Chrysalis Vineyards

 

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

phone: 540-687-8222

email: LStevens@ChrysalisWine.com

website


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.

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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. 


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Cobbler Mountain Cellars

 

Owner(s): Jeff Louden

Winemaker: Jeff Louden

Open to Public

Thu-Mon 11 to 5

5909 Long Fall Lane; Delaplane, Virginia 20144

phone: 540-364-2802

email: See website

website


Cobbler Mountain Cellars Profile

Written by Brian—Nov 5, 2014

In Northern Fauquier County, sitting in the shadow of Big Cobbler Mountain there is a ninety-acre tract of farmland that has been in Laura Louden’s family since 1959. When her husband Jeff left his career in finance, they started looking at the viticultural possibilities of the property. Within a few years, Cobbler Mountain Cellars joined the Virginia wine scene and, as of this writing, is still a relative newcomer.

Jeff had a little experience making wine for home use, but that was only enough for him to know that he had more to learn. So he went to UC Davis in 2004 and returned ready for his new career. Jeff produced the first Cobbler Mountain vintage in 2009 and today he is making about 2000 cases of wine annually. A recent grant from the United States Department of Agriculture will allow him to expand his operation even further, so it will be very interesting to see how Cobbler Mountain evolves in the coming years.

I was fortunate enough to have a conversation with Jeff Louden prior to my tasting. I then tried nine wines at the tasting bar and participated in a special tasting in the barrel room, so I walked away with a pretty good understanding of the wines. I also have to say that each of the offerings were exceptionally well crafted.

Among the whites I should give special mention to the Vidal Blanc-Riesling blend, that was off-dry and balanced with big stone fruit notes. My favorite among the whites, however, was the Chardonnay. It was aged in a combination of stainless steel and oak. It was showing beautiful apple and tropical fruit combined with balance and  complexity. That one is an award winner.

The lineup of reds included Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Meritage and Petit Verdot. Each spent between eighteen and twenty four months in oak. I loved them all, but I have to say the Petit Verdot was my top pick with its garnet color, leather and nutmeg nose and a palate full of dark fruit. It also had a big mouth feel and a finish you could get lost in. it was the full package and a truly first-rate wine.

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I would be remiss, if I failed to mention the barrel room tasting, where I made the most exciting discovery. Cobbler Mountain is making a sparkling wine, that’s just over the top. The Blanc de Blanc is made using the traditional method (a.k.a. methode chamenoise). Then bottles are hand turned and spend thirty six months on the lees. It’s a very good example and can likely go head to head with any other sparkling wine in the state.

You might think that Jeff has his hands full, but he’s decided to make cider as well. It was not ready to taste and I’m no authority on the subject anyway, but I’ve recently heard very positive reviews from members of the Virginia blogging community. There are also plans for an annual cider celebration in October, so put that on your calendar.

When I arrived, Cindy was working behind the bar. She's been with Cobbler Mountain for going on two years and she’s their biggest cheerleader. Cindy’s a huge fan of the winery and loves to tell visitors the history and background, while pouring and describing the wines. I thought she did a great job and really represented  Cobbler Mountain very well. 

On top of everything I’ve just told you, the property is beautiful. It contains ample seating arranged beneath the shade trees on the front lawn. The view of the mountain and the farmland below is also amazing. This is the kind of place you could while away an afternoon or more. In fact, if you are inclined to stay longer, camping in the vineyard is a possibility during the fall months. You’ll need to check their website for more details.

As you can see, I definitely came away a fan. The wine, the cider, the property and the experience are all worthy of note. This is a vineyard you’ve got to check out. Put it on your short list and let me know what you think.


Corcoran Vineyards

 

Owner(s): Lori Corcoran

Winemaker: Lori Corcoran

Open to Public

Sat-Sun 12 to 5

14635 Corkys Farm Lane; Waterford, Virginia 20197

phone: 540-882-9073

email: See website

website


Corcoran Vineyards Profile

Written by Brian—Jul 28, 2014

Up in north-central Loudoun county, not far front the town of Waterford, you will find Corcoran Vineyards. Like many or maybe even most wineries in the area, it’s located on property that has been farmland for over a century. Since 2002, the crop has been grapes with about four acres under vine on the farm. Corcoran has a total of 20 acres of fruit, but the remainder is on leased property elsewhere in the county.

Lori Corcoran opened her winery in 2003 and the tasting room in 2004. Not content to only make wine, she owns a local brewery and recently opened Loudoun’s first hard cider business, with a separate tasting room on the property. Production levels are about 3000 cases of wine and 2500 cases of cider each year. There will be a slight increase in cider production, but Lori is content with current levels and is able to market all of this through word of mouth and social media.

With all of the things Lori has going on, you might think she has time for nothing else. You’d be wrong. She’s also the winemaker. Her winemaking technique is to limit the use of oak and allow the fruit to express itself in her wines. I tasted eleven of her offerings during my visit and that philosophy seems to work well. 

The whites were well balanced and lacked any trace of tartness. I might go so far as to describe them as almost creamy, which is interesting given the limited use of oak. The Viognier was one of these and was really a special wine with it’s big tropical notes. Sadly, Corcoran lost all of their Viognier vines to the cold this year and there are no plans to replace it. Despite the fact that it’s the official state grape, Lori just feels that it is too difficult to grow.

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There were several reds on the list and I enjoyed each of them, but there were two of real note. I got to taste a 2008 Cabernet Franc that was not on the menu, but happened to be opened. It was a medium bodied red, made from fruit grown at the nearby Benevito Vineyard. It had a lovely deep color and beautiful fruit.  The Tannat, however, was really my favorite. It had a lot of dark fruit, plumb and cassis, on the nose and palate. There was still a bit of tannin, so it can use more time on the shelf. With a little more age it’s going to be a truly great wine. 

I had a very nice visit at Corcoran. I arrived very near the end of the day, but the staff didn’t try to rush me along. The presentation was informative and well organized. There were a couple visitors who arrived later than me and received exactly the same treatment. I think two thumbs up are in order and I can heartily recommend this venue to anyone exploring wineries in Loudoun County.


