Owner(s): Brian and Sharon Roeder
Winemaker: Sharon Roeder
Open to Public
Mon-Thu 11to 6; Fri 11 to 9; Sat 11 to 6; Sun: 10 to 6
3623 Grove Lane; Delaplane, Virginia 20144
Barrel Oak Winery Profile
Written by Brian—Nov 12, 2016
I see Barrel Oak Winery (BOW) all over social media. They have a strong, aggressive presence and I interact with them frequently in that space. It had been more than two years, however, since I last interacted with them in their physical space, so I was way overdue. It is a winery that is often unfairly maligned for being something of a busy weekend venue for visitors from the Greater DC area. There is a perception, by some, that the emphasis at Barrel Oak is on entertainment rather than wine. I want to dispel that notion.
It is true that Barrel Oak draws a crowd. They welcome and even encourage dog owners to bring their pets. Dogs are allowed in the tasting room. Canines are a presence throughout the grounds. They also welcome families and you will see children playing in and around the picnic area. There is frequently live music. During the summer months there is a Sangria bar. The parking lot is always full. Based on this information, some oenophiles might infer that all of this will detract from the tasting experience. That has not been my experience.
I have visited BOW on two occasions in different seasons. During each visit, there was a large crowd, but that throng is dispersed among multiple tasting bars and there is ample staff to ensure that the tasting is not rushed. I joined another group at the main, indoor bar for my tasting. So my treatment was not preferential. I had a nice relaxed tasting and engaged both the wine steward and other patrons in a conversation about the wines as they were being poured. I found the server to be both customer oriented and knowledgable. From the standpoint of customer experience, it was first rate. That’s all good, of course, but what about the wine?
I tasted a total of ten BOW wines during this most recent visit. They start with a New Mexico Gruet sparkler, which is a great wine, but not one I am inclined to write about in this review. The whites were limited to an estate and a barrel Chardonnay. Both were well crafted, but the real story is in the red offerings. The Meritage and Cabernet Franc are both worthy of mention, but there are a couple others that I feel deserve your attention.
Last time I visited, I went on at length about the Cabernet Sauvignon, so I was anxious to try that single varietal again. Let me just say that the 2013 Cab is simply “killer.” It is a big, inky, jammy wine with a lot of fruit and a long finish. Is a distinctly excellent Virginia Cab. As I was basking the afterglow of the Cab, my server poured me a dollop of the 2012 Petit Verdot. As I have pointed out in the past, I am frequently disappointed with single-varietal PV, so I have to comment when I try one that gets my attention. The BOW example was definitely one of those. It had a little cigar box and black fruit on the nose and it is a big wine with firm tannins that do not mask the fruit on the palate. It is a fabulous wine and one you will want to try (or even take home).
It is likely that some pundits will continue to write derisive things about BOW. After all, as they say, “haters gonna hate.” Perhaps you are looking for something a little more low key and I get that. I do encourage you, even if you do not care to hang out, to just stop in for a tasting. The wines are definitely top shelf. On the other hand, if you are looking for a venue that is upbeat and full of positive energy, Barrel Oak should be on your short list. Regardless of your wine-drinking demographic, after you stop in, let me know what you think.