Up in Loudoun County, in the Middleburg AVA, there’s ten acre property that was once a working farm. Its century-old wood and stone dairy barn has been restored and repurposed as a tasting room. The restoration maintained the integrity and feel of the old barn, which has a cathedral-like quality. It’s here in this fabulous space that you can taste The Barns at Hamilton Station wines.
After wandering around the property and taking a few pictures, I bellied up to the tasting bar. Susan poured the six wines available on the menu. She’s been with the winery since it opened, so she was a wealth of information and was able to speak quite intelligently about the wines. Susan was also able to put me in touch with two of the owners, but more on that in a minute.
Despite the fact that I found all the wines worthy of mention, I simply can’t discuss them all. Fortunately, there were a couple of real winners. The Rosé was one of my favorites. This blend of Cabernet Franc and Merlot was done in a French style, which is to say it’s a dry Rosé. It was full of fresh strawberry notes that reminded me of a warm summer day. It could be a go-to picnic wine.
The reds included a Malbec and a very good medium-bodied Merlot, but I was particularly impressed by the Cabernet Franc, which was my top pick of the tasting. It was blended with ten percent Petit Verdot and five percent Merlot. This blend had beautiful fruit, nice structure and showed off a little bit of spice in the finish. It was a wonderful wine and made me wonder why Cab Franc isn’t the state grape.
Following my tasting, I had an opportunity to sit down with Andrew and Maryann Fialdini, who own The Barns along with Craig and Kim Garten. We talked at some length about what the winery is doing today and plans for the future. There are currently two and one half acres under vine, which were planted in 2011. With five additional leased acres, the winery is able to produce about 2400 cases per hear. There are plans to increase production,but the challenge is finding more grapes. So for now, they are seeking additional property suitable for viticulture.
Despite the fact that increased production is desirable, The Barns has finally reached a point where they are not selling through all of their stock and they’re able to begin building a library. This also gives them the bandwidth to rotate their tasting sheet every couple of weeks. They make a total of twelve wines and offer six for tasting on any given day.
Michael Shaps is winemaker, which explains the quality of the wine at this young winery. Of course this means that the wines are being produced near Charlottesville in Central Virginia, so there is a continual need to transport stock up to Loudoun County. It’s possible that a winery will eventually be built at The Barns, but there are no immediate plans and the Shaps wines are unquestionably first rate. We’ll just have to wait and see how things develop over the next few years.
In the mean time, The Barns is amassing a flock of regular patrons. They are trying to strike the right balance, so they don’t become too crowded and gain a reputation as a place to drink. They offer catered food and music on Fridays and music most weekends during the day. The beauty of the property also makes it a particularly attractive wedding spot. Pets are also welcome and there’s plenty of space on the grounds to bring a picnic.
So The Barns at Hamilton Station receives the prestigious Virginia Grape “two thumbs up” and should be added to your list. This is an exciting time to visit and definitely a winery to keep an eye on. I predict great things in the coming years. Get out there now, so you can say “you knew them, when they were young."