Creeks Edge Winery

 

Owner(s): Ted Durden

Winemaker:

Open to Public

Mon-Thu 12 to 5; Fri-Sun 12 to 8

41255 Annas Lane; Lovettsville, Virginia 20180

phone: 540-822-3825

email: See website

website


Creeks Edge Winery Profile

Written by Brian—Mar 9, 2015

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A plethora of new Virginia wineries has opened in the last couple years. By far, the area of quickest growth is in Northern Virginia on the eastern slope of the Blue Ridge. In April of 2014, Creeks Edge opened in  northeastern Loudoun County. It is one of the latest additions to a grouping of wineries known as the Potomac Cluster, because they are pressed up agains the river along the Maryland border. 

I stopped by on a reasonably nice winter afternoon to have a look around and taste the wines. The tasting room facility easily ranks among the nicest in that part of the Commonwealth. It’s a large timber-frame building with an elevated deck and a silo on one side, that was built to accommodate a stairwell that leads from the tasting room to the winery and barrel room. Inside, there are high, cathedral ceilings with exposed support beams and ceiling joists. A long tasting bar sits just inside the door and seating takes up the remainder of the large guest area. When I arrived, a fire was burning in the fireplace and there was live music playing in the far corner.

I was far from the only visitor. A fairly large crowd had gathered at Creeks Edge on that afternoon. The staff was working hard to keep up with the demand for wine. Owner Ted Durden had stopped in to supervise a work crew in the barrel room and was pressed into service behind the tasting bar. This turned out to be my good fortune, because Ted poured my wine, filled in some of the details about he winery and gave me a quick tour of the facilities.

I was able to taste six of the current offerings. Five were from the 2011 vintage, which was fine for the Pinot Gris, Vidal Blanc and Chardonnay. All were well crafted, balanced whites. The Chambourcin and Merlot were a little weak, which is to be expected for reds from that vintage. There was, however, an absolutely spectacular wine on the menu. The 2009 Merlot was a truly great wine with big berry notes, a lot of complexity, structured tannins and a long finish. If this is any indication of what can be produced at Creeks Edge, I predict great things.

Creeks Edge currently has twelve acres under vine and 2014 will be the first vintage from estate fruit. They were pouring vintages that went back to 2009, but the fruit was purchased elsewhere in Loudoun County. Now get this. There are plans to add ten acres per year over the next five years. That is ambitious, but in the face of the current grape shortage, it is a necessary step for a serious new winery. In order to insure quality fruit and the desired varietals, Ted is making the investment. Kudos to him. This will allow the winery to control the quality of the fruit and position them to produce world-class wine in the coming years.

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After the tasting Ted took me on a quick tour of the winery. I also go to meet the work crew that was putting some final touches on the barrel room. They are all high school students, who have been with Ted since he was their youth-league football coach. So he has been mentoring them for years and they are now apprenticing with him in construction trades. The majority of the very impressive tasting room was built by this same crew. It actually makes the facilities seem all the more impressive.

The entire experience was first rate. The staff was professional and well trained. The tasting room is just amazing and then, of course, there’s the wine, music and a fireplace, but that’s not all. There is also food service at Creeks Edge. The menu includes mostly light fare, but there was soup for that cold winter day and they feature a daily special, if you are in need of something more substantive.

I have to say that I came away a fan of Creeks Edge. If I lived closer, I would likely become a frequent customer. This is one that should be on your watch list. I predict that Creeks Edge will be turning out some great wines. In the mean time, try to stop in. When you do, let me know what you think.


Crushed Cellars

 

Owner(s): Bob Kalok

Winemaker: Michael Shaps

Open to Public

Sat Noon to 5

37938 Charles Town Pike; Purcellville, Virginia 20132

phone: 571-374-9463

email: info@crushedcellars.com

website


Crushed Cellars Profile

Written by Brian—Jul 1, 2014

You know, I’ve driven by Crushed Cellars many times on my way to or from other tasting rooms in the area. It’s up in the northern tip of Loudoun County and surrounded by many great Virginia wineries. It sits on the hillside overlooking Route 9, which is one of the main roads through wine country. It was near the end of the day on Memorial Day and I was striking out, many wineries were closed. I called Crushed Cellars, spoke with proprietor, Bob Kalok, and explained my dilemma. He was closing up, but told me to come on by. What serendipity! This turned out to be a great find.

Bob was busy when I arrived. He was closing up and schmoozing with the last lingering customers. He directed a member of the tasting room staff to bring me some crostini and poured me a bit of wine. I took the opportunity to just observe and I have to say, there’s a lot going on at Crushed Cellars. Bob is selling eggs produced by his free-range chickens, local cheeses, breads that he personally bakes each morning and local meat. Several transactions took place as I sat there at the tasting bar.

Crushed Cellars is a small, boutique operation that produces about 1500 cases of wine each year from ten acres of fruit. The winery has been in operation for about three and one half years, so they're fairly young. I have to say, they are operating under the radar. I knew the name, but I’d heard nothing about them at all.

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Finally, Bob ushered the last visitor out the door and turned his attention to me. He began to pour his wines and the whole tasting blended into the larger conversation. I will point out that everything on the tasting menu earned a medal somewhere. San Francisco, Indianapolis, the list went on. All prestigious competitions. All of the wines also had a little age. We weren’t tasting recent vintages. The menu was full of wines from 2010 and earlier. I might add that there was not a runt in the litter. These were all exceptional wines.

The Seyval Blanc was a balance, off-dry wine that showed crisp citrus notes.The Vidal Blanc was a bit sweeter with 2.3% residual sugar, but there was nice balance between the sugar and acidity, which made it quite drinkable. It stood up to pretzels and wasabi dip, so yeah, pair it with something spicy. The Merlot spent 30 months in oak and was worthy of mention, but the Meritage was the bomb. OMG! It was an amazing wine. It’s a left-bank style blend that’s 72% Cabernet Sauvignon and the remainder is Merlot, Malbec and Cab Franc. It was complex, with beautiful fruit and a crazy long finish. Pair this wine with something big. The image of red meat and a grill come to mind, even as I write this review.

