The Black Dog Blog
Chateau Morrisette is among the oldest and largest wineries in Virginia. The award-winning restaurant has a 95% recommendation rate on OpenTable. With fresh vintages, flavors, and events at the winery, restaurant, and vineyard, we will keep you abreast of all the great happenings and the people who make up Chateau Morrisette Winery and Restaurant in this blog and through our social media pages Facebook and Instagram.
VISITING THE BLUE RIDGE PARKWAY OF VIRGINIA
The Blue Ridge Parkway is known as "America's Favorite Drive." It spans 469 miles, connecting Cherokee, North Carolina with Rock Fish Gap, Virginia. Each mile along the way is marked with a Mile Post (MP) number to help visitors find just what they are looking for as they meander through the Appalachian Highlands. Located just north of the Parkway's center, Chateau Morrisette can be found between MP 171 and 172 in beautiful Floyd County, Virginia. It's a must-stop when traveling along Virginia's Plateau. Guests enjoy fine dining in a casual setting as well as first class wines produced by one of Virginia's oldest and largest wineries. A visit to the Blue Ridge Parkway is phenomenal any time of year, but it is especially spectacular from early October through mid November when the deciduous trees are changing colors and dropping their leaves before winter takes hold.
Fall Foliage Along the Blue Ridge Parkway
Leaves begin to change color at higher elevations in early October. The intensity of color is determined by many factors, including the amount of rainfall, the average temperature, and the amount of wind in a particular area. For areas above 3500 feet, the peak time is predicted to be around October 12-15, 2018. As the elevation decreases, the peak color change works it way down the mountains over time. Floyd County, home to Chateau Morrisette Winery and Restaurant, spans an elevation between 2000 and 4000 feet which means the ideal time to visit for fall color will be from October 12th through the end of the month. Again, this could change based on weather patterns in September. For the most up to date information, check out the Virginia Fall Foliage Report from the Virginia Department of Forestry. Click here for Fall Foliage Report.
The Blue Ridge Parkway area around Chateau Morrisette is known as the Rocky Knob. Throughout this region, visitors are treated to the changing colors of a variety of trees, including hickories, maples, oaks, tulip trees, locust, basswoods, and even a stand of big tooth aspens. Mountain laurel and goldenrod are also abundant all along the Parkway. In late September and early October, the stands of goldenrod turn bright yellow to announce the beginning of fall. Maple trees are next to turn showing bright red and orange leaves. The rest will follow shortly afterwards.
Another good source for up-to-date information about fall foliage is the Blue Ridge Mountain Life Fall Foliage Forecast and Guide on Blue Ridge Mountain Life. For up-to-date weather along the Blue Ridge Parkway, click here for the Blue Rige Parkway Weather website.
Special Ways to View the Autumn Color
Driving the Blue Ridge Parkway is just one way visitors can take in the breathtaking colors of autumn. Floyd County, Virginia is home to about 40 miles of Blue Ridge Parkway along its southern border. Within the county, visitors will find many opportunities to stop the car and step into the fresh mountain air. Along the stretch through Floyd County, there are numerous scenic overlooks, with two of the favorites being The Saddle Overlook (MP167.5) and the Rock Castle Gorge Overlook (MP 168). Additionally, the Rocky Knob and Smart View Recreation Areas along with Mabry Mill are all great places to stop, explore, and stretch your legs.
For those feeling a bit more adventurous, there are a number of backroads just off the Blue Ridge Parkway. Most of these roads connect to other roads but don't be afraid, you can always retrace your path if you get lost. County maps are available at the Floyd Visitor Center.
Exploring the scenic backroads allows visitors to discover those special places known only to locals and to experience fall color in all its rural splendor. Some roads are paved and some are gravel, but both promise an experience not to be forgotten. Pictured left is Emanuel Road, connecting Black Ridge (726) with Conners Grove (799). It's unpaved and pristine. Another unpaved treasure is Fairview Church Road, connecting Black Ridge Road (726) with Parkway Lane (SR 8).
If paved roads are more to your liking, wind across Floyd County on Franklin Pike from the Blue Ridge Parkway to Route 221. Or take Route 8 South from the Parkway to Stuart and circle back up the mountain on US 58, where you will not want to miss Lover's Leap at the top of the mountain. For a good map of paved backroads of Floyd, Patrick, Franklin, and Carroll Counties, check out The Jagged Edge of Virginia. This site offers loop rides for cars and motorcycles that provide some of the most spectacular vistas of the entire region. Chateau Morrisette is a great starting point and ending point for any mountain adventure. It's located only 300 yards from the Parkway itself and is known as the most decadent overlook on the Parkway!
