Virginia Wine Is Fine – Some Upcoming Virginia Wine Events

Vinyasa and Vino – May 1, 2014 at CrossKeys Vineyards                                             

Awaken your senses and merge your body, mind, and soul with yoga, nature, and wine. A 60-minute smooth and slow Vinyasa Yoga practice to be followed by tasty treats and specially selected wines handcrafted at the vineyard.  Enjoy the bounty of the earth as you deepen your connection to your surroundings – for more information


Photo courtesy of CrossKeys Vineyard

Central Virginia Wine Festival – Saturday May 10th from 12PM-6PM Innsbrook

This year’s event will showcase 16 Virginia wineries as well as live music, food & beverage concessions, beer sales, specialty-items, and arts & crafts vendors. Proceeds will benefit the general scholarship & endowment funds for the Richmond Chapter of the Virginia Tech Alumni Association. Check out for additional information.


Photo courtesy of Central Virginia Wine Festival

Mother’s Day Strawberry Shortcake & Wine Pairing at James River Cellar Winery

Bring Mom out for a very special pairing of Strawberry Shortcake and Wine from 11AM – 5PM! Enjoy the afternoon on their shaded patio or overlook the vineyards while sitting on the balcony.
There will be music by Darryl Ellyson and Gregory’s Grill will be available. Details at


Front Royal Wine Festival – Saturday, May 17th 10AM – 6PM

The 28th Annual Virginia Wine and Craft Festival in historic downtown Front Royal, VA will include activities, live music, kids games and wine tastings from 20 Virginia wineries. This festival will cover more than 7 seven blocks and featuring over 100 vendors, artists and crafters from all over the east coast, there won’t be anything you can’t find to fit your style, mood or need. Additional information


Photo courtesy of Front Royal Wine Festival

Wineappalooza! Wine, Food & Crafts Festival at DuCard Vineyards – Saturday 17th 12-7PM

The festival will feature two powerhouse bands to entertain throughout the day:  Local Vocals and Scuffletown, along with an awesome menu of food from the local Pig & Steak Restaurant as well as numerous craft vendors with fabulous unique items for show and sale.  Visit for more information.


Photo courtesy of DuCard Vineyards

Vintage Virginia 33rd Annual Wine & Food Festival – May 31 & June 1st

This festival features the Virginia’s best wine, food and music each year during a fun-filled festival at Bull Run Park Special Events Center.   There will be over 25 Virginia wineries participating. Check out and Facebook page for details.


Photo courtesy of Vintage Virginia Festival

Cheers to Virginia Wine!


Virginia Wine Is Fine series – Cross Keys Vineyards


Our series will feature one Virginia winery at a time. A great opportunity for each winery to share why they think Virginia wine is unique and what characteristics make their winery special. We are passionate about Virginia Wine and committed to spreading the word about how the many different Virginia wines have come a long way.

The Inussi Marketing team had a great conversation with Katie Rosenburg and we were very impressed with her knowledge and enthusiasm. She is the events manager at Cross Keys and handles all the marketing, advertising and social media. We asked her to tell us their story.

Bob and Nikoo Bahktiar purchased the property in 1999 with over 150 acres of overgrown cedar trees. They weren’t sure what they would do with the gorgeous land. While on a picnic enjoying a bottle of California Pinot Noir with their friend, Joy, they became inspired to try starting a winery and share the beauty of the land.


The Cross Keys Tavern has been one of their biggest inspirations. It served as a town center for the community in the 19th century and was used as hospital for wounded soldiers of the battle at Cross Keys during the Civil War. Cross Keys Vineyards is now a gathering place to enjoy the beauty of the Shenandoah Valley and Virginia wine. The two gold crossed keys are an ancient symbol of hospitality, excellence and a place of prestige.