You know, Bob traveled quite a bit before settling in Virginia, but he really enjoys the quiet lifestyle that goes with living in the country. He scaled back his life in order to settle in at Crushed Cellars, but he seems comfortable and happy. He brings a very laid back style to his tasting room and possibly the entire operation, but it looked like the other visitors appreciated his approach. Personally, I had a great visit and enjoyed talking about the wines and the surrounding area. Before I left, he spent a significant amount of time giving me restaurant advice and handed me a loaf of bread on the way out the door. So i’m definitely a fan and I will absolutely return.

The wines were special and the atmosphere was inviting. If you’re navigating Route 9, don’t just drive by. Pull in for a quick visit and check it out. There’s not much buzz around Crushed Cellars, but there should be. Spread the word.


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Delaplane Cellars

 

Owner(s):  Jim and Betsy Dolphin

Winemaker:  Jim Dolphin

Open to Public

Dec-Mar Fri-Mon 11 to 5

Apr-Nov Thu-Mon 11 to 5 (Sat 6)

2187 Winchester Road; Delaplane, Virginia 20144

phone: 540-592-7210

email: Info@DelaplaneCellars.com

website


Delaplane Cellars Profile

Written by Brian—Dec 14, 2015

As part of a concerted effort to make my winery reviews more current, I drove up to Fauquier County and stopped in at Delaplane Cellars, which I had not visited in over two years. I arrived just as they were opening and lingered a few minutes on the hillside below the tasting room to admire the view. The west-facing slope offers a panorama of the Blue Ridge that is simply jaw-dropping. 

The tasting room is also quite stunning. The long, L-shaped tasting bar occupies one large corner of the room. Seating is arranged just inside the entrance and along the large picture windows. Outside there is an elevated deck that wraps around the front of the building and offers additional seating options. It is all designed to allow visitors a perfect vantage point to admire the same view I described above. 

Looking back over my earlier review, I noted that I went on at great length about the Delaplane wines. I can say that this is something I hear frequently from others who have visited. And the winery is one that always comes highly recommended. My experience with the wine was no different during my most recent stop. There were four whites, a rosé and two red Bordeaux-style blends.

The tasting began with a barrel fermented Chardonnay, a Melange Blanc and a Traminette. All were well made, but the Petite Manseng was the standout and possibly the best wine of the tasting. At two percent residual sugar, it was a perfectly balanced wine. There were big tropical aromas and on the palate that little bit of sugar was just enough to accent the pineapple and pear notes. It really is a fabulous wine.

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The two red blends were also worth writing home about. The Duet, in particlar, was a high point on the tasting menu. Hints of cigar box mingled with red berries and structured tannins gave way to an extremely long finish. The Williams Gap blend was also noteworthy. They are both perfectly constructed wines.

In my last Delaplane blog, I also went on at length about the quality of the customer experience. This time I am not sure I can echo that same sentiment. I introduced myself at the tasting bar and rendered my business card. After that, I was treated a little bit like an industrial spy. I struck up a pleasant conversation with a couple at the tasting bar, but interacting with the staff was strained and bordered on unpleasant. Maybe they have had a bad experience with another blogger. Maybe they have been instructed not to answer questions. It might be easier to understand, if the tasting room were crowded. Curiously, it was first thing in the morning and there were only five other visitors. I do not know what was going on, but the entire experience was unfortunate.

Will I go so far as to wave you off of a visit to Delaplane? No. On the other hand, I am very interested in hearing from others. If you have been to Delaplane, please let me know the details. I do hope my experience was not typical, but I am not inspired to visit again any time soon.


Desert Rose Ranch and Winery

 

Owner(s): Bob Claymier

Winemaker: Bob Claymier

Open to Public

Daily 12 to 6

13726 Hume Road; Hume, Virginia 22639

phone: 540-635-3200

email: info@desertrosewinery.com

website


Desert Rose Ranch and Winery Profile

Written by Brian—Jul 20, 2016

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If you are unfamiliar with Desert Rose Ranch & Winery, it is a small boutique operation in the northwestern corner of Fauquier County, Virginia not far from the the village of Hume. It is part of a small cluster of high-end wine producers that straddle the Fauquier/Rappahannock County lines. The local area is composed of hills and rocky outcroppings that give way to the Blue Ridge Mountains just a few miles west. It seems like ideal terrain for growing grapes.

Desert Rose was a ranch and winery in that order. Owner Bob Claymier purchased the property to raise horses, more specifically Arabians, after he retired. Bob grew up on a ranch in eastern Oregon and the winery is a tribute to that lifestyle. From the old wagon on the front lawn, to the ranch house look of the building and the television in the back of the tasting room airing a non-stop series of old black and white westerns, the property is filled with cowboy memorabilia. It may well be the largest such collection in the state and it lends a certain ambiance that is unique among Virginia wineries. 

I recently dropped by Desert Rose and met with Bob for a short interview. As he entered the tasting room in his work cloths and cowboy hat, Bob looked like a guy who is not afraid of an honest day’s work. You might imagine that he has always been a rancher, but after a tour in the Navy, Bob worked with the CIA (and I do not mean the Culinary Institute of America). The horses and the ranch are not so much an attempt to reinvent himself, but Bob seems to just be settling back into an earlier lifestyle and it suits him.  

As I mentioned earlier, the winery came second, but wine production also traces back to Bob's childhood. His mother made beer and wine as a household product. Bob is quick to point out that “it was not necessarily good wine.” Nevertheless, it made a profound enough impression, that he spent much of his life making wine as a hobby. Owning property in the middle of Virginia wine country gave him an opportunity to take it to the next level as an additional retirement project. Bob is the winemaker, but he says that he "gets help when needed." In any case, his transition from home winemaking to production of fine wine seems to be a complete success.

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While there, I tasted several Desert Rose wines. All are worthy of mention, but for the sake of brevity I will not go into detail on all of them. I started with a Chardonnay and two white blends. Then we moved on to a Cabernet Franc/Chambourcin Rosé. The red wines, however, are the main event. The Chambourcin was drinking well with great fruit and none of the astringency that is sometime present in that varietal. The Cabernet Franc, in my opinion, is one of the best in the Commonwealth and illustrates what is possible for that grape in the Mid Atlantic. It is big wine with no trace of green pepper, dark cherry notes mid palate and a crazy long finish. Finally, I need to mention the Crimson Cabernet, because this is the only winery in the state growing that hybrid.

