Pssst…I have a secret. Would you like to know about a winery that’s the definition of a hidden gem? Since word is starting to get out, I may as well spill the beans.
I encountered October One about a year ago while having lunch at The Wine Kitchen in Leesburg. Always a fan of drinking local, I perused its Virginia wine list and saw a Cabernet Sauvignon from a place called “October One Vineyard” and was surprised – there’s a Virginia winery that’s escaped my radar! After a glass I excitedly texted a friend exclaiming “Have you heard of this place!?! This Cab is outstanding!”.
Despite that epiphany, finding their wine again proved to be difficult. Unlike most other wineries, October One doesn’t have a tasting room; you can only find them at special events, select restaurants, or a few Leesburg area farmer’s markets. As co-owner and winegrower Bob Rupy says, it’s a “winery without walls”, with its publicity primary driven by word of mouth.
But that ‘word of mouth’ is getting louder. This past October the Loudoun Wineries Association awarded Bob with its Chairman’s Grand Award for his 2018 Viognier. That’s an especially outstanding achievement given what a tough growing year 2018 was. After hearing that news, I decided it was time to track this wine down.
Several days and some Instagram-messages later, I met Bob and his wife Loree at a Leesburg farmers market and he gave me the background on October One. Bob actually helped set up Bluemont Vineyards some years back before starting this new venture. October One’s vineyard is actually on the same slope as Bluemont.
Right now they have 10 acres under vine and make around 500 cases/year (100% estate) – making for a VERY limited distribution. Currently their wine is made by Nate Walsh of Walsh Family Wine. Nate’s an awesome winemaker so it shouldn’t surprise anyone that the 2018 Viognier came from him.
What I tried:
2018 Albariño: Very bright; pretty darn good for a 2018 vintage.
2018 Cabernet Franc Rose: Fuller body than I’d expect of a Rose; made in a dry style.
2018 Merlot Rose: Fantastic color! Heck, it was almost too pretty to drink.
2017 Cabernet Sauvignon: Medium body; fruity and easy drinking. Drinkable now but another year of aging wouldn’t hurt.
2016 Merlot: Strong black cherry notes.
Sadly the 2018 Viognier wasn’t for sale, as they have to hoard the remaining stock to qualify for the 2020 Governor’s Cup wine competition. But I’m sure Bob is going to save me a bottle. Right Bob? Right?
So there you are; you can consider yourself to be ‘in the know’.