Owner(s): Jim Hanna
Winemaker: Jim Hanna
Not Open to Public
14426 Richards Run Lane; Purcellville, Virginia 20132
Catoctin Creek Winery Profile
Written by Brian—Nov 19, 2016
My GPS led down a gravel road near Purcellville, Virginia and then up a driveway to a private home. The address was correct, but there were no signs indicating that this was in fact Catoctin Creek Winery. I gathered my things and walked around to the front of the house. Before I could ring the bell, owner and winemaker Jim Hanna opened the door and welcomed me to his unlikely winery.
This is not the smallest winery I have ever visited, but Catoctin Creek is tiny even by boutique standards. Hanna sources his grapes from Breaux Vineyards and then transports the fruit by car back to his basement winery. A pair of sliding glass doors open onto a patio that serves as the crush pad. Inside there is a tasting bar for the occasional visitor along with all the tools necessary for making wine (on a fairly small scale).
Hanna produces about 300 cases annually and there are no plans to expand beyond that number. It is tempting to look at his basement operation, consider the volume of production, and think of Hanna as a wine hobbyist. There are much larger operations in the Commonwealth that I might lump into that category. In any case, it is not always size that counts. I am disinclined to tar Catoctin Creek with that brush.
Hanna has worked hard to learn his craft. He has consulted and learned from local greats like Doug Fabbioli and Dave Collins. He has a dog-eared copy of The Backyard Vintner (Law, 2011) that he used as an early reference, but Hanna has moved past the point of early trial and error. It is fair to say that Catoctin Creek has moved beyond the tipping point to become a commercial producer of fine wine.
I tasted seven wines during my visit. Aside from a very nice, dry-style Merlot Rosé, my tasting was limited to the Catoctin Creek reds. Cabernet Franc seems to be a strong suit. As you might suspect, the 2011 was a bit on the light side but had nice fruit and no hint of green pepper. By contrast, Hanna opened a 2010 that was simply over the top. It has matured well with earthy, cigar box notes on the nose and mature fruit with structured tannins and a hint of black pepper in a very nice finish. I also tasted a Syrah, Malbec and Petit Verdot. All were respectable and drank quite well. The 2012 Meritage was another homerun that was featured in the 2015 Governor’s Case. All were uniformly well crafted and indications of a winery that is at the top of its game.
I must point out that Catoctin Creek Winery is not open to the public. At one time it was possible to stop in with an appointment, but that is no longer true. Hanna markets his wine to retailers and restaurants throughout the state. The website contains a list of retail clients. I wish I could recommend stopping by the tasting room, but I can encourage you to visit the website and look for a bottle of Catoctin Creek wine. As always, I am very interested in hearing what you think.