In case you are unaware, Crimson Cabernet is a cross between Norton and Cabernet Sauvignon. It was developed in an attempt to cross the heartiness of the Norton with the characteristics of Cab Sauv. Desert Rose bottled the second vintage in the United States and the world for that matter. I have tasted two vintages, but they were both very young. The vines need to mature as well. I do not feel like I have enough experience with the grape to make many substantive comments, but I will say that the grape seems to have potential. It will be interesting to someday do a vertical tasting of Crimson Cabernet to better gage how it develops over time. In the meantime, this is the only winery in the region where it can be tasted.

My enthusiasm about Desert Rose must be evident. I have been a huge fan since my first visit a couple years ago. I do not make it back there often, because it is so far from Charlottesville, but I would if I could. If you nearby or in the area, you should make every effort to visit. It is has, as I have described, many unique qualities, but the quality of the wine should be your primary motivator. Make an effort to stop in and when you do, let me know what you think.


Doukenie Winery

 

Owner(s): George Bazaco

Winemaker: Sebastien Marquet

Open to Public

Daily 10 to 6

14727 Mountain Road; Purcellville, Virginia 20132

phone: 540-668-6464

email: info@DoukenieWinery.com

website


Doukenie Winery Profile

 Written by Brian—Dec 17, 2013

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I keep a record in the back of my notebook. Every time someone recommends a winery, I add the suggestion to that page. Doukénié Winery was mentioned to me more than once, so I was itching to scratch it off the list. Doukénié is way up north in the Middleburg AVA and pretty far from Charlottesville, but I was in Northern Virginia for Thanksgiving and capitalized on that  opportunity.

The winery takes its name from owner George Bazaco's Greek ancestry. Doukénié means Duchess in Greek and is a reference to George's Greek heritage. You will find Doukénié just north of Purcellville, Virginia on Route 690. There are dozens of other small wineries in the area, so it can easily be visited as part of a larger winetasting adventure. It's located on converted farmland and, from the road, looks very much like the other local farms. It's a lovely property  that backs up against the ridge line. There is lots of space to spread out on the patio or around the large farm pond.

The first vines were planted on the property in 1985 and the first vintage followed three years later in 1988.  Today there are sixteen acres under vine on the Loudoun County property and the winery has another twenty five acres near Fredericksburg. Doukénié is a medium-sized boutique winery producing between 4000 and 5000 cases per year. The emphasis is on small-batch artisan wines using primarily French varietals.

Sebastien Marquet, the Doukénié winemaker, began his career in Burgundy and moved on to make wine in the Caribbean and California before settling in Virginia. He specializes in Bordeaux blends and produces an exceptional product for Doukenie. 

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I found all of the Doukénié whites to be extraordinary. I particularly enjoyed the 2012 Viognier with its apricot nose, bright fruit, and light acidity. I am also a fan of the 2012 Riesling. It reminds me of an Austrian Riesling with its crisp acidity, nice minerality and apple and pear notes. I absolutely loved the 2010 Merlot, which showed cherry notes on nose, more cherry on the palate and beautiful finish.

There was a nice size crowd on the day of our visit, but there are multiple tasting bars, so the crowd is nicely dispersed. Chris, our wine steward, claimed to have the least knowledge of the staff, but he really seemed to know his stuff. It kind of makes me wonder what the others must know. He was very engaging and talked us through each of the offerings. We had a great conversation and the whole experience was excellent. Doukénié was recently recognized as one of the best tasting rooms in Virginia and it's easy to see why.

Doukénié Winery is easy to find and a delight to visit. The beauty of the property, hospitality of the tasting room and quality of the wines are are all reason to add this one to your list. If you're up in Loudoun County, make this one of your stops. 


Dry Mill Vineyards Winery

 

Owner(s): Dean and Nancy Vanhuss

Winemaker: Karen Reed

Open to Public

Sat-Sun 11 to 5

18195 Dry Mill Road; Leesburg, Virginia 20175

phone: 703-737-3930

email: info@drymillwine.com

website


Dry Mill Vineyards Winery Profile

Written by Brian—Jan 12, 2015

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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. 

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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. 


No Available Video

 

Additional Resources

Yelp

Trip Advisor

Eagletree Farm Vineyards

 

Owner(s):

Winemaker:

Not Open to the Public 

Projected to open in 2018

15100 Harrison Hill Ln, Leesburg, Virginia 20176

phone: 703-777-5208

email: No email available

website


Eagletree Farm Vineyards Profile

 Written by Brian—Jul 2, 2017

As of this writing, Eagletree Farm and Vineyard is not yet open to the public. They are working through the permit process and hope to open in the spring of 2018.

About six acres of vines were planted in 2000 and grapes were sold to local producers until 2014. That was the year that the Eagletree winery came online and started producing in anticipation of their future opening.

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In addition to a tasting room, Eagletree will include a restaurant with fine dining in the evening. A brick oven will be installed outdoors, so that pizza and other lighter fare can be served during the day. 

An update will be posted as soon as the tasting room opens to the public.


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Additional Resources

No Available Resources

Eden Try Estate Winery

 

Owner(s): Linda Morrison

Winemaker: Michael Shaps

Open by Appointment

Or every 3rd Sunday

6818 River Road; Fredericksburg, Virginia 22407

phone: 540-786-0037

email: No available email

website


Eden Try Estate Winery Profile

Written by Brian—Jul 12, 2015

Still scrambling to visit all of the wineries that opened in 2015, I drove over to Fredericksburg stopped in at Eden Try Estate and Winery. It is located on River Road, which is a lovely drive through heavily wooded acreage that meanders along the southern bank of the Rappahannock River. 

After you turn off River Road and through the gate at Eden Try, you will be struck by the beauty of the venue. The estate was originally built by a horticulturalist. After returning from an extensive tour of European gardens, he decided to try to recreate the Garden of Eden. Toward that end, he set about cultivating gardens throughout the property. Many years later, Linda Morrison purchased the acreage. With the help of Gary Gratopp, the general manager, it was transformed into one of the top wedding destinations in Virginia.