Cross Keys location has some advantages. Being located in the valley and with the nearby Massanutten Mountain, the vineyard has plenty of shade and soil that drains well. There is less humidity so the fruit ripens beautifully creating wine with great body and aroma. The rainy season last summer created more work and they had to make an extra effort to make sure the vines were maintained and perfect. The rain stopped by harvest season so they could harvest on time. Fortunately the rainy spring & summer didn’t affect the quality of the wine due to the leadership of Stephan Heyns, the head winemaker.


Cross Keys Vineyard is like stepping into a Tuscan Villa. There is an on-site bistro that has a great selection of salads, appetizers, pizza & sandwiches. They have many events including Vineyard Vibes, the Cross Keys Concert Series held every other week. By visiting the vineyard, you will be transported into a different world – “a little piece of heaven”.


The public perception of Virginia wine has been hard to overcome, however, the current growth and recognition of the Virginia Wine Industry has made a major difference. To increase the awareness of their wine, Cross Keys works closely with the Massanutten resort – they offer two for one tastings for their guests. They have a close relationship with Harrisonburg Tourism. Cross Keys offers several JMU events onsite for the student families and they are also athletic partners with JMU teams.

Many visitors come in from the Virginia Wine Trail Map – the winery is part of the Shenandoah Valley Wine Trail which features 19 wineries.   For more information, check out the wine trail website:


Cross keys is one of only five Virginia wineries that grow Pinot Noir grapes. Pinot Noir is a very challenging grape to grow due to Virginia’s climate and soil but it’s very rewarding. Cross Keys best-selling wines are their red and white table wine – Joy Red (100% Chambourcin with a touch of sweetness balanced with a touch of acidity) and Joy White (100% Vidal Blanc – pairs well with milk chocolate, cheese, spicy food). Cross Keys offers some bold wines on the other end of the spectrum. There is a crisp, off-dry Rosé made with a combination of Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Pinot Noir and a Meritage made with 48% Merlot, 33% Petit Verdot & 19% Cabernet Franc. They offer single varietals such as Petit Verdot, and a Port style made with chardonnay grapes.


This winery offers sweet wine and well as dry wine to meet everyone’s needs. It’s interesting how their visitor’s tastes change and evolve. Wine appreciation has progressed in Virginia. Many Virginia wineries are small batch wineries so it’s challenging to sell $10 bottles of wine. However, there is a lot of care that goes into a small batch winery that makes the price worth it.

The wines to discover at CrossKeys Vineyards are: 2012 Chardonnay – Silver Medal Winner, 2013 Joy White, 2013 Fiore (crisp off-dry rosé), 2012 Pinot Noir – with a 86 Wine Enthusiast Rating, 2012 Joy Red, 2011 Merlot – Bronze Medal Winner, 2011 Cabernet Franc – Bronze Medal Winner with a 85 Wine Enthusiast rating, 2011 Meritage – Silver Medal Winner with a 86 Wine Enthusiast rating, 2012 Ali d’Oro (Eiswein style with Vidal Blanc and Traminette grapes) and 2010 Tavern (their version of the famous aperitif port wine). As you can see, there is a wine for everyone. For detailed descriptions, please see their website


Cross Keys Winery has a strategy to contribute to the future of Virginia wine. They plan to remodel their tasting room – enlarging to accommodate larger groups. There are currently 23 acres planted and a harvest of 22 acres. They are planting another 8 acres of vines this year, next year an additional 4 acres. The goal is to increase by a third the amount of wines they are able to produce, expand into more restaurants (local as well as across Virginia) and expand across the East Coast.


Cross Keys is the perfect setting for weddings and special occasions. Katie and the entire staff will make sure everything is handled perfectly. You can make arrangements for off-site tastings and Cross Keys participates in wine tastings at various venues and wine festivals. Cross Keys Wine can be found in Total Wine, Kroger, Whole Foods and their goal is to increase distribution.


Of course all their award winning wines are available to try at their tasting room and enjoy out on their lovely patio with a beautiful view of the countryside. Right now is a great time of year visit the Shenandoah Valley and stop at Cross Keys to try their wines. Their wine can also be purchased online from their website and shipped directly to you.

