If you are visiting Northern Virginia looking for a cluster of diverse wineries, Delaplane is the area for you. Home to more than a half-dozen wineries, you can easily compose a tour to fill a full day. Some of my favorite Virginia wineries live here, including Blue Valley, Three Fox, and Arterra. Among this group you will also find the hillside boutique winery Delaplane Cellars, majestically positioned against the side of Lost Mountain.
But before you traverse the hill, make sure you read their guidelines (of which there are many). If you are traveling with kids (including infants) or looking for a group tasting for more than six, you’ll need to turn around and find a different winery. The rule goes for limos, too, which are not allowed on the property under any circumstances.
A young family or a bachelorette party hoping for a little getaway should visit one of the more accessible wineries just a few miles away, like Barrel Oak or Three Fox. But if you’re longing for a cozy, quiet afternoon overlooking vines and valley, Delaplane Cellars may provide the perfect environment. Also of note: Delaplane Cellars offers discounts for all current and former military personnel, as well as active firefighters, which is awesome.
One rule you won’t know until you get to the winery itself is that no outside food is permitted inside the tasting room, the patio, or the deck. In fact, the only place you can eat if you brought your own picnic or if you have food allergies that prevent you from eating food on their light fare menu, are the picnic tables behind the winery. This is an important aspect since Virginia summers can be oppressive and the winters downright cruel; eating outside may be undesirable, if not impossible.
Additionally, you cannot enter the vines. Many wineries allow you to walk among the vines or even drink among them, but they are closed to the public at Delaplane, as is the barrel room and production area.
Assuming you made it through the gauntlet of requirements to gain entrance to the winery, you’re greeted by a gorgeous door. Why do I mention a door? Owners Jim and Betsy Dolphin are environmentally conscious and take the endeavor seriously. In fact, all of the stone and wood used in the facility came from the land upon which it is built. And the front door and tasting bar were handcrafted from a diseased black walnut tree that resided on the farm. The result is an astonishing example of craftsmanship.
Heading inside, the facility is beautifully architected, with clean lines and glass doors positioned perfectly above the green valley and blue hills. This space invites you to stay and open a bottle from the moment you enter. If you walk in without murmuring wow, you may have hit one too many wineries already.
The tasting room and winery, built in 2009, shows no signs of wear. Gorgeously designed and decorated, it creates spaciousness through soaring ceilings and broad lit, modern lighting.
On Delaplane’s property, ten acres are dedicated to growing varietals, including petit verdot, petit manseng, sauvignon blanc, merlot, cabernet franc, and cabernet sauvignon. Fifty percent of their grapes are grown on the Lost Mountain location, with the other fifty percent purchased from other growers. One hundred percent of the grapes are Virginia grown. And we like that.
Having asked the tasting room manager the production level for the current year, she was unsure. (I also asked what the case production was for the year prior, but she could not answer that either.) In any case, Delaplane is undeniably a boutique winery. And while production is still small, this should provide apt time to focus on the quality of the wines.
At the time of my visit, the prices ranged from $24 to $53 per bottle.
The $12 tasting included the following seven wines:
Whites: 2014 Vidal Blanc, 2015 Mélange Blanc (Blend of Vidal Blanc, Albariño, Viognier and Petit Manseng), 2015 Petit Manseng;
Reds: 2014 Cinq 5 (Blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc, and Syrah–all aged in American, French, and Hungarian Oak, then blended), 2013 Mélange Rouge (Blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot, and Cabernet Franc), 2014 Piedmont Station (Blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc), 2013 Left Bank (Blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot).
I loved Katharyn, our wine educator. For each of my questions she had an answer and understood the wines intimately. Each wine is like being introduced to a potential new friend, and having someone help you understand who you are meeting is a gift. Katharyn delivered on every level.
Delaplane’s tasting was heavy on blends, making it a greater challenge to sense the winemaker’s capability toward coaxing expression out of each varietal (other than the Vidal Blanc and Petit Manseng). But there were some standouts among the crowd.
The Petit Manseng was a hit (enough for a bottle to take home and a glass post-tasting). With 1.5% residual sugar, it was a medium-dry fruity blast, with pineapple front to back and a lush mango finish. A summer treat. The Left Bank, grown 100% on site, was a tasty Bordeux-style blend, with distinct oak and tobacco on the nose, and blackberries and cocoa on the palate.
Delaplane’s Piedmont Station, with its smoky nose and berry and chocolate palate, possessed overpowering tannins, but leave this one in the bottle another year or two and you’ll have a wine worth sipping by the fire.
Delaplane offers a solid array of incentives for their club members, including 20% discounts on bottles (which really adds up on $40+ bottles of wine), 15% discounts on light fare which is all crafted by local farmers and merchants, and barrel tastings. You also gain access to the members only loft above the tasting room.
Before you leave, you must take a seat on the deck or patio to enjoy the stunning valley and vines. If you can make it to this area during the autumn colors, you might end up spending the day gazing until the horizon darkens.
For a quiet afternoon with a loved one, sipping a bottle overlooking the glory of the Virginia countryside, Delaplane Cellars is the place for you.
Visit Delaplane Cellars, located at 2187 Winchester Road, Delaplane, Virginia.
Want to tour another winery with me? Check out my full list of winery and vineyard visits!
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