Aspen Dale Winery at the Barn
Summary: The Aspen Dale Winery at the Barn is located on historic property with the tasting room located on the first floor of a barn built in 1812. The property also includes a private manor house built in 1778. Wine tastings are accompanied by food bites.
We visited Aspen Dale Winery located in Delaplane, Virginia where we discovered a tasting room with a difference. The tasting room has kept much of its barn-like atmosphere. During our visit a couple was making use of a seating area close to a delightfully warm fireplace. There are several seating areas in sections of the barn. The tasting counter is at one end.
Upon entering the Aspen Dale tasting room, a wrought iron circular staircase is seen. We soon learned that this leads to a barn loft with tables, seating areas and another fireplace (pictured left). Back on the first floor, further into the tasting room wine enthusiasts will come upon a long wood tasting counter with barn-style windows behind it. A chandelier overhead adds an unusual dimension to the rustic nature of a renovated barn. The unique tasting counter has an assortment of stones running through the center of the countertop.
Today the farm property and winery are owned by Larry and Kelly Carr (pictured right). After considering planting a vineyard and starting a winery on another property, they discovered the Aspen Dale Winery at the Barn for sale.
History of the Winery
At one time the property was owned by Dr. Hughes who died in an accident. His wife continued to live on the property. The property has changed in size over the generations. At one time it was a land grant. It was purchased by the Lake family and several generations of that family lived there. Two of the family members were members of Mosby’s Rangers.
Shay McNeal purchased the property in 1999. She founded the winery in 2008 in an attempt to preserve the old 1812 barn. The property had been a cattle farm until the 1950s/1960s. She was forced to sell the winery due to illness. Larry Carr who had once worked an apple farm and worked in the government was excited to return to farming. The Carr’s son, Greg said that his father had loved working on the apple farm. Larry learned more about wine while living in California. In Virginia, he began visiting wineries in Northern Virginia and started making plans to start his own winery when the Aspen Dale Winery went up for sale. Larry and Kelly purchased it because they wanted a winery. They were intrigued with the historical signifcance of the property. The Carrs made the decision to continue with the use of the brand name Aspen Dale Winery. At the time of our visit, Larry and Kelly had decided to keep the same portfolio of wines that Shay had previously offered. After Shay sold the property, she helped train Larry in the winemaking protocol for two seasons. Today wine is made on the property and also off site.
Aspen Dale has one acre of vineyards on the property which is a test vineyard. The vineyard has eight grape varieties. Grapes from this vineyard are usually blended in with other grapes sourced from Virginia growers. The Carrs also have a one-acre vineyard in Warren County, Virginia.
The back label of the wine bottles reads, “The legacy of Aspen Dale’s revolutionary-era agricultural experience drives our stewardship of the bucolic, Northern Fauquier County, Virginia winery. The lure of days gone by tugs at your heartstrings from the time you enter. Our passion for history, horses and wines has found a perfect home.”
The wine tasting at Aspen Dale is accompanied by a selection of small food items.
The Mary Madelene’s Rosé was produced with Vidal Blanc and Chambourcin. The wine was a dark pink color. The taste was slightly sweet. The wine had notes of red fruit. It was paired with cheddar cheese that tended to make the wine less sweet. A suggested pairing was light spicy entrées. Sarah’s Chapeau 2015 was produced with Vidal Blanc, Seyval Blanc and Chardonnay. The wine had 1% residual sugar. The light yellow colored wine had a bit of sweetness with notes of tropical and stone fruit. The taste was also crisp and the taste offered notes of tropical fruit. The finish lingered with tropical fruit. This wine was paired with a piece of apricot. Pairing suggestions included wild rice dishes, creamy cheese, dry fruits and nuts. The Islington 2015 was named after a London town where Shay’s ancestors were from. This wine was paired with a sage derby cheese. The wine offered notes of apple. The acidity of the wine matched the saltiness of the cheese. Pair with smoked ham and bratwurst.
Bridgetown Red was a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Petit Verdot. It should be noted that some of the Merlot was crafted as a white Merlot. This wine was a translucent red color and offered cherry notes. The wine was paired with a bit of dried cherry. Matching food suggestions included pairing with foods with a red sauce like lasagne. Parris Country Blend was a blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc. This wine was paired with pheasant sausage. The wine was named after Parris, South Carolina. It was a barely translucent ruby color. The wine offered aroma notes of red and black fruits. The taste was reminiscent of cherries, blackberries and spice. The wine was medium-bodied with medium tannins. The pheasant sausage tempered the spice of the wine. Rockawalkin was a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot and Malbec. This opaque dark ruby colored wine had a black hue. The aroma was of spice and black fruits. The taste included notes of blackberries, cassis and spice. The wine was full-bodied with bold tannins. This wine was also paired with the pheasant sausage and the sausage tamed the spices. Consider pairing this wine with chocolate chips and goat cheese.
Hard Apple Cider was produced with 80% Virginia Gold and 20% Granny Smith apples. The cider offered notes of apple and spice. The finish was dry and lingered. Sangria was a light red color. The aroma was fruity with notes of cherry and raspberry. The taste was very sweet and fruity. Consider this Sangria for your summertime beverage.
Kelly noted that they, “Came to a farm that has deep roots. We are mere stewards and we will pass it on. It is nice that people can view the land that has a long tradition.”
If you are looking for a unique winery to visit and a relaxing day, consider a visit to the historic Aspen Dale Winery at the Barn. There are plenty of seating areas to enjoy wine and conversation.
Aspen Dale Winery
11083 John Marshall Highway
Delaplane, Virginia 20144
GPS: N38º 54.4719’ W77º 57.7082’
Article written March 2017.
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