Check out the Cross Keys website:



All pictures courtesy of Cross Keys Vineyards





Virginia Wine Is Fine Series: Ingleside Vineyards


Our series will feature one Virginia winery at a time. A great opportunity for each winery to share why they think Virginia wine is unique and what characteristics make their winery special. We are passionate about Virginia Wine and committed to spreading the word about how the many different Virginia wines have come a long way.

The Inussi Marketing team had a wonderful conversation with Chris Flemer, marketing manager for Ingleside Vineyards. We asked him to tell us their story.

Virginia has a long history in wine-making. The Jamestown settlers were required to plant grape vines but it proved unsuccessful. Thomas Jefferson attempted to grow grapes and that didn’t go well either. Then prohibition wiped out the wine business.  Modern wine making in Virginia started in the 1970s.

Ingleside is one of the oldest wineries in Virginia founded by Carl Flemer, Jr. Ingleside Plantation has been owned and operated as an agricultural enterprise since 1890 by the Flemer family. Carl Flemer Jr., chairman of the board, entered the wholesale nursery business in 1949. Under his leadership, the nursery grew to 1800 acres and became known as Virginia’s largest and finest nursery. He originally started making his own wine at home. After seeing wine-making on a trip to France, he decided to make a go of it in Virginia.  Taking his knowledge of growing plants & trees, he started to plant grape vines.  His son, Doug Flemer ran with the concept.  There was a chance meeting on Chesapeake Bay with a Belgian Winemaker, Jacques Recht , who the Flemers invited to stay for their first harvest. Their first commercial year started in 1980 as one of the six initial wineries in Virginia.  Jacques Recht ended up becoming the winemaker at Ingleside for 15+ years and helped the Flemer Family put Ingleside on the map, grow the New World wine industry and consult with wineries throughout Virginia and the east coast.

The history of northern neck Virginia and the plantation makes Ingleside Vineyards interesting and unique.  There is a small museum on site where you will see wine bottles from the Washington family and American artifacts. Ingleside Winery celebrates the heritage of the region. George Washington’s Westmoreland birthplace is about 5 miles away, and is now a National Park. Stratford Hall, birthplace of Robert E. Lee, and Monroe Hall, James Monroe’s birthplace are close by. Ingleside is located in the backdrop of American history.

The main house on the property was originally an old school, built in 1834 and was called Washington Academy after George Washington.  The school only lasted about 10 years, was used as a garrison during the Civil War and later as a courthouse during reconstruction period.  In the 1890s, Chris Flemer’s Great-Great Grandfather purchased the plantation so there is a lot of family history at Ingleside. Carl F. Flemer, Jr. is a Historian and has written 2 books, the latest is “Birthplace of a Nation”.


During transition to commercial wine-making, the Flemers learned things about grape growing the hard way.  They learned that Pinot Noir & Riesling did not do well at their location due to the heat. Over time they replaced plats with grapes that did better.  They also discovered that Petit Verdot does extremely well in their location and became a big medal winner for Ingleside. Petit Verdot is an interesting red wine grape principally used in classic Bordeaux blends but as it turned out is outstanding on its own. The grape ripens before Cab Sauvignon and is consistent year in and year out – a great grape for Ingleside.

Doug Flemer has been working to build the wine industry in Virginia. He has entered Ingleside wine into competitions around the country and world.  For example at the San Francisco International Wine Competition in 2012, Ingleside won best Petit Verdot double gold for their 2007 vintage – very exciting to win wine competitions in Napa Valley.  Virginia wine does extremely well in blind tastings when people don’t know where the wines are from.  Winning awards assist in brand recognition. The winery story captures interest and recognition that there are some great wines in Virginia.


Chris spent summers working in the family vineyards in high school and college – the winery is a key part of who he is. He comes from a PR/Marketing/Branding background and returned to the family business full time about 2 years ago to market his family wine.

