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New Kent Winery
K. L. Sullivan

Summary: Opened in the summer of 2008, New Kent Winery offers visitors a winery experience coupled with good wines, environmental friendliness and atmosphere. Located only 30 minutes from Richmond or Williamsburg on Route 64, New Kent Winery makes a great winery to visit repeatedly. Notice the recycled wood used extensively throughout the winery. Lovely polished wood colors add a delightful warm feeling to the interior.

New Kent WineryCountryside trees and fields lined Interstate 64 between Richmond, Virginia and historical Williamsburg. About 30 minutes from Richmond, a sign indicated New Kent Winery was nearby and we found that the winery is easily accessible from Interstate 64. Soon we discovered New Kent Winery, a tall two-story brick building. A majestic building with a long front porch welcomed us. Evergreen landscaping added to the hospitable feeling despite the winter cold.

Tasting room staff greeted us with a smile as soon as we stepped inside the door. Throughout our visit, we noticed that everyone was welcomed immediately. Soon we were talking and taking a tour with Pete Johns, managing partner. Pete emphasized that this is one of the most environmentally sensitive wineries on the East Coast. With the exception of the wood window frames and glass, the structure of the building is made from recycled products, more than 100 years old. This included the floors, walls, beams, trusses and shingles.

New Kent WineryNew Kent WineryAs we walked on the tour, Pete pointed out the many unusual features of the building. The bricks of the building were from pre-Civil War times. Winery visitors will see cypress wood obtained from Florida. The cypress wood was submerged for more than 100 years. Cypress shingles covered the roof. Pete expects these shingles to last 80 to 100 years. The wood floor in his office was Chinese elm from the Ming dynasty. One of the benefits of being Barrel Club members is that they have the opportunity to see this unique floor. Pete continued to point out unusual features throughout the building including 40-foot beams, doors from the Richmond Jefferson 5 star hotel, and 1902 trusses. They obtained other wood and parts from old buildings in Massachusetts and Connecticut. The builders have used reclaimed copper in the structure. Be sure to notice the handmade nails throughout the winery.

New Kent WineryNew Kent WineryIn the winery, a wide catwalk surrounds the tank area and bypasses a number of oak barrels. Currently, the winery produces about 7,000 cases and they would like to increase production to 20,000 cases. New Kent has 80 American barrels. As Pete said, “We are an American winery and we are going to use American oak.” He noted two oak barrels on their sides with Plexiglas heads. This allows visitors to see the lees settling. Demonstrations take place showing the raking of the lees.

On a lower floor, barrels are stored and nearby a large area is set aside for Wine Barrel club member events. Events are creative. Pete mentioned a Halloween event where members came dressed in costume and decorated their own wine barrels in Halloween array. At another event, club members participated in a wild game dinner. Wild game entrees included venison, quail and wild turkey. The wild turkeys feasted on grapes so it seemed fitting for wine club members to eat the wild turkeys.

We met Tom Payette, the wine consultant for New Kent Winery. Tom was named by Vineyard and Vines Management Magazine as “Winemaker of the Year.” Tom, friendly and knowledgeable, has created a great portfolio of wines for New Kent including a delicious “White Norton.”

With a large porch on the front and a large lounging porch on the back of the tasting room, there is plenty of room to enjoy a glass of wine in the fresh countryside air (on warm days.) Views of the surrounding vineyards and land offer photo opportunities.

The vineyards adjacent to the winery were planted in 2001 and have 25.5 acres of Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Chardonnay. New Kent hopes to grow to 40 acres. The soil in the vineyards is red clay. They till the vineyards and this helps to warm the soil earlier. This additional warmth causes Chardonnay to bud slightly earlier in the spring.

At the end of the tour, we stopped for a tasting at the tasting counter. The curved tasting counter was large enough to accommodate 22 visitors. The builder inset the counter with tile, and two varieties of wood. The result is elegant. Behind the counter, a large window with wood framing provides a view of vineyards.

New Kent Winery     New Kent Winery

New Kent WineryWhite wines

Chardonnay 2005 was a light yellow color with an apple aroma. The taste was fruity noticeably apple and mango. The finish was creamy with a light oak, apple and a bit of caramel. Spending three years on the lees produced the Reserve Chardonnay 2004. The color was yellow/gold. The aroma was apple while the taste was tropical fruit and creamy. The finish was apple and caramel.

Red wines

Meritage NV offered a red cherry aroma with a cherry and smooth taste. The finish was crisp with light tannins and a cherry aftertaste. Merlot 2005 was an estate grown wine that had a red translucent color. The aroma and taste was of dark fruit with a hint of smoke and oak. The finish was fruity, crisp and had tannins.

White Norton NV had a light translucent red color. White Norton offered a light spicy aroma with spice on the front of the tongue. The finish was crisp, light, sweet but drying on the finish.

When you visit, be sure to take a tour and note the special features of this environmentally friendly winery. Also, inquire about the benefits of joining the Case Club or the Barrel Club. Ask about the community, Viniterra, which is being developed using the New Kent Winery as its focal point.

New Kent Winery
8400 Old Church Road
New Kent, Virginia 23124

GPS: N 37 31.738’ W 77 04.505’


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Copyright: Terry and Kathy Sullivan 2006-2018