After sitting in traffic coming home from Maryland this weekend, we couldn't get to Loudoun County fast enough. The plan was to visit a couple of our old haunts, since you simply can't let a beautiful autumn afternoon go to waste!!! Next time you are driving down Route 9, don't just make note of the sign pointing to a new vineyard. When you see the sign to turn left to go to The Barns at Hamilton Station, JUST DO IT! You'll be so glad you did.
The Barns at Hamilton Station16804 Hamilton Station Rd
Hamilton, VA 20158
I admit it...since wineries seem to be opening so hastily around here, my expectations weren't that high. I was honestly expecting some rinky dink operation out of someone's garage, and maybe an old barn on the property to give the name some sort of validation.
I was pretty much blown out of the water. This place is a Pinterest wet dream, which just opened this summer. It is the creation of two couples, Andrew & Maryann Fialdini with Craig & Kim Garten, who used their skills to create a warm, rustic environment. When you think of barns in the fall, this is it, people! The main tasting room is the converted barn, is wide open, and leads to a large deck with a fantastic view. There is a fireplace and a loft above. Pretty much everything has been lovingly and painstakingly recycled. The fall décor features cut-out pumpkins with mums. Downstairs is a secondary bar with stone walls, that is also open to the weather on nice days.
There's also a TV for football watching. This is also where the bathrooms are....Andrew commented that this was the first time he had ever taken pictures of the bathroom at a winery. I love what they've done with all the recycled materials. It is truly a labor of love that you just have to see. It isn't easy to make a winery operation out of a century-old barn, but I head through our tasting that Craig is a general contractor. It's great to have folks on your team that know what they're doing. This place will be wedding central soon enough. Too bad we already booked! (Don't worry Doukenie, you'll always be my #1). Now bridal shower on the other hand.... :D
OK, sorry for the distraction. But even if you're not about wine, you just have to go for the barn alone. They also sell a packaged picnic lunch! Perfect! The service we received was spectacular. We were warmly greeted by Maryann, one of the co-owners, who treated us like we were the only people in the room. And believe me, they're getting plenty of visitors. As soon as VDOT approves that damn road sign, hopefully they'll get more!
The vines are still maturing, so they've been working with Michael Shaps of Virginia Wineworks in the Charlottesville area to make their initial batches. A wise decision on their part, since it seems Shaps can make a great vintage out of pretty much anything. 2011 is all they had to work with, and anyone who remembers 2011 knows that it wasn't an easy year on winemakers. (Monsoon, anyone)?
Even Andrew liked their 2011 Chardonnay, which has hints of pear and is steel-fermented. No buttery-ness here. I LOVED the Viognier, which smelled exactly the way a Viognier is supposed to smell (in my opinion, which is like a spring wedding bouquet. Can you tell I've got wedding on the brain???!). We didn't taste their Rose, but we'll gladly come back for that.
Their reds were a bit tannic and peppery for me, but we were able to make friends with the Merlot. It's a perfect blend of the red fruit flavors I love...raspberries, currant, and cherry. Andrew was a fan of the Meritage, Cab Franc, and Petit Verdot, which would all do really well with a bit of aging. Out of the four reds, I'd say that the Merlot is the most drinkable now. Your mileage, as always, may vary.
We thanked our hostess and walked around the grounds. It's so cool to see what people are doing with the old buildings in Loudoun County. We have older buildings and a distinct autumn, California. TAKE THAT!
We had time for one more. It didn't take long for us to decide that it had been entirely too long since we've seen Bob. We turned left and headed for Crushed Cellars.
I'm not going to say too much about this. I'll keep it short and sweet just like Crushed's tasting notes. It rocks. It's the only place you can actually buy a steak to cook up with the wine you're drinking. And the cheese! Oh God, the cheese. You have to see Bob. Just go, ok?