Bon Vivant: (n) a person having cultivated, refined, and sociable tastes especially with respect to food and drink.

All posts in Wine Concierge

Thanksgiving Virginia Wine Pairing Guide

Posted in: Bon Vivant, Guest Posts, Helpful Hints, Holidays, Seasonal Sips, Virginia Wine, Wine Concierge, Wine Pairing, Wine Recommendations, Winemakers, Wineries and Vineyards

Virginia wine is making its mark. And if you’re not on board yet, here are 6 outstanding Virginia wines that will change your mind, perfectly suited to complement your Thanksgiving Feast. Get all the details and tasting notes in my guest post on The Hill is Home!

Breaux Vineyards. Fall, 2013

Breaux Vineyards. Fall, 2013

There’s something for everyone- from the bubbly lover to dessert wines- from just a few of Virginia’s esteemed wineries, including Thibaut-Jannison, Breaux Vineyards, RdV, Stone Tower Winery, Tarara Winery and Linden Vineyards.

Taste makers around the country are singing the Commonwealth’s praises, most recently at the Virginia Wine Summit.  Food And Wine Magazine Editor, Ray Isle, was recently the keynote speaker, where he praised both the gorgeous scenery and outstanding wines right in DC’s backyard.

Have you tried Virginia wine yet?  If not, consider one of my Thanksgiving pairing recommendations or contact me for a custom excursion into DC’s wine country.  I promise you won’t be disappointed!

For more wine pairing guidance this Thanksgiving check out my recommendations here!


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Harvest Time in Virginia

Posted in: Virginia Wine, Wine Concierge, Wine vocabulary, Wineries and Vineyards

A Visit to Breaux Vineyards

IMG_4058As I suss out my favorite Virginia wineries for Bon Vivant’s New Virginia Wine Concierge Program, I’m continually surprised.  Pre-conceived notions and even the most well-intentioned recommendations are often wrong or out of date, which is why I make it a point to visit each vineyard myself.

One of the most difficult things to find in a Virginia vineyard is a property that “checks all the boxes”. Although I aim to offer my clients tailored itineraries, sometimes you’re just on the hunt for a property that hits the Big Four:

1. Atmosphere

2. Customer service

3. Quality wine

4. Good Value

You may be wondering why I list wine third?  I’ve had more than one good glass of wine sour to vinegar on the palette if the atmosphere and customer service just aren’t there.

It can be especially hard to find this elusive combination at a property that accepts large parties. Breaux Vineyards does so graciously, in addition to offering perks like behind the scenes tours of the barrel room, tank room and vineyards, paired with a private group tasting of 8 wines for just $25!

2010 Nebbiolo

2010 Nebbiolo

Favorites from the tasting were the Equation Red Blend- a wine that drinks easily and tastes more expensive than it’s $17 price tag.

Madeleine’s Chardonnay ($24) was also lovely, with nice apple and pear fruit, a creamy and full mouthfeel from the sur lie aging process, and a crispness from the stainless steel fermentation.

The Cellar Club exclusive Nebbiolo- an Italian varietal not generally seen in Virginia- was also exquisite, a bottle of which made it back to DC.


We were lucky to visit on a harvest day, and happened upon a crew hard at work culling the Cab Franc from the vines to beat the rain- just one winemaker’s harvest nightmare! Luckily, 2013 looks to be a promising vintage for Breaux Vineyards, and much of Virginia’s wine country!


For more pictures, visit my facebook album of the visit.

Have you been to Breaux?  What was your favorite wine?


What do you look for when visiting wineries?  Have you ever had a great wine ruined by less than stellar customer service?

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We’re Expanding!

Posted in: Bon Vivant, Event Planning, New Services, Virginia Wine, Wine Concierge, Wineries and Vineyards


I’m excited to announce an expansion of services Bon Vivant will be offering to DC area clients!  We’re in close proximity to a number of Virginia wineries and vineyards, and I look forward to offering wine country concierge services.

With so many options to choose from, I’ve spent quite a bit of time recently touring Virginia wine country- sussing out the good, the bad and the ugly for myself!

One of the things that’s become increasingly apparent is that not all Virginia wine (and wineries) are created equal!  There are a number of quality vineyards that offer guests varying experiences.

The good news is, there is a vineyard out there to meet almost anything you’re looking for in an excursion- whether it’s scenery, world class wines, large group tours, behind the scenes experiences, exclusive wine pairing dinners in elegant settings, bachelorette excursions, as well as intimate and serene getaways (see my recent post on Linden Vineyards!).