The wedding venue came first and the winery came a little later. It seemed like a natural transition. Since wine is a normal component of most weddings, the idea was to create an Eden Try brand that might be included in the wedding package. Linda and Gary worked with Burnley Vineyards and Michael Shaps to produce and bottle a line of wines with the estate label. At the end of May, they opened a tasting room. Wine tastings can be arranged by appointment or regular tasting hours are available on the third Sunday of each month. You can stop in or reserve a seat on the Trolley Winery Tour that departs from Fredericksburg and stops at five local wineries.

The lineup of wines is pretty solid. Considering who produces them, one should expect no less. They were pouring seven wines that included Rose, Vidal Blanc, stainless steel Chardonnay, Chambourcin, Cabernet Sauvignon and a pair of red blends. I was quite impressed by each wine in the lineup, but for my part the 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon was worthy of writing home about. I was actually surprised that Burnley was putting an Eden Try label on such an excellent vintage.

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I showed up for one of the third Sunday tasting days and I was able to observe the tasting operation with a large number of visitors. The Trolley Wine Tour was just wrapping up when I walked in and it appeared to be a very satisfied group. Linda and Gary were able to easily attend to their needs. Hospitality is, after all, one of their strong suits given the level of success they have achieved with the wedding business. So this was an easy day.

The grounds are open as well and visitors are welcome to stroll through the gardens that surround the estate. Gary was gracious enough to show me around and I can easily see why this is such a popular venue. So I can heartily recommend stopping in on a third Sunday or making reservation to stop in on another day. Saturdays are typically reserved for weddings, but most other days will probably work. After you have made the trip, let me know what you think.


No Available Video

 

Additional Resources

The Knot

Wedding Wire

Effingham Winery

 

Owner(s): Chris Pearmund and Partners

Winemaker: Bryan Smythe

Open to Public

Daily 11 to Dusk

14337 Trotters Ridge Pl, Nokesville, VA 20181

phone: 703-594-2300

email: See website

website


Effingham Winery Profile

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Written by Brian—Jul 9, 2019

The historic Effingham Manor property was originally built in the mid 18th century. Through the intervening years additions were made to the main home and outbuildings were constructed. Just a short drive from Manassas, Virginia, you can still find the estate along with a blacksmith shop, historic slave quarters and the old smokehouse.

These days, however, the manor has been repurposed as Effingham Winery. A new event center has been erected and the tasting room open for business. Given its close proximity to the greater Washington DC area, there is no reason why it should not attract large numbers of visitors.

This recent addition to Virginia’s ever-growing list of wineries is a project originated by winemaker and entrepreneur Chris Pearmond. The quality and reputation of Pearmond wines almost guarantees success. 

Opening in 2018, this adults-only venue began pouring wines under the Effingham label. Winemaker Bryan Smythe, originally from Chateau Morrisette, joined the team and (as of this writing) is producing a lineup of about 10 wines from Virginia fruit. The non-vintage sparkler is the only wine currently poured at Effingham that is made from California grapes.

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The stainless steel Chardonnay and Cuvee Blanc white blend are probably the most popular wines. A couple of very solid reds, on the other hand, are not to be missed. The Bordeaux blend ”King’s Ransom” is a cellar-worthy wine and the single-varietal Tannat recently took “best in class” at the East Meets West competition.

In addition to stellar wine, the manor and grounds are open to the public. There is also plenty of space out back or on the large front porch of the manor to relax with a bottle of Effingham wine. There are few combinations that beat history and wine. So you should check it out and after you do, please let me know what you think.


No Available Video

 

Fabbioli Cellars

 

Owner(s): Doug Fabbioli

Winemaker: Doug Fabbioli

Open to Public

Daily 11 to 5

15669 Limestone School Road; Leesburg, Virginia 20176

phone: 703-737-3930

email: info@fabbioliwines.com

website


Fabbioli Cellars Profile

Written by Brian—Nov 16, 2017

Much can change in four years. I say this, because that is about how much time had passed since my last visit to Fabbioli Cellars. So my recent stop was a bit of an eye opener.

What changed was a new and extremely well appointed tasting room. It also appeared that a few more acres were planted in grapes. What did not change was the quality of the wine, the excellent pairing program and the professional staff. It is fair to say that Fabbioli has evolved substantially without disturbing the strengths of the tasting program.

If you are not familiar with Doug Fabbioli, he is both the owner (as the winery name implies) and winemaker. He has been referred to as the “godfather of Loudoun County wine,” because he has consulted with so many of the new producers and he is an outspoken advocate for local wines. Settling on the banks of the Potomac River after time spent in Sonoma and the Finger Lakes, Fabbioli is also arguably one of the most experienced producers in Northern Virginia.

The current property was purchased in 2000 and planting began the following year. Initially, the vines consisted of Petit Verdot and Merlot. Today, Fabbioli has thirteen acres under vine and produces about 6500 cases annually. The winery also produces seventeen different wines using both grapes and other types of fruit. The quality of those wines has gained a reputation that extends far beyond Northern Virginia. 

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The tasting format at Fabbioli is a little different from most wineries. It is conducted as a food and wine pairing. Each of the wines on the tasting menu is expertly paired with a tasty morsel. I’ve encountered similar formats at only a handful of wineries. I can’t say they were all done well. At Fabbioli, however, the pairings are used as an educational tool and I cannot say enough good things about the program.

During my most recent visit; I tasted through seven wines in the current tasting lineup. It is important to note that the menu changes on a regular basis, so it is possible to visit more than once and not taste the same wine.

Three whites were on the tasting sheet. The was a stunning dry-style pear cider, Vidal Blanc/Viognier blend that was full of melon and tropical notes and a well-constructed Petit Manseng.

I am a huge fan of the red offerings. A couple of the wines were in the dessert spectrum. The Meritage and single-varietal Cabernet Sauvignon, on the other hand, were just off the charts. While both were stellar, the Cab Sauv, with its black cherry and vanilla notes was my overall favorite.

After the tasting, I took a few minutes to look around the new tasting space. The circular construction has created an open and airy space with a lot of natural light.  Downstairs there is a space for group tastings, the main floor is for reserved for walk-in traffic and upstairs is additional seating in a space that may also be ideal for events. Outside there is ample seating for better weather.

