Owner(s): Ben Renshaw
Winemaker: Ben Renshaw
Open to Public
Mon & Fri 12 to 6; Sat-Sun 11 to 6
38593 Daymont Lane; Waterford, Virginia 20197
8 Chains North Winery Profile
Written by Brian—Dec 10, 2013
In the far northern reaches of the Middleburg American Viticultural Area (AVA), just off of Route 9, near Waterford, you will find 8 Chains North Winery. Its one of a cluster of small, boutique wineries that dot the landscape of Loudoun County. In recent years, these small vineyards have been springing up all over Northern Virginia in response to the demand for local wine by oenophiles in Metro D.C.
The "8 Chains" name is a reference to a unit of measure used by surveyors. As the story was related to me, during the Civil War, the Confederate Army was encamped on the current site. The crossing point of a nearby creek was said to be 1.8 chains north of the encampment. Calling the winery "One Point Eight Chains North" just seemed like too much to remember, so the reference was shortened. I can't attest to the factual nature of this story, but it does make for a catchy name.
Ben Renshaw is the owner and winemaker at 8 Chains. He released his first vintage under the 8 Chains label in 2007 and the tasting room opened in 2009. Ben has twelve acres under vine at two different vineyard sites and purchases additional grapes locally. The winery currently produces about 2500 cases per year.
The white varietals used at 8 Chains include Traminette, Vidal Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc and Albariño. You don't encounter much Albariño in Virginia. The winery has just recently planted the grape, so juice for the 2011 vintage was sourced from the Rias-Baixas region of Spain. I found it interesting, but I'll be very curious to taste the wine produced from local vines. My favorite offering from Virginia grapes was the 2011 LoCo Vino. This blend of Traminette and Vidal Blanc as about .5% residual sugar, a floral nose and lots of tropical fruit. It's a well-crafted wine.
The red grapes are primarily Bordeaux varietals. I noticed that Tannat was used as a blending grape in the Furnace Mountain Red, which is traditionally a Bordeaux blend. I'm sure that was to give legs to that 2011 vintage. My favorite red and, I will argue the best wine on the tasting menu, was the 2010 Merlot. My contention that Merlot is a blending grape has really been challenged by the 2010 vintages. Wine Enthusiast gave this one 89 points, which is the highest ever for a Loudoun County Merlot. Twenty two months in French and American oak imparted a beautiful bouquet with bright cherry notes and nice round tannins in the finish. It's an exceptionally good wine.
There was a pretty good crowd at 8 Chains, but there are multiple tasting bars and plenty of staff to handle the traffic. Sean poured wine for me during my visit. I found him to be friendly and informed. He was able to answer all of my questions and expounded upon the wines without appearing to recite from a script. We had a nice conversation about 8 Chains and other neighboring wineries. I had a great visit, did not feel rushed and really appreciated having the full attention of the wine steward.
I spent some time looking at other reviews and ratings rendered by other visitors. Everything I read was positive and most patrons love this winery. There seems to be a very devoted following. If you're exploring the Middleburg AVA or just happen to be in the neighborhood, 8 Chains is worth a visit.