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Valerie Hill Vineyard & Winery
Kathy Sullivan

Valerie Hill Vineyard and WinerySummary: Valerie Hill Vineyard & Winery tasting room is in a Federal-style manor home built in the early 1800s. Wine lovers will enjoy wandering the brick, historic building with stories of hauntings. The owners and friends “want everyone to feel at home.” Valerie Hill is one of the few wineries with its very own ghosts.

Valerie Hill Vineyard and WineryThe approach to Valerie Hill manor is along a long, straight driveway lined with tall spruce trees. The historic home sits atop a knoll overlooking the driveway, vineyards, an old stone chimney built in 1755 and Virginia’s countryside. The stone chimney once provided heat for a tavern.

Valerie Hill offers visitors a delightful ambiance. Visitors are encouraged to wander throughout the home while enjoying a glass of wine. Wine enthusiasts can also enjoy finding small sitting arrangements throughout the first and second floors.

Valerie Hill Vineyard & Winery was co-founded by Shawn and Kelly Steffy, Phil and Joyce Newcome and Tyler and Tracey Newcome. Tyler is the vineyard manager and Shawn is involved at the tasting room and with winery events.

Valerie Hill Vineyard and WineryThe friends had a love of wine and purchased the Valerie Hill brick manor in 2011. According to our tasting room guide, Caroline Clark, Valerie Hill was started by “people who like wine.” Their reason for establishing the Valerie Hill winery developed from their love of wine. The Valerie Hill manor was built in 1807. The property operated as a farm until the 1960s when the barn fell down. After purchasing the Valerie Hill estate, it took the owners a year to renovate the house. The winery was named for Valerie Hill Carter who lived on the property at one time.

Self-guided tours of the home are enjoyable. The house has been thoughtfully decorated with memorabilia and is delightful to discover with a glass of Valerie Hill wine in hand. However, a history and haunting tour is available as a special event.


To date the Valerie Hill manor has four resident ghosts. Be assured, the ghosts are said to be benevolent. An example of a ghostly occurrence is a large chandelier swinging or voices that are heard coming from a place where no one is present.

Valerie Hill Vineyard and WineryThe Rust family built the home in 1807, decades later Benedict Rust, a descendent of the family, was declared insane. Eventually he was shut away in a room in the attic (pictured) of the house especially when the family was entertaining. Benedict had only a small window for a view of the countryside. A small closed opening in the wall provided a passage for food. Another spirit showing up at the house is the spirit of a slave woman heard walking up and down the basement stairs. Occasionally she will speak out clearly enough to be heard. A third spirit is that of a grumpy old man. A fourth spirit is that of a Civil War soldier. He is frequently seen by young boys who describe him as a soldier holding a gun. We learned that the house was used as a hospital during the Civil War. At the time of our early November visit, we did not witness any apparitional activity.


The Valerie Hill wines are crafted by Justin Bogaty at the Veramar winery. The wines produced for Valerie Hill are unique for Valerie Hill. In addition, Tyler is currently producing a port-style wine on the property. The port-style wine is aptly named “Apparitions.”

Valerie Hill Vineyard and WineryVineyards at Valerie Hill

Currently the property has 3.5 acres of vineyards. Varieties include Vidal Blanc, Norton, Viognier and Seyval Blanc. In mid-November the vines showcase their architecture for the growing season. Grapes are also sourced from Virginia in Shenandoah Valley if possible. Plans are in the works to add more vineyards.

Wine Tastings

Visitors to Valerie Hill winery may taste wines at one of two tasting counters and take time to enjoy the wines on the first and second floor of the home. Numerous small seating arrangements are available throughout the house.

Valerie Hill Vineyard and WineryAntebellum 2014 was a blend of Chardonnay and Viognier. This light yellow wine offered notes of floral and white fruits. The taste included notes of apple, citrus and melon. The finish was crisp. Chardonnay 2014 was a yellow colored wine. The wine was smooth with notes of apple and citrus. The finish was crisp and fruity yielding to a bit of caramel. Seyval Blanc was produced with 100% Seyval Blanc. The wine with .5% residual sugar is popular with wine enthusiasts. The wine was a pale yellow color with an aroma of hints of citrus fruit. The taste had citrus notes including grapefruit and lemon. The wine is dry and the fruit lingers on the aftertaste.

Cabernet Franc 2014 was aged in French oak barrels for 10 months. The wine was a translucent dark red color. The aroma offered black fruit and pepper notes. The taste was of blackberries, plums, and had peppery notes. The wine was medium/full bodied with medium tannins. The finish was fruity yielding to spices. Reserve Merlot 2014 was a translucent red colored wine with a dark pink hue. The aroma was of earthiness and dark fruits. The wine offered notes of blackberries and black raspberries. The medium-full bodied wine had medium tannins. The finish had fruit yielding to spices.

Events at Valerie Hill

Valerie Hill has public and private events. Public events include events that give back to the community. Live music is frequently available. Private events take place including weddings. The winery works with outside caterers.

When visiting Valerie Hill Vineyard & Winery enjoy their wines, walk through the historic home and also ask for stories about the numerous ghostly activities that have occurred.

Valerie Hill Vineyard & Winery
1687 Marlboro Road
Stephens City, Virginia 22655

GPS: N39º 05.441’ W78º 16.387’


Article written November 2015

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