Another stop on the Shenandoah Valley trail brought us to the neighborhood of Wolf Gap Winery. Wolf Gap is a raised ranch house located on a large 50-acre plot in a spread-out neighborhood. Willard and Diane Elledge founded Wolf Gap in 2004 after retiring from the DC Metro area and looking for land with peace, tranquility, and, of course, a place to grow wine grape. A very sweet and humble couple, they operate the tasting room on the second level of the house-like facility. After parking you make your way around the left side of the building, climb stairs to the deck, and enter in to what is basically a small office or foyer. Continuing on, you enter what is basically the kitchen of the house. To your left, there is a dinner table, and straight ahead is the tasting bar (which is the counter top of the island that separates the cooking area of the kitchen from the dining area). There is another room that patrons can sit and enjoy a glass of wine in that appears to be either a converted dining room or living room. While the facility itself isn’t exactly stunning, the warm welcoming atmosphere does give you the feeling of visiting a relative for a glass of wine. Towards the rear of the kitchen are sliding glass doors that lead visitors out onto the rear observation deck overlooking the vineyard. Gorgeous views of the Wolf Gap (in which the landscape feature the winery is named after) and rolling hills lined with grape vines greet patrons. This particular area is quaint and quiet while the rest of the tasting room is a bit small and cramped. Note to visitors: Wolf Gap is a boutique winery so large crowds and limos will have a difficult time squeezing into the tasting room.
As we stepped inside and took our position at the tasting bar, we were greeted by both owners and offered a tasting for a few dollars. The tasting consists of two white wines, five reds, and two semi-sweet dessert wines. Wolf Gap’s whites were not that impressive, but their reds clearly separated themselves from the rest of the pack. Below are my full tasting notes, but I would like to point out three of my favorite wines. The 2008 Merlot was excellent with lots of dark red fruit and a smooth velvety finish, and the 2007 Cabernet Franc Reserve brought complex and flavorful qualities to the palate. Wolf Gap also offers a 2008 Chamerlot Reserve, which was very unique by combining 60% Chambourcin and 40% Merlot that provides a plethora of dark fruit and chocolate attributes. This rockstar blend can stand up to those hearty mid-winter meals or accompany summer grilling equally the same. Overall, I was surprised at the quality of the reds given the first couple of items on the tasting menu, but I was also very much pleased. If you are looking for a quick stop as you begin your journey from North to South on the Shenandoah Valley AVA, Wolf Gap should be on your list. I wouldn’t plan on an extended stay, but it is worth a quick stop for a tasting and to pick up a couple of bottles along the way (especially the Merlot or Chamerlot Reserve).
Full Tasting Sheet (*** Notates Top Picks)
- 2011 Viognier-Traminette: spicy floral and nutty on the nose with effervescent mouthfeel; a touch of tropical fruit on the palate to accompany the otherwise floral flavors
- 2011 Chardonnay: light oak with subtle sulfuric notes on the nose, very floral and fruit lacking on the palate — not their best wine
- ***2008 Merlot: black cherry and plum aromas pummel your senses, while the fruit-forward black cherry flavors burst across your palate and carry well into the smooth lengthy finish
- ***2007 Cabernet Franc: jammy blackberry aromas collide with a very fruit forward palate, but switches gears from mid palate to the finish with strong tannins and a very dry curtain call
- ***2007 Cabernet Franc Reserve: cherry and blackberry bring along some clove to the nose; while much of the same caresses the palate, it incorporates some mocha notes silky smooth tannins and super light spice showing face towards the finish
- ***2008 Chamerlot Reserve: HUGE notes of mocha and black fruit on the nose that bursts at the seams with black currant, bold chocolate flavors, and oh so silky smooth on the finish
- 2009 Chambourcin (80% Chambourcin – 20% Cabernet Franc): earthy, oaky, and peppery on the nose with much of the same on the palate while the pepper stands out on the finish
- Lobo Loco Sparking Rose: cranberry aromas; floral and strawberry fields collide in an effervescent bliss — good!
- Blueberry Wine: It’s blueberries, but not doctored blueberry flavors, I mean like eating a hand full of blueberries, except a few glasses of this will get you drunk. Proceed with caution, remember that this IS an alcoholic beverage
- Red Wine: 3.25 / 5 Corks
- White Wine: 2.00 / 5 Corks
- Experience: 3.00 / 5 Corks
- Views/Ambiance: 2.50 / 5 Corks
- Overall Rating: 2.75 / 5 Corks
Wolf Gap Vineyard
123 Stout Rd
Edinburg, VA 22824