ON FOOT OR BY BIKE
Hiking and walking trails abound throughout the Blue Ridge Parkway National Park. From a simple quarter mile stroll around Mabry Mill to a strenuous 10.9 loop hike through the Rock Castle Gorge, there is a trail for everyone to enjoy. Hiking areas include the Rocky Knob Recreation Area with three trails that can also be mixed and matched for the desired distance.
The Picnic Trail is an easy one mile loop starting at the Rocky Knob Visitors Center. For a little more distance, try The Black Ridge Trail at 3 miles, looping from the Rocky Knob Visitors Center. And for the dedicated hiker, the Rock Castle Gorge Trail is a 10.9 mile hike that offers long distance vistas, a boulder field, waterfalls and streams, and spectacular fall foliage from a variety of trees. Information about these hikes are available on the Blue Ridge Parkway app or on the National Park Service website.
14.5 miles north on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Floyd County, visitors will find the Smart View Recreation Area. This is a lovely place to picnic or to enjoy the 2.6 mile loop hike with its panoramic view of the Piedmont below. If you want to see Floyd County's highest peak, drive over to the Buffalo Mountain Nature Preserve. A short one mile hike up Buffalo Moutain gives visitors a vast overview of the entire region from 3,971 feet above sea level and an unsurpassed view of the ocean of fall color in the valley below.
For something a little different, take a walk around Chateau Morrisette's estate. Sitting atop 38 acres, Chateau Morrisette's behind-the-scenes is waiting to be discovered. From almost anywhere on the estate, you will encounter scenic vistas unlike any other. The international restaurant dining platform Open Table named Chateau Morrisette as having one of the top 100 restaurant views in America. It's just that awesome! You might want to grab a bottle of wine and a couple of glasses and take a stroll with someone special down to the vineyard. It's about one-half mile along a shaded, gravel road (shown left). Once there, visitors discover over 13 acres of recently harvested grape vines, with views across the southwestern mountain slope. Find your spot among the vines and enjoy some wine away from all the others. It's a piece of heaven. Oh, and if you see a grape we left behind, it's all yours!
And if biking is more aligned with your interest, there are plenty of opportunities for that as well. People come from all over the world to bike along the Blue Ridge Parkway. It's the perfect opportunity to take your time, climb at your own pace, and enjoy the beautiful colors of autumn. The downhill ride is a lot of fun too! Biking along the backroads is also a worthy venture. There are a number of routes waiting to be explored. Cycle Floyd has rides from 2.6 miles to 27 miles already mapped out to make autumn biking as simple and as beautiful as possible. You can pick up a printed map at the Floyd Visitor Center or download it from the Cycle Floyd website.
Fall colors are not limited to the trees. If you have the time, don't miss an autumn sunrise or sunset from the Blue Ridge Parkway. The color of the sky is resplendent in deep oranges, reds, and purples. It's a photographer's dream come true. Find an open pasture with silhouetted livestock to take the perfect photograph. The morning and evening light makes the trees shimmer in rich colors, the grasses a faint autumn green, and the shadows long and sinuous.
Perhaps you just want to sit back, relax, and take in the sunset. The Chateau Morrisette Restaurant has outdoor seating looking to the northwest and providing incredible views of the autumn sunsets. Open for dinner on Friday and Saturday evenings, Chateau Morrisette is the perfect location to enjoy some wine and a meal while watching the sun set over the mountains and valleys below. If the weather should be too cool to sit outside, then take a seat by the window and enjoy the warmth of the fireside dining rooms.
In early October, the sun will set around 7pm with twilight lighting thirty minutes on either side of the sunset. By the end of the month, the sun will set around 6:25pm. To check the times for sunrise and sunset in October, visit Sunrise-Sunset for times all along the Blue Ridge Parkway.
CHATEAU MORRISETTE IN THE FALL
During the month of October, thousands of visitors will travel the Blue Ridge Parkway to enjoy leaf peeping and all the fall foliage. Chateau Morrisette provides as oasis along the way where visitors can stop in, take a break, get something to eat, use the rest room, tour the wine cellar, and enjoy some wine while taking in our fifty mile view across the valley. Both the winery and the restaurant are open every day of the month. The Restaurant serves lunch from 11-2 Monday through Thursday, 11-4 Friday and Saturday, and brunch from 11-3 on Sunday. Dinner is offered Friday and Saturday from 5PM until 9PM. The Winery is open for tours, tastings, and shopping Monday through Thursday from 10AM-5PM, Friday and Saturday from 10AM-6PM, and Sunday from 11AM-5PM. Live music and a light food service is offered every Sunday on the Winery Courtyard. Chateau Morrisette is pet friendly.
