Z~Oenology: Game of Rhônes: Summer’s Coming

“That’s what I do. I drink and I know things.” Tyrion Lannister at Fabbioli Cellars. Photo by Kelly MacConomy.

By Kelly MacConomy

ALEXANDRIA, VA-The 8th and final season of the HBO fantasy/action series “Game of Thrones” premiered April 14 and the final episode will air May 19.Wine has featured prominently throughout life in Westeros. This month, Z~Oenology takes a look at GOT-themed events at nearby wineries and explores the storied Rhône varietal Viognier.

Viognier is the signature white wine of Virginia. The grape hails from the Rhône region of France and is the only white grape permitted to be cultivated in the northern Rhône Valley area of Condrieu. How very Stark.

Come to Society Fair for the wine. Stay for the great food.
#findyourwine #GameofRhônes.. Courtesy Meme.

No doubt it was Jon Snow’s wine of choice, but Viognier had all but disappeared by the 1960s, when renewed interest saved it. And, in 1989, the late, great godfather of Virginia winemaking, Dennis Horton, brought Viognier to his Horton Vineyard in Gordonsville, where the vine and the wine went wild like dragons in the north. In 2011, the Virginia Wine Board declared Viognier the state grape.

In 1993, Dennis Horton’s Viognier won first prize in a California battle—rather, tasting competition—and jousting for best Viognier began. Horton’s remains a favorite to this day. Knight’s visor tips to Jefferson and Barboursville (Charlottesville), Little Washington Winery (Washington, VA), Pearmund (Broad Run), and Breaux, Chrysalis, Sunset Hills, Walsh Family Winery and Veritas (all in Loudoun County).

But closest of all is Paradise Springs winery in Clifton. Founded by Jane Kincheloe, a Saint Agnes School graduate who branched out to a Westeros winery in Santa Barbara, California, Paradise Springs serves a lovely Viognier in a forested setting. Beware the White Wine Walkers!

Alexandria wine-tasting venues such as Society Fair and Sonoma Cellar may be your royal wine hand, expertly guiding you in finding your vine. In the immortal words of the consummate Z~oenophile Tyrion Lannister, “Everything’s better with some wine in the belly.”

And who doesn’t share the reverie of owning a winery someplace in the rolling verdant hills of Crownlands? Much as Tyrion pines, “I’d like to have my own vineyard, make my own wine: The Imp’s Delight. Only my close friends would drink it.” There’s even a Game of Thrones wine label available at Target, Total Wine, Giant, Wegman’s, and Dixie Liquor, as well as select area wine merchants.

Westeros and King’s Landing come alive with GOT tastings at Fabbioli Cellars in Leesburg. Photo by Kelly MacConomy

If you want an immersive Game of Thrones winery experience, Fabbioli Cellars in Leesburg hosts an annual Game of Thrones tasting. The winery is decorated with throne dynasty banners and life-size cardboard stand-ins of Jon Snow, Daenerys Targaryen, and Tyrion. Of course, a few figures have left the tasting room over the years as they were assassinated or executed. Bloodshed and tyranny happen in the North.

Fabbioli doesn’t bottle Viognier but they make “Something White” a dry white blend in the Viognier style. Doug Fabbioli changes the secret elixir formula every year but the blend is Viognier and Vidal Blanc. The taste is bright and crisp, with the tropical flavors and fragrance of stone fruits, hinting of honeysuckle, hammocks, sunshine, freshly-mowed grass—all the seductions of the season.

Summer is coming….