AWG Correspondent

Anthony Marocco

Lovingston Winery Photos

Lovingston Winery Review

Regions: Monticello AVA, Virginia

Reviewed: July 5, 2014 by Anthony Marocco
Published: August 7, 2014

After browsing through the last couple editions of Wine Enthusiast, I came across multiple Virginia wineries posting 87+ point rated wines. I also noticed an unfamiliar name with several wines that ranged from 89 to 91 points, including a Pinotage. A Pinotage? In Virginia? In the United States, there are maybe 60 acres of Pinotage grown total, and 2 of those 60 just so happened to be planted at Lovingston Winery in Lovingston, Virginia (just south of Charlottesville). After reading about their wines, I made it a point to visit this winery on my next trip, and this past weekend seemed like the perfect opportunity to do so.

After grabbing a quick bite to eat in downtown Charlottesville, we made the trek down Route 29 and onto state road 653. Just about a mile up the road, on our left, was the vineyard entrance to Lovingston Winery. Up the dirt road and rock-lined driveway, we made our way up the semi-steep slope while noticing some of the acreage of vines posted high on the hillside. To our left, there was a small pond and the white-sided, tin-roofed production facility that doubles as a tasting room. Behind the production facility, there is with more acreage of vines. This family-operated winery's 8.5 acre vineyard, known as Josie’s Knoll Vineyard, contains varieties such as Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Pinotage, Seyval Blanc, and Chardonnay. The head winemaker, Riaan Rossouw, works with their densely planted vineyard that averages around 1,200 vines per acre. The dense plantings help achieve top notch quality by pushing the vines to struggle for resources, and they subsequently produce fewer clusters and focus more energy on those clusters that provide better quality fruit. Lovingston's production facility also focuses on gravity-flow production standards, minimizing the amount of machinery and pumps that have the potential to reduce quality. Small batch fermentation allows quality control by Riaan and world-class wines result.

As we entered the single door at the bottom level of the production facility labeled with a single sign stating “Tasting Room,” we were welcomed by an echoing hello from above. When you enter the tasting room, you are on floor level of the production facility populated with four to five steel fermentation tanks, bladder presses, and other production equipment. We followed the voice up the stairway to the top platform, where there is a small 6-8 person tasting bar. The tasting bar sits just a few feet below the top platform of the production deck that contains several accordion garage doors to allow the grapes to be brought directly into the platform for preparation. Yellow sorting bins sat idly by, awaiting the fall harvest season, and added extra flare to the decor. Overall, the facility puts your tasting directly where the magic happens and is actually rather enjoyable.

There was no tasting fee on this particular day, and we stepped right up and began with their 2013 Seyval Blanc ($19.95). This typically tart and bright wine exhibited many of the traditional characteristics with fresh lemon zest and tropical aromas greeting the nose. The palate is ensconced in ripe grapefruit flavors showing that bright acidity that is slightly tart. The finish has a touch of effervescence. From dry to semi-sweet, we moved onto the 2013 Petit Manseng ($19.95). This wine is juicy from the aroma to the finish with copious amounts of ripe, juicy pineapple and other tropical notes blessing the nose while picking up additional notes of orange blossom and honey-drenched, tropical fruit. The finish is smooth and semi-sweet as it boasts nice weight overall. The whites showed very nicely and set the stage for the most sought-after Lovingston selections, starting with the Estate Reserve from 2007 ($14.95). Comprised of 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc, this red blend shows plenty of mushroom and earthy qualities while picking up dried leather notes and dark fruit on the finish. Soft tannins and a smooth finish cap off this steal of a red blend. Grab a bottle ($15) and enjoy now as it is reaching its peak. Moving on, we approach the 2008 Merlot ($16.95), which is one of the star varietals from Lovingston. Oak-wrapped cherry and plum highlight the nose while gentle, integrated tannins and earthy overtones, enhanced by dark dried fruit, coats the palate into a velvety smooth finish. We concluded our tasting with the sought after diamond in the rough, the 2012 Pinotage ($26.95). Following the 90 point 2011 vintage, this yet-to-be-rated wine shows off some amazing qualities. Fruit forward and explosive with plenty of wild berry, cherry, and earthy undertones, this South African turned Virginian red thrives from start to finish. Supple with round tannins and a scintillating finish, this wine is a real treat and an excellent way to conclude our tasting. Without question, we took a bottle of this home and look forward to sharing with our wine enthusiast friends.

Overall, the experience, facility, and wines were all excellent. If you happen to be in the Charlottesville area or out and about Route 81, take a pit stop and taste what Lovingston has to offer!

Address & Contact Information: 885 Freshwater Cove Lane Lovingston, Virginia 22949. Telephone: 434-263-8467, email:, website: Tasting Hours: See website for wine tasting details..

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