At the end of the day, if I were giving direction to someone trying to learn about wine, this is one of the places I would send him or her. I love what they’re doing at Fabbioli and the program does change every month. Go there. Learn about their wines, see how they are being paired and find out why. It’s one of the best programs of wine instruction in the state.

After you make it out there, I would love to hear your thoughts.


Fox Meadow Winery

 

Owner(s): Cheryl and Dan Mortland

Winemaker: Tom Payette

Open to Public

Apr-Nov Mon-Fri 11 to 5; Sat-Sun 11 to 6; 

Dec-Mar Mon-Fri 11 to 5; Sat 11 to 6

3310 Freezeland Road; Linden, Virginia 22642

phone: 540-636-6777

email: info@foxmeadowwinery.com

website


Fox Meadow Winery Profile

Written by Brian—Jan 28, 2015

Fox Meadow Winery was one of those places everyone kept telling me to visit. I added it to my list some time ago and added a star every time I received a recommendation. In the late fall, I was finally close by and stopped in. As I turned onto the drive, I was completely blown away by the view. Looking west across the vineyards, there is the most amazing panorama. The Blue Ridge just seems so close. That view is reason enough to visit, but there’s much more.

This twenty-acre property was originally a meadow (hence the name). The land was purchased in 2002 for the purpose of making wine. Today about twelve of those acres are under vine and seventy percent of the fruit used for producing wine is estate grown. The additional grapes are purchased locally so the winery can make about 3500 cases of largely cellar-worth wine each year. There are plans to plant another six acres. It will be interesting to see if this results in increased production or a reduced reliance on non-estate fruit. 

Tom Payette is the winemaker. Tom consults or makes wine for several Virginia wineries and, as of this writing, is serving on the Virginia Wine Board. His influence extends to much of the east coast, where he enjoys a reputation for exacting quality in his work. On his watch, the first Fox Meadow vintage was produced in 2005 and the Cabernet Franc from that year won gold at the Atlantic Coast competition. 

Amanda Freeze is a trained Sommelier and General Manager of Fox Meadow. She was good enough to show me around the winery and tasting room and then poured my tasting. Amanda poured seven wines and explained each of them as I tasted and frantically scribbled notes. I put stars next to too many of the wines to talk about all of them, so I’ll mention just a few.

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Fox Meadow produces a great barrel-fermented Chardonnay, but the Alsatian-style Riesling just rocked my world. It had lychee and honeysuckle notes, balanced acidity and nice minerality. It was probably my favorite of the tasting. Among the reds, I tasted an exceptional Cabernet Franc and a very nice Merlot. The Chambourcin, however, is worthy of particular note. It was full of dark fruit on the nose and palate. This fruit-driven offering had just the right balance of acidity to make it a great, food-friendly wine. It was another winner in a lineup of exceptional wines.

The tasting room and surrounding property are spacious and offer numerous opportunities for visitors to relax with their favorite Fox Meadow wine and enjoy the amazing view. There are also frequent weekend music events that may draw you out that way. In any case, this is one that came highly recommended to me and I am in total agreement. Make an excuse to check them out and let me know what you think.


Gadino Cellars

 

Owner(s): Bill and Aleta Saccuta Gadino

Winemaker: 

Open to Public

Fri, Sun-Mon 11:30 to 5; Sat 11:30 to 6

92 Schoolhouse Road; Washington, Virginia 22747

phone: 540-987-9292

email: steph@gadinocellars.com

website


Gadino Cellars Profile

Written by Brian—Jun 1, 2016

Rappahannock County was once one of the state’s largest wine producing areas. While a couple other Virginia counties have eclipsed it in recent years, it still contains some regional clusters of very good producers. One of these is Gadino Cellars in Washington, Virginia. It had been nearly three years since my last visit, so I was overdue to stop in and see what they are up to.

The grounds at Gadino are tastefully landscaped with an abundance of flowers and hedges that nearly obscure the tasting room. Looking out across the vineyards, there is a line of hills that can be admired from the picnic table out front. Just down the hill are a pair of bocci ball courts, where you might while away an afternoon while sharing a bottle of Gadino wine. Alternately, there is a shaded patio or plenty of seating inside. 

The founding owners are Bill and Aleta Saccuta Gadino, who began planting 1990. There are Cabernet Franc vines on the property that are 26 years old and that is a varietal the winery is known for. They sold fruit for a number of years and only released their first vintage in 2004. Today there are seven acres of estate fruit, which is supplemented with some local grapes to produce the 1700 cases bottled annually.

The day-to-day operations now fall to daughter Stephanie and her husband Derek Cross, but the same high standards and quality wine can be enjoyed in the tasting room. Stephanie and Derek make the wine, but Tom Payette has long been in a consulting role. If you are unfamiliar with Tom, he is one of the state’s premier winemakers. In his consulting role, he has coached a number of Virginia’s top wineries. His influence can be seen in the quality of Stephanie and Derek’s wine.

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On the day of my visit, there were eight wines on the Gadino tasting menu. The majority of the offerings are from French varietals, but there are a couple that give a nod to the family’s Italian roots. Starting off the lineup were a Pinot Grigio and a nice barrel-aged Chardonnay, but the Petit Manseng stood out among the whites. This perfectly balanced, dry style wine was full of pineapple notes and bright acidity. It was a fabulous wine. In my opinion, however, the red offerings are the main event.

I placed stars next to all the reds. They were all excellent. The Bordeaux blend is lovely and complex, but the Cabernet Franc… There is something to be said for old-growth vines and that much age will tell in the final product. It was characterized by dark, ripe fruit and a hint of black pepper in the finish. I thought it was my favorite until Derek poured the 2010 Nebbiolo. It is a great wine produced in a great year. With a beautiful nose, layers of complexity and firm tannins, it is no wonder this age worthy wine won gold in the Governor’s Cup.

Although great wine is enough reason to visit, I also found the quality of the customer experience to be exceptional. My wine steward had only been working in the tasting room for two months, but she acted like a pro. We had a great conversation and she was able to talk with some authority about the wine, which is an indication that Gadino is making some effort to educate or at least closely screen tasting room help. I left inspired to return and I strongly recommend a visit. After you stop in, please let me know what you think.


