Virginia is for (Wine) Lovers

by artfuldiner on October 24, 2020

in Artful Diner Review, Opinion, Wine

My permanent dining partner and I recently enjoyed a sojourn to Salamander,, a resort/spa located in Middleburg, Virginia (more on the resort and the restaurants at a later date). Middleburg is a charming little town in Loudoun County, approximately 43 miles from Washington, DC. Since the early 20th century, Middleburg has enjoyed the reputation as the “nation’s horse and hunt capital,” drawing distinguished visitors from all over the United States.

But Middleburg is also surrounded by “DC’s Wine Country,” as the rolling hills and cliff-edged slopes of Loudoun County are home to more than 40 wineries and tasting rooms.

Greenhill Winery & VineyardsThe Greenhill Winery & Vineyards, 23595 Winery Lane, Middleburg, VA,, is quite picturesque and reminded us of several wineries we had visited in South Africa. Of particular note was their 2019 Viognier. This is a lovely wine that is aged in stainless steel and offers up a distinctive floral bouquet. Crisp and clean, it beguiles the palate with notes of stone fruit and mandarin leading to a lively and expressive finish. A very nice wine, indeed, priced at $39.00.

Also highly recommended is their 2018 Chardonnay, $42.00, and the 2017 Superstition, a blend of 51% Cabernet Franc, 34% Syrah, and 15% Merlot, $38.00. These wines may be ordered from the winery’s website and will be shipped directly to Pennsylvania.

Other popular Middleburg wineries worth a visit: 50 West Vineyards, 39060 John Mosby Highway, Estate Winery, 2042 Burrland Lane, Vineyards & Winery, 38600 John Mosby Highway, Vineyards, 39025 John Mosby Highway,

One evening we dined at the historic Red Fox Inn; and I choose a special pairing of Virginia wines to accompany my dinner. I was particularly taken with the 2015 Hardscrabble Chardonnay from Linden Vineyards, 3708 Harrels Corner Road, Linden, VA,, which is located a short twenty miles from Middleburg.

Linden Vineyards - Hardscrabble VineyardHardscrabble is Linden’s iconic estate vineyard that surrounds the winery (pictured). It is appropriately named for steep, poor, rocky slopes that are notoriously difficult to farm but wonderful for vines. The first plantings date from 1985. The vineyard tends to produce firmly structured wines that develop slowly and take on more depth with time. Because of the older vines and diversity of soils, the wines develop great complexity. The chardonnays are Burgundian in style and require 3 or 4 years of aging before they evolve.

The 2015 Hardscrabble Chardonnay, for example, was aged for 12 months in 20% new French oak and tips the scale at a perfectly balanced 13.7% alcohol. There’s just a touch of oak at the outset… but it’s breath-takingly subtle, as this wine exhibits the sophistication and finesse of a fine white Burgundy. This is a beautiful wine at an equally beautiful price point. It is available at $33.99 online through Calvert Woodley Fine Wine & Spirits in Washington, DC,

Stone Tower WineryIf there is one winery in the Middleburg area that deserves a visit, it is undoubtedly the Stone Tower Winery, 19925 Hogback Mountain Road,, just a short hop down the road in Leesburg.

Interestingly enough, Stone Tower, owned by Mike & Kristi Huber, really doesn’t boast an actual stone tower on the property. The Huber family once lived in Germany, and the name Stone Tower was inspired by the imposing stone castles that dot the German landscape. It’s also a reference to the rocky soils on Hogback Mountain Road, where the winery is located.

Stone Tower, however, does boast two different tasting rooms… one is a two-story red barn that serves as the family (read here: children) and dog friendly tasting area. The second is a new and stunning three-story venue. This new tasting room, as well as the outdoor terraces are for adults only. The winery grounds are beautiful and spacious, with ample outdoor seating and expansive views in all directions.

In addition to tastings and wines by the glass and bottle, the winery also offers an excellent menu of wood-fired pizzas, salads, sandwiches, and charcuterie. The day of our visit, for example, we enjoyed an excellent Moroccan Spiced Hummus served with toasted pita bread and an olive tapenade.

Currently, the winery makes wine under two different labels. The estate label, Stone Tower Estate, is wine made at Stone Tower with grapes grown exclusively on the estate. The Wild Boar Cellars label also denotes wine made at Stone Tower, but with grapes sourced from other locations.

We sampled both the 2019 Estate Chardonnay $10.00 Glass/$32.00 Bottle) and the 2017 Wild Boar Pinot Noir ($12.00 Glass/$38.00 Bottle). The chard was light on the palate and well-balanced with just a hint of oak. After sampling a nauseating number of over-oaked California chardonnays, this was a delightfully welcome relief. My dining partner, who simply adores chardonnay, was suitably impressed. The pinot noir was also quite nice, which really wasn’t a great surprise as the grapes had been sourced from Oregon’s Willamette Valley. The wine was elegant, delicate, and as smooth as silk on the palate. This is the winery’s best-selling Wild Boar red wine; and it very well-made and an absolute pleasure to drink.

The winery also produces an Estate “Hogback Mountain,” 2017 currently available, which I did not taste. Aged in a combination of new and used French and American oak, this is a cabernet-based Bordeaux-style blend with touches of merlot, cabernet franc, and petit verdot. $69.00.

All the above-mentioned vintages are available for purchase at the winery.

RdV WineryOne final word about a winery I was unable to visit because of time constraints… RdV Vineyards (the initials of owner/vigneron Rutger de Vink), 2550 Delaplane Grade Road, Delaplane, VA,, is a boutique winery celebrating the 10th anniversary of its first vintage. It currently produces only three wines…

Lost Mountain is the ultimate expression of terroir. Named for a nearby hilltop on the edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains once surveyed by George Washington, Lost Mountain is a world-class wine formed by RdV’s granite soil and produced by the vineyard’s finest cabernet sauvignon. The 2016 RdV Lost Mountain is comprised of 97% cabernet sauvignon and 3% merlot, and has received a 96-point rating from wine critic James Suckling.

Rendezvous, a stylish Bordeaux-blend of 36% merlot, 35% cabernet sauvignon, and 29% cabernet franc, is described as expressive and hedonistic, a wine for all occasions.  The 2016 Rendezvous also received a 96-point rating from critic James Suckling.

Friends and Family is also a Bordeaux-blend of 42% cabernet sauvignon, 40% merlot, 16% cabernet franc, and a touch of petit verdot, produced from younger vines. This wine spends a shorter time in oak and, therefore, delivers a more open, ready to drink style. I have personally tasted the 2017 Friends and Family and it exhibits classic Bordeaux aromas, has a lovely texture and a very nice finish.

Just one caveat… These wines are rather difficult to find, and they are expensive. The 2016 Lost Mountain, the winery’s flagship wine, is only sold to members of the winery’s wine club and is priced at $225.00. It is currently sold out. The 2016 Rendezvous is priced at $75.00. I was fortunate enough to pick up a bottle of the 2017 Friends and Family at Knead Wine,, 5 West Washington Street in Middleburg, an interesting combination wine shop and pizza parlor. Price: $45.00.

Your best place to find Rendezvous and Friends and Family is probably online… Chain Bridge Cellars, 1351 Chain Bridge Road, McLean, VA,, for example, is selling the 2015 Rendezvous at $84.99 per bottle; the 2017 Friends and Family at $39.99. I’m not certain whether they will ship to Pennsylvania, as the rules governing wine shipping seem to change faster than you can pop a cork. In addition, don’t hesitate to contact the winery directly, as they may have some helpful suggestions. These wines are definitely worth the effort.


Be Safe


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