On Saturday we decided to take a step back in time and visit Virginia's newest winery, Winery at La Grange , located in historic Haymarket , VA. The winery opened for business over the Labor Day holiday weekend and is the result of winemaker, consultant and owner, Chris Pearmund and partners efforts to bring a winery of elegance and classic distinction to Prince William County.
The Winery at La Grange is a restored 3.5 story late 18th century Manor House that captures the charm and character of its time and is sure to deliver an enchanting atmosphere to all who visit today. Can you imagine the history, legend, tale, lore and ghost stories that surround this tasteful gem?
As we walked up the steps to La Grange, I felt like we were off to visit a Duke of favorable nobility, opposed to visiting a winery. The house is an instant charmer that hides her age very well. As we entered, we were greeted by a very friendly staff and preceded to the tasting room for our taste of history so to speak.
Main tasting area
We were assisted by tasting associate Adale, and the following wines were being poured: Pinot Grigio 2005, Fletchers Chardonnay 2005 (2006 Silver Medal - Atlantic Seaboard Competition), Viognier 2005 (2006 Silver Medal - Atlantic Seaboard Competition), Vidal Blanc 2005, Claret 2005, Cabernet Franc 2005, Merlot 2005 and lastly the Meritage 2004 (2006 Silver Medal - Atlantic Seaboard Competition). All the wines tasted clearly exhibited good varietal character. Especially enjoyed were the Fletchers Chardonnay 2005, which had a full mouth feel and flavors of apple and spice contained in a nice oak frame. The aromatic Viognier 2005 had a nice body, citrus nose and full citrus and sweet oak flavors. The reds were all nice, but we took a liking to the Merlot 2004 which was full and nicely balanced with flavors of red fruit, herb and oak on the palate. The 2004 Meritage blend was tasty, exhibiting berry, red fruit and spice flavors with a nice lingering finish. La Grange also offers a Brut Reserve 2003 Sparkling wine and a Snort 2005 (Port Styled wine), these are of limited production and only available for purchase by bottle. Adale was very friendly and informative about the wines being poured. She also shared with us the history of the house and the good things still to come.
From talking with other patrons during our tasting, several people familiar with Pearmund wines were expecting the La Grange wines to taste like the Pearmund wines. This was not the case however, as these wines are vinified from different grapes and made in a different style and after tasting, it becomes quite apparent these wines are yummy and in a class of their very own.
Adale, all smiles at La Grange
After our tasting we decided to walk about the house and grounds before digging into our picnic basket. The house has many rooms and moving upstairs one will find a room dedicated to presenting and preserving the history of La Grange the Manor House. Interesting readings and artifacts can be found in this room giving a glimpse into the history of this 200+ year old Manor House and surroundings. Next was a visit to one of the neighboring parlor rooms, which with fireplaces, sofas and a unique dated style of its own will be perfect for the upcoming cooler months and a nice glass of something red, rich and full.
Artifacts from the history room
One of the cozy and charming parlor rooms
Moving right along we headed to the newly built winery/barrel room which sits directly behind the Manor House. This is a lovely red spacious building where wine tasting and events can also be held. While walking about the barrel room I noticed two rare 500 gallon Hungarian oak vats; attractive and stylish to say the very least.
View from winery to rear of Manor House - notice the arching boxwoods
Aesthetically pleasing and rare Hungarian Oak Vats
Next, we made our way outdoors to walk the grounds of the Manor House. The newly planted vineyard consist of 5000+ Cabernet Sauvignon vines that will take a few years to develop and mature before being vinified into quality wine. There are future plans for additional plantings of Merlot and Pinot Grigio on the property as well. Facing the vineyard are picturesque views of the Virginia countryside and piedmont to enjoy. There is also a spacious patio with tables and chairs and an outdoor BBQ pit and additional seating areas for patrons to make use of.
After a walk and some conversation we decided on a bottle of the award winning Viognier 2005 to pair with our lunches on the patio. We were joined by others alike and enjoyed our wine, food and conversation under sunny skies. While conversing on the subject of wine history in Virginia I had the pleasure of chatting with historian and writer Ray Olszewski who enlightened me of the many Virginia wineries and vineyards that thrived in Prince William County in the 1800’s and 1900’s. You can find Ray’s work in the Virginia Wine Gazette, and if you have the pleasure of meeting him at La Grange I’m sure he will be more than happy to tell you all about the wonderful history of the property.
Winery at la Grange Viognier 2005
In closing, La Grange, only in its second week of being open to the public was a wonderful experience with a wealth of potential. There is still some visible work to be done, but if you look at the pictures on the web site and trace the progress, this abandoned Manor Homes transformation into a fully operational winery is unbelievable in such short time. The current selections of wines are quality no doubt, and there is something for everyone to savor. La Grange will also be one of the first wineries to offer free wireless internet access to patrons. I look forward to returning again soon to see the progress, as work continues to make your visit to this aged romantic gem a tastefully enjoyable historic wine experience.
Another must stop is Winery at La Grange, thus when you decide to visit this fine winery please let them know you read about them on Virginia Vine Spot.