October is Virginia Wine Month. What better way to celebrate than visiting Virginia’s newest winery? Effingham Manor Winery, located in Nokesville (Northern Virginia), had been on my radar long before their opening. Their wines were available for purchase–and were winning awards–before their tasting room and historic manor were open to the public.
As tempted as I was to give their vinos a try, I was determined to wait for their opening to gain the full experience. Definitely worth the wait!
The winery may be Virginia’s newest addition, but the folks behind it are no strangers to the Virginia wine scene. Both Chris Pearmund and Ashton Lough are craftsmen at Effingham, as Executive Winemaker and Winemaker, respectively. It’s like finding out your favorite rock band is coming out with a new album. Stoked!
Effingham had only been open one week when I visited. Check out what I discovered.
Rich in History
So why the delay in opening? Good things take time! Like a fine wi–oh, never mind, you get it.
Not only did Effingham design and build a first-rate tasting room, they lovingly restored the historical manor on the property. This 18th century home was once the centerpiece of a plot of land measuring 42 square miles. (That’s 2/3 the size of Washington D.C.)
The wines, the manor, and the scenery make Effingham a place where you’ll want to spend a day. Let’s begin . . .
Anyone who knows me knows I have a thing for the winding gravel lane to a winery. Maybe it’s a terroir thing. But when you see the historical outbuildings, the dust cloud pluming behind your car, the centuries old manor in the distance–you can sense the heritage you are about to taste.
It’s not difficult to understand why Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin put such emphasis on growing grapes and crafting wine. It’s a brief trip back in time.
Besides the nuances of the soil and climate, one thing that distinguishes Virginia wineries from most other New World wineries is the historical framing. Effingham is similar to the Winery at La Grange in its historical significance.
Both wineries’ manors are centuries old, yet each represent different architectural influences of the period. La Grange is Colonial. Effingham is Tidewater-style.
Lining the walk to the manor are boxwoods planted over 200 years ago. Amazing.
Effingham Manor Winery Tasting Room
To the side of the manor is Effingham’s tasting room and barrel room. Newly built but well-suited on the property.
Abundant covered seating and outdoor space make it ideal for going al fresco with any season.
A pristine facility perfect for tastings and multiple tasting stations, and large enough to handle a wedding party. (They already hosted one!)
Effingham Manor Wine Tasting
So, why are we here? Yes, I get it. You came for the wines. So did I! Does anything hold more promise than a wine glass waiting to be filled?
Here’s what Effingham offered. Their $12 tasting included the following nine wines:
*Note: They also offer a $10 tasting of seven wines, minus their reserve wines.
Whites: 2014 Chardonnay, 2015 Viognier, 2015 Traminette;
Rosés: 2015 Rosé (80% Chambourcin, 20% Riesling);
Reds: 2015 Norton, 2015 Merlot, 2014 Meritage (Blend of Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Merlot), 2014 Kings Ransom (Bordeaux Blend of Pearmund‘s 2014 vintage: Cabernet France Reserve, Ameritage Reserve, Black Ops, and Ameritage), 2014 Tannat.
All wines are composed of 100% Virginia grapes.
The price per bottle is $29 (with the exception of the 2015 Norton which is $25). Reserve wines are $39. Glasses range from $7 to $10. They also offer 10% discounts on six to eleven bottles and 20% on twelve or more bottles.
Effingham Manor Wines
With Chris and Ashton behind the wines, of course my expectations were high. What I didn’t expect is such distinction. As delicious as Pearmund’s previous offerings, they managed to produce wines with their own personality and character.
Paul, our wine educator, gave us some insight. With the plantings on site being just a few years old (Chambourcin and Norton), they are purchasing their fruit from other vineyards across the state. They do plan on utilizing more of their acreage to plant additional varietals for coming vintages.
What is different is Ashton’s approach. Using different methods and different blends of varietals. Most notably are the differences in yeasts, with Ashton incorporating one for aroma and one for flavor.
The results speak for themselves. But until you get to a tasting, allow me to give you the deets:
The Effingham Viognier was a certain standout. A light floral nose with even notes of peach, apricot, and honeysuckle on the palate, with a light but layered finish. A delightful white that would add nicely to your holiday table.
Their Rosé won me over at first sip. This seemed to be the summer of the Rosé for me. I experimented with so many and found some great new favorites. So I was determined to get back to whites and reds for the fall. But Effingham pulled me back in!
Composed of 80% Chambourcin and 20% Riesling, the result is unexpected and delightful. Off-dry and gentle, just loaded with strawberry and tangerine candy. Nothing quite like it in our cellar. We bought two bottles.
Of the reds, the Tannat also made the journey home. Despite the name (some people won’t even try Tannats for fear of them being too tannic!) this one was silky with blackberries on the nose and currant and raisin on the palate. Give me a fire and this wine and I am good to go.
An amazing lineup for a young winery. If you don’t believe me, then trust in the awards they have received already. (Their Rosé won Rosé of the Year at the INDY International.)
If ever there was a winery meant for doing a little walkabout after a tasting, Effingham makes the list. Sprawling acreage combined with the manor, there is so much to see and explore. Paul was kind enough to take us on a tour of the manor and grounds.
The front porch offers serene views of the landscape and centuries-old trees and shrubs. The garden views are a great escape. And an array of tables makes it easy to stop, enjoy the scenery and sip awhile.
Inside the manor is a treasure trove for history buffs and fans of historic architecture.
The manor house dates back to 1767 and has been carefully restored. They retained much of the design elements of the period, from wide plank flooring to fireplaces in every room.
While staying true to the period, Effingham has added tasting areas inside the house to accommodate various activities. They make for a truly cozy sipping experience. They provide nice intimate areas for small groups to enjoy.
The Buzz about Effingham Manor Winery
Being only open for one week, the attendance at Effingham was solid. Everyone we spoke with was excited about giving them a try, especially those who had already enjoyed Chris Pearmund’s other projects: Pearmund Cellars, Vint Hill Craft Winery and the Winery at Bull Run. If you’re worried about crowds, you can see there is plenty of space (and parking, too).
Among those checking out Effingham, I ran into Mike Lawler and Mike Barefoot of VinoWine. (If you don’t already have their winery finder and marketplace app, you should! It’s uber-cool.) The guys chose to split a bottle of Effingham’s Viognier. Nice pick, guys!
The Grounds at Effingham Manor
A stroll across the back porch offers a vista across the acreage comprising the Effingham’s estate.
As I mentioned, it once measured 42 square miles. You can still get a sense of it today.
While the manor could keep you busy for some time with exploring all of its nooks and crannies, there are some additional noteworthy elements at Effingham. They stake claim to the first concrete in ground pool (now a massive koi pond).
In the front of the manor sits one of the largest cedar trees you will find on the east coast. How old is it? It was actually gifted by Lewis and Clark!
The Effingham Manor Winery Experience
So much to see and do, underscored by spectacular handcrafted wines. My anticipation was met with a wonderful experience and wines that exceeded expectation — and I had the bar set pretty high!
Just an hour outside of Washington, Effingham Manor Winery is well worth the trip.
Visit Effingham Manor Winery, located at 14337 Trotters Ridge Place in Nokesville, Virginia.
Looking for another Virginia Winery steeped in history that crafts great wines? Check out the Winery at La Grange in Haymarket, Barboursville Vineyards in Orange, or Miracle Valley Vineyard and Aspen Dale Winery at the Barn, both in Delaplane.
Want to visit another winery with me? Check out my full list of winery and vineyard visits!