Thursday, April 17, 2014

NEW WINERY SPOTLIGHT 7: STONE TOWER WINERY

If you've picked up a 2014 Virginia Winery map yet, you will probably be blown away (as we were) at the number of new wineries in northern Virginia alone - particularly the winery and farm friendly Loudoun County (not to be confused with the "old money" grumpy county to the south - Fauquier to you and me). There are so many wineries in Loudoun County (now officially known as "DC's Wine Country") that the county is divided into six winery-heavy clusters: Harmony, Loudoun Heights, Potomac, Mosby, Waterford and Snickers Gap (the latter being the newest cluster in the county). It's easy to understand why so many wineries exist here: Close proximity to the Nation's Capital, tourism, and money. Big money. Many of the wineries in Loudoun county are pet projects of millionaires in the law, real estate, nuclear science, and media fields, to name just a few.

Stone Tower Winery, in the Harmony cluster (that heavily forested area south of Leesburg, straddling route 15, with several criss-crossing dirt roads winding up and down the hills), is the wine project of the Belfort Furniture family. Any resident of northern Virginia will be familiar with this furniture giant. We expected an impressive space when we visited Stone Tower, and we were not disappointed.


The tasting room is currently housed in a very large barn, not unlike others in the county, but with a more industrial, curious garage feel. This barn serves as the temporary tasting room as a new structure is built in the fields:


The current tasting room/barn will be used for events. This will be a major player in the wedding and events scene in the state. And with more quaint and intimate Willowcroft Farm and Zephaniah Farm Vineyards also located in the Harmony cluster (just down the dirt roads as a matter of fact), wine fans can experience rustic and slick in one afternoon.

But slickness does not mean inferior. There are ample places to stretch out at Stone Tower, all the more impressive since they're still in the infancy stage (they were installing indoor plumbing on the day we visited). There is a winery pond, of course, situated below the sloping hills. There are also curious entrances to what appears to be a wine cellar near the pond. With the bulldozers and backhoes making their presence known during the construction phase, we didn't venture too close to the pond to investigate. There is also an odd looking dome-tent like structure near the entrance to the property. Our pourer told us the owners are fans of Tolkien, so who knows what surprises they have in store for visitors in the future.


The wine is very good, taking into consideration the newness of the establishment. The tasting begins with a sparkling wine they dub "Wild Boar," off-dry and palate energizing, we suspect this wine will be popular with both Easter ham and/or Easter omelets. Next up are two chardonnays, one crisp and less oaky, the other with a touch of oak and butterscotch (but luckily not too oaky).
Viognier rounded out the whites, aged in both French oak and a concrete egg (popularized by another Virginia winery, Stinson Vineyards.) This viognier is wonderful, crisp and slightly zesty, with notes of honeydew melon and a nose of tulips (continuing on the spring/Easter theme...)

Having nearly perfected two popular Virginia white varietals, Stone Tower also offers a fine red blend called Wild Boar Sanglier Noble, 51% Cabernet Sauvignon, 47% Merlot, and 2% Petit Verdot. Black cherries, fig and cinnamon notes abound this deep red, which will age beautifully.


The variety of what can be found in a microcosm of VAVINO as a whole is ready to be discovered in Loudoun County, and the Harmony Cluster. We are encouraged by the wines and location at Stone Tower and will be ready to visit again soon, and get the skinny on those mysterious structures and doorways.....

Stone Tower website URL: http://stonetowerwinery.com/index.html

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