While we hope you will enjoy a meal at Chateau Morrisette, we also allow you to bring a picnic with you. NO OUTSIDE ALCOHOL ALLOWED by Virginia law. There are three private gazebos available first come first served and a limited number of tables and chairs are provided under the tent on the courtyard. Or you can bring a blanket and find a secluded place on the estate to enjoy your meal. But hey, it's much easier just to make a reservation in the restaurant and let Chateau do all the work. Here's some links you might find helpful:
Wine Tastings and Tours take place everyday in our Tasting Room
Restaurant Menus change seasonally. Take a look at all of our menus, lunch, dinner, brunch, dessert, even the current wine list!
Restaurant Hours also change seasonally. June through October is prime season along the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Reservations are important to make sure you're not waiting too long for a seat. While not required, they are strongly recommended. You may also make reservations by calling +1-540-593-2865.
Sunday Sounds is our live music offering every Sunday. Enjoy a variety of genres from jazz to blues to folk and Appalachian Roots music.
Nearby Attractions abound. Historic sites, outdoor recreation, and other wineries just to name a few.
Lodging accommodations are varied and in high demand during fall foliage season along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Book early.
Directions to find Chateau Morrisette Winery and Restaurant.
Enjoy your visit to the Blue Ridge Parkway of Virginia and we hope you will include Chateau Morrisette while you're here.
Photography ©Keith Toler, ©Shannon Atkins, ©Chateau Morrisette
Used with Permission
CHATEAU MORRISETTE CELEBRATES 40TH ANNIVERSARY
One of Virginia’s oldest and largest wineries, Chateau Morrisette marks its 40th anniversary beginning in 2018. The 40th anniversary logo has been developed and plans are underway to commemorate the milestone throughout the year, including a commemorative wine glass, wine label, and a special anniversary party.
The winery’s anniversary is a part of Virginia’s winemaking history which can be traced back to 1609 and the Jamestown Settlement. Later, both Thomas Jefferson and George Washington’s attempts to establish a viable crop met with failure. In 1873, a crop of Native American grapes met with great success at the Vienna World’s Fair, but it was not until Chateau Morrisette and five other wineries opened in the 1970s did Virginia truly begin producing and marketing wines.
In 1978, Chateau Morrisette was known as Woolwine Winery. Started by William and Nancy Morrisette, their son David became the first wine maker. In 1981, the family adopted the name Chateau Morrisette and moved the winery to its current location along the Blue Ridge Parkway in Floyd County, Virginia. In 1983, the family was instrumental in securing the Rocky Knob AVA, Virginia’s first designated American Viticultural Area. In 1985, Chateau Morrisette began wholesale distribution, partnering with Blue Ridge Beverage in Salem, Virginia, to place its Virginia wines on store shelves throughout Southwestern Virginia. By 1999, Chateau Morrisette expanded its production facilities to 32,000 sq. feet and a tank capacity of 130,000 gallons.
Today, forty years since its inception, Chateau Morrisette is still owned and operated by the Morrisette family. David Morrisette is no longer the winemaker but now serves as the President and CEO. His children are now working in various capacities at the winery, making Chateau Morrisette a third generation Virginia winery. Distribution has expanded from humble beginnings in southwestern Virginia to include retail outlets in seven states and direct-to-consumer shipments to customers in over thirty states. Commercial wine production has grown from 2,000 gallons in 1982 to over 130,000 gallons today. Chateau Morrisette is poised to continue its growth well into the next forty years.
From the Journey's of Discovery webiste. Listen to the Podcast by clicking here (PODCAST)
Here's the printed intro for the Podcast.
Chateau Morrisette is Virginia’s oldest winery is located on the Blue Ridge Parkway, 3,500 feet above sea level, an hour from Roanoke and two hours from Greensboro, North Carolina. When the Morrisette family opened their Floyd, Virginia winery in 1978, it was the only one in the state. Today there are more than 288 Virginia wineries, but the vast majority are small-lot boutique producers with total average annual production of less than 2,000 cases. At Chateau Morrissette, it was a long and painful road discovering the ideal grape varieties, and perfecting their wine processing but today they annually produce more than 75,000 cases with distribution to nine states and overseas to China. Morrisette produces a broad array of wines. A sampler of their reds include Pinot Noir to Petit Verdot, their sweet and blush includes Vin Gris and red and white Muscadine. Sweet fruit wines include cherry, blackberry, and apple. They offer a sparkling wine, and a range of whites from Chardonnay to Viognier. Come along and join David Morrisette as he shares his family’s incredible wine making and grape growing journey, and their parallel evolution in to the culinary scene with their estate restaurant that has specialized in farm-to-table locally sourced, organic offerings since long before the hip-restaurant phrase became a trend.
