This past weekend Dezel saddled up with a few food and wine bloggers for the Reston Limousine’s first blogger’s wine tour. Reston Limousine sponsored this trip, and as always, was professional, accommodating, and right on schedule. I highly recommend their service for Virginia winery tours. The plan of the day was to visit the four producers who make up the Loudoun Wine Trail’s Harmony Cluster. These producers are Casanel Vineyards, Dry Mill Vineyards & Winery, Zephaniah Farm Vineyard, and lastly, Willowcroft Farm Vineyard. The food and wine bloggers who were present on this trip were Tammi Marcoullier of the Washington Post and Insideout blog, Joe Roberts of 1 wine dude blog, Kathy and Terry Sullivan of Wine Trail Traveler, freelance web designer Audrey McGill, Therese Howe of Reston Limousine blog, and of course, me, Dezel. Sounds like fun, right? Read on, and let’s get this party started.
The Harmony Cluster is a unique tour that features Loudoun’s oldest operational winery, Willowcroft Farm Vineyards, as well as Loudoun’s newest member, Dry Mill Vineyards & Winery. With the rapid growth of wine producers in Loudoun County , this is subject to change, but as it exists today, you can sample both the old and the new side of Loudoun wine on the Harmony Cluster Trail. Traipsing along the Harmony Cluster Wine Trail takes you through picturesque surroundings and gravel roads dotted with century old trees. You may even spot Bambi, or better yet, Yogi – it is a beautiful trail to explore. So, if you have not been, follow our lead. You are sure to have a good time.
Our first stop of the day took us to Casanel Vineyards, a fairly new winery that opened in October of 2008. Casanel Vineyards is situated on a beautiful and tranquil forty-acre property at the foot of the Catoctin Mountains with ten acres under vine. Casanel Vineyards is owned by Casey and Nelson DeSouza, who purchased the Leesburg property in 2006. We were joined by Nelson in the tasting room, who is one of the most personable winery owners I have ever met. If Nelson were to put his inspirational story of dream-turned-reality on audio book, I would be the very first to buy a copy.
Nelson came to the States from humble beginnings in Brazil some forty-eight years ago, and was previously in the construction business. He has used his years of carpentry experience to restore a circa 1800s old cattle barn into a charming and spacious tasting room, which retains the historic structure’s heritage and character. The multi-level, stone-fronted, timber-framed tasting room features a long, elegant tasting bar to accommodate large crowds and several tables, some of which are topped with attractive hand-made black walnut, to enjoy a glass of wine and light fare. The tasting room also includes a spiral staircase that leads to a second tasting bar with attractive tables and chairs and a flat screen television.
The tasting room at Dry Mill is housed in a rustic, yet charming restored stable and barn which once played host to the horses and hound dogs of the Loudoun Hunt Club. It is warm and cozy on the inside and provides a nice leisurely setting for wine tasting. The wines at Dry Mill, as well as the aforementioned Casanel Vineyards, are made by consulting winemaker Kerem Baki, who is the primary winemaker for his family operation, Hillsborough Vineyards. That said, both wineries do showcase unique personalities and differing styles of wine. At the tasting bar, Dean and Nancy guided us through a full lineup of Dry Mill’s red and white wines, including a floral Traminette 2008, an aromatic Viognier 2008, a Steel and gently oaked Barrel Chardonnay 2008, a Syrah 2007, a Cabernet Franc 2007, a Norton 2007, and an off-dry Rosé 2007. The easy-drinking Cabernet Franc really shined here, offering cherry and spice aromas, moderate acidity, and a medium-length finish.
On the deck chatting with owner Dean Vanhuss
Both Casanel Vineyards and Dry Mill Vineyards & Winery offers a tranquil respite from the hustle and bustle of the daily grind and provides a relaxing setting to enjoy a bottle of wine paired with light luncheon fare. Stay tuned to the blog for Loudoun’s Harmony Cluster Tour Part II. When you visit these wineries be sure to tell the kind folks you read about them here on Dezel’s http://www.myvinespot/ wine blog.Happy Sipping!
Stay tuned friends ...more to come!
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