AWG Correspondent

Brian Yost

Loving Cup Vineyard & Winery Photos

Loving Cup Vineyard & Winery Review

Regions: Monticello AVA, Virginia

Reviewed: August 16, 2014 by Brian Yost
Published: October 1, 2014

Virginia does not offer ideal climate for organic viticulture. It's the entire east coast really. There is just too much rain and that makes the use of fungicides a routine part of the winegrowing process. Nevertheless, there is still a pair of organic vineyards in the state and one of these is located in North Garden, just south of Charlottesville off of Route 29.

I took a drive out to Loving Cup Vineyard and Winery in the late spring, just a couple weeks after their official opening. Most growers will tell you that organic won't work in the Commonwealth and I had my own misgivings, so I was anxious to find out how the owner thought he could pull this off.

When I pulled into the parking area, Karl Hambsch came out to meet me. Karl is the owner, wine grower and just about everything else at Loving Cup. After brief introductions, he ushered me over to the test strips next to his tasting room. These few rows of vines are where he tests techniques and varietals before planting them in the vineyard.

Now Karl is extremely enthusiastic about his organic operation. In addition to copious research, he spent time working for a variety of regional Virginia wineries and relies heavily on the support of other local winemakers and vineyard managers. At the end of the day, however, Loving Cup is unable to grow the traditional international vinifera varieties. His research has led him to rely instead on a number of French-American hybrids for wine production.

Currently, Loving Cup is growing four different grapes in Virginia's Monticello AVA. White varieties include Cayuga (a cross between Schuyler and Seyval Blanc) and Traminette (a Joannes Seyve and Gew├╝rztraminer hybrid). Vidal Blanc is being cultivated as a third white grape, but is not yet being used for wine production. Marquette (a cross between the hybrids MN 1094 and Ravat 262) and Corot Noir (created from Seyve-Villard and Steuben) are the red varietals. Both Traminette and Vidal Blanc are grown throughout the state. As for the others, most of the grapes used to create the hybrids are unknown to the public at large. So the question becomes, will wine drinkers embrace these organic hybrids. I suspect that they will. The organic certification of Loving Cup Vineyard will likely carry the day and win dedicated patrons. Of course, it can't hurt that the wines are also quite good.

As of this writing, there are only three wines available at the tasting bar. The two red grapes are blended into Loving Cup Red and the white grapes are used in the Loving Cup White. The Corot Noir is also used to make a Ros├ę. All of the wines are very well crafted and show real promise for future vintages. It will be interesting to see what other offerings are added over time.

There is one final note regarding Loving Cup's organic certification. As I said, the vineyard is certified organic. The winery is currently using all the necessary organic procedures, but that certification is still pending. It is projected that the final organic status will be granted in 2015.

The real challenge for Loving Cup will be protecting each harvest from the potential ravages of fungal infection. If this can be achieved and the current quality can be maintained or even improved, this winery will offer a new and exciting option on the larger Virginia wine scene. I'm certainly one strong advocate, but you will have to stop in and check it out for yourself.

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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