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Thursday, February 13, 2014

Cana Vineyards and Winery

Cana is the place where Christian tradition credits Jesus with performing his first public miracle, when he turned water into wine. It is my assumption that Cana Vineyards and Winery near Middleburg, Virginia is making wine from grapes. Nevertheless, they take their name from this biblical allegory and a visit to the tasting room may reveal something nearly miraculous about the Cana experience.

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Les Bell, the owner/winemaker at Cana, also has a vineyard in Napa, so he brings experience to this Northern Virginia enterprise. Bell planted his first vines at Cana in 2011, currently has five acres under vine and produced 5000 cases of wine in 2013. With plans to incrementally increase acreage of fruit, the production numbers may rise. We’ll need to keep an eye on Cana and see how things shake out, but Bell’s plan is for this venture to remain a small boutique winery.

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Many of the Virginia wineries that I visit have lots of energy. This was true at Cana. On the day of my visit, there were large crowds. There was live music on the second floor, customers filled the tables on both floors and tastings were scheduled at regular intervals to accommodate the number of patrons. It was all positive energy. The building was constructed to accommodate large numbers and there were no signs of overt drunkenness, so Cana felt like a nice place to hang out. It has a very upbeat atmosphere.

After signing up for a tasting at the downstairs bar, I hovered briefly with the small group scheduled for the 2:30 tasting. The wine steward collected us and led us to an upstairs bar, where she conducted the tasting. Christie works weekdays as a school teacher and pours for Cana on the weekends. She was relatively young, but possessed extensive wine knowledge and clearly loved her part-time job. She engaged well with the customers and educated everyone about the Cana product. I found her to be an excellent representative of the Virginia wine industry. Kudos to Cana, if they are training all their wine stewards as well as Christie.

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We tasted seven of the Cana wines. I observed that they are using a wide range of different grapes and even have some fruit wines in their arsenal. I loved the lineup of whites. We tried a Viognier, a Rkatsiteli and, a Traminette. These grapes are all completely different and produced a very eclectic lineup of wines. I mean that in the very best way. All were well crafted, but my favorite was the Viognier. It spent six months in neutral oak and exhibited mango and butterscotch, with a nice mouth feel. The reds included a Petit Verdot-Merlot blend named Le Mariage, which was my overall favorite. It was a big, but perfectly balanced wine, with black fruit notes and a beautiful finish. No runt in that litter. They were all very good wines.

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I had a great visit at Cana Vineyards and they have earned the Virginia Grape’s Legion of Fabulocity, which is presented in recognition of superior customer experience. If that’s not enough to convince you to pay a visit, look at the map. The Middleburg environs are filled with excellent wineries and this is one of them. Make a visit to Cana part of a larger winery expedition.

Cheers!