There are distinct challenges in growing and marketing Virginia wine. The wine is ever-changing and has greatly improved but it is sometimes difficult to overcome early bad reviews.  People remember the wine didn’t taste very good and were turned off.  Recently there has been a major leap in quality across the industry in VA.  The wine is starting to change from 20-30 years ago; the challenge is to show people what the Virginia wineries are doing now and get people to try the wine again. So there is a little extra work marketing VA wine. However, recognition has grown by leaps & bounds by the European journalists and the Virginia Wine Summit.  So great things are happening and people are starting to take note.


Virginia wine as a whole is unique. The grape growing is very different from other areas of the country. The climate in Virginia is unpredictable so each vintage is different but creates interesting wine like Petit Verdot and Viogner. Many grapes that do well in Virginia wine are not hugely known and not pursued by other regions.  These wine areas aren’t spending the time experimenting with other varietals.  We are making wine alternatives to the cab, merlot and chardonnay; winemakers here are willing to try new techniques and this is putting Virginia on the map.

Winemakers in Virginia have to work harder to produce good wines – they have the work ethic and ability to come up with good wine year in and year out. Dry weather is particularly important at harvest time. Grapes throughout the season will build up the natural sugar and if it rains around harvest time, the grapes could absorb the moisture which dilutes the sugars. Generally the harvest starts in mid-August to early October since grapes mature at different times.

An additional challenge for the wineries is they don’t have big budgets for advertising so social media is becoming important. They rely on word of mouth and Guerrilla Marketing to get their message out.  Virginia wine is often priced higher than many California wines. Many wineries are smaller and do not produce enough to make an inexpensive product. The goal is for Virginia to grow more grapes.

Ingleside Vineyard is located 200 feet above sea level close to the Chesapeake Bay, between Potomac & Rappahannock Rivers in the northern neck of Virginia.  The climate is milder and warmer so there is less chance of a spring frost.  This makes an ideal longer growing season to fully ripen grapes for good quality red wines.

Ingleside Vineyards make about 20 different wines.  They offer a wine for almost everyone to enjoy.  At a wine tasting at Ingleside, you are going to find something you would like.  They make high end reserve wines along with their entry level Chesapeake series with the Blue Crab label.  This label is to celebrate the Chesapeake region and makes a great gift or memento of the trip. Their Pinot Grigio is a limited production wine and sells out every year; the 2013 will be released soon.  Also in limited production is Albarino (Spanish grape) and Petit Manseng (French grape) – these are brand new and exciting wines – only available in the tasting room.


Looking forward, Ingleside Vineyards is focusing on the grapes that work best in Virginia. That will be the future since the industry has been changing so fast. The industry hopes that Virginia continues to gain acclaim and win competitions.  Wine Tourism has been big source of recognition with over 250 wineries to explore in Virginia.

Ingleside Vineyards offers many wines to try:

RESERVE LABEL offers Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve, Merlot Reserve, October Harvest (dessert wine), Petit Verdot, Petit Verdot Reserve, Virginia Brut (sparkling wine), and Virginia Gold (red wine).

NOTE:  Joe and I (the Inussi Team) tried the Cab, Petit Verdot Reserve and the Virginia Gold – excellent red wines!

PREMIUM LABEL offers Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, Pinot Grigio, Sangiovese, Sweet Virginia Rose and Viognier.

CHESAPEAKE SERIES consists of Cabernet Merlot, unoaked Chardonnay, Blue Crab Blanc, Blue Crab Blush and Blue Crab Red.


Ingleside Vineyards is part of the Chesapeake Bay Wine Trails.  There are 9 wineries that cover the northern neck area and have events together to help get the word out about the wineries and their great wines.

All pictures are courtesy of Ingleside Vineyards.Image


We will feature Ingleside Vineyards again soon when we visit the winery.

