Owner(s): Jimm East
Winemaker: Jimm East
Open to Public
Fri-Sun 11 to 5
5 Sharp Rock Road; Sperryville, Virginia 22740
Sharp Rock Vineyards Profile
Written by Brian—Apr 1, 2014
In southern Rappahannock County, just a few miles west of the Shenandoah National Park, you’ll fine one of the most beautiful winery properties in the state. Sharp Rock Vineyards sits just above the banks of the Hughes River, which is a beautiful little trout stream that flows out of the park. The winery also offers a commanding view of Old Rag Mountain with its prominent rock outcroppings.
Sharp Rock began as a family farm in the 1700’s. The first vines were not planted until the early 1990’s and the winery/tasting room opened in 1996. Today, in addition to the winery, there are also two bed and breakfast cottages on the property. To the rear of the winery there are acres of vines, that Jimm East, the owner/winemaker, uses for the 1000 cases of wine he produces each year. It’s a rustic but charming venue.
Despite it’s seemingly remote location, Sharp Rock attracts enough patrons to sell all of its wine out of the tasting room. The proximity to the national park insures some tourist traffic and there are always those (like myself), who are out specifically to visit wineries. Possibly the largest body of visitors, however, are hikers. Old Rag is one the most popular hikes on the East Coast and the trailhead is located just up the road from the winery. On any given day, a majority of visitors are likely stopping in for a post-hike refreshment.
Of course there are other things that attract visitors. Sharp Rock hosts a few weddings and three or four public events each year. The public events take the form of mini festivals that can attract hundreds of people. These are really music events that typically include some kind of food and they are manageable affairs that are not overwhelmingly crowded. Of course the biggest draw at Sharp Rock is the award-winning, artisan wine.
On the day of my visit, Jimm was behind the tasting bar pouring wine. Of the fourteen wines produced by the winery, seven were on the menu. Jimm’s winemaking philosophy is to let the fruit show in the wines. So oak is used, but used sparingly. As a result, the Sharp Rock wines are very fruit forward.
Three whites were available for tasting. The Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay were both excellent wines. The Chardonnay, in particular, stood out with its complexity, fruit and mouth feel. It received just the right amount of oak, but was not “buttery.” Because it’s a slightly sweeter wine, my absolute favorite was served at the end of the tasting. The Chamois Blanc is a Chardonnay/Vidal Blanc blend with about 2.5% residual sugar. The sugar was the perfect foil for the acidity and didn’t overpower the wine’s peach notes. It’s an exceptional wine. I felt compelled to take some home.
The lineup of reds consisted of a five interesting blends. The Bordeaux grapes (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc) were represented in all of them. All were well crafted, fabulous wines, but I won’t mention them all. The Old Rag Red blend of Cabernet Sauv, Cabernet Franc and Nebbiolo was a big interesting wine, but I really like the Chamois Rouge. This dry, oaked blend of Chambourcin and Cab Sauv displayed some jammy fruits with a bit of spice. Jimm suggested this as a picnic wine and I completely agree. Slightly chilled, this will make a nice summer go-to wine.
I felt like my visit was completely successful. I found anther exceptional winery with amazing views, great wine and the tasting experience gets two thumbs up. If you’re on your way home from Old Rag, or just happen to be in the area, this is a winery that needs to stay on your radar. I’ll probably drive out for one of the music event. Maybe I’ll see you there.