You'll meet a lot of very nice people in Virginia's wine community. Very nice. People who create a culture of kindness, respect for the land, and family time.
Zephaniah Vineyards' Hatch family may be the nicest of the bunch.
They've been farming here since the 1950s, when family patriarch Zephaniah purchased the land with proceeds from the sale of his steamboat company. Originally a dairy farm, the family now raises Angus beef and sheep, then planted the first vineyards in 2002.
The tasting experience is among the most unusual and personal in Virginia. You'll enter the winery through the back door of the family's circa-1820 manor house, which was built by William Benton, the same man who built nearby Oak Hill, the home of James Monroe, fifth president of the U.S.
Seated tastings are done in the living room, library, and main room of the historic house, surrounded by family curios and antiques. You're very likely going to be served by owners Bill Hatch or Bonnie Archer, who pour, chat, pour, chat, happily talking about their wine, their home, their farm, as if you were a dinner guest or a family member.
Over the years, their wine has gained quiet notoriety, and in 2015 their Three Captains Red won the top prize in the Loudoun County Wine Awards, among other honors. Zephaniah's vineyard is currently at nine acres, including Cabernet Franc, Chardonnay, Petit Manseng and Petit Verdot. Wines on offer at this writing include a variety of whites, Rosé, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Chambourcin, and a red blend.
Outside, an assortment of lawn furniture and picnic tables are available if you want to linger.
A new timber-frame barn has been added next door to the Manor House for weddings, events and meetings.
Guests are welcome to wander the vineyards. Well-behaved dogs on leash are welcome. No outside food in the house. Groups of 6 or more require reservations.
The family sells its Angus beef and lamb on Saturday mornings from May through October at the Leesburg Farmers Market
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