For more information, check out Ingleside Winery’s website:

This blog was the work of Leslie and Joe Crowley of the Inussi Marketing Team – Cheers!!

Chateau Morrisette Winery Names Brian Cheeseborough New Winemaker



Some Exciting News – Château Morrisette Winery announces the appointment of internationally acclaimed winemaker Brian Cheeseborough as Oenologist and Winemaker. He joins the winery the last week of February 2014.

Cheeseborough has an extensive winemaking background along with a collection of award-winning wines. Most recently, he has produced wines for Vignobles Garcin, a collection of five Châteaux located in the Bordeaux region of France, including Château Barde Haut, a St. Emilion Grand Cru Classé. His wines have consistently received ratings in the nineties from both Wine Spectator and Wine Advocate. The 2012 Clos l’Eglise from Pomerol was rated 92-95 points.  Additionally, he represented the family and wines with the Union des Grand Crus & Cercle Rive Droite throughout France, North America, and Asia. Also, he has traveled annually to Mendoza for the Malbec harvest, serving as principle winemaker for Bodega Poesia, the family’s Argentina venture. Again, his Argentinian wines scored above 93+ points with the leading wine journals on numerous vintages.

Prior to taking the winemaker’s post in Bordeaux, Cheeseborough served as the founding winemaker and business partner for Grizzly Republic, a California winery where he produced numerous award-winning wines, including the 2006 Tempranillo from El Dorado, which won three gold medals, a “Best of Class” at the 2009 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, and a Platinum award from the Wine Critic’s Challenge in San Diego. In 2011, he and his business partners sold Grizzly Republic.

Before becoming a winemaker, Cheeseborough worked in commercial real estate acquisitions and finance. After 9/11, he transitioned into the winemaking profession as an oenologist, associate winemaker, and export winemaker in Sonoma and Paso Robles. He holds a degree from University of California, Irvine and has completed post baccalaureate and graduate studies at California State University, Fresno.

While preparing for his first Virginia harvest in Fall 2014, Cheeseborough will be inheriting the prior vintages currently in the cellar, and monitoring their élevage through to bottling. “I am very happy to come to work for Château Morrisette,” said Cheeseborough. “The winery has done very well on the regional level and produced some very nice wines. I hope my knowledge and approach to winemaking will help realize the potential of Virginia terroir and elevate the wines to the highest standards of quality.”

David Morrisette, President of Château Morrisette, said, “We are very pleased Brian accepted this appointment. I’ve tasted some of his wines, and they are truly excellent. He has extensive knowledge and a world-class background. I’m looking forward to seeing where he takes us with future vintages.”

The winemaker search was conducted by Benchmark Consulting, a leading search firm known for conducting both domestic and international searches for professionals in all areas of the wine business, including production, sales, marketing, finance, public relations, and general management. Benchmark Consulting is headquartered in Napa, Calif. and is a privately held company.

About Chateau Morrisette

Chateau Morrisette has retail distribution throughout Virginia, North Carolina, West Virginia, and in Eastern Tennessee. The direct to consumer program provides wine to customers in most areas of the country. The winery currently produces over 65,000 cases each year and plans to increase production in the coming years. Chateau Morrisette is located at milepost 171.5 on the Blue Ridge Parkway in beautiful Floyd County, Virginia. For more information, visit, call (540) 593-2865, or follow us on Facebook.

 Media Contact: Keith Toler, Director of Marketing


The Virginia Governor’s Cup Wine Competition is now one of the most stringent and thorough wine competitions in the United States.


The Inussi Team trying the Gold Medal Wines!



Governor’s Cup Case Wineries – for their bios check out


Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Todd Haymore was named Wine Person of the Year for his contributions – pictured with Governor Terry McAuliffe.

The Williamsburg Winery is awarded the Governor’s Cup for their 2010 Adagio.  What is Adagio?  Check out their website





Cheers from Inussi Marketing!


Virginia Wine Expo Is Now In Its Seventh Year!

