DuCard Vineyards: Elevating the Tasting Experience
The long sold-out bottles of DuCard wine rest a cool, dark cellar. In a monastery in Crozet, a Trappist Nun adds culture to fresh milk to create a special gouda cheese. And a thousand miles away, on a beach in Florida, DuCard owner Scott Elliff and his team are brainstorming.
The cheesemaking nun has likely never heard of Scott Elliff, or his winemaker Julien, and she has likely never tasted DuCard’s wine. But they’re about to meet in one of the luckiest combinations available to the Virginia public.
Since the first DuCard wine was bottled, Scott has been preserving a few bottles from each of the vineyard’s varied vintages in the DuCard library. This is not the easiest task, as the small-production winery almost never has leftovers. The first time we had the pleasure of meeting Scott, he mentioned his secret library stash, saying that sometimes it was a fight to keep even a few bottles back, especially of the favorites. That’s the thing about wine, though- it’s sort of ephemeral, a seasonal romance. You have to enjoy it when it’s around and then move on.
That’s why DuCard’s new program is perfect for nostalgia addicts like myself. The Shenandoah Room Program releases a rapid-fire rotation of DuCard library wines, couched in a star-studded lineup of their premium offerings. These tastings (available in red or white options) are available to pair with locally sourced cheese plates, including that monastery gouda, a delicious charcuterie board, or a four-piece dessert plate. The offerings of DuCard’s Shenandoah room are a unique gastronomic journey through the Virginia countryside, creating the opportunity to revisit wines that may have been old favorites, or a bottle that you might have missed out on the first time around. Library wines on the Shenandoah menu are available only to visitors that are taking advantage of this opulent experience, and chances are, next time you return, the wine will no longer be available, so come prepared to take a bottle (or three) home to add to your own library collection.
The tastings themselves are robust, with four two ounce pours (generally one library, two “standard,” although their wine is anything but standard, and one premium wine) per flight. The two generously apportioned main pairing boards (two boards and two tastings took up two tables and filled two hungry adults to the brim) consist of four locally sourced cheeses, four charcuterie selections, a baguette from Albemarle Baking Company, and two seasonal accompaniments.
The dessert board is worth a trip on its own- paired with the cheekily named C’est Trop, this rotating selection of sweets is the quintessential digestif to finish off a DuCard day. On our visit, the rum cake by DuCard chef Kris Krammes (Seven Oaks) had us begging for the recipe.
Scott and his team insisted that not only should the food and wine sampling be exclusive, but so too should the setting in which it is served. The Shenandoah Room is that special space – private and quiet, with a glass garage door style opening out to the patio, offering an unbeatable view of the Blue Ridge. The doors hold a small collection of vintage Shenandoah Parks badge stickers, the walls are spotted with red-matted local art, and the room offers a distinctly different feel from the buzzing main Tasting Room. Perfect for an intimate afternoon or adventurous date, the Shenandoah Room experience is one of the most welcoming of its kind.
DuCard vineyards is a relatively young winery, but has taken broad strides every year since Scott laid roots into what was formerly an apple orchard. In addition to its reputation for impassioned, friendly staff and fantastic wine, the winery has garnered well-deserved recognition for both their product and the renewable energy practices that sustain it. DuCard is good at being green for the same reason they’re good at making wine- it’s a passion project for all involved, one that connects nature, compellingly delicious wine and people who appreciate both. This newest of DuCard’s excellent offerings is available only on selected Saturdays and Sundays, so check the website or call first. No reservations are necessary, but, I expect that space will be fill up – and limited library wines will sell out fast. And this is one winery offering you don’t want to miss.
Planning a trip to DuCard Vineyards? Find hours, location, and contact information here.