Summertime is here, the time when everyone thinks of vacations and traveling to different destinations, from tours of Virginia sites to cruises showing off international places many only hear about. In Fredericksburg, there is a destination that can whisk one away on an international tour in a matter of minutes. Renee Dunn and Rita Allan, the owners of the newest wine store in Fredericksburg, City Vino, offer a tour of wines of the world, bringing together an array of international and Virginia wines that one would be hard pressed to find elsewhere in the Burg.
Located at 810 Caroline Street, City Vino held its grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony June 9. There was an excitement as people gathered to witness this welcome and needed addition to the Caroline Street retail market. The festive mood found friends greeting friends, and strangers becoming friends, as the opening celebration gave way to conversation and questions concerning the many different wines that were available.
After the ribbon cutting, there was a tasting given of a Rosé de Saignée Pinot Noir and Pinot Mainier sparkling wine produced by Champagne Roger-Constant Lemaire. Served chilled, it was an excellent accompaniment to the humidity that was waiting outside for those unfortunate enough to have to leave the City Vino festivities. A non-vintage rosé, that underwent a scant 24-48 hours of maceration before the process of fermentation was completed (there was no secondary fermentation in the bottle…go figure) and then aged in stainless steel for four to six years, there is plenty of room for this bottle to be cellared for some time. The tasting was a nice addition to an already enjoyable welcome for this joint venture of Dunn and Allan.
Although the retail space is small, City Vino offers a large variety of tastefully displayed wines from California to Virginia on a domestic scale, and from South America to South Africa and most of Europe on the worldwide scale. As varied as the origins of the wine are, so too is the knowledge of the proprietors. They provide excellent customer service with knowledge that is not overly technical, giving those who visit this establishment a taste of their wines, in addition to a pleasing exposure to the wine culture in Fredericksburg.
Most of the wines sold are from smaller handcrafted producers that are exemplar of the region in which they come. The Virginia wines were award winners, as many Virginia wines are. Displayed bottles came from all over the state, not just any one locale. In addition to the many and varied wines, there was an impressive array of cheeses and deli meats available waiting to be paired one’s favorite varietal.
Renee Dunn, a former web developer, is an active member of the King George Wine Society, which is a chapter of the American Wine Society, and a Certified Specialist of Wine, holding a Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET) Level 2 certification. Having begun her journey at local establishments, found herself intrigued with wine and wanted to know more. To do so, she had to travel to Northern Virginia to attend classes. A UMW alum, with an understanding and love for the Fredericksburg area, she hopes to bring classes to this region.
Rita Allan, a George Mason graduate, has a background in financial management, and now, wine. She is, as is Dunn, an active member of the King George Wine Society. In addition, Allan has a WSET Level 1 certification.
Dunn said that this store is just the beginning of what she hopes to be a rise in the wine culture locally. She noted that wine drinkers in the area are becoming more educated. Fredericksburg is an area that is very open to learning more. To that end, Dunn hopes to bring WSET classes to this area in the near future, so that City Vino becomes more than just a retail outlet, but in fact, becomes a place where people can obtain a greater degree of understanding of wine and wine pairing. At present, there are people who travel to Northern Virginia from Richmond because there are no classes offered anywhere else. Dunn and Allan are already looking at locations where there will hopefully be WSET classes provided soon.
Both Dunn and Allan have put together a masterful display of excellent wines from all corners. I purchased a Gigondas that was amazing. Velvety on the pallet, this 2013 varietal from the Southeast corner of France, had a mature and sophisticated nose that matched its medium taste, and begged to have a nice piece of London broil to come along side to complement the experience.
It is not a stretch to say there is something for everyone at City Vino. If you cannot find it, the staff has more than enough knowledge and understanding to help you make a quality decision. Sparta is a ways from the Burg, but I guess I will be making the trek to see more of this place, it is definitely worth it.