When Lisa Adams' husband passed away, she had three children to fill her heart and a job to fill her time, but something was missing. For years, she had spent afternoons on the patios of Virginia wineries, "drinking the profits" - as she says - as her husband, a tax specialist who weekended as a winery musician, played guitar and sang.
She thought about opening a winery of her own, and in late 2012 ran the idea by Randy Phillips, owner and winemaker at Cave Ridge Vineyard. Six months later, her (very large) basement had been remodeled, furniture purchased, Phillips retained as winemaker, and 8 acres of Cave Ridge vines leased for her new 612 Vineyards label.
When we met, Lisa was not what we expected: she didn't have that wide-eyed, deer in the headlights look common to most of the new winery owners we meet. She's calm and welcoming, and incredibly well organized, managing a full event schedule and planning to open a remote barn-style sitting area.
She grinned as she told the rest of the story: with Phillips on board to handle winemaking duties, she had no interest in making wine herself. Then she made a little wine, and was hooked. But that was it, she told herself. She drew the line at growing grapes. Not gonna happen, she said. Right up until she decided to plant a small "experimental" vineyard of Norton and Traminette.
The wine world is a slippery slope, and Lisa had slipped right into it, head first.
From the main road, a single-track gravel drive brings visitors past acres of soy beans, mountains rising in the distance, and naturalized gardens frame the stone patio outside the tasting room. Fire pits stand ready for cooler weather outside, while two fireplaces - one gas and one wood - flank the bar inside. It's almost enough to make you wish for winter.
Wines on offer when we visited included a steel- and a barrel-aged Viognier, Chambourcin, Cab Franc, Riesling, Traminette, Rose, a Bordeaux blend, and My Sweet Rouge, a sweet 100% Cab Franc that Phillips crafted from the rainy deluge of the preceding year. It was surprisingly tasty, with 3-4% residual sugar, served chilled. Two dessert wines rounded out the tasting, including a Viognier and a port-style Chambourcin aged for a year in French oak and another year in bourbon barrels.
Don't miss the Monarch butterfly releases that 612 Vineyard hosts.
Kids and pets are welcome; dogs may join their owners in the tasting room if it's not too busy. Groups of more than 8 should call ahead. Small buses and limos welcome with reservation. Private parties and weddings welcome.
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