Lake Anna is one of the largest freshwater lakes in Virginia. It's surrounded by over one hundred communities, that are supported primarily by recreation and tourism. It's in this tourist community, that Lake Anna Winery began operation in the early 1980s.
Bill and Ann Heidig planted their first grapes in the early 1980s and originally sold their produce to other Virginia wineries. When they shifted to wine production in 1990, they were one of only thirty wineries in the state. So the winery has a little history and the Heidigs were engaged in viticulture before Virginia gained its reputation for world-class wine. Over thirty years later, Bill Heidig is still actively engaged with the winery, but most of the day to day operations have shifted to his sons, Jeff and Eric. Long-term plans are to expand production to 10,000 cases per year, but this is no corporate wine-making facility. It's still very much a family business and that is reflected in the friendly, relaxed, inviting atmosphere in the tasting room.
Lake Anna currently has twenty four acres under vine and all the wine is produced onsite. In 2001, Bill and Ann retired from physical wine making and hired Graham Bell, who was previously a winemaker at Horton Vineyards. The introduction of this major wine-making talent is evident in the quality of the Lake Anna wines.
On the day of my visit, there are a dozen wines on the Lake Anna tasting menu. I found that they were all well crafted. I was excited to see a 2010 Cab Franc on the menu and I wasn't disappointed. The 2010 Cabernet Franc won gold in the 2013 Atlantic Seaboard Competition and it is an obvious award winner. There is a ripe berry aroma and in the mouth, it really opens up with red fruit and bit of pepper. It's an absolutely fabulous wine. I had to take some of this home to try alongside some other 2010 Cab Francs. Another very interesting wine is the 2011 Essensual. This Vidal Blanc is done in an ice wine style and contains about 10% residual sugar, but don't let that fool you. It smells very sweet, but the fruit is not overpowered by the sugar. The grape really comes through and it has a very smooth mouth feel. This is one of the best dessert wines I've tasted this season.
I had a great visit at Lake Anna. The tasting was not rushed and the wines were exceptional. In addition, the wine steward, Patty, offered a wealth of knowledge about the wines, the winery and the local area. The tasting was entertaining and flowed like a conversation. It was everything I look for in a tasting experience.
We drove out to Lake Anna Winery during peak foliage and the scenery along our route was just breathtaking. I'm sure that in summer, the drive along the lake will be equally beautiful. I noted that there are numerous restaurants and shops dotting the route, so the area offers much more than just a wine-tasting experience. This can easily be a weekend destination.
If you're headed out that way, Lake Anna is part of the Heart of Virginia Wine Trail and for a single $15 price, you can visit all of the wineries. If you're inclined to hang out for a bit, there's lots of space in the tasting room or on the property to spread out, enjoy the scenery and enjoy a picnic. So if you're in the area, you really need to stop in. Not only does Lake Anna Winery represent a piece of Virginia wine history, they are also producing world-class wines.