I’ve visited many vineyards and have grown to appreciate wines of all characteristics. The one winery that I have not changed my opinion on has been Rappahannock Cellars. What I mean by that is: from my early love of sweet wines to the dryer Bourdeaux style blends, there literally is a wine for everyone at this place. When I began my tour of Virginia’s Wine Country, Rappahannock was an early stop and a no brainer. Month after month, winemaker Jason Burrus, keeps delivering top notch wines to wow your palate.
A little background on the family that has pioneered this great vineyard — The Delmare’s. The family of 14 had originally dug their roots in by the Santa Cruz Mountains, in the form of the old Saratoga Vineyards, now known as the Savannah Channel Vineyards. Over twenty years have passed and the Delmare’s goal was to raise their family in a family-friendly community that can incorporate that farm based environment. What better place than Virginia? Taking their west coast vineyard talents and settling on this great 75-acre farm (formerly known as the Glenway Farm) that consists of about 20 acres of vineyard, the Delmare family has crafted one of the finest Boutique wineries in the entire state of Virginia. The current production is a little over 6,500 cases per year, all of which are or should be award winning varieties. Located just south of Front Royal in the town of Huntley, Rappahannock is no more than an hour from the heavily populated Northern Virginia (DC Metro) area. It is well worth the drive.
As you come down Route 522 from Front Royal, you’ll have to be careful on the long twisty road to not fly passed the vineyard. You’ll notice the vineyard on your left, with the long barn along the entrance road. Along the side of the barn, between the tasting room, are scattered picnic tables and some large rocks (which are perfect for enjoying the Rose with a cigar). The gorgeous tasting room, with front-to-side porch, outlined by bistro tables, offers some stunning views of the vineyard. Stepping into the tasting room, you’ll notice the production facility through the glass windows directly in front of the entrance doors. As you turn left, you will be greeted by 3 separate, sparkling tasting bars that really stand out amongst the completely wood-finished room. The tasting room has a few tables covered with various wines and wind trinkets. For $8 you can taste eight wines. Toss another $6.50 and you can pair six wines with six olive oils to enlighten your taste buds. The tasting fee is waived and the olive oil tasting is discounted when you purchase three or four bottles. Let’s be honest, this is Rappahannock Cellars. Bank on getting a free tasting because you WILL end up leaving with three or four bottles, at least.
It is almost a no brainer when it comes to joining Rappahannock’s wine club. Joining the club will allow you to purchase two bottles of wine per month at the 15% member discount. What else comes along with being a member of the club? Besides the incredible wine that anyone can purchase, you will also be privy to the library wines, pre-release selections, and limited production offerings. Also, when you are at the winery, there is a Member Section. It’s a private room, where the crowds of people pushing for space at the tasting bar in the public room, are not allowed to enter. You can grab a complimentary tasting and grab a bottle (at 15% off) to enjoy with their famous cheese and meat platter. Add the newly expanded room with leather chairs and a fireplace that is perfect for the colder months to sit around or the members only back deck. The addition is HUGE and often times you may see John Hagarty holding a winery event that you can attend at a discounted member price.
Now the question is how is the wine? It’s no secret that I love all of the Rappahannock wines. Why else would I join the wine club? I could sit here and list off all of my favorites, though I decided that listing my tasting notes on all that I have tasted would suffice. So with no further delay, I give you Rappahannock Cellars.
- 2010 Viognier ($23): Gorgeous bouquet of citrus and pineapple gives way to flavors of juicy peach and subtle apricot — this light bodied white finishes crisp and off-dry
- 2010 Chardonnay ($23): Bright fruit glazed with honey…that’s what I get on the nose that tosses smooth citrus flavors with toasty notes. Finishing super smooth, creamy, and buttery, outshining plenty of California Chards — 100% malolactic fermentation
- 2010 Cabernet Franc ($26.50): Spice and oak on the nose, supple dark fruit notes caress the palate and finish with a nice balance of pepper and spice
- 2009 Meritage ($30): The nose to this wine has an oak, spice, and strong coffee waft of…ummm…LOVE. The palate is caressed with a plethora of floral notes mixed with roasted coffee, dark fruit, and a hint of oak. The finish is a perfect balance of tannins and oak that lingers to provide you with the most unique tranquil feeling that could possibly bless your taste buds
- 2010 Reserve Cabernet Franc ($36.50): Super fruit forward explosion on the nose and palate with notes of blackberry that transitions into a rich peppery finish that is big on tannins that linger on and on. Decant for a couple of hours or store for a couple of years to unleash this wines best potential
- 2011 Rose ($21.50): Aromas of strawberry and melon that add subtle notes of black cherry to taste and offers Rose qualities somewhere between French style dry and fruity sweetness — the perfect summertime wine
- 2011 Viognier Ducard Vineyard ($22): Juicy peach aromas and flavors adding a touch of spice and white pepper, carrying a soft round finish with a touch of sweetness — AWESOME
- 2011 Noblesse Rouge ($22.50): Floral bouquet with other aromas of dark berries and super light spice; super smooth palate with a touch of toasty oak finishing smooth and dry
- 2010 Merlot ($28): I can’t argue with the tasting sheet, this wine packs a huge punch with scents of cherry, blackberry, and spice. The flavors incorporate a more blackberry forward flavor with a dab of plum finishing dry and with a sturdy structure that says ‘Age Me’ for a few years. This Merlot is a winner
- 2008 Vidal Blanc ($17.50): Apricot + light citrus + melon + pineapple = a perfect balance of fruit, acidity, and sweetness
- 2011 Fizzy Rose ($20): Much like the still Rose in characteristics with the exception that the strawberry notes are more subtle and the fizz really dries the finish out — Still an excellent wine
Rappahannock also offers a 2008 Petit Verdot, 2009 Cabernet Franc Glenway Vineyard, 2008 Port, Solera, and a 2011 Noblesse Blanc (though only available to club members. HINT, HINT!) Overall this winery offers some of the best wines I’ve had in Virginia. The staff, a lot of whom are related, are the most personable I’ve encountered yet. Make sure you say hello to Allan or Kelly if you stop in. And be sure to mention that you read about Rappahannock Cellars on the Virginia Pour House wine blog.
Overall Rating: 4.5/5
14437 Hume Road
Huntly, VA 22640