Granite Heights Winery

 

Owner(s): Luke and Toni Kilyk

Winemaker: Luke Kilyk

Open to Public

Apr-Dec Fri 1 to 6, Sat-Sun 12 to 5

See website for winter hours

8141 Opal Road; Warrenton, Virginia 20186

phone: 540-349-5185

email: TR@gh.wine

website


Granite Heights Winery Profile

Written by Brian—Jun 6, 2016

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There are a handful of relatively new Virginia wineries that I am very excited about. One of them is Granite Heights Winery in Fauquier County. They only became a commercial winery in 2008 and have only had a tasting room since 2012. It took no time for them to establish a reputation for high-quality wine and particularly their red blends. In 2015 Granite Heights wines won a gold, silver and bronze medal in the Governor’s Cup. This year they won three gold medals and one of those wines was included in the prestigious Governor’s Case. This may be a tough act to follow, but it does attest to the fact that they are doing something right.

Luke and Toni Kilyk purchased the Granite Heights property in 2007 and brought in no less an authority than Lucy Morton as a consultant. Lucy even lived for a time in the house that now contains the tasting room. So she was literally on site and accessible to Luke and Toni for an extended period of time. The result was 12 acres of perfectly sited, high-density vines that were propogated entirely from French-cerified clones. The vineyard is now producing extremely high-quality grapes and Granite Heights is bottling about 1000 cases annually and exclusively from estate fruit. There are plans to increase to as many as 2000 cases, but the goal will remain quality rather than quantity.

Luke works full time as an attorney and devotes a large percentage of his “free” time to winemaking and vineyard management. He made wine for many years as a hobby, but he does have an undergraduate degree in chemistry. That background is a common theme among producers, who have not trained and apprenticed as winemakers. What really sets Luke apart is his heightened level passion for every aspect of winemaking. When he speaks about his work, you can hear it in his voice. It is an unrestrained enthusiasm that translates into world-class wine.

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When I arrived at Granite Heights, Toni was in the tasting room. As I was sampling the first pour, Luke stopped in as well. He sat with me for quite some time talking and doling out wine. He stepped me through each of the offerings on the regular tasting menu and then poured a couple others. So I was able to sample two of the three Governor’s Case wines along with the six others that rounded out the lineup.

I have to say that there was not a marginal wine on the tasting menu. We started with a Petit Manseng, a Chardonnay and a Rosé. All were done in stainless steel and they were all perfectly balanced and lovely wines. I have to say, however, that the real story is the red blends. They are truly Luke’s super power.

The entire Granite Heights experience is first rate. The tasting room contains a series of tables, so patrons are seated for their tasting. The staff is knowledgeable and there is no rushing patrons through the offerings. Guests tended to linger and many purchased a bottle, so they could linger amid the shade trees that surround the farm pond. Of course, you should not take my word for any of this. I am obviously a fan, but do not be swayed by that. You need to stop in and see for yourself. So start formulating your excuse, bow out of some other obligation and make the drive. After you do, please let me know what you think. 


Gray Ghost Vineyards

 

Owner(s): Al and Cheryl Kellert

Winemaker: Al Kellert

Open to Public

Mar-Dec Fri-Sun 11 to 5

Jan-Feb Sat-Sun 11 to 5

14706 Lee Highway; Amissville, Virginia 20106

phone: 540-937-4869

email: No available email

website


Gray Ghost Vineyards Profile

Written by Brian—April 3, 2014

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Rappahannock County contains a significant concentration of wineries. In the Northern Virginia Region,  Loudoun County certainly contains the most, but Rappahannock still boasts some of the better wineries in the state. Gray Ghost Vineyards is the oldest and perhaps most respected of these wineries.

Al and Cheryl Kellert began experimenting with vineyard management and winemaking from their home in the DC suburb of Woodbridge. As Cheryl tells the story, they had about sixty vines on their property and were beginning to encroach on the neighbors. They started looking for a spot to take their passion to the next level. They found the property that became Gray Ghost in the eastern corner of Rappahannock County and planted their first vines in 1986. More accurately, they transplanted the vines from their backyard vineyard in Woodbridge. Today the Kellerts have thirteen acres under vine and produce 4000 cases of wine each year from 100% estate-grown grapes.

But let me back up just a bit. I said the first vines were planted in 1986. Let’s do the math. Gray Ghost has vines that are (as of this writing) twenty eight years old. They need thirty years to be considered “old growth,” but they’re pretty old for Virginia vines. I’m sure this plays at least a small part in the reputation of the Gray Ghost wines.

There are fourteen wines in the Gray Ghost arsenal and there were ten on the menu when I stepped up to the tasting bar. Most of the typical Virginia varietals were represented in the lineup. Sadly, the Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot were sold out. Interestingly, Gray Ghost produces both a Gewürztraminer and a Riesling, which are more typically seen in the Shenandoah Valley. They tend to do better with slightly cooler temperatures. The Gewurz was sold out, but the tasting room staff was very excited about the recent release of their latest vintage Riesling. The excitement was warranted. I found the off-dry Riesling to be a well balanced wine with nice floral notes and crisp green apple on the palate.

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The Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon was not on the menu, but happened to be for sale. I was very curious about a wine produced from the older vines, so I purchased a bottle. I’ll taste along with some other examples from the same year. I’ll have to deliver my findings at a later date.

I had a very pleasant visit at Gray Ghost. The staff seemed knowledgable and friendly. Despite the number of visitors, I had a very short wait and I was not rushed through my tasting. Everything seemed well organized and the the winery had enough staff t handle the traffic.

As I pointed out, Gray Ghost can draw a crowd, but the visitors are dispursed to several tasting bars and side rooms. Outside the tasting room, the property also offers ample space on the edge of the vineyards to relax with a picnic and a glass of wine. So if you’re visiting the wineries of Rappahannock County, this one should be on your list. The quality of the wine and the tasting room experience are just two reasons to check it out.


Greenhill Winery and Vineyards

 

Owner(s): David Greenhill

Winemaker:

Open to Public

Daily Noon to Sunset

23595 Winery Lane; Middleburg, Virginia 20117

phone: 540-687-6968

email: See website

website


Greenhill Winery and Vineyards Profile

Written by Brian—Jan 18, 2017

I first visited Greenhill Winery and Vineyards outside of Middleburg, Virginia nearly three years ago. I became an instant fan and I have lauded the winery every since. Despite its distance from Charlottesville, I can easily say that I have visited the tasting room and promoted Greenhill more than any other winery in the state. That should give you some sense of my appreciation for this particular Loudoun County venue.

