Rappahannock Cellars Review
Address: 14437 Hume Rd. Huntly,Virginia 22640.
Phone Number: 540-635-9398
Tasting Hours: Sun-Fri 11:30-5:00, Sat 11:30-6:00
Reviewer: Anthony Marocco
Review Date: 4/12/2014
Reviewer: Anthony Marocco
The Delmare family moved from California in the late 1990s with the hope of raising their family in a farming environment. The matriarch, Marialisa Delmare, has a family background rich in farming history with over 100 years of experience and a very successful fruit packing business. Their journey in the vineyard business began shortly before the move to California when they purchased Saratoga Vineyards (which is now Savannah-Channele Vineyards) in the Santa Cruz Mountains in California. The experience of producing wine from 90 year old Chardonnay, Zinfandel, and Cabernet Franc vines, as well as having the ability to share the experience with their children, eventually led to their relocation to Northern Virginia wine country.
The intent of the move was to provide the family with a warm community, a farming environment, and, of course, picturesque views that rivaled those in Santa Cruz. The Glenway Farm in Huntly (just on the border of Front Royal) provided the Delmare’s with just that. In 1998, they planted the initial 15 acres of Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, Viognier, and Cabernet Sauvignon with the help of their children. At some point or another, all twelve of their children will have had or currently have a hand in the operations. Currently, Rappahannock encompasses about 45 acres of land with approximately 20 acres covered with vines. Five acres of Merlot, Petit Verdot, Malbec, and Norton were added after the initial planting. For the first time since inception, the Delmare’s are removing some older vines and replacing them with new vines and varieties that are better suited for the location. About two-thirds of their estate-grown fruit is used to produce approximately 7,000 cases of elegant, old-world style wines.
When you arrive at the road leading to Rappahannock Cellars, you will notice one of Rappahannock’s largest vineyards, the Glenway Vineyard, immediately to your left (if coming from Front Royal). The Glenway Vineyard contains most of the original plantings as well as some new vines that were recently planted to replace older vines. Immediately behind the vineyard, an old, rustic barn, often used for events and wine club gatherings, provides that warm, farm house welcome.
The outside deck and beautiful slate walkway invites you into the tasting room. As you walk in the front doors, large glass windows provide a view of the large, steel fermentation tanks lining the wine cellar below. Bistro tables along the walls offer visitors an indoor area to unwind and enjoy a bottle and a cheese plate, and three large tasting areas provide patrons plenty of room to taste what Rappahannock has to offer. Just beyond the far wall is the Members Section that contains a tasting bar and several large, living room seating setups – all with a glimpse of the outdoor vineyard through the large – almost floor to ceiling – windows. The tasting room addition, which opened approximately two years ago, contains a large fireplace, a living room setup, wine barrel tables, and long family-style tables. Lastly, behind the fireplace to the left, is a long outdoor seating area right along the vineyards edge, which is perfect place to enjoy a cheese platter or Allan Delmares (Rappahannock Wine Club Manager and Marketing Guru) truffle flatbread creations. All and all, a sizable facility with very friendly staff and excellent service.
During my most recent visit, I was able to taste a few of the new releases, as well as get a sneak peak of a couple not-yet-bottled wines. To start the tasting, we were offered the 2012 Rose ($21.50) with its gorgeous watermelon-esque color. It is a perfect pairing for a hot summer day with fresh strawberry aromas and flavors. There is a hint of white pepper on the mid-palate and an off-dry, medium-length finish. Next was the 2013 Chardonnay-Viognier Blend ($24.50), a bold and fruit-driven wine. Exploding aromatically with Mandarin orange, papaya, mango, pineapple, and light floral undertones, this tropical adventure explodes with citrus and pineapple on the palate and finishes clean and crisp. Excellent wine! Moving onto the reds, we began with the 2012 Noblesse Cabernet Franc ($25). Jammy cherry and plum aromas are complimented by subltle notes of vanilla, and the finish is spiced up with light notes of pepper. The last of our reds was the 2012 Cabernet Franc ($26.50). Black cherry, black pepper, and hints of star anise are complimented by earthy undertones. Dry and smooth, the 2012 Cabernet Franc is a gorgeous wine and would be a great match for a fresh grilled steak. As we wrapped up the tasting, we opted for a quick splash of 2011 Port Style Dessert wine ($36). Always a winner at Rappahannock, this port style wine is filled with jammy, fortified dark plum and blackberry flavors and a hint of clove on the smooth and juicy-sweet finish.
Rappahannock continues to produce some of the best wines I have had in Virginia and demonstrates how good Virginia wine can be.