts and creamy cheeses.


Grand prize: If you win, your recipe will be catered at the official ’09 Viognier release party Saturday July 3rd.

You’ll also receive two complimentary tickets to our exclusive Viognier Wine Dinner in August (date and location to be announced) and one of our wine-themed chef’s aprons.

(Oh, and did I mention bragging rights?)

Runner-up: 1 complimentary ticket to our August Viognier Wine Dinner.

How to enter:

There’s no fee to enter; which mean you have nothing to lose. And you have 3 easy way to submit your recipe(s).

  1. Add your recipe as a comment on this blog post.
  2. Email your recipe to me at suzanne@sunsethillsvineyard.com
  3. Drop your recipe off at our tasting room.

The fine print:

  • All recipes must be original or your own “take” on a classic. By submitting a recipe, you certify that it is your own (and not copied and pasted from The Food Network, for example.)

  • You may submit as many original recipes as you like.
  • By submitting a recipe, you give us permission to use it if you win. You will be given full credit for the recipe.

The submission deadline is Tuesday June 29th. The winner will be announced Friday, July 2nd and the winning recipe will be catered in our tasting room Saturday July 3rd from 12 pm – 2 pm.

So what are you waiting for? Get cooking! 🙂


Full Bloom

June 15, 2010 § Leave a comment

Full Bloom, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sunset Hills Vineyard

Bloom is an incredibly important time for grapegrowers.  Grapevines, which are self-pollinating, generally flower in late spring or early summer.  If the weather is in any way violent during this time (heavy thunderstorms, high winds, hail) it can disrupt the flowering and cause the vines to produce less grapes, or sometimes no grapes at all.  In 2009, for instance, we had heavy rains in late spring, and as a result many vineyards didn’t produce the yields they were hoping for.

This year, thankfully, Sunset Hills has had a very succesful bloom.  Our crop levels look great, the vines are healthy, and we’re looking forward to the coming months, as the grapevines gradually ripen our fruit during the hot, sunny Virginia summer.


Viognier Loves Virginia

June 4, 2010 § Leave a comment

What is Viognier?

Viognier (pronounced “vee-on-yay”) is a white wine grape traditionally grown in the Northern Rhone region of Condrieu in France.  Once quite widly planted, this grape suffered a drop in popularity after its vineyards were devastated by the grapevine insect phylloxera, then shortly afterward abandoned due to World War 1.

In the mid-1960s, however, Viognier was planted more and more, not just in France’s Rhone Valley, but also in California, and, soon, in Virginia.

Why does Viognier grow so well in Virginia?

Viognier is a difficult grape to grow and is sometimes referred to as a “shy” grape.  It is prone to mildew, gives varying and often quite low yields, and requires a long growing season.

But the fact that Viognier is a less vigorous grape is a good thing here in Virginia because Viognier holds up beautifully against Virginia’s rainy falls. While some grapes can take up to a week or more to recover from an inch or two of rain, Viognier bounces back in no time, giving us consistently ripe grapes.

The wine made from Viognier grapes is, more often than not, distinct and wonderful, and has gained acclaim as a “serious wine drinker’s” wine, with powerful sweet fruit aromas and a rich, low-acid body.

Just recently, our 2009 Viognier (not yet released) won international acclaim, taking home Double Gold (best of every Viognier submitted out of all 50 states and many international countries) at the 2010 Fingerlakes International Wine Competition and Gold at the 2010 International Eastern Wine Competition.

Viognier is on its way to becoming known as the Virginia varietal, and we’re excited that our ’09 Viognier is helping lead the way.


Confessions of a self-proclaimed “wine dork”

June 1, 2010 § 2 Comments

My name is Suzanne Watkins, and I’m a wine dork… and proud of it.

I love wine and all things wine related. But more than anything, I love learning about wine.

I think it all started with my Italian great uncle.

“Wine with food,” he’d say to the nine year-old version of me. “It’s our culture.”

He gave me my first sip (though not at nine), and I never looked back. Once I turned 21, winery hopping became my hobby: my swirling, sniffing, sipping past-time of choice.

Mix my love of wine with an insatiable desire to learn (a.k.a. dork), and here I am.

And from here on out, I’ll be bringing you fun facts for fellow wine dorks from behind the scenes at Sunset Hills Vineyard.

Stay tuned…


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