Virginia Wine: Burnley Vineyards
Our winery guide, Blue Ridge Wine Excursions, tells the stories of the people who make the Virginia wine country and the Virginia wine industry and what it is today. Charlottesville wineries and wineries in Virginia are owned and operated by entrepreneurs with diverse backgrounds, philosophies, and experiences. Blue Ridge Wine Excursions Wine Trail Guide showcases the mosaic that is our vibrant local wine community. We invite the reader to enjoy these stories and to join us on the Monticello Wine Trail!
By: Boo Barnett
Though one of the oldest Virginia wineries, small Burnley Vineyards is often overshadowed by its neighbors down the road,
Barboursville and Horton. When Army Col. C.J. Reeder retired after his last posting in Charlottesville, the family decided to stay put. The Reeder family began by planting grapes in 1977 and selling their crop to other local wineries. Then, in 1984, they took the leap to making their own wine. Col. Reeder’s son Lee and his college sweetheart turned wife Dawn took over the winemaking and the tasting room. All these years later, with 32 acres currently under vine, the Reeders offer a list that runs from the venerable norton grape presentation to flavored dessert wines.
“Lots of people think wine is just like Pepsi; put in a few ingredients and boom,” remarks Lee Reeder, vintner. “Really, every year is an adventure in Virginia wine.” With no two harvests ever alike, Reeder relies on experience and creativity to coax the best from his vines. Every year involves careful calibrations, tweaks, new yeasts or flavoring. Every year calls for some new innovations: state of the art trimming equipment, wind machines designed to blow off frost, and deer fencing or bear fencing to deter the wildlife from feasting on your life’s work.
Burnley produces 5,000 cases of its own wine now, with 95% of the grapes grown on their own land. You’ll find Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Norton, Barbera, Riesling, Vidal Blanc, Orange Muscat, Muscat Blanc and Chambourcin. The usual suspects are straightforward and pleasant representations: Chardonnay, Norton and Riesling, for example, remain faithful to the naked grape and are immediately identifiable to the tongue.
Dog Gone Red, Moon Mist, Aurora, and Peach Fuzz, however, require some explanation by the willing and friendly staff. All family wineries give their own special spin to each offering: otherwise, why go to the enormous bother? Burnley gives its flavored wines an extra boost; there is no mistaking the chocolate influence, the specific fruit-forward tones, or the sweet nature of the dessert wines. Whatever flavor a particular flavored wine is supposed to present, it presents big ... (continued)
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- ISBN-10: 1499296436
- ISBN-13: 978-1499296433