Under the Silo


If this were a podcast, this would be ‘Episode 0.’ For those not incessantly digesting the next new piece of audible media out there, Episode 0 sets the stage. It gives the listener an idea not just of the content to expect in the series or periodical, but of the tone. So, here it goes.

Here at Grace Estate, we are one of just a few vineyards that grow the Tannat grape in Virginia. We’re quite fond of this underdog. The trusted source for all facts and alternative facts known as Wikipedia describes Tannat growers in Virginia as “experimental.” Thank you.

The best thing to pair with Tannat is neither a red meat entrée nor a view of the Blue Ridge Mountains, though both of those work, as well. It’s Black Sabbath’s Master of Reality album; preferably on vinyl, not the digitally remastered version for your iTunes. From its purple and black exterior, one prepares for an eerily sensual aggression. The darkness lures you in. You feel the thumping waves all the way through your chest. And yet, there is this jazzy juiciness that makes your spirit dance.

I’m talking about the wine and the music here. If you’ve been sticking to just food and wine pairings, you’re missing out. And, if wine seems like the thing you have to enjoy with Mozart, you are also missing out. And, if you believe metalheads can’t enjoy wine, then I guess I should give up my career. 

The artfulness of wine allows it to integrate, define, and heighten experiences through all your senses. It’s meant to push out the boundaries of life. And yet, whether you’re a wine geek reading trade magazines or just a casual tasting-room customer, it seems all we’ve done is put up boundaries around wine and how we experience it.

If you weren’t satisfied with my heavy metal and wine pairing, let me give you another example. I was hosting a wine education event once, and a question I got from the crowd was, “Well, what do you eat with champagne? I know the usual red meat with red wine and white meat with white wine rule. But champagne is different, right?”  

My response was simple, “A bacon cheeseburger.” The audience erupted with laughter.

Why were they laughing? Because drinking a nice champagne with something cheap you make on a grill is ridiculous by the most conventional wisdom. And yes, I was being playful in my reply; I knew the crowd reaction before I said it. And yes, if you break it down using the usual components experts use to create food-wine pairings, such as fat content, acid levels, etc., you could generate a list of pairings for the bacon cheeseburger that may be “better” than champagne. 

But tell me, how you would feel downing a Bollinger Brut Special Cuvee with a sizzling bacon cheeseburger right off the grill? Let me tell you. Like a freakin’ million bucks.

That’s what enjoying wine should be all about. And, oh, by the way, listen to the Rolling Stones’ Let it Bleed with your bacon cheeseburger and Bollinger. You’ll thank me later.

‘Experiencing Grace’ is a phrase you’ll hear and see from us a lot in 2019; on our ads and on our social media. We’re looking to capture this essence of wine so often missed in the traditional winery experience in Central Virginia, where you pony up to a tasting bar, run down a tasting flight while some college student says, “This is the Chardonnay,” and walks away. We’re tired of it. In the near future, we will be providing you the opportunity to enjoy our completely Estate-grown wines in the vineyard, at an outside bar, on top of Mt. Juliet, and with an array of music cultivated to excite the senses. We’re looking to break down those aforementioned barriers of days gone by and let you experience a new sense of wine-drinking freedom.

I hope you’ve gained an idea of Under the Silo’s mission and tone. It’s a place to further the revolution against the old, stuffy, played-out norms around wine and give you a behind-the-scenes perspective of how we’re changing it. Plus, you’ll learn a bit about wine and the industry along the way. 

And with that, let me lift my glass of Malbec, say, “Cheers to you,” and press play on Black Flag’s “Rise Above.”