Chateau Morrisette is among the oldest and largest wineries in Virginia. We also operate an award-winning restaurant with a 95% recommendation rate on OpenTable. With fresh vintages, flavors, and events at the winery, restaurant, vineyard, and festival field throughout the year, 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 Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest sites.
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.
by Karl H. Kazaks
FLOYD, VA – Chateau Morrisette stands tall in the Virginia wine industry, being both one of the largest producers in the commonwealth and one of its longest-standing. The winery took root in 1978 when David Morrisette and his parents Bill and Nancy planted vines on their estate here, adjacent to the Blue Ridge Parkway. Chateau Morrisette is just one of six active Virginia wineries founded before 1980.
After graduating from Mississippi State University’s first class in viticulture and enology in 1982, David made the winery’s first commercially available wines.
The winery makes dozens of wines and is distributed widely, a testament to the favor the winery’s products have found among consumers. The winery makes over 60,000 cases of wine annually, using fruit from its vineyards as well as from other growers in Virginia and North Carolina.
This year’s harvest at Chateau Morrisette is the first being helmed by Brian Smyth. “It’s been incredible,” Smyth said. “The ferments are all tasting great.” Smyth attributes the success of the vintage and the winery in general to the long-standing team in place at the winery, starting with David Morrisette and including the entire winemaking team. “It’s incredible that we’ve been able to retain this talent in southwest Virginia,” he said. “You could take any one of these guys or gals and put them in Napa, Bordeaux, the Barossa Valley and they’d be at the top of their game.”
Smyth knows something about foreign winemaking cultures, having earned his master’s degree in enology from Australia’s University of Adelaide, after spending a previous stint in the country working a harvest.
“The first time I went to Australia I didn’t know I’d go back,” he said.
Smyth, a North Carolina native, studied at Virginia Tech. While an undergraduate, he spent one summer at Keswick Vineyards, where he caught the wine bug. After graduation, he worked at some custom crush operations in Oregon. Then he decided to pursue his advances studies, choosing the University of Adelaide because he liked the practicality of the program.
The winery at Chateau Morrisette is impressive, housed in a 32,000 square foot timber frame building built with salvaged Douglas fir timbers. Its numerous stainless steel tanks have a combined capacity of approximately 130,000 gallons, and an additional 50,000 gallons can be kept in American and French oak barrels.
“It’s an absolutely incredible facility,” Smyth said. “Some of the equipment we have, it’s amazing.”
On the crush pad there are two bladder presses. Nearby is a refrigerated trailer, used to hold fruit prior to crush. The trailer helps both to facilitate the logistics of handling many tons of fruit as well as to help improve wine quality. Cooling white varieties out of the field, Smyth said, leads to “fewer phenolics and less astringency in the finished wine.” Inside, a cross-flow filter is used on all wines pre-bottling, something that’s especially important for the winery’s sweet wines.
When fermenting reds, Smyth likes to start pretty warm, to ensure a healthy yeast population. Once the ferment is going, he looks more at the rate of fermentation — shooting for an average of 2.5 Brix per day — rather than a set temperature. At that rate of fermentation, he knows the wines will have enough time on skins to get good extraction.
As for cold soaking, Smyth is experimenting with its affects. He separated one batch of Cabernet Franc into two tanks, one of which was cold soaked, one of which was not. “The color’s the same, but the taste is different,” Smyth said. When fermentation is complete, the lots will be blended together at pressing.
With its fast-ripening conditions, this year has been a good year for Virginia wine grape producers. Smyth credits the winery’s vineyard manager Steve Van Sutphin as well as the many growers the winery works with for producing high quality fruit. “They make my job easy,” he said.
Smyth then repeated his praise for his winemaking team, who during a rain-delay in harvest were preparing to filter the lees from a batch of cold-settled Niagara. “They make this place run.”
Here;s the link. http://wineandcraftbeveragenews.com/chateau-morrisette-in-good-hands-with-new-winemaker/
FLOYD, Va., Nov. 4, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Chateau Morrisette Winery announces the appointment of Brian Smyth as Enologist and Winemaker and Cooper Brunk as Chef of the Restaurant at Chateau Morrisette.
With the winery since 2014, Smyth previously served as Assistant Winemaker. Prior to joining Chateau Morrisette, Smyth worked in Oregon, Australia, and Virginia with various wineries and vineyards. His Master of Enology degree is from University of Adelaide in Australia, where he focused on practical and technical winemaking and viticulture knowledge. His undergraduate degree in Interdisciplinary Biology and Environmental Studies is from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.
Trained in classical French cuisine, Brunk's new restaurant menu features flavorful signature entrees, freshly harvested estate garden side dishes and local, organic items to round out the offering. After graduating at the top of his class at the Culinary School of the Rockies, Brunk has worked with fine restaurants in France, Colorado and Tennessee. A past "Best Menu" winner for the Flavors of Nashville competition, he is the author of a specialty cook book as well. Previously, he served as chef instructor, private chef and executive chef and was restaurant owner of Cooper's on Porter in Nashville.
