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 wine-making 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, produced, and bottled, The wine-making is overseen by Tim Rausse, son of the Virginia wine icon Gabriele Rausse, who currently oversees the gardens and vineyard at Monticello.
The owners have experimented with at least 15 different types of grapes in the past decade, and at this writing are producing Chardonnay, a blend of Rhone varietals including Roussanne, Marsanne and Viognier called Thalia, numerous Rosés, a blend of Chardonnay, Sauvignon blanc and Muscat called Erato, and their signature Bordeaux-style red – Clio – which is a blend of the five Bordeaux varietals, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Merlot, and Malbec. Their Clio 2013 won double gold at the San Francisco International Wine Competition in 2018.
Muse offers a satisfying menu for lunch or snacks, including seafood and Mediterranean platters of nibbles, a large selection of cheese and charcuterie items, pate', shrimp cocktail, and smoked salmon on a bagel. Lunch is available Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays and features soups, seasonal salads plus shrimp or chicken Caesars, and panini.
For hikers and casual walkers alike, Muse has a 1.8 mile self-guided trail through the vineyards. Check in at the tasting room for a trail guide.
Dogs are welcome at Muse, including inside the tasting room (on leash).
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