The first stop of a leisurely (if rainy) Friday of visiting wineries. I’m not saying that drinking wine isn’t a good enough reason to visit a winery – it IS, and I do it all the time. That said, I love scenic drives and historic homes as well. When you combine all three, it’s like a magnet.
Located at the northern edge of the Shenandoah Valley, Valerie Hill is a brick manor house dating back to 1807 and was used as a hospital during the Civil War – an important part of its history. Even now, it feels very homey. It’s not often you get to enjoy your wine & cheese plate while sitting in the drawing room of a manor, while looking at an authentic Civil War uniform on display (with bullet holes!).
Currently they have 6 acres of vines – all hybrids. This is supplemented by fruit from the Shenandoah AVA, allowing them to produce around 4000 cases/year. Mike Shaps is the winemaker, which is a good fit since it allows them to pull from a wide number of vineyards.
Besides the wine, Valerie Hill also famous for its ghost stories – including one of a child who was declared insane and sequestered to the attic. Add to this the apparitions of Civil War dead you have yourself a no-kidding haunted home. I haven’t done it yet, but they also have dinners where they go into greater detail about their paranormal sightings. And yes – guests HAVE been known to report such sightings.
Josh was the tasting room manager on duty, and he loved talking about his wines as much as I loved trying them. I lucked out that he even pulled a bottle of their 2012 Petit Verdot off the shelf. SCORE!!!
What I tried:
2018 Seyval Blanc: Lemon notes.
2017 Antebellum (50/50 Chardonnay/Viognier blend): Light and peachy.
2017 Chardonnay: Reminiscent of California Chardonnays, with a creamy butter finish.
2017 Manor House White: Vidal/Riesling blend with some Traminette, made in stainless steel. Green apple notes.
2017 Cabernet Franc: Light color and some cherry notes; I liked this a lot. Maybe it’s still young, but I was surprised to see this is a Cab Franc given the lack of spice, bell pepper or tobacco notes.
2017 Reserve Merlot: Earthy up front but smooths out; another winner. Josh described the taste as ‘wet slate’. Maybe I need to lick more chalk boards to be sure?
2017 Stone Chimney (Cab Franc/Merlot) Tasting young; very tart and bright. It was almost sweet but not sugar sweet. Sweet wine lovers would appreciate this red.
2016 John Barron (Petit Verdot): “Fat” was the key adjective here (high fruit but low acid). Dark berry notes.
2012 John Barron (PV): Bold, strong on the plumb. I really loved this one.