The Restaurant at Chateau Morrisette is featuring new menu items including a porcini crusted steak, Marseille style seafood bouillabaisse with crispy calamari garnish, and bacon wrapped stuffed trout with haricot vert and lemon beurre noisette. "Not only are some of our newest entrees prepared with Chateau Morrisette's award-winning wines, but they are created with unique wine pairings in mind, which enhance the flavor," added Brunk. Recently, the winery's Vin Gris and Chardonnay Reserve both received favorable reviews in Wine Advocate and Wine Enthusiast Review.
"We are excited for Brian to take on this new role, especially with his extensive knowledge of regional wines, technical prowess and diverse industry experience," said David Morrisette, President of Chateau Morrisette. "Likewise, Cooper's passion for French cuisine and his experience in the flourishing Nashville food scene make him well-suited to delight our discerning guests."
As seen on Tastings.com
88 • Chateau Morrisette NV Apple Wine, Virginia $10.99. Best Buy.
Bright pale straw green color. Delicate, fruity aromas of baked pear, pear charlotte, crystalized sugar, and white kayo syrup with a bright, fruity medium-to-full body and a sleek, elegant, carefree finish with fruit tannins and no oak. (tasted on Jul-06-2015)
88 • Chateau Morrisette NV Apple & Blackberry Wine, Virginia $10.99. Best Buy.
Bright medium burnt sienna color. Bright, fruity aromas of ripe raspberry, red flowers, and hints of the barnyard with a lively, fruity medium-to-full body and a silky, intricate, medium-long finish with fruit tannins and no oak. (tasted on Jul-06-2015)
In June 2015, Chateau Morrisette's 2013 Chardonnay Reserve and 2014 Vin Gris were reviewed by Wine Advocate. Mark Squires reviewed them for Robert Parker's Wine Advocate and and scored the Chardonnay with 87 points and the Vin Gris with 88 points. He said,
"The 2013 Chardonnay Reserve was aged for 10 months in a mixture of new (43%) and used (57%) oak, with 45% of the barrels being Hungarian in origin, 29% French and 26% American. Only about twothirds of the barrels completed malolactic fermentation. It comes in at 13.3% alcohol. This shows fine focus and a little tension on the finish as well as reasonable midpalate solidity. A bit oaktinged, the wine mostly overcomes it and remains in good balance, crisp, tasty and lively, with a twang of acidity bouncing off the wood. It should hold a few years, but it will likely always be better when young and fresh, no matter how long it theoretically lasts. There were 335 cases produced."
He had even better things to say about the Vin Gris,
"The 2014 Rosé is a blend of 67% Cabernet Franc, 32% Cabernet Sauvignon and 1% Petit Verdot. Correctly anticipating my (and no doubt others') question, the winery indicated that the 1% is simply due to a few baskets of Petit Verdot harvested the same day and thrown into the Cabernet Sauvignon bin. Produced with the saignée method, this is dry. Crisp and penetrating on the finish, this sunny pink has nice fruit that is well supported by its structure. Nicely textured, too, it should be a great pink this summer, with enough body and intensity to hold up to foods and fill that role as a red wine substitute. "
Both the 2013 Chardonnay Reserve and the 2014 Vin Gris are available for sale at Chateau Morrisette only. Supplies are limited. Visit the website to purchase the wine. THEDOGS.COM
FLOYD, Va., March 4, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Located along Virginia's scenic Blue Ridge Parkway, Chateau Morrisette Wineryannounces its Spring 2015 events.
Back by popular demand are Mountain Adventure Weekend and live music in the courtyard on Sundays beginning in June. In addition, signature fine dining events include dinner with Guest Chef Paul Schroeder and the Annual Winemaker's Dinner with Brian Cheeseborough at the Restaurant at Chateau Morrisette.
Guest Chef Paul Schroeder, Friday, March 27 - Sunday, March 29, 2015
An award-winning chef from Sonoma, C.A., Paul Schroeder is well-known for preparing innovative rustic Mediterranean cuisine with fresh, local produce, rotisserie meats and seafood. His exclusive menu will be available Friday and Saturday from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Restaurant at Chateau Morrisette. During these times, the restaurant will be serving Chef Schroeder's menu exclusively. Reservations are highly recommended and are currently available.
Spring Wine Sale Sunday, April 19 - Monday, May 4, 2015
The winery's Spring Wine Sale features 20% off bottles and 30% off cases online, by phone and at the winery.
Open Houses, Saturdays and Sundays, April 25 – 26 and May 2 – 3, 2015, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
The winery will host complimentary tastings for visitors during its Spring Open Houses. In addition, Kennel Club Members will enjoy tastings and food throughout the winery including upstairs and in the cellar.
