A couple weeks back my good friend, Chris, was in town with his girlfriend. When trying to decide what we were going to do that Friday afternoon, of course the first thing that came to my mind was visit a winery. I wanted to stay relatively close to my place in Fairfax, and the closest winery that came to mind was Paradise Springs, in Clifton. Yes, folks, Fairfax County has a winery, and a GORGEOUS one at that. After my first visit to Paradise Springs, I wasn’t sure how I felt about it. Granted, the property was gorgeous; however, I wasn’t overly impressed with the wines I tasted during their grand opening. Almost two years later, it was time to give Paradise Springs another go.
For those of you who haven’t actually been to the winery, allow me to give you a visual. The property sits on a 36 acre plot that is only a short distance from the bank of the Bull Run River. The winery has a small portion of the property dedicated to their own vines which are located to the right side of the gravel parking lot. To the left side of the parking lot is the beautifully restored log cabin. When Paradise Springs first opened, this cabin was utilized for tastings on the top floor, with a tasting cellar located just below. Directly in back of that cabin is a small barn, which, at the time of my visit, was being used for a birthday party.
As you pass the barn on your left, is the grand tasting room that is completely ensconced in as much wood as some of their wines. I kid, I kid. Tall ceilings, reminiscent of a ski lodge in Northern New England, are the lid on one of the most elegant tasting rooms I’ve visited in Northern Virginia. Along the entire right side of the tasting room, lined with patrons, was the tasting bar. To the left side, lit up like a painting at the Musée du Louvre, is the barrel room. Littered about the center of the tasting room are finished wine barrels turned table tops with stools surrounding them. Out the back door of the tasting room is a gorgeous patio with an elegant stone fireplace, surrounded by couches and cushioned end chairs. Along each side of the quasi-living room setup are a several bistro tables on either side. The patio is covered and generally houses live music such as a band or string quartet, depending on the weekend and venue.
As I strolled up to the bar, I was greeted with a smiling, knowledgeable gentleman ready to walk me through the tasting for a nominal fee of $10 (including a take home glass). Let me just start by saying, since my last visit, the winemaking has stepped up big time. The first wine of the tasting was the 2010 Viognier ($27). This stainless steel fermented Viognier exhibits floral and oak aromas with a honeysuckle and apricot nuance. Honey and apricot flavors flourish on the palate and finish smooth and round. Delicious! Next up is the 2010 Petit Manseng ($24), which is fermented in stainless steel, French oak, and Acacia. Unlike most of the Petit Manseng varietals that I have had in Virginia, this particular offering has a low .5% residual sugar and finishes surprisingly dry. The nose is full of citrus with very light floral notes and packs big orange and peach flavors.
Following on my notables list is the 2011 Cabernet Franc ($24) which is 100% Cabernet Franc and is one of the only estate grown grape that Paradise Springs offers. Like most Cabernet Franc varietals, there were plenty of spice and black pepper aromas teasing the nostrils. And then add a touch of vanilla and oak to the equation. For such a new bottling, this Cabernet Franc has high hopes for being a lightning rod in my wine rack a few years down the line. The last of the tasting that absolutely requires a spotlight is the 2010 Meritage ($32). By now, most of you who follow my blog should know that nothing, I repeat NOTHING, tops a Bourdeaux blend, in my eyes. Paradise Springs dropped a bomb on my taste buds with a complex and balanced tannin structure, outlining big flavors of black cherry and spice with a subtle blueberry addition to the finish. The aromas carry much of the same on the nose, with more of a spice presence. I’m a huge fan of this Meritage. It’s not quite Rappahannock Cellars, but it is pretty damn close. Most of the wines, if not all, are pretty damn good and worth mentioning, which is why at the foot of this post I included the rest of the tasting notes.
If you are looking for a glass of wine on the patio while listening to some great music performances, or a relaxing lavish atmosphere with a close proximity to DC on a rainy day, this is your spot. Not to mention, they are open until 9PM on Friday nights. Not a bad happy hour suggestion…just saying! If you do happen to stop by for a visit be sure to let them know you read about Paradise Springs on Virginia Pour House wine blog.
Overall Rating: 3/5 Corks
Paradise Springs Winery
13219 Yates Ford Road
Clifton, VA 20124