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A Touch of France in Virginia

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Situated in a breathtaking region of the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia between Mile Posts 171 and 172 (not far from the city of Roanoke) and boasting absolutely amazing panoramic views, Chateau Morrisette, founded in 1978 and owned and operated by the Morrisette family who has lived in this area for generations, is one of the largest wineries in the state.

From its early beginnings as a small vineyard it has continued to grow, today encompassing over 150 acres of vineyards (on site and from growers throughout the Commonwealth), a massive wine production facility producing wines in almost 200,000 gallons of oak barrels and stainless steel tanks, yielding more than 60,000 cases per year in 19 nineteen different varieties.

The facility itself, which also encompasses a voluminous hospitality center, gift shop and tasting room, is an architectural marvel and attraction of its own. Spanning over 32,000 square feet with 135,000 board feet of Douglas fir recycled timbers, it is recognized as one of the largest salvaged timber frame buildings in North. Despite its size, the ambiance here is definitively European, warm and inviting and the staff treats each and every visitor—whether wine aficionados, those desiring to learn more about wine, or others who just want to come and enjoy the natural surroundings—like family. Additionally, they offer a variety of themed music and other events throughout the year.

In addition to sampling and purchasing wines, and shopping for wine accoutrement for home, the pièce de resistance for me was dining at the Chateau’s restaurant, an unbelievable dining experience in a relaxed old-world setting that is both low-key yet elegant at the same time. The focus here is on combing the finest regional ingredients with organic and fresh produce, meats, fish and seafood and other products including breads, artisan cheeses and so forth, to create aromatic and flavorful American South-inspired dishes that are unique and inspiring.

Open for lunch, dinner and Sunday Brunch, starters and sandwiches on the menu include duck egg rolls filled with chopped house collard greens, julienne carrots and duck confit and served with their homemade blackberry BBQ sauce (very unusual and tasty); roasted fennel and white bean gratin; crawfish beignets made with crawfish, Tasso ham, corn and scallions and served with chow-chow, Black Ridge tartar sauce and spicy mustard; and wild boar sausage made with cranberries and apples and served on a bed of collard greens tucked into a fresh Costanza roll with Hopping John rice. And that’s just a smidgen of the mouth-watering menu!

The Chateau serves the most marvelous shrimp and grits entrée I have ever had—huge black tiger shrimp sautéed with Tasso ham, Cajun sausage, and tomatoes finished with a light shrimp broth and served over smoked Gouda grits. It is unfreakin’ believably good! Other choices include crab stuffed salmon, cinnamon chili rubbed pork tenderloin, seared beef tenderloin tip and ginger lime fried chicken, just to name a few.

All of this, paired with award-winning wines from around the world and excellent service, make Chateau Morrisette a true Virginia gem.  www.chateaumorrisette.com 

Written by Lysa Allman-Baldwin

 

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