Annual Winemaker's Dinner, Sunday, May 24, 5 p.m. – 9 p.m.
At the Annual Winemaker's Dinner, Chateau Morrisette's award-winning winemaker and oenologist, Brian Cheeseborough, will be on hand to explain wine pairings, talk about his newest wines, and answer questions. Hosted at the Restaurant at Chateau Morrisette, this event is $95 per person inclusive of wine, food, tax and gratuity. The menu will be available 30 days before the event. Reservations are required and now being taken for this event.
Mountain Adventure Weekend, Friday – Sunday, June 5 – 7, 2015
The winery's annual Mountain Adventure Weekend offers outdoor fun for everyone – horseback riding through the vineyard, kayaking down the river, and hiking the scenic mountain terrain. Stay with the winery's lodging partners and enjoy sumptuous meals at the Restaurant at Chateau Morrisette. Reservations will be available beginning April 1, 2015.
Sunday Sounds Music Series, June 7 – October 25, 1 – 4 p.m.
Free Sunday music in the courtyard returns this summer and fall. Relax and enjoy our delicious wines while listening to a wide variety of music every week. New this year, jazz musicians will perform the first Sunday of every month.
Mountains of Music Homecoming, Sunday, June 14, 2015, 1 p.m. – 4 p.m.
The winery is proud to host a special Sunday Sounds event in the courtyard as part of the Mountains of Music Homecoming presented by the Crooked Road, Virginia's Heritage Music Trail. The event will feature the Sigmon Stringers, a three-generation bluegrass band from Newton, N.C.
About Chateau Morrisette
A fun day trip from Roanoke, Charlottesville, Blacksburg, Christiansburg or the Piedmont Triad or a great weekend away fromWashington, DC, Richmond, Hampton Roads, Raleigh/Durham, Charlotte, Knoxville or Charleston, W.V., Chateau Morrisette is located at Milepost 171.5 on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Floyd County, V.A. Wine tastings are $8 per person. For more information, visitwww.thedogs.com, call (540) 593-2865, or follow us on Facebook.
SOURCE Chateau Morrisette Winery
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.
PR Newswire Release
FLOYD, Va., Feb. 4, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Chateau Morrisette Winery, located at milepost 171.5 on Virginia's Blue Ridge Parkway, announces its most recent award-winning wines from the prestigious San Diego International Wine Competition and San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. The winery's 5 Red Grapes, Our Dog Blue, Nouveau Chien, Chambourcin and Archival 1 – all of which retail for under $20 a bottle – won awards.
At the 2015 San Diego International Wine Competition, Chateau Morrisette's 2012 5 Red Grapes (94 points) won best of class and platinum awards among hybrid reds, and our Dog Blue (95 points) won a platinum award. A platinum medal is given when all judges unanimously award the wine with a gold medal. Also, the 2013 Nouveau Chien (87 points) won a silver award.
"Chateau Morrissette struck a blow...with a platinum award and score of 94 points for its 2012 5 Red Grapes, a proprietary blend of Bordeaux grapes combined with the hybrid Chambourcin at $15. Virginia is coming up in the wine world and [Chateau] Morrissette is one reason for that," commented Robert Whitley, director of the San Diego International Wine Competition in Creators Syndicate Wine Talk.
At the 2015 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, three of the winery's signature wines received silver awards: 2012 Chambourcin, 2013 Nouveau Chien and Our Dog Blue. The 2012 Archival I received a bronze award. Considered the largest competition of American wines in the world, this year's San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition received over 6,300 wine entries, its highest number of wine entries to date.
"We are very pleased with how Chateau Morrisette winery continues to be recognized by experts and wine lovers alike for the exceptional wine we produce," said David Morrisette, president of the winery. "While we are well-known for our well-priced signature and orchard series wines, with our expert winemaker Brian Cheeseborough at the helm, our new blended and varietal wines are flourishing, too."
Chateau Morrisette has established retail distribution throughout Virginia, North Carolina, West Virginia, Tennessee, and Tianjin, China. In 2015, the winery is expanding distribution to most of the regions of Kentucky via Bottles and Barrels, a division of Kentucky Eagle, Inc., its newest distributor. The winery plans to increase production to 79,000 cases this year as well.
Chateau Morrisette wines are served at the winery's tasting room and the Restaurant at Chateau Morrisette and can be purchased at the winery, online at www.thedogs.com or at participating retailers.
About Chateau Morrisette
A picturesque day trip from Roanoke, Charlottesville, Blacksburg, Christiansburg or the Piedmont Triad or a great weekend away from Washington, D.C., Richmond, Hampton Roads, Raleigh/Durham, Charlotte, Knoxville or Charleston, W.V., Chateau Morrisette is located at Milepost 171.5 on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Floyd County, V.A. Wine tastings are $8 per person. For more information, visit www.thedogs.com, call (540) 593-2865, or follow us on Facebook.
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.