Local Gifts for the Beer, Wine and Cocktail Lovers
(1) The two design-crazed UVA grads who invented an über-popular mason jar cocktail shaker are back. And, in our opinion, better than ever with this stunning cookbook for behind the bar—Shake: A New Perspective on Cocktails. Beyond the mouth-watering photography, it’s organized by season. So you can fi gure out what fall tipple might sway the crowd: Maybe it’s a Rosemary Maple Bourbon Sour sort of evening? Or perhaps the vibe is more of a Dirty Española?
$25 at local bookstores.
(2) It’s never too early to dive into a seasonal beer to get the spirit going. And thankfully, Blue Mountain’s Barrel House label has two very holiday-appropriate beers worthy of bestowing on any beer geek on your list. Blitzen is a Belgian-inspired Christmas ale, with darkbrown, deep malt aromas. “Think well-browned biscuits,” says brewmaster Taylor Smack. Long Winter’s Nap is a big blonde triple-bock lager whose paleness belies its huge strength—perfect for bringing on, well, a long winter’s nap.
About $10 per bottle at Blue Mountain Brewery, Whole Foods, and other local beer and wine shops.
(3) It’s said that the last of the season’s apples are the sweetest, most flavorful. And that’s exactly what goes into Season’s Finish, a sweet dessert-style cider from Old Hill Hard Cider in Timberville. Cidermakers Sarah and Shannon Showalter concentrate flavor by lowering the water content through a series of freezing and racking techniques. The result is a silky, smooth cider with notes of pineapple, red cherry, and toast—pairing especially well with a local cheese plate.
$23 at Showalter’s Orchard in Timberville.
(4) At family-friendly parties this year, kids and teetotalers can feel special too with Oakencroft’s Sparkling Seyval grape juice. The juice is actually a blend of seyval and traminette grapes, giving it citrusy notes and a hint of pear. That’s what happens when the good people at Oakencroft make their nonalcoholic grape juice from wine grapes: It winds up having complexities and “notes” and a “nose” just like a wine would. Special indeed.
About $12 at Foods of All Nations, Rebecca’s, and Feast in Charlottesville, Farm to You in Lexington, Croftburn Market in Culpeper, and oakencroft.com.
(5) Stinson Vineyards’ Imperialis port has gotten quite a bit of national attention, having received a Made in the South award from Garden & Gun magazine. Crafted in a rustic style from tannat grapes, it’s fermented in opentop puncheons and aged in neutral French oak. Just be sure to tell the recipient to enjoy the handsome bottle too—it’s a special edition from the Civil War sesquicentennial.
$29 per bottle at Stinson Vineyards, Greenwood Market, and Feast in Albemarle/Charlottesville.
(6) Can’t call it champagne when it’s made here in Virginia, but Thibaut-Janisson’s Fizz is an equally festive sparkling wine made with 100 percent chardonnay. Done in a crémant style, it’s less bubbly than some of the other TJ wines. (A gentle fizz, hence the name.) Its notes of peach and apple and smooth, creamy texture make it a mirthful (and affordable) way to say “I celebrate you” this holiday season.
$22 at Culpeper Cheese Company in Culpeper, the Wine Cellar in Staunton, and Market Street Wineshops, Tastings, and Whole Foods in Charlottesville.
(7) Named for the shape of the dining room in former Virginia governor James Barbour’s Thomas Jefferson–designed mansion, Octagon is Barboursville’s flagship wine—a Bordeauxstyle blend of merlot, cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon, and petit verdot estate-grown grapes. Giving this to someone means you like them. You really like them.
About $56 at Culpeper Cheese Company in Cupeper, Whole Foods in Charlottesville, and Zin Wine & Beer in Staunton.