Building on the diverse lineup of wineries clustered among the hills of Delaplane, Aspen Dale Winery at the Barn stands solidly among its peers. One of the few wineries to actually merge Virginia’s horse and wine country into a one-stop experience, Aspen Dale will be a hit from excited toddlers to sophisticated wine connoisseurs. You’d be hard pressed to find a member of your group who won’t find something endearing about this winery.
The Winery . . .
As soon as you turn down the gravel lane to the farm, you get a sense of all that’s to come. If neighboring Blue Valley Winery delivers a sense of grand modernness, Aspen Dale would be its cozified antipode; winemaking crafted in a sleeves-up environment, a tasting room from the pages of Country Living.
Snuggled under a canopy of evergreens and leafy hardwoods, the barn that houses the tasting room (follow the signs, there are many farm buildings!) is a short walk from the parking area.
For many wineries, we head straight for the tasting bar when we enter–not so with Aspen Dale. My husband, kids and I all went in separate directions, each enjoying a different aspect. The barn has been restored with attention to the rustic detail of the period, retaining the look, feel, and authenticity of a rural country barn. The creaky floors, exposed beams, artifacts from years gone by. You’ll feel warm before you ever get to one of the fireplaces, before you take a single sip.
The Wines . . .
We had the pleasure of meeting co-owner Kelly Carr, who runs the winery with her husband Larry. As we discussed their wines as well as wineries in the area, we both agreed on the quality of wines being currently produced. “I think each bottle is like a gift,” she said, with such anticipation of the potential treat awaiting inside. If Aspen Dale’s wines are to be thought of as presents, consider the tasting a flurry of excitement on Christmas morning.
She also mentioned that while some of Aspen Dale’s grapes are grown here at the winery farm, a large portion come from their other farm in Front Royal to the west. And any supplemental grapes harvested come from other nearby vineyards, making their wines 100% Virginia. Which I love!
The $9.00 tasting including the following six wines and one sangria, with a complimentary plate of cheese, chocolate, dried fruit, and sausage for pairing:
Whites: 2015 Sarah’s Chapeau (75% Vidal Blanc, 12.5% Seyval Blanc, 12.5% Chardonnay), 2015 Islington (75% Seyval Blanc, 25% Chardonnay);
Rosé: 2015 Mary Madeleine’s Rosé (80% Vidal Blanc, 15% Port-style, 5% Chambourcin);
Reds: 2009 Bridgetown Red (40% Merlot, 35% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Cabernet Franc, 5% Petit Verdot), Parris Country Blend (75% 2013 Merlot, 25% 2014 Cabernet Franc), 2014 Rockawalkin’ (90% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Petit Verdot, 5% Malbec);
Sangria: Maria Sangria (Rosé based).
Bernadette, our wine educator, walked us through the tasting and answered all of our questions as we sipped. Each wine came with a distinct pairing to help deepen a sense of the subtleties of their wines. While I couldn’t do the meats or gluten, Aspen Dale’s wines offered distinction in and of themselves even without a pairing (though my husband said the pairings were spot on!)
With two glasses for walking about and a bottle to go, the 2015 Mary Madeleine’s Rosé was a definite favorite. As bursting with strawberry as it was in color, this rosé was a delight, even without a hot summer day to propel it. The strawberry nose led into a crisp cherry finish, making it a wine to pair with anything from holiday meals to football party food.
Also on the hit list was the 2014 Rockawalkin’, a Cabernet Sauvignon with just enough Malbec and Petit Verdot to round the wine and fill the palate. With a slightly spicy nose, cherry palate, and velvety finish, this wine would perfectly accompany a hearty winter meal. Or save it for simply sipping and savoring by a roaring fire.
The Barn . . .
With a glass of Mary Madeleine’s Rosé in hand, I couldn’t wait to peruse the barn, with all of its nooks and crannies. Like taking a wine-sipping walk through an antique store, stepping into a snapshot in time.
A spiral staircase leads up to a loft that looks down on the tasting room, decorated and equipped with its own fireplace. Private spaces are carved out among the beams and rooflines. Cozy would be an understatement.
Returning to the first floor, you can exit the rear of the barn to the farm itself, and to all of the splendor it has to offer. Don’t forget to wear your boots!
The Farm . . .
Directly behind the tasting barn, Aspen Dale has tables and chairs surrounding a koi pond. But this area is merely a sample of the space they offer across their acreage.
Fish aren’t the only thing. Grab your glass (or bottle!) and explore. You’ll find horses galore (miniatures, thoroughbreds, and quarter horses) as well as chickens (just follow the clucks) and a herd of goats!
Coming to Aspen Dale is reminiscent of visiting a distant relative’s farm, replete with everything you might expect: a large farmhouse, small cottage, multiple barns and out buildings. If you’ve been craving country life you may not want to leave. (If you try to stay, I must say the goats seem very welcoming and willing to share!)
The Aspen Dale Winery Experience . . .
If you want to bring a picnic (or purchase some of Aspen Dale’s farm fresh offerings for snacking), you will not find a lack of space. There is room to fling a Frisbee a solid distance, with enough buffer to protect picnickers from feeble aims.
Aspen Dale is child-friendly (I mean, c’mon, we’re talking animals here!) and equally dog-friendly. But perhaps even more noteworthy, they are limo-friendly. Some of the area wineries cannot handle large parties (or have entrance lanes that might be the death-knell of a stretch limousine). Aspen Dale can most definitely accommodate. Bachelorette party? Bring it!
Aspen Dale has something for everyone–your kids, your grandparents, your dogs, your friends. And the wines . . . for you!
Visit Aspen Dale Winery at the Barn, located at 3180 Aspen Dale Lane, Delaplane, Virginia.
If you’re in Northern Virginia and would like to visit another winery with well-crafted wines and historical aspects, check out nearby Miracle Valley Vineyard and Three Fox Vineyards–both just a few minutes away. Or if you’re looking for great wines and oodles of space, check out Barrel Oak Winery and Blue Valley Vineyard and Winery, both in Delaplane.
Want to tour another winery with me? Check out my full list of winery and vineyard visits!