New wineries typically arrive two ways in Virginia: Those that plant small vineyards and then quickly open a tasting room, purchasing grapes from elsewhere in Virginia until their vines bear usable fruit; and those that plant vineyards and hold off on the sales and marketing side of things until they have at least a few 100% estate wines to offer.
In many respects, those in the "plant and wait" group usually do better, and Muse is one of those. Evidence that they have more success? In 2015, Muse Vineyards' 2009 Clio, an exceptional Bordeaux-style blend, took the top prize in the Virginia Governor's Cup. At the time, they didn't even have a tasting room.
Owners Robert Muse and Sally Cowal take winemaking seriously, and they're among the most quotable duo in the industry. Says Muse, “When grapes are allowed to speak for themselves, they speak of the place where they were grown. They speak of the climate. They even reveal things about how the vines were treated. But, just as many abused life forms become mute, you can silence vines through adulteration of their fruit. There are catalogs with hundreds of things to add to a wine. Resist the impulse."
All wines at Muse Vineyards are estate grown and estate bottled, and winemaking is overseen by Tim Rausse, son of the Virginia wine icon, Gabrielle Rausse, who now oversees the gardens and vineyard at Monticello.
The owners have experimented with at least 15 different types of vines in the past decade, and at this writing are producing Chardonnay, a blend of Rhone varietals including Roussanne, Marsanne and Viognier and a blend of Chardonnay, Sauvignon blanc and Muscat, along with their Bordeaux-style red – Clio – which is a blend of the five Bordeaux varietals, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Merlot, and Malbec.
Picnics are welcome at one of a handful of tables out front or on the lawn. During winter months, soup and small dishes are available, and summer brings paninis and salads.
Dogs are welcome at Muse, including inside the tasting room (on leash).
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