Sunset Hills Vineyard

 

Owner(s): Diane and Mike Canney

Winemaker: Nate Walsh

Open to Public

Dec-Feb Mon-Thu 12 to 5, Fri-Sun 12 to 6

Mar-Nov Mon-Thu 12 to 5, Fri 12 to 8, Sat-Sun 12 to 6

39295 Fremont Overlook Lane; Purcellville, Virginia 20132

phone: 540-882-4560

email: tastingroom@sunsethillsvineyard.com

website


Sunset Hills Vineyard Profile

Written by Brian—Apr 15, 2014

I drove out to Sunset Hills Vineyard on a singularly awful, rainy spring day. It’s not far from Purcellville in Loudoun County and in better weather, it might offer an amazing view of the Blue Ridge. Having said that, the dismal conditions and limited visibility did not mask the beauty of the property. The winery and tasting room are located on land that was originally a historic 250 acre dairy farm and it is a gorgeous venue in any weather. 

The tasting room is located in a large barn that dates to the 1870s and was completely renovated by Amish craftsmen. And let’s be clear, the tasting room structure at Sunset Hills is not just an old barn that was cleaned up and repurposed with a tasting bar. The building won a Design Excellence-Makeover Award from Loudoun County. They were Amish craftsmen with emphasis on the word “craftsmen.” It’s without a doubt one of the nicer tasting rooms in Northern Virginia.

Diane and Mike Canney purchased the property in 1990, planted their first vines in 1999 and produced the first vintage in 2006. Since then, they have amassed seventy-three acres of vines at four different vineyards. At 10,000 cases per year, the winery still maintains it’s boutique winery status and it’s reputation for world-class wines.

I was fortunate enough to have a brief interview with Diane Canney during my visit and the main topic of our conversation was how Sunset Hills strives to maintain a social conscience and be a constructive part of the local community. Toward that end, the winery has established a reputation as environmentally friendly by employing green practices and using solar energy. The seventy three acres of vines are managed row by row in an effort to minimize the use of pesticides and herbicides. The intense vineyard management requires a large labor force, which combined with the tasting room and winery staff makes Sunset Hills a major local employer.

The tasting room is located in a large barn that dates to the 1870s and was completely renovated by Amish craftsmen. And let’s be clear, the tasting room structure at Sunset Hills is not just an old barn that was cleaned up and repurposed with a tasting bar. The building won a Design Excellence-Makeover Award from Loudoun County. They were Amish craftsmen with emphasis on the word “craftsmen.” It’s without a doubt one of the nicer tasting rooms in Northern Virginia.

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The winemaker is Nate Walsh, who worked in New Zealand, Oregon and locally at Horton Vineyards before joining Sunset Hills in 2009. Nate’s wines are highly regarded. The current line includes about a dozen wines produced from primarily French clones. During his short tenure, the Sunset Hills wines have won something in the order of forty medals at competitions all over the United States. 

The winemaker is Nate Walsh, who worked in New Zealand, Oregon and locally at Horton Vineyards before joining Sunset Hills in 2009. Nate’s wines are highly regarded. The current line includes about a dozen wines produced from primarily French clones. During his short tenure, the Sunset Hills wines have won something in the order of forty medals at competitions all over the United States. 

Meredith Wilson, the tasting room manager, poured my wine. She’s been in the industry for eight years; the last four of which have been at Sunset Hills, so she had a wealth of detailed knowledge. There was not a question she couldn’t answer. She pointed out that the grapes are grown in four different vineyards both locally and in the Shenandoah. The same clones are used at each location, so that the varietals can clearly express the terroir. And so we spoke as she poured and poured.

Right out the gate I tasted a winner. The recently released Chardonnay was produced with grapes from the Shenandoah Springs vineyard. Just a hint of residual sugar, but perfectly balanced with an amazing nose and bright peach notes. A lovely wine. And Meredith continued to pour one great wine after another until we came to the Sunset Red. I tasted a 2011 and 2012. The younger wine was superior in every way. The 2012 is a blend of Syrah and a couple Bordeaux varietals that has lots of black fruit mingled with a bit of spice and a crazy-long finish. There were tannins, but it’s still young. Give it a couple more years and then look out!

What more can I tell you? Everything about Sunset Hills is first rate. The service, the tasting experience, the property, the wine, and the list goes on. You’ll certainly be hearing about this winery in my best of 2014 blog. It’s easily in my top ten. So yeah. This one is the real deal. Go there. Check it out. Don’t make me tell you twice.