Looking Forward to a Brilliant 2019

As we put a busy 2018 in the books, I’d like to first say thank you to all of you who have come out a time or ten this year to enjoy the Upper Shirley experience. Rest assured we are working away to make 2019 even better.

In the kitchen, Chef Carlisle is diligently shaping menu #12, dedicated to staying in sync with the seasons and sharing more of his personal favorites. As a fourth generation chef, native Virginian, and four-year Charlestonian, he has a remarkable flair for southern cuisine—and an annoying penchant for rooting for the Gamecocks. But we still love him and the delicious and creative dishes that flow from his kitchen.
In the vineyard, we are thankful that our late August harvest, albeit light, missed the heavy rains of September that challenged many of the state’s vineyards. Our vines had a restful Fall senescing—where the leaves turn and fall off—and acclimating to the cold, which hopefully our warm December will not undo. In the next week the tangle of leafless, dormant vines will start to give way to meticulous pruning. This will be the final step in the growing cycle and a reflective metaphor of sorts. This years pruning will also mark our complete conversion to a trellising system referred to as “modified ballerina.” Observed from the side, the vines flare out like a ballerina skirt. We are extremely pleased with the fruit quality we have picked from our earlier trellis conversions. The skyline of the vineyard will also soon change as we add a 40-foot wind machine to help us combat the harshest of winter temps and the ever lurking spring frost.
In the winery, we are busy with blending this year’s whites and over-vintage reds - oak-aged reds , like Tannat, Petit Verdot, and Merlot from prior vintages. A welcome and not-so-subtle transition from reading numbers on a page referring to pH, titratable acidity, and residual sugar turns to swirling, sniffing, swishing, slurping, gargling, and spitting. As exciting as it is messy.
In December, we celebrated our first full year of the Zachariah Society, a distinctly different sort of wine club. Each of our quarterly parties has helped us refine our format of educational tastings, exclusive access to older vintages, welcome discounts, and a full on party, where folks with different experiences have absolutely everything in common. We’re planning your next opportunity to party like a Zach; stay tuned.

If you missed our hit December Brunches, never fear.  Their popularity guarantees a return next year. Your plans for Valentine’s Day should undoubtedly include a romantic evening with the house-favorite jazz quartet Triple Crossing,”which garners huge praise at each USV appearance. And for those in the know, the February 23rd USV birthday bash defines letting your hair down; comfort food, following vino, beer, and booze with dancing for days. See you there.

-Tayloe Dameron