Breaux Vineyards Profile
Written by Brian—Dec 15, 2016
In 1997 there were 50 Virginia wineries. Breaux Vineyards was the fiftieth.
Paul Breaux opened his winery at a time when many of the questions about suitable varietals and growing techniques had been answered or were better understood. Breaux also opened with a business model that has served the business well and will carry them far into the future as a major industry player. That is to say that great emphasis was placed on site selection and planting of fruit.
Unlike many wineries that have since opened in Loudoun County, a visit to Breaux really feels like a trip to wine country. With over 90 acres currently devoted to grape cultivation you are literally surrounded on all sides and as far as you can see by vineyard. They have the most acres under vine in Northern Virginia and Breaux is one of the largest growers in the Commonwealth. In the current climate of grape shortage, where many new wineries open without vineyards and source fruit or even have their wine made offsite, Breaux is clearly a world apart.
According to Chris Blosser, Vice President of Operations, Breaux is currently bottling 13,000 cases annually with a goal of 20,000. Blosser leads a team that is particularly well suited to producing both quality and quantity in the Mid Atlantic. Josh Gerard was until recently Boxwood’s head winemaker. He brought to Breaux a proven track record with world-class blends. Vineyard manager Gonzalo Ortiz comes from a family of Chilean winemakers and worked in Pennsylvania prior to joining Breaux. This experience is paying huge dividends in the quality of the wine. But more on that in a minute…
With viticulture and quality wine production programs well in hand, Breaux Vineyards began making investments in infrastructure. My last visit to their tasting room was probably three years ago. At that time, it was quite small and the staff struggled to keep up with the increasing number of visitors. The new tasting room is palatial in comparison and provides multiple options for overflow tasting space and room to accommodate large tasting parties. The space is both beautiful and well designed.
Education. Jen toured me around the property and showed off many of the specialized facilities. Weddings or special events have their own space, which means that public tastings never need to close in favor of a private event. Jen is particularly proud (and rightly so) of the “Jefferson Room,” which is a dedicated classroom used for wine education. Classes are organized for both industry and the public with an eye toward eventually offering some type of formal certification.
As you can see, there is a lot going on at Breaux. So much in fact that I am 500 words in and have not yet talked about the wine.
I tasted eight wines from the Breaux lineup. The pair of whites included a Seyval Blanc and a Viognier. Both were exceptional and well crafted. The Viognier in particular was impressive, because it lacked the flabbiness often found in Virginia examples of that varietal. It was balanced with nice, bright acidity that will make it perfect for food pairing.
The reds, in my opinion, are the real story at Breaux. Right out the gate, the Nebbiolo was exactly what one might hope for. It was full of dark fruit, licorice and hints of leather. The red blends were also worth writing home about. The Meritage is an award winner with a nose you can get lost in and a complex profile of red fruit, tobacco, and chocolate. It finishes nicely with firm tannins. A couple more years in the bottle will only see improvement in an already excellent wine.
Breaux, I am pleased to report, is also one of only a handful of Northern Virginia wineries producing a sparkling wine. Many may pour a sparkler and they may even bear that wineries label, but only three are actually producing them. The Breaux sparklers are made on the property with estate fruit in the traditional method (méthode Champenoise). To date, Breaux has only produced a small batch, but 2014 will see the release of a pair of sparklers and this is something to get excited about. I got a sneak preview and they are fabulous.
High quality is the standard for every program at Breaux. Events, education and the wines are all reflective of years of refinement and attention to detail. If you have not visited recently, I suggest you get out there and rediscover this winery. Breaux is an example of what Virginia wine country should aspire to. After you stop in, please share your thoughts.