It’s time once again for a Vineyard & Winery Profile from WhisperKOOL! Today we have an exciting entry in store for you: Keswick Vineyards of Keswick, Virginia. This is not only one of the most popular vineyards on the Monticello Wine Trail, but the estate’s beauty and antiquity have made it a popular wedding venue as well.
The vineyard is located on the Edgewood Estate in Keswick, Virginia. The land is steeped in history. Edgewood is part of an 18,000-acre crown grant dating from 1727. Edgewood itself, with its stately manor house, was built in 1911. Keswick Vineyard founders Al and Cindy Schornberg (originally from Michigan) moved onto the Edgewood Estate in 2000. They envisioned “a family owned and operated winery specializing in small lots of high-quality wines that showcase the terroir of the Estate.” Al’s great-grand-uncle worked at a winery in France. Al’s desire to start a vineyard and winery was rooted in a simple desire to “enjoy a really good wine that I made. There’s something very natural and satisfying about that.”
The first vintage was in 2002. A Keswick wine from that year won “Best White Wine in America” at the Atlanta International Wine Summit. The Schornbergs’ next goal: prove that Virginia could produce award-winning red wines as well. Seven years later, in 2009, their 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon won the Virginia Governor’s Cup.
Since then, the Schornbergs have remained dedicated to producing Virginia’s best wines. They have installed the latest and highest-quality winemaking equipment on their estate. Their ultimate goal is to be one of the top ten wineries in the country.
Keswick Vineyards Offerings
According to their website (which includes a handy vintage chart), Keswick Vineyards produces a broad spectrum of reds and whites. The 2017 harvest included…
- cabernet franc
- petit verdot
Previous harvests have included such diverse offerings as pinot gris, malbec, Keswick’s famous cabernet sauvignon, and rosé.
The Monticello AVA
The town of Keswick lies in Albemarle County, Virginia, around six miles east of Charlottesville. The nearby Southwest Mountains are home to several presidential estates, such as those of Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and James Monroe. The area is also home to the Monticello Wine Trail, an association of 33 wineries located within the Monticello AVA. The AVA has existed since 1984. Its namesake is the estate of Thomas Jefferson, who is renowned for his efforts to cultivate wine in the region. Jefferson did not succeed, but his efforts inspired others, and the Monticello AVA is now famous for producing world-class viognier, cabernet franc, and chardonnay, as well as 27 other varietals.
Central Virginia Terroir
The Monticello AVA lies near the Blue Ridge and Southwest Mountains, and also borders the Rivanna River (known as the “Rhine of America”). As such, the AVA’s soils range from heavy clay to silty loam down near the riverbanks. The weather, in contrast to California, Italy, and many other winegrowing regions, is quite humid. The grape vines never lack for moisture. Area vintners, however, must take special precautions against fungi and pests. Cold winters also pose a threat. To make the most of the sunlight which Central Virginia receives, many vineyards are located on the slopes of the nearby mountains at altitudes higher than 800 feet. Most of the vineyards of the Monticello AVA feature European vinifera species. But hybrids of French and American grapes are also present, as well as purely American varietals like Norton grapes. Area vintners use Norton grapes to create the famous “Virginia Claret.”