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How to Celebrate: Ducard Style!

Virginia winery Ducard

Scott Elliff cuts the ribbon to his new addition at Ducard Vineyards in Etlan.

What a great evening.

We don’t need much excuse for enjoying time with friends, sharing a nice dinner and yes, drinking some Virginia wine.  But this was an extra special occasion.  On Saturday, September 15, we celebrated the opening of our new winemaking facility at DuCard Vineyards with a winemaker’s dinner for fifty, the release of our fabulous new 2010 Petit Verdot, and more than a few toasts and roasts along the way.

Our new building, equipped with shining new tanks, a state of the art wine press, a complement of handsome French and Virginia oak wine barrels and the many tools and toys associated with the winemaking process, represents the next step in our evolution.

Back when I planted the vineyard twelve years ago, no one – certainly not me – could have envisioned the direction the vines and the wines have taken us.   We’ve come a long way, baby.

What started as a hobby farm, growing grapes and selling them to other wineries (who made some award-winning wines with them, hmmm …), expanded into making just a little bit of wine under our own label (that sold out to friends and neighbors to rave reviews, double hmmm … ). That led to the contracted use of  winery facilities up the road to make a full line of wines (wonderfully received by consumers – thank you all), enabling the construction of a tasting room next to the vineyard to pour and sell them.

It’s an award-winning, environmentally progressive building with unparalleled views by the way, and it included a corner in the warehouse to make a select few of the wines on-site — which we quickly outgrew.  That culminated in building our own full-fledged winery that now allows us to have full control of our process and product.  (Though admittedly still with very little control over our sanity!)

Whew.  I hope you followed that.  I barely did, and I’ve lived it.

Virginia winery Ducard

Ducard Vineyard’s Petit Verdot was the featured wine at this gala dinner. Courtesy photo.

So here we are on a gorgeous September evening.  Ribbon cutting on the crush pad, appetizers in the barrel room and four course dinner in the tasting room – all catered deliciously and beautifully by our friend Mark Gresge, owner and chef of l’etoile restaurant in Charlottesville.

Just picture it:

Green Tomato Soup paired with 2011 Ducard Signature Viognier

Shrimp and Grits, paired with 2011 Ducard Gibson Hollow White

Beef Bourguignon paired with 2010 Ducard Cabernet Franc Vintners Reserve

A special Preview Tasting of our new 2010 Ducard Petit Verdot

Apple Crisp, Vanilla Ice Cream and Chocolate Drop garnishe, paired with 2009 Ducard Sweet Virginia Vidal Blanc or 2010 Ducard C’est Trop (port-style)

Q: Hey Chef Mark … is that Julia Childs’s beef bourguignon? 

Virginia winery Ducard

The perfect ending to a perfect wine dinner: Ducard’s port-style wine, C’est Trop.

A:  Yes, of course!  But maybe Virginia style too.

Add in the mellow sounds of our friend Vicky Lee on the harp, a 40th wedding anniversary for a great couple who have been customers from the beginning, a surprise birthday for our vineyard manager who’s here from South Africa and trying to figure out how we roll, Virginia style, and an afterparty gathered around the firepit under the stars … stir gently and voila – you’ve got yourself one very fine fall evening.

Like the t-shirt says … Life is Good.

Scott Elliff is the owner of DuCard Vineyards in Madison County, VA.  ( invites you to join him at the next winemaker’s dinner or anytime to sample the wines and enjoy the hospitality.