One of the gems of Virginia’s Eastern Shore is Bloxom Winery, a small winery just off the highway near Bloxom, Virginia. The winery is owned and operated by Robert and Francesca Giardina. The couple grow 6 acres of Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon grapevines, producing several fine estate bottled wines. Robert Giardina is of Italian and Spanish descent. He was born in Casablanca where the French Colonial culture influenced his passion for wine making. Mrs. Giardina, also from Casablanca, oversees the kitchen as well as helping with the wine making operation. Among her specialties are chocolate candy, unique crackers, ciabatta bread and Italian cuisine.
Mr. Giardina explained some of the basics of Virginia’s unique viticulture as well as challenges to the industry. Virginia winemakers face a variety of threats including disease, deer and birds. Choosing the correct vine stock is critical for grape production. Other factors such as damage from wildlife vary with the location, season and size of the facility. The vintner went on to explain that wildlife has its place in wine making and some loss of crops is inevitable. Nature can also be useful. For example, grapes are tested in for sugar content and while testing is the final indicator, the arrival of birds is a sure sign that a harvest will soon be here.
Grapes are harvested by hand in early fall and fermented in large vessels. The process takes about 9 months from harvest to the finished product. Bloxom winery produces around 900 cases of high quality wines per year. The winery, open since 2004, offers limited quantities of classic Merlot, Chardonnay and Cabernet Franc wines. They also offer a semi dry wine entitled “Red Kiss” and a sweet wine named “Some Like It Blush”.
In addition to offering wines, cheeses and snacks, the couple serves dinners on weekends. Their authentic Italian cuisine includes family style pasta as well as wood fired Artisan pizza. The winery also hosts a summer festival that includes music, artists, wine stomping and other family activities.
Much of the wine is sold on premises during the summer season, wine tastings, Bloxom Festival and at weekend dinners. Wines are also available at selected shops on the Eastern Shore from Chincoteague Island south to Cape Charles Virginia. Wine enthusiasts may want to purchases wines early in the year as quantities are limited and some wines may sell out during the season.
26130 Mason Rd
Bloxom, VA 23308
Directions – from Route 13, Take Rte. 681 WEST (Mason Road) by the grape cluster sign. Go straight for 1 1/2 miles, Make left at vineyard sign and follow road to winery.