Foodbuzz 24×24: Virginia Wine and Small Plates
posted in: Parties & Entertaining, Virginia        date: 05.29.11

Horton Vineyards

I’ve mentioned before how much Eric and I love Virginia wine. Many people don’t know that Virginia even grows wine grapes; we certainly didn’t until moving here. Our honeymoon was in Sonoma, so I’ll admit that we were skeptical when we first visited a winery here. However, that skepticism quickly turned into excitement once we realized how much promise lies in Virginia wines. Even before moving here, I knew that Thomas Jefferson had unsuccessfully tried to grow European grapes in Virginia. In fact, he tried for more than thirty years and never got a single bottle from his grapes. George Washington tried for eleven years and also came up dry. (I’ll cut them some slack since they founded our country and all.) I think our former presidents would be impressed by how far Virginia winegrowers have come since then. I’ll spare you a lengthy history lesson, but suffice to say that there’s a good deal of it tied into wine in this state.

A few weeks ago, Eric and I volunteered to pour wine for Horton Vineyards at a wine festival at Montpelier (James Madison’s home). We came home with six bottles of their wine and knew almost immediately that those wines were the perfect basis for a 24×24 party. We decided on a menu and were all set to start planning. Eric and I have been to so many wine festivals that we had exactly enough tasting glasses for each of our guests, which allowed them to sample the wines before deciding which ones they wanted to drink. I didn’t set the party up so much as a tasting where each person would take notes, but rather as a laid back way to introduce the wines to our friends.

Rkats Grapes at Horton Vineyards

I knew I wanted several small plates for people to eat while enjoying their wines, so that defined what foods we decided to make. I feel good pairing one wine with dinner, but I’m not confident enough in my pairing abilities to have planned for each plate to have a corresponding wine. Still, my friends all found wines they enjoyed and ended up kind of pairing them on their own. Here’s what the menu looked like:

Caramelized Onion Dip and Crackers
Marinated Bocconcini
Roasted Pepper and Goat Cheese Crostini
Mozzarella and Roasted Tomato Phyllo Pizza
Crab Cakes with Homemade Tartar Sauce
Smoked Salmon Tea Sandwiches
Chicken Satay with Spicy Peanut Dipping Sauce
Chocolate Mousse
Chocolate Truffles

May 24x24

We had several bottles of wine, and we saved the fruity wines to have with dessert. Otherwise, we just let everyone choose which wines they wanted with their meal. Our wines, all from Horton Vineyards, were:

Cabernet Franc
Norton
Black Cat Chardonnay
Viognier
Eclipse White
Peach
Blackberry
Xoco

There are a few notable things about the wines that I’d like to share. Cabernet Franc is a wine we’d never heard of until moving here. This wine continues to be one of our favorite red wines, and I even heard a few non-red wine drinkers say last night that they liked this one. Norton is a native Virginia grape that was actually cultivated here in Richmond. My friend Elise loved it and couldn’t get enough of it when paired with the roasted pepper and goat cheese bruschetta. Xoco is a red wine with a hint of chocolate essence. It was the perfect wine to serve with our chocolaty desserts.

May 24x24

We had such a fantastic time sharing these wines with our friends. If you’re ever in Virginia, don’t miss out on its beautiful wine country. There’s a lot going on with Virginia wines, and I hope they continue to grow and flourish. This party just highlighted one specific winery, but there are so many wonderful ones here. We’ve actually got a few bottles from Jefferson Vineyards, and I’m pretty eager to open them. Being the history nerd I am, I can’t help but think of what Jefferson would think now about the grapes being grown on the same land he used and having a winery named after him.

I’ll post many of these recipes in the coming weeks. Since the crostini was such a favorite, that recipe will be making an appearance soon.

Chocolate Mousse

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COMMENTS: ( 16 )
  • I love cab franc as well…and it’s not a wine you see very often! Our fave is from Markham in Napa…so good!! Love your party…the small plates w/wine pairings is perfect.!! Love the mousse in the little spoons…

  • What a lovely party, Courtney! You certainly put on a beautiful spread. I love when parties are classy and relaxed at the same time. Nice work!

  • Stephanie @ LiveCookLove

    This looks like fun!! I’ve always wanted to do the Foodbuzz 24×24 and you made it look wonderful 🙂

  • Such a fun idea – how fun would it have been to go to each other’s parties?! I realllly miss wine, so you are giving me something to look forward to when I can drink again. Maybe Joey and I should plan a winery tour in Virgina 😉 And I love the chocolate mousse on the spoons – so cute!

  • Oh please, post that chocolate mousse ASAP. It looks heavenly, and the presentation is awesome-what a fantastic idea!

    • Courtney

      I promise to post it soon! I had some trouble with the recipe, and I need to remake it to make sure it was user error and not something wonky with the recipe.

  • Everything looks delicious! Virginia wines are so good – I’m happy we live so close to so many wineries.

  • Your email about the wineries and now this is making me really pumped that I live here now! What an awesome 24×24 idea and your photos and food looked beautiful!

  • Lovely! I was part of 24×24 last month and did small plates with Oregon wines! Your food sounds fabulous.

    • Courtney

      How funny! Wine and small plates go together so well, and I love that you showcased Oregon wines! Off to check out the post right now. 🙂

  • Courtney, looks like so much fun! I wish you still lived near me! Those chocolate mousse desserts look awesome!

  • Lindsay @ Peace, Love and French Fries

    looked beautiful and delicious! Can’t wait to see some of the recipes!

  • This all looks and sounds so wonderful, Courtney! I wish I could have been there 🙂

  • Looks like a wonderful time! I’ve lived in Maryland my whole life, and I’ve recently thought more about taking a wine tour of Virginia. Now it’s definitely on my to-do list!

  • How great to meet another Virginia blogger!! This is a great post and I am so glad to see your focus on Virginia wines. Hope to run into you again soon on Foodbuzz- I will be adding you to my blogroll as well.

  • It’s so excellent to hear that my home state makes great wines! I’m not a wine fan so far, but I’ll have to try some of those if for no other reason than they’re native Virginians too 🙂 I’m just starting out in the blog world and I’m glad to have found your blog!