Sunday, May 20 marked the grand opening of the newest addition to Loudoun County’s wine industry: 868 Estate Vineyards has opened at Grandale Farm along with an elegant new Tasting Room.
The Tasting Room displays several paintings by local artists. Peter Deliso, one of the co-owners, explained, “We have an art program here at the vineyard. We have three artists showing right now that regularly show at the Torpedo Factory,” referring to the well-known gallery on Alexandria, Virginia’s waterfront. “We’ll bring in new artists throughout the season,” he went on to explain, “and we’ll have a couple of art shows.”
The art program at 868 Estate Vineyards is an extension of Grandale’s ongoing support of the arts in Loudoun County. The picturesque estate has hosted several dinner theater productions by Run Rabbit Run Theater, with a unique, outdoor production of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream slated for July.
The play will be presented in the beautifully landscaped area just outside the Tasting Room, flanked by a rustic barn which is a beautiful example of Loudoun’s characteristic 18th century stone masonry. Lined with blooming flowers and mature shade trees, it’s easy to see how this will be the perfect setting for the classic romantic comedy.
And then, of course, there’s the wine.
Ten and a half acres of Grandale Farm have recently been planted with 868 Estate Vineyards’ grape vines. The vines consist of several varietals including Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Chardonel. This is just the beginning. Winemaker Carl DiManno has big plans for the vineyard. Identifying himself as a “disciple” of noted viticulturist Lucy Norton, who teaches high-density planting, DiManno expects the vineyard to ultimately boast 1900 vines per acre across 30 to 35 acres of the property.
In the meanwhile, oenophiles who visit 868’s Tasting Room can choose from among seven wines created by DiManno from grapes grown at Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyard, where DiManno had been plying his craft before becoming the winemaker for 868.
Stand-outs from the currently available wines include the Liberty Pinot Grigio, a crisp, refreshing wine which features notes of grapefruit and apple; Independence Rosé of Merlot, a surprisingly flavorful rosé; Church Creek Cabernet Franc, a peppery red; and Declaration Meritage, a fat, beefy wine with a deep red color.
The Meritage, Carl DiManno told me, is his favorite. “2007 was an outstanding year,” he said, “It was clear and dry throughout the harvest season, and produced nice and balanced wines.”
Visitors to the 868 Estate Vineyards Tasting Room can enjoy a complete tasting for $8, and then perhaps purchase a bottle to enjoy on the patio with light fare from the Grandale Restaurant. Or visit the Grandale Restaurant dining room for a complete meal.
Visitors are also invited to explore the grounds. A short, 10 or 15 minute walk will take you to the top of the mountain overlooking the vineyard. This rise marks the highest elevation in the valley at 868 feet.
Grandale Farm and 868 Estate Vineyards are located at 14001 Harpers Ferry Road. Visit 868estatevineyards.com for more information.