UPDATE 2: Every time a post a review, I send a link to the winery for their information. Some provide feedback, some don’t. I do this because I think its fair to give the winery a chance to correct anything I may have gotten wrong, and because its just a nice thing to do. That being said, after sending this over to Chrysalis they wrote back and provided more insight on a couple points below.
UPDATE: A reader pointed out a neat fact about Chrysalis that I had overlooked. Chrysalis boasts what is believed to be the largest planting of the Norton grape in the world. Somewhere in the 15 acre range (UPDATE: They actually have a whopping 40 acres of Norton planted!).
Chrysalis is interesting and I really enjoyed the time we spent there. It is located 2 miles down what might as well be a dirt road off Route 50. The vineyard has been in existence since 1997 when Jenni (the founder) first produced a Chardonnay and a Viognier. Prior to opening Chrysalis, Jenni traveled throughout Europe in search of lesser known varietals in hopes that they could be introduced to the American market. As a result of her travels, Jenni planted Spanish (Graciano, Tempranillo, and Albariño) and French varietals (Tannant, Petit Manseng, Petit Verdot, and Fer Servadou) on the grounds in addition to Chardonnay and Viognier. For the full story of the history visit their website.
If you’re wondering about the logo, the winery staff told me that fairies were used prominently in the Victorian-era to market products to women. I am not a fairy expert so I take their word for it!
Enough with the history lesson and on to the wine…
Chrysalis offers two tastings; an Estate ($5) and a Reserve ($10). We decided to go all out and get the Reserve which includes a take-home glass and tasting of 12 wines (a very good deal). The Estate tasting includes 7 wines and the glass. The 7 wines in the Estate tasting are: 2013 Albariño, 2012 Chardonnay, 2011 Private Reserve White (Albariño, Viognier, and Petit Manseng, 2012 Viognier (a bottle of which is actually in the Smithsonian), 2012 Mariposa (rosé), 2013 Sarah’s Patio White (Vidal Blanc and Traminette), and the 2013 Sarah’s Patio Red (Norton). In addition to those 7 wines, the Reserve tasting comes with: 2012 Norton Schitz & Giggels (funny story there), 2011 Rubiana, 2012 Petit Verdot, 2012 Papillon (named for the French word for butterfly, not the dog), and the 2012 Locksley Reserve Norton (a Norton blended with Tannat, Petit Verdot, and Nebbiolo).
I ended up getting a glass of the Locksley Reserve and Katie got the Schitz and Giggels. Speaking of…the story with the name, as we were told: the ABC would not allow the wine to be named “Schitz and Giggels” (for obvious reasons) unless there was some historic reasoning behind it. Lo and behold, someone uncovered the story of Stephan Schitz and Golo Giggels who were German smugglers that saved the Norton grape during prohibition…makes perfect sense! (UPDATE: this account is partially accurate. I am told that the historical support for the name is not a formal requirement, but was given as a means of boosting the credibility of the name. Also, this was approved by the federal government, not the state who just registers the approved labels.)
I don’t have anything negative to say about any of the wines, but me being a creature of habit preferred the reds over the whites. The winery is really big on the Norton grape and bringing its popularity up and I was more than happy to support their efforts and get the 2012 Reserve Norton.
I’ll conclude with a funny story. Katie and I were sitting down enjoying our wine, when we got to talking about rings. We recently got engaged and we were discussing the difference between platinum and white gold. I know way too much about the subject because I did painstaking amounts of research before buying a ring. I was telling her about ring resizing and color wear when I brought up the fact that rings are sometimes resized by clipping the bottom of the ring and adding a bridge of the metal. As I was explaining that, I was holding the engagement ring out to her when a staff member walked up and said “We’re closing in…oh my god, I am so sorry, you’re getting engaged, I’m sorry.” She said something else but her hands were covering her face and she was running in the other direction. The worst part was having to start over with the explanation of bridging.