Some of you have emailed me with queries similar to this: “you claim to be “Beltway” Bacchus, yet most of your posts are of Finger Lakes or California wines. What gives?” The answer is simply that Caitlin and I spend a lot of time at her parent’s house on Owasco Lake during the summer, which is conveniently located near the Finger Lakes wineries. We do travel out to Loudoun when we can, and the more we get out there, the more I will post about local, DC area wineries. Starting with this post!
We recently were able to get out to Dry Mill Vineyard and Winery in Leesburg, VA. It is one of Loudoun’s newest wineries, having just opened in March of this year, and I was pleasantly surprised by the wines that I tried. Nestled into what was once a horse barn, Leesburg sprawl gives way to the rolling Virginia countryside and Dry Mill is on the rustic side of that divide, yet is still a quick drive from Downtown DC and its environs. Also, Dry Mill has a winery dog, Chard, a friendly black lab, which gets it a few extra points in my opinion. But enough about ambiance and dogs. Onto the wine!
Of the wines that I tried at Dry Mill, there are two that stand out - one white and one red. The 2008 Steel Chardonnay and the 2007 Syrah both were better than I was expecting. As Dry Mill is a newer winery, I was somewhat skeptical of the wines that they had to offer, thinking that they may have purchased their grapes, or were still working to get some of the kinks out of their winemaking process. Surprisingly, neither of these were the case. This is likely due at least in part to the fact that the owners, Dean & Nancy Vanhuss, have been growing grapes in Loudoun County since the 1990s. The wines I tried, and would happily try again, were good, balanced wines that are a great addition to Loudoun’s current roster of wineries.
The 2008 Steel Chardonnay was semi-sweet with a crisp finish with a lot of fruity undertones. It was almost as if I was drinking a fruit salad - with apples, pears and several different kinds of citrus topped with a light vinaigrette, but in a good way.
The 2007 Syrah was a little on the thin side, but had much more of a body than many Virginia reds that I have tried. It also had the spicy kick that Syrahs are known for, but without it being overpowering. The thinness of the body could even be one of the advantages to this wine. If it were any fuller, it would most likely overwhelm and food that it was paired with. As it stands, the 2007 Syrah would go well with just about anything from the red meat camp that is cooked on a Bar-B-Q. Bucket Grill or otherwise.
While both of the wines stand up on there own merits, the benefits of the atmosphere cannot be overlooked. When Caitlin and I visited, there were only a few other customers. We did not need to elbow and claw our way up to the tasting bar and stake a claim. The owners themselves were working the tasting bar, and both Dean and Nancy, along with their dog, were very friendly and welcoming. It helps that the winery is in what was once a horse barn, but has been renovated without losing any of its rustic charm.
Dry Mill is close to DC, has good wine, a great atmosphere and serves light food. It is well worth the trip on a Saturday or Sunday.