Owner(s): Dean and Nancy Vanhuss
Winemaker: Karen Reed
Open to Public
Sat-Sun 11 to 5
18195 Dry Mill Road; Leesburg, Virginia 20175
Dry Mill Vineyards Winery Profile
Written by Brian—Jan 12, 2015
I was up near Leesburg in Loudoun County, Virginia checking out a few wineries I’d never visited. (So many wineries, so little time). One of the tasting rooms I stopped at on that afternoon was at Dry Mill Vineyards Winery. This place was totally off my radar, but it turned out to be one of those great discoveries. I can’t believe this wasn’t on my list of “must visit” wineries.
Dean and Nancy Vanhuss came to winemaking as a retirement project. They started planting their six acres of fruit in the late 1990s and sold grapes for a few years. In the mean time, they set about restoring the old stable that originally belonged to the Loudoun Hunt Club. That effort resulted in a beautiful and inviting tasting room and winery complex. This, in turn, allowed them to open their own winemaking operation in 2009. As of this writing, Dean and Nancy are heading up a very successful boutique winery, that produces about 1200 cases annually.
As luck would have it, Dry Mill was offering a barrel tasting on this particular day. So I ponied up the fee and wondered around back to the winery. It was there that I met Karen Reed, the winemaker, and Andy Narusewicz, who has signed on at Dry Mill to perform a variety of roles too numerous to mention. Anyway, I got a preview of the 2014 Traminette, Chambourcin Rosé and Merlot, but the highlight for me was the 2013 Cabernet Franc. It appears Karen is earning a reputation for her Cab Franc.
Karen Reed started her wine career working at Whitehall in Central Virginia. From there she went on to attend the University of Adelaide, where she graduated with a Masters of Viticulture. She went on to make wine in Napa and sell wine, for a time, in Brooklyn, but the siren song of Virginia wine was strong. She jumped at the opportunity to return and take on the winemaking position at Dry Mill. While she may have the just the right touch for Cab Franc, she’s no one trick pony. This is a winemaker that is destined to do great things.
The barrel tasting gave me a great point of reference for tasting the other Dry Mill offerings. So after we wrapped that up, Andy took me back into the tasting room. He started by pouring a pair of Chardonnays. The 2011 was good, but the 2010 was over the top with it’s mouth feel, apple and melon notes and just the right amount of oak. This was followed by a pair of Rosés. The first was a Merlot, which was well crafted, but the Chambourcin Rosé was just crazy. It was a dry-style, fruity wine, with strawberry on the nose and palate. Oh, but let me tell you about the 2012 Cab Franc. This was the main event. The leather and red fruit gave way to a very complex body with nice minerality and structured tannins followed by a nice long finish. It’s a potential award winner and certainly ranks among the best Cab Francs in the state.
If you need more prompting, the property is another great draw. The rustic tasting room with its fireplace on a raw day or the large patio in nicer weather offer spots to enjoy the wine. It is a beautiful venue. So what are you waiting for? Make the drive, check it out and let me know what you think.