Owner(s): Cori and Jon Phillips
Winemaker: Doug Fabbioli
Open to Public
Sat 11 to 6; Sun 12 to 6
38516 Charles Town Pike, Waterford, VA 20197
The Wine Reserve at Waterford Profile
Written by Brian—Jul 8, 2017
The property that is now known as The Wine Reserve at Waterford has previously been home to a couple of other wineries. When I visited two or three years ago, the last proprietor had allowed the property to slip into something of a decline. The vineyards had all been pulled up and the tasting room was in need of upkeep and repair. I am happy to say that new owners Cori and Jon Phillips have stopped the bleeding.
The Phillipses purchased the property in 2015 as the first step in a decade-old dream of owning a winery. They planted about an acre of Petit Verdot in an effort to revive the old vineyard and there are plans to cultivate another three acres. The tasting room also underwent a facelift and is now a very inviting space with seating indoors and out on the deck. Much of the outdoor seating is organized to take advantage of the stunning views of the Blue Ridge and Catoctin ridge line. It is really nice to see the manner in which the estate has been transformed.
In order to pull this off, Cori and Jon are working with Doug Fabbioli. If you are unfamiliar with Fabbioli, he is a central player in Loudoun County and has nurtured many new wineries into existence. For the time being he is the general consultant and winemaker, but Fabbioli’s M.O. is help wineries get started and then gradually move them toward independence. Indeed, part of the plan is for the Phillipses to upgrade the existing winery.
When the Wine Reserve opened in January of 2017, there was obviously not enough estate fruit to support a very robust tasting program, so the Phillipses improvised. They purchased Chardonnay from a vineyard in nearby Lucketts and Merlot from the west coast. This provided enough fruit to bottle about 450 cases under the Wine Reserve label and then they augmented the tasting lineup with wines from a handful of other Virginia wineries.
In an effort to jazz up the tastings a little more, a decision was made to offer a second tasting flight of wines from around the world. This is not entirely unique, I know of only one other winery in Virginia that offers a similar program.
At the time of my visit there were only two Wine Reserve offerings on the menu. This included a Chardonnay from locally sourced fruit and a Meritage from estate Petite Verdot and California Merlot. I also tasted recently bottled Chard and Meritage that have not yet been released. I can say that both wines are quite good and I would expect no less of a Fabbioli wine. The Chardonnay was done in Hungarian oak and hints of that came through on the nose and palate, but the wine was really dominated by tropical fruit notes and perfect balance. The same can be said for the unreleased Chard, but the unreleased vintage was perhaps slightly better than the one being poured.
The Bordeaux blends were superb. The blends are aged in oak, which provided a bit of character to this Merlot/Petit Verdot blend. The Merlot worked as a perfect foil for the big, dense, tannic Petit Verdot and provided rich fruit notes on the nose and palate. It was my favorite of the tasting and certainly has the capability to improve with age.
Overall, I give high marks to The Wine Reserve at Waterford. The new owners have taken it up several levels and I suspect that things will only improve as more of their own wine comes online. If you have visited the venue before and feel compelled to pass by, it is time to give them another chance. The game has changed. Make an effort to stop in and after you do, please let me know what you think.