Review by Brian Yost
Eastern Wine Tourist powered by the Virginia Grape
Written by Brian Yost
August 3, 2015
After visiting over eighty percent of Virginia’s wineries, how is it possible that there are still surprises in store? Apparently so. Jump Mountain Vineyard is open only by appointment, but that is largely a formality. Mary Hughes and David Vermillion are working in the winery and vineyard most weekends and they are anxious to pour their wine and answer questions about their wine-making operation.
Driving to Jump Mountain must be done deliberately. I will not say it is hard to find, GPS works well. But it is in rural Rockbridge County. I will point out, however, that it is an absolutely beautiful drive and completely worth the effort. After turning off Interstate 81, you will wind through the county’s backroads. Along the route, you will pass Wade’s Mill, a water-powered mill that has been in operation since 1882. Just before the final turn to Jump Mountain, you will pass through the charming and historic little village of Brownsburg with its antique shops and museum. As you turn off the county road and onto the vineyard property, Jump Mountain and Goshen Pass frame the tasting room and vineyards. It is an absolutely stunning view and worth the visit, but wait until you taste the wine.
Jump Mountain is a small boutique winery with little distribution. To taste the wines, you really have to pay a visit. David started making wine at age ten after his parents gave him a winemaking kit. Making wine for home use, of course, is not the same as commercial production, so David and Mary brought in Mathieu Finot from King Family as a consultant. This was a brilliant move that significantly impacted the direction of both the vineyard and the winery.
There are a few varietals in the vineyard that are still too young for a first vintage. Among these are the Italian grapes Refosco and Lagrein. I have not encountered these varietals anywhere in the Commonwealth, so I am excite to visit again in a few years and sample a final product. In the mean time, Jump Mountain is producing the Austrian varietal Gruner Veltliner. The Jump Mountain vines are not mature enough, so grapes are sourced from Nathan Bailey, who is also growing grapes in Rockbridge County. It is a well-crafted wine with the typical citrus notes and a truly lovely wine. This bodes well for the Gruners that will be produced from the estate fruit.
I have to say that the main event is really the Cabernet Sauvignon. I was able to sample three vintages. The 2011 was the first Jump Mountain bottling. It was a tough year, but it was they still produced a respectable wine. The 2012 was a distinct improvement, but 2013 was just over the top. It was big, complex and jammy, with a finish that just kept going. Production levels are small, so there may not be enough for competitions, but this is a potential Governor’s Cup gold medal winner. I would drive out there just to buy this wine and I regret leaving without a bottle or two.
After my tasting I lingered a bit and talked with David and Mary. They are eager to share details and they love entertaining guests. In terms of customer experience, there are no frills, but frills are not needed. Jump Mountain offers a first-rate tasting experience in a jaw-dropping venue and it doesn’t hurt that the wines are world-class. If you are exploring wineries or just driving through Rockbridge County, call ahead and make a reservation. After you stop in, please let me know what you think. I want to compare notes.
For more reviews by Brian, click here.