AWG Correspondent

Anthony Marocco

Loving Cup Vineyard & Winery Photos

Loving Cup Vineyard & Winery Review

Regions: Monticello AVA, Virginia

Reviewed: July 12, 2014 by Anthony Marocco
Published: October 1, 2014

Founded by the Hambsch Family in 2008, Loving Cup Vineyard and Winery opened its doors to the public this past June. Located only a short drive from Charlottesville, Loving Cup is not your typical Virginia vineyard as it is the very first organic certified vineyard in Virginia and one of the few on the East Coast. With approximately four acres of vines on the property, vineyard manager and GM Karl Hambsch has tested and tried many varietals of grapes on the property that are sustainable by his vineyard practices and are most resistant to disease that typical vinifera are prone to. The hybrid grapes that are thriving on the property and comprise the core of the production are Carot Noir, Cayuga, Marquette, Traminette, and Vidal Blanc. These hybrid varietals proved to be standouts during the early trials on the property and resistant to most of the diseases that affect vinifera. Karl is constantly testing multiple other hybrid vines on the property to increase the number of wines Loving Cup can produce. The first vines were planted in 2008, and after three years of monitored adherence to federal guidelines, the vineyard was certified organic in 2012. They hope to have the winery organically certified by harvest of 2014. What does all of this mean exactly? There are no chemical pesticides or fungicides used on the premises, thus providing a healthier wine with no chemical intervention or unknown consequences. The winery itself sits on about 150 acres of land that Karl grew up on, and the initial planting will grow by a half acre each year until they max out the space allotted.

As we shot down Route 29 and cut over to Sutherland Road, we followed the gravel and dirt path a couple of miles until we came to the sign that said "You're almost there," and voila! There was a beautiful stone-crafted post at the top of the driveway with the white sign bearing "Loving Cup Winery." We pulled into the lot and gazed down at the gorgeous, silver tin-roofed winery, and the three rows of grapes that line the approach to the building. You can also see the vineyard in the near distance and a few bistro tables on a covered, shaded deck. The deck does not stop at the front of the tasting room, but actually stretches the entire length of the tasting room along the back side of the building with picturesque views of the vineyard below. Inside the large, high-ceiling tasting room are a couple of tables for those looking for some relief from the heat, the large tasting bar with a gorgeous stained wood countertop. When we arrived, there were a few groups crowded at the bar sipping from their stemless wine glasses bearing the Loving Cup seal. To the right, you will notice a doorway leading to a much larger room that I would assume is for future expansion. We waited patiently behind a group to finish up and were greeted by Karl himself, pleasantly with a smile.

We began our tasting with a brief overview on the facility and hopped right into the wines with the 2013 Loving Cup White ($18), which is comprised of 63% Cayuga and 37% Traminette. This dry white displayed qualities reminiscent of a Pinot Gris or a bone-dry Riesling with gorgeous citrus and floral aromatics. The palate boasts lively, bright acidity with crisp flavors of lemon zest and subtle white stone fruit that finishes zesty, crisp, clean, and refreshing with nice mineral undertones. We then gave their 2013 Dudley Nose Rose ($17) a taste, which is made of 100% Corot Noir. This grape is relatively new to me, but if not alerted of the hybrid used for this Rose, I would have had no idea that it was not vinifera. Strawberry and floral notes flourished from the nose to the palate. A weighted structure with smooth, balanced acidity leads to a light, herbaceous finish. We followed the Rose with the 2013 Loving Cup Sweet Reserve ($19), comprised of 84% Traminette, 14% Vidal Blanc, and 2% Aromella. This white was extremely aromatic with fresh cut flowers completely dominating the nose with just a hint of spice. The palate is sweet and juicy with plenty of white stone fruit, spice, and floral undertones. An excellent poolside sipper and great for those Dog Days of Summer. We capped our tasting experience with the 2012 Loving Cup Red ($20) that consists of a blend of 58% Marquette and 42% Corot Noir. The nose boasts plenty of dark fruit with a subtle aroma of fresh barn brush, while the palate is dominated by lush pie cherry that is balanced out by a firm backbone of baking spice. The finish is long and spice-filled and ends with a layer of dried, sweet tobacco. A very good red blend from some unfamiliar grapes.

Overall, we were pleasantly surprised by the gorgeous facility, knowledgeable staff (Karl), and, especially, by how good the wines were. If you are in the Charlottesville area and looking to step outside the box, this winery is well worth your attention and a visit.

Address & Contact Information: 3340 Sutherland Road North Garden, Virginia 22959. Telephone: 434-984-0774, email:, website: Tasting Hours: Apr-Oct: Fri-Sun 11:00-5:00.

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