Subscribe to the Lowell Thomas Award-winning travel podcast, Journeys of Discover with Tom Wilmer via: iTunes, NPR ONE, Stitcher.com, Player.fm and numerous other podcast sites.
Chateau Morrisette is the result of a love affair between the Morrisette family and the rural Virginia countryside. In 1978, I worked with my dad and mom, William and Nancy Morrisette to plant the first vines and the vision of Chateau Morrisette became a small reality. Mom stated in a news article back in 1988 that "the winery began as a hobby that soon got out of hand."
I'm a graduate of Mississippi State University’s first class in enology and viticulture. After graduation, I came home to Virginia and became Chateau Morrisette’s first official winemaker. In 1982, the first commercial wines were produced, a modest 2,000 gallons, under the Woolwine Winery label.
As production increased, so did my duties and responsibilities. Soon, additional winemakers were added to the staff to assist with increasing production work. Skilled and talented winemakers hired throughout our thirty plus year history continue to bring style and complexity to Chateau Morrisette wines and enhance our original vision.
It was many years before Chateau Morrisette saw black ink on its balance sheet. Wine production has increased rapidly each year and now surpasses 60,000 cases per year. Our exciting and consistent growth rate necessitated a new production facility. My family invested a great deal in expanding and modernizing all aspects of the winery and in 1999, we opened a new wine production facility and a spacious hospitality center. Blue Ridge Timberwrights constructed a unique building from salvaged timber from the St. Marie River to create one of the largest salvaged timber frame buildings in North America: 32,365 square feet with 135,000 board feet of Douglas fir recycled timbers. This one-of-a-kind building has given us room to grow.
Stainless steel tank capacity at Chateau Morrisette is approximately 130,000 gallons with an additional 50,000 gallon capacity in French, Hungarian and American oak. The winery currently produces around thirty different wines, a wine for every palate, and utilizes production from over 150 acres of vineyards either on site or from growers throughout the Commonwealth.
Chateau Morrisette remains an industry leader in quality wines and is located in a spectacular natural setting in rural Floyd County. From a ‘small reality,’ we are now one of the largest wineries in Virginia. Nationally, Virginia is ranked sixth in commercial grape production and grape bearing acreage. The Virginia Commercial Grape Statistical Report shows 4,120 tons produced from 1,730 bearing acres.
Our location on the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway has helped introduce thousands of visitors to premier Virginia wines. The restaurant and winery are open year round and special events are held throughout the year. Chateau Morrisette is both a relaxing and exciting experience for anyone who enjoys fine wine, good food and natural surroundings. It has become one of Southwest Virginia’s prime destinations.
The Winery the Dogs Built
The Morrisette family planted their first grape vines in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia near Floyd in 1978. There were no other working wineries in the State of Virginia at that time. Working in the basement of his home, David Morrisette produced the first commercial wine in 1982 with the help of his ever-trusty companion, Hans, a black Labrador Retriever that helped him graduate from Mississippi State University.
Hans stuck by David during planting, growing and harvest season, and was expert in lapping up any wine spillage during production. Hans was instrumental in encouraging the Morrisettes to persevere in their hobby-gone-wild venture by offering moral support, a warm muzzle and a friendly handshake through thick and thin. David wanted to de-mystify wine for the public and produced The Black Dog Wine in 1991 in honor of Hans. The wine label sported an original art design showing a black dog drinking out of a young lady’s wine glass.
The Black Dog Wine is a unique blend of Chambourcin, Cabernet, Merlot and Petit Verdot producing an exceptionally smooth semi-dry red wine. Its appealing spicy character and medium body enhance many dishes as well as light hors d’oeuvres. This wine is reasonably priced at around $11 per bottle and has become a favorite with customers because of its smoothness and value. “It’s obviously well bred!”
Hans also inspired the Chateau Morrisette crest: two dogs standing on their hind legs holding up a grape vine-adorned “M” shield. Other dogs have followed Hans and continue to uphold his high standards: Our Dog Blue, Blushing Dog, Frosty Dog are just a few.
Customers swarm to the web site: “thedogs.com” and often ask twice, thinking they have mis-heard. “Who doesn’t like dogs?” David says – they continue to play an integral part in the winery that welcomes novices and snobs alike in a friendly high-altitude setting.
You know you want to
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