Owner(s): Jennifer McCloud
Winemaker: Mark Patterson
Open to Public
Apr-Oct Mon-Thu 10 to 6; Fri-Sun 10 to 7
Nov-Mar Mon-Thu 10 to 5; Fri-Sun 10 to 5:30
23876 Champe Ford Road; Middleburg, Virginia 20117
Chrysalis Vineyards Profile
Written by Brian—Apr 20, 2016
Have you visited Chrysalis Vineyards recently? I had not been there in nearly two years and it has been even longer since I have written about them. In any case, they have a new tasting room and this prompted me to stop in. If you remember the old tasting room, you know it was small and they frequently sent visitors down to the winery for tastings. There was a lot of space outside, but during inclement weather it could get cozy. Well, those days are over.
The new tasting room is accessed right off of Route 50 across the street from 50 West (if you know where that is) and just east of the village of Aldie. After you turn off the highway and pass through the gate to the property, you will cross a small stream and climb up the hill that leads to the tasting room. It is visible in the distance and immediately obvious that the design is much more grand than the older building down on Champe Ford Road. It is pressed up against the Bull Run Mountains and the view from the top is one that you can get lost it. So if you are going up there, make plans to stay for a while.
The venue is not the only thing that is new. I spoke with Laurie Stevens, who is responsible for hospitality and events at Chrysalis. She oriented me to the new space. The upstairs will eventually have automated tasting stations, so wine will be dispensed from card-operated machines. This does not mean that guided tastings will cease to exist, the dispensers simply add another tasting option. The ground level contains a couple of tasting bars and a retail space where you can purchase beef, eggs and other farm products produced on the property. This is the “Ag District” and it adds a bit of local-sourced flare to the whole experience. Laurie described it as “a fancy farm stand that serves great wine.” Finally, the downstairs will contain a commercial kitchen and creamery. Again, this is more of the local-sourced It will be exciting to see how this all comes together.
If you know the Chrysalis wines, then you will be reassured to know that part has not changed. They are the same excellent offerings that you are used to. On the other hand, there is a new winemaker. Mark Patterson came from Heron Hill, which is one of the most celebrated wineries in New York’s Finger Lakes. I did not note a significant change in the characteristics of the wines, but this is another aspect of Chrysalis that we will need to monitor.
If you are unfamiliar with the wines, then suffice to say this is a winery following its own path. Chrysalis grows more Norton than any vineyard on the planet. Owner Jenni McCloud is a leading champion of the hybrid and her winery produces some of the best examples you will find anywhere in the world. There are a range of Nortons produced and if you are unfamiliar with the grape, this is the place to explore it for the first time. There are three different Nortons that display a range in possible styles and, if nothing else compels you to visit, these wines make this a must-visit venue.
There are also a number of French and Spanish varietals that are grown and bottled at Chrysalis. I will say that, in addition to Norton, the winery hangs its hat on Spanish grapes. You might find Albarino at a couple other Virginia wineries, but Tempranillo and Graciano are unique to Chrysalis. It is a winery that is full of surprises and, as you can see, if Norton is not your thing there are plenty of other options.
So either stop in for the first time or reacquaint yourself with Chrysalis Vineyards. It offers things that you will find in no other Virginia winery. It is an institution that has cobbled together its own unique program and we should embrace that. After you have stopped in, I will be very interested to hear your thoughts.