In northern Fauquier County, within sight of the Blue Ridge you’ll find some of the Middleburg AVA’s finest wineries. When Naked Mountain Winery opened its doors thirty nine years ago, it was the first, not only in the county, but all of Northern Virginia. Today, there are only two wineries in the state that have been around longer. Naked Mountain not only endured the early years, but has remained relevant as an important player in Virginia’s wine industry.
Bob and Phoebe Harper planted the first vines at Naked Mountain back in 1976. The total acreage under vine eventually reached six acres and they sources other fruit locally to achieve a production level of about 6000 cases annually. Long-standing connections allow the winery to continue to purchase local grapes even in this time of shortage. The Harpers, I should add, built a reputation for quality wine, which endures to this day.
In 2010, the winery changed hands. Randy and Meagan Morgan purchased the property, but they continue to honor the traditions established by the Harpers. I understand that there are plans to increase production slightly, to about 7000 cases, but both the Naked Mountain experience and the quality of wine remain intact.
They were pouring eleven wines on the day of my visit. I enjoyed all the wines, but I found the reds to be particularly special. They were serving a light-bodied Cabernet Franc that was well balanced with nice fruit and a bit of pepper in the finish. The Raptor Red was another brilliant wine. This blend of Petit Verdot, Tannat, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon was complex with lots of red fruit on the nose and palate ending in a finish that just kept going.
My favorite of the tasting, however, was the Old Vine Riesling. This dessert wine was made from some of those vines planted back in 1976. It’s a well balanced with stone fruit and honey notes. Sadly, these were the oldest Riesling vines in the Commonwealth, but they have subsequently been pulled up. It’s truly an amazing wine, but this represented the last vintage. Buy it before it’s gone forever.
The winery and the property are a beautiful venue. There’s a large lawn opposite the tasting room, that offers ample space for a picnic or for the kids to play. Inside there is a fireplace for the colder months and tons of balcony space for the rest of the year. They were serving food and visitors were enjoying live music. There seems to be a little bit of something for everyone.
If you are interested in experiencing a piece of Virginia wine history or if you are looking for a venue to relax and enjoy well-crafted wine in any season, Naked Mountain is an option. I’ll certainly return when I’m not working, so I can spend a little more time getting to know the winery.