Having said all that, I tend to only rewrite a winery profile following some major development and that took place last weekend. Greenhill opened a new tasting room and winery in particularly impressive style. A grand opening followed an invitation-only event. On hand for the ribbon cutting was owner David Greenhill and Middleburg Mayor Betsey Davis. 

If we rewind a few years, David Greenhill purchased the fairly unremarkable Swedenburg Winery. It was in need of capital improvement and Greenhill made the strategic investments that transformed the estate from a marginal producer into one of the Commonwealth’s premier wineries. The pre-revolutionary manor house that served as the Swedenburg’s home was renovated to become possibly the nicest wine-club amenity in Virginia. The old tasting room was elegantly remodeled, but it was small. The new facility with its large public and private spaces has exponentially increased capacity.

I must point out that the tasting space is only part of the structure that was unveiled. A new winery will allow winemaker Sebastien Marquet to increase production from the current 5000 cases to 15,000 cases over the next few years. It also provides capacity for 3000 cases of custom crush for other wineries. All of this is made possible by aggressive planting and leasing of other vineyards. Acreage under vine on the estate has increased from 11 to 20 and another 22 additional acres are leased in Amherst and Fauquier Counties. 

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The hiring of Sebastien Marquet as winemaker was a masterstroke that may have been largely a matter of luck. Marquet is easily one of the state’s most talented winemakers who received his formal education in Burgundy at age 16. He went on to make wine in Lanquedoc, Sonoma and Martinique (yes, Martinique) before settling in Virginia. He brings decades of experience that is reflected in the quality of his wine. In a region that can be difficult for growers, Marquet has incrementally improved the quality of the fruit with is subsequently reflected in the Greenhill wines. 

During the opening there were eight wines on the tasting menu. Among these was the Greenhill Blanc de Blancs, which is produced using the traditional method. Marquet introduced this sparkler in a part of the state where until recently none were produced. It will easily compete with similar wines in Central Virginia and is among the best on the east coast.

In my mind the Greenhill reds are the real story. There are three Bordeaux blends bottled on the estate. Eternity is predominantly Petit Verdot, Mythology is dominated by Merlot, and Philosophy, the flagship wine, contains a higher percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon.  All have great potential, but the Philosophy is just out of the park. It is a big, complex wine with firm tannins, which will allow it cellar for several more years. It is still a bit on the young side, but by about 2019 it will be completely ready to drink.

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A couple other aspects of the Greenhill experience that deserve mention are the view from the tasting room. It is just a stunning property that looks out at the Bull Run Mountains. It may seem like a slightly superficial feature, but it certainly adds to the experience.

Customer service, on the other hand, is an amenity missing from many Virginia wineries. The Greenhill staff competes favorably with some of the major event wineries like Pippin Hill or Early Mountain. Everyone in the tasting room or clubhouse is attentive, knowledgeable, and extremely professional. It is really the element, in my opinion, that take Greenhill to the next level. 

So there you have it. Greenhill Winery and Vineyards offers a stunning venue, great wine, amazing customer service and it is topped off with a view. Now you can see why I so enamored with this winery. You just need to see for yourself and when you do, please let me know what you think.


Hartwood Winery

 

Owner(s): Jim and Beverly Livingston

Winemaker: Jim Livingston

Open to Public

Wed-Fri 11 to 5; Sat-Sun 11 to 6

345 Hartwood Road; Fredericksburg, Virginia 22406

phone: 540-752-4893

email: See website

website


Hartwood Winery Profile

Written by Brian—Sep 15, 2014

Jim and Beverly Livingston have an interest in viticulture that started well before the early days of Virginia wine. Their passion inspired them to form a wine society, to which they began inviting various speakers from the trade. As Jim put it, “Lucy Morton spoke to our group and I was impressed and curious with her desire to help start [and] promote Virginia vineyards and wine.” This may have been the catalyst. Jim went on to help Lucy plant vines and volunteered at festivals throughout the state. He also planted Deweese Vineyard as early as 1973 so he could study seven different varietals. 

In 1980, Jim and Beverley purchased the property that would become Hartwood Winery at a time when few vineyards existed in the state. Even today, Hartwood is one of only two wineries in Stafford County. They devoted seven of the fifteen acres to vines and officially opened for business in 1989. 

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Today, in addition to the seven acres under vine, Hartwood leases or contracts an additional twenty five acres throughout Virginia to produce between 5000 and 7000 cases of wine each year. Roughly ninety percent of the wine is sold directly out of the tasting room and a small percentage is sold at a couple of local wine shops. There are a couple wine festivals that the Livingstons are partners in, but in recent years they have stopped doing festivals and competitions. They’ve been in the business long enough, that they can just concentrate on making wine.

So when I visited, there were eleven wines on the tasting menu. All were well made, but there were two of particular note. The Deweese White is a semi-sweet Vidal Blanc that’s filled with tropical notes. I don’t typically go for a sweeter wine, but this one was well balanced. The sweetness did not overpower the fruit and acidity. I found it to be quite exceptional. I’m also a huge fan of Cabernet Franc and the Hartwood offering did not disappoint. It showed tobacco on the nose, some cherry notes, soft tannins and the signature peppery finish. It was a very well crafted wine.

For more than forty years the Livingstons have been cultivating grapes or making wine. That’s a pretty long run, which appears to be nearing its end. The property has been placed on the market. Jim expressed a desire to sell Hartwood to someone interested in wine growing. He seems adamant, as well he should, that the property be purchased and perpetuated as a winery. Indeed, It would be be sad to contemplate any other outcome.

Given this circumstance, it seems like there’s no better time to visit Hartwood winery. It can be explored as part of the relatively new Grapes and Grains Trail, which consists of four wineries, a brewery and Virginia’s oldest distillery. Or, if you just happen to be passing through the Interstate 95 corridor, Hartwood is only a short detour. In any case, make an effort to visit and if you’re in the market for a winery, this might be your opportunity.


 

Additional Resources

Yelp

Visit Fredericksburg