The annual Virginia Wine Expo has become the area’s leading wine event celebrating Virginia’s exceptional wines.  There are several educational seminars offered to learn about wine; lunches, dinners, brunches to taste local Richmond cuisine; and a chance to participate in the Walk-Around Grand Tastings, where you can taste and buy more than 450 bottles of Virginia wine.

This is our third year pouring wine for DuCard Vineyards at the expo.  We enjoy this event –  it’s a fun opportunity to talk with people about wine and to try the different wines that makes Virginia wine unique. Every vintage year in Virginia is different so every tasting is different. It allows the Virginia wineries to experiment and blend to create outstanding wine.  The expo is an opportunity for the wineries to showcase their offerings and change people’s outdated perception of Virginia wine.

Below we are setting up before opening on Saturday morning.


It was very interesting working along DuCard winemaker, Julien Durantie – he has been with DuCard for 7 years.


The first tasters arrive…




DuCard Vineyard offered a great selection of the following wines:

Signature Viognier 2012 – elegant dry white; Gibson Hollow White 2012 – crisp white wine with a hint of sweetness; Rosé 2013 – nearly dry with a light blush color; Cabernet Franc 2011 – new vintage with a touch of pepper; Virginia Norton 2012 – distinctive, intense red; and the Petit Verdot 2011 – very smooth!

Our shift is over, so now we have to chance to taste some wines!


Getting crowded!


We stopped by Ingleside Vineyards and Chris Fleming had us try some fabulous Reserve Label wines –


We enjoyed the Chardonnay at the New Kent Winery and the Pinot Grigio at Cooper Vineyards

We stopped by the Lake Anna Winery


Horton Vineyards


Lazy Days Winery


We enjoyed the Mélange at Paradise Springs Winery


I have followed Nancy Bauer – Virginia Wine in my Pocket on Twitter & Facebook for some time – it’s cool to meet someone who you have connected with online in person!


Our last booth was Cross Key Vineyards – they offer Pinot Noir (unusual in Virginia)!

We couldn’t visit every booth – so it looks like we will have to visit some wineries!




Leslie's VA Wine Glass Pic
Share Your Virginia Wine Story

This series will feature one Virginia winery at a time. A great opportunity for each winery to share why they think Virginia wine is unique and what characteristics make their winery special. Stories are what sell your wine and this series will be an opportunity to tell your story in your words to connect consumers with your winery. Visual communication is important so pictures or videos taken at the winery are encouraged to be shared.


Inussi Marketing:

  • Will conduct a short interview either by phone or email
  • We will write the blog and release through major social media platforms – LinkedIn, WordPress, Twitter, Google+, Facebook and Pinterest
  • There is no charge for this service – this is an opportunity to see the power of Social Media
  • Sharing on social media will lead to brand awareness (Virginia Wine and their wineries) and lead consumers to your website and winery


Inussi Marketing:

  • We are passionate about Virginia Wine
  • We have a significant twitter following (@Lcrowco, @InussiMkting) and LinkedIn connections
  • Joe and Leslie Crowley of Inussi Marketing are members of several large networking groups in the Richmond area and these contacts are potential Virginia wine consumers
  • Leslie is known as the Virginia Wine Lady amongst these groups
  • We will be attending the Virginia Wine Expo and Governors’ Cup Gala – these events will be featured in our blog

If you find you would like additional social media services, Inussi Marketing can provide support for a reasonable fee. We can assist with pictures and videos. A video on an actual wine tasting will be an excellent visual message. We will help you increase your presence on the major social media platforms and make introductions at networking events.

Many social media marketing companies are not trained in strategic branding; Joe has an MBA in Marketing and has worked in Marketing & Branding with several consumer package companies for many years.

If you have any questions or want to get started as soon as possible, contact Leslie.

Cheers to a great #wine week


Leslie S. Crowley

VP Social Media Marketing

Inussi Marketing


Twitter: @lcrowco and @inussimkting