Yes, there have been a lot of Richmond restaurant openings lately. But, the Richmond Wine Station has been one of my most anticipated openings of 2017. The proximity to my apartment might have something to do with it. I pretty much have to walk outside, cross Broad Street, and glorious self-serve wine heaven open every day of the week extends in front of me. Is this a good thing or a bad thing? TBD.
How Does The Richmond Wine Station Work?
It’s a choose-your-own-adventure wine tasting. When you arrive, although it might look like you enter at the door on the street, you actually go in on the side near Three Notch’d Brewing Company’s RVA Collab House. Stop at the counter on your way in and buy a card—you can choose the amount of money you put on your card and if you don’t use it all in one visit you can bring it back and use it on your next visit. Bring a credit card as I don’t even think there is a cash register on-site.
Next, choose your wine. There are 64 to choose from in special dispensing machines that allow you to purchase a taste, a half glass, or a glass. Drink. Repeat.
A combination of Argon and Nitrogen gas keeps the wine from oxidizing so it can be served longer, making it more cost effective to sell smaller samples.
You can also purchase bottles to drink on-site or to take home. As always with wine, bottles are your best deal, but of course, you sacrifice the fun of all those different tastes. There are also additional bottles to choose from, including options like sparkling wine that can’t be served in the special dispensing machines. One of my favorites, Zonin Prosecco is available by the bottle, so don’t forget about it!
Right now the wines offered in the machines are a full range at a fairly moderate price point (tastes start at $1.50) and owner Bill Hartstock plans to hone and change the selection seasonally and as he learns what his customers prefer. In addition, he plans to add some high-end wines to allow tasters to sample some wines that are generally not offered by the glass at restaurants.
Don’t like wine? Richmond Wine Station has eight self-serve beer taps, too. Just remember, the beer taps require a separate card than the wine card for pouring.
Wines to Sample at Richmond Wine Station
Sixty four wines to choose from is fantastic, but it also might be intimidating. Here are a few tasting suggestions from my early visits:
Paco & Lola Albarino, Rias Biaxas: I’m pleased to say Richmond Wine Station re-introduced me to this old favorite summer wine with flavors as appealing as the bottle. Tangy, juicy citrus fruits and pineapple bring that nice blend of fruit and acid that’s perfect for a hot summer day.
Recit Roero Aerneis DOCG 2014, Italy: If you like dry white wines, try this one for its uniqueness. Arneis is one of the Pidemont’s oldest white grapes and is rarely seen around Virginia. The flavor is dry with lots of almond, peach and pear. Lots of acid is balanced by a bit of cream. It’s unique and worth trying while you can.
Giocato Pinot Grigio, Slovenia: Similar to the Recit, why not try a Slovenian Pinot Grigio when you have the chance? The grapes for this wine are grown right along the Italian border. The crisp acidity, lemon, green apple and grassy notes on this vintage made me think more of Sauvignon Blanc than traditional Pinot Grigio. Either way it’s crisp and refreshing for summer.
Loosen Brothers Dr. L Riesling, 2015, Mosel, Germany: This classic example of a Mosel Riesling is another perfect summer sipper. Honeysuckle, white flowers, lemon pie, juicy pineapple and peach give way to a clean, mineral finish.
Clos Pegase Merlot, California, 2014: This was the table favorite at my most recent Richmond Wine Station visit. Medium bodied with notes of cedar, leather, cherries, cranberries, chocolate and chalky soil led to plenty of complexity and a nice, long finish.
Side by side tasting: Nugen Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, Australia, 2013 vs. Earthquake Cabernet Sauvignon, California, 2014: Why go to a self-service wine tasting establishment if you don’t engage in some side-by-side tastings? One of my favorite ways to learn more about wine is to taste one varietal from two (or more) regions. If you try these two, you’ll notice that the Nugen from Australia is light bodied with notes of mint and mellow fruit flavors including blackberries, black cherries, and sour cherries. The California Cab, on the other hand, happens to be from one of my favorite producers, Michael David, in one of my favorite California regions, Lodi, and is much bolder, richer and rounded with flavors of rich, damp soil, milk chocolate, figs, and cigar box. Try them both and you’ll see what I mean.
The Atmosphere at Richmond Wine Station
Because of the Scott’s Addition building the Richmond Wine Station is housed in and the low blinds, it was hard to get an idea of what the atmosphere inside the would be like. I guess because of that and the general industrial vibe of the area, I expected it would be dark and maybe a little sparse. Well, I was in for quite a surprise.
The interior is surprisingly light and spacious with plush couches that invite you to bring a group of friends and spend a few hours relaxing, sipping, chatting, and discovering new favorite blends.
There’s also a nice patio—make sure you don’t miss the flower beds, which feature different wine vines that are planted and labeled—a unique and educational touch.
Food at Richmond Wine Station
With the convenient location right across the street from Mosaic’s catering facility, a food partnership was a natural fit. On my visit food service wasn’t quite up and running yet, apparently the restaurant-to-restaurant permits are still being finalized, but I did get a look at the menu. Food choices are definitely designed for sharing with choices like sweet potato and country ham biscuits; a deviled egg trio featuring classic, BLT and dill and pancetta varieties; a gourmet cheese plate (thank you!); a selection of cheeses with feta-almond truffles (I don’t know what these are, but I want to eat them); “Southern Antipasti” with roasted beets, grilled fennel, roasted sprouts with mixed olives, house-made pickles, and Virginia peanuts; and a selection of dips and spreads.
A New Venue Led by a Richmond Wine Expert
In addition to being a well-known realtor in Richmond, Bill Harstock also spent years in management at country clubs around the city where he hosted wine tastings and honed his wine knowledge. As the Richmond Wine Station becomes more established, he’ll be adding classes and seminars to the lineup to help fellow wine enthusiasts add to their knowledge.