Made in the South: The Virginia Rosé You’ll Want to Drink All Summer

A new release from an award-winning Southern winery hits shelves

Photo: Courtesy of Early Mountain Vineyards

Like white pants and seersucker, crisp, refreshing rosé is meant for summer. The rosé we’ll be serving this season, though, doesn’t hail from Provence or Côtes du Rhône, but rather the rolling hills of northern Virginia. “In general, Virginia does lighter styles well—even light fruity reds that you can put a chill on in the summer,” says Ben Jordan, the winemaker at Early Mountain Vineyards in Madison.

Courtesy of Early Mountain Vineyards

We first wrote about Early Mountain—the Commonwealth outfit owned by America Online cofounder Steve Case and his wife Jean—and its standout rosé in 2015 as part of G&G’s annual Made in the South Awards contest. This April, the vineyard released the 2016 vintage, debuting a new label and look. “The 2016 rosé is in the same stylistic realm as the 2014—lighter hued, really refreshing,” Jordan says. “But there’s been an evolution in terms of approach. The 2014 was heavily Merlot. The 2016 has a base of Merlot, but we introduced a Syrah.” It’s the Syrah that Jordan calls “the spiritual backbone” of the new wine, which is made with young grapes from one particular corner of the vineyard that are picked expressly for rosé. (An early September harvest date means the grapes have more acidity and freshness.)

Courtesy of Early Mountain Vineyards

When it comes to picking your picnic spread or brunch menu, Jordan says, the rosé is “pretty darn versatile.” It pairs well with everything from a bright watermelon salad to oysters to fried chicken. You can order a bottle online or check Early Mountain’s website for wine shops near you.

To enter this year’s Made in the South Awards visit www.madeinthesouthawards.com.