Hiddencroft Vineyards Review
Address: 12202 Axline Rd. Lovettsville,Virginia 20180.
Phone Number: 540-535-5367
Tasting Hours: Thurs-Mon 12:00-6:00 and by appt.
Region: Middleburg Virginia AVA, Virginia
Reviewer: Brian Yost
Review Date: 12/26/2013
Reviewer: Brian Yost
In the far upper reaches of the Middleburg AVA youll find one of the northern-most wineries in the state of Virginia. Hiddencroft Vineyards is not far from Maryland, and its off the beaten path. We stumbled across it almost by accident. It was nearing the end of the day, but we were interested in visiting one more winery before returning home, and someone recommended Hiddencroft. I keep a list of winery recommendations and that name had never been mentioned, but we were relatively close, so we made the drive.
The farm, on which Clyde and Terry Housel opened Hiddencroft, was established in the 1830s. I should say that the house and existing farm buildings were built then. German immigrants first settled Northern Loudoun County in the early eighteenth century. They may have been religious refugees or just farmers fleeing the ravages of the Thirty Years War. Whatever the case, they cleared and farmed that part of Virginia and the area has been dedicated largely to agriculture ever since.
Today Hiddencroft is a small family-run winery. The Housels planted about six acres of grapes (purchase more locally) and produce about 1500 cases of wine each year. On the surface it looks like so many other small boutique wineries Ive visited. The farmhouse has been converted into a tasting room and the barn was remodeled as an event space. Its a very pretty, well-cared-for property, but theres nothing on the surface that sets it apart from the other local wineries.
You have to go into the tasting room in order to understand how this winery is special. Im not really talking about the interior of the building. Oh, its nice inside. Its actually very well put together with a pair of tasting bars and seating for guests. I mean the tasting itself. The wines are just extremely well crafted.
As with so many of these small Virginia wineries, Clyde Housel started making wine as a hobby. He realized some success and modestly expanded to his current level of production. Well, to say that he realized some success is something of an understatement. Clyde is a real artisan. My friends and I were just blown away by the quality of his product. I might go out on a limb and say that Hiddencroft wines were some of the best Ive tasted in Virginia.
Clyde uses primarily French varietals and has a line of fruit wines. Without exaggeration, all of the wines were superb. The whites included a Vidal Blanc and a couple different Traminettes. The reds included a Cabernet Franc and a Bordeaux blend. The Tannat was the best example of that varietal Ive ever tasted. It was the Chambourcin, however, that was the biggest surprise. Clyde introduced it as if it were typical of what one might find in Loudoun County. I must say that Ive tasted many Chambourcins and nowhere in Virginia have I had one with those characteristics. It was big, smoky, earthy and smooth with layers of complexity. Its a potential award winner.
I wont go into much detail about the fruit wines except to say that they were also quite good. An interesting aspect of the wines is the use of blackheart cherries, which were planted by the original German settlers. The cherry trees grow wild around the edges of the fields. The use of the cherries seems to add a sort of historical dimension to the product and provides an element that is truly unique to Loudoun County.
One great feature of these small wineries is that the owner/winemaker will often be in the tasting room pouring the wine. So instead of some college kid rattling off a few worn descriptors for each of the offerings, its possible to have a substantial conversation and gain real insights into each wine. That was the case during our visit, and we were lucky enough to have Clyde pouring his own product. As he described them, we were able to hear the passion in his voice. This is a vocation he loves and one at which he absolutely excels.
Im sure I would have eventually visited Hiddencroft as I crisscross the state exploring wineries. Im just glad that I discovered it sooner rather than later. It was pure dumb luck that I was in the right place and got a solid recommendation. This is the kind of discovery that always excites me. These little wine-tasting adventures occasionally yield a real gem and this was one of them. If youre keeping a list, add Hiddencroft Vineyards.