With so many options to choose from, I aim to offer my clients highly tailored wine concierge services, custom designed for each client to show you some of the very best of what Virgina Wine Country has to offer- no matter what it is you’re looking for in your excursion!

Checking out the Cab Franc at Breaux Vineyards during Harvest!  2013 is looking like a promising vintage!

Checking out the Cab Franc at Breaux Vineyards during Harvest! 2013 is looking like a promising vintage!



What do you look for when visiting vineyards?


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An Afternoon at Linden Vineyards

Posted in: Bon Vivant, Virginia Wine, Wine Concierge, Wine Recommendations, Wineries and Vineyards

Linden Vineyards chardonnay

As a DC wine consultant, I’m often asked what I think about nearby Virginia wineries. To be honest, I haven’t always had an overly favorable view of the region. A visit to Linden Vineyards changed that.

Jim Law, the owner, is particular about promoting what a Virginia winery can and should be. I found the results of his philosophy and commitment to quality wine-making refreshing. In a region addled by notoriously difficult weather conditions, Law is committed to producing wines to be taken seriously.

Early Chardonnay grapes on the vines.

Early Chardonnay grapes on the vines.

Despite being in business for nearly 28 years, Linden’s vintners are constantly re-evaluating which varietals grow best on each site and adapt accordingly. They display an overt commitment to the French notion of terroir, loosely translated as a “sense of place.” Terroir is about respecting the land, and letting wine grown in a particular place reflect its unique characteristics.  There is a definitive old world sensibility to the wines produced by Linden Vineyards.

You won’t find Linden Vineyards in the Virginia guide to wineries, and they have a strict policy that limits groups to six people. There are no bachelorette parties, busloads of tourists, or even limos (which are prohibited) at Linden. Cell phones don’t work on the Hardscrabble property. The result is a tranquil respite that focuses on serious wines and a feeling of true escape from life’s day to day demands.


When I met the owner, he came straight in from a day tending the vines, extending his calloused hand from sleeves of a wine splotched shirt. Jim takes bi-annual trips to France to taste and learn more about his craft. He’s less interested in the best vintages, but eagerly pursues knowledge about how French vintners contend with difficulties and challenging weather conditions- lessons that have served Linden well during the more difficult years.

Alison and Linden's owner, Jim Law

Alison and Linden’s owner, Jim Law

Linden Vineyard’s Director, Shari Avenius, gave us a behind the scenes tour of the property and explained that each of the winemakers on Linden’s three properties spend about 90-95 percent of their time outside tending the vines. She described wine growing in Virginia as, “riding the wave the whole growing season, you don’t know what’s coming next.”

Currently they’re contending with the region’s historic rainfall, as well as the emergence of the 17-year Brood II cicadas. According to Shari, the worst threat to the carefully tended vines is undoubtedly, “The H-word. Hail. We try not to say it.”

Long-time Linden employees, two of the cousins Chavez tending the vines.

Long-time Linden employees, two of the cousins Chavez, tending the vines.

Every vine on each of Linden’s three properties is tended to an average of 12 times before harvest- a testament to both the staff’s respect for their product and fickle Virginia growing conditions. It’s this type of vineyard vigilance that allows Linden to adhere to a policy of non-intervention in the cellar.

After touring the grounds and enjoying the reserve cellar tasting, we decided to forego another winery visit, opting instead to finish our afternoon on Linden Vineyard’s scenic porch with wine and charcuterie, a decision we didn’t regret.

After touring the grounds and enjoying the reserve cellar tasting, we decided to forego another winery visit, opting instead to finish our afternoon on Linden Vineyard’s scenic porch.  2011 rosé with locally sourced cheese and summer sausage.

2011 Linden rosé with locally sourced cheese and summer sausage.

While the coveted seats are reserved for the vineyard’s most loyal clients on weekends, members of the case club, the tables are open to all clientele during weekdays.

Linden produces around 5,000 cases of wine per year, and while they sell 95% of their wine on site, you can also find their products at high end restaurants and wine bars in and around DC. Visit to learn more about their tasting room, reserve cellar tastings, case club, vineyard tours and more!

We enjoyed all of the wines we tried during the reserve cellar tasting, but couldn't leave the vineyard without these two standouts.  We look forward to enjoying the Bordeaux blend after some aging, as well as this late harvest dessert wine!

We enjoyed all of the wines we tried during the reserve cellar tasting, but couldn’t leave Linden without these two standouts!

For more behind the scenes photos, visit Bon Vivant DC’s facebook page!

What do you think of Virginia wineries? Let me know the good, the bad, and the ugly!

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