Vint Hill Craft Winery: You were never here. Got it? Even if you visit on a glorious summer day, sitting under a shady maple, sipping one of their tasty little Petit Verdots . . . you were never here. This delightful winery has a deep history based on secrets, but once having visited this place, it will be a secret you just can’t keep.
Vint Hill Craft Winery
Vint Hill is located almost directly on the Prince William and Fauquier County lines, making it a very accessible winery for DC residents and visitors. Cold War enthusiasts may know a little about this place, but few others will. Vint Hill was a highly secretive U.S. Army base during the Cold War. The winery itself is located in a barn dating back over 100 years, and was at one time a hotbed of eavesdropping espionage, originally known as Monitoring Station #1. If the NSA is the brainchild of signals intelligence, Monitoring Station #1 was its proud grandfather.
As you enter the winery and ascend the staircase, you are presented with a collection of antique memorabilia from the Cold War era. Generations-old signals intelligence equipment adorn the entryway, along with WWII photos, German military uniforms, and more. Really interesting stuff!
Entering the tasting area, you find yourself on an observation level looking down on Vint Hill’s production area. The beams that run across the center of the facility are the original beams to the barn. And if you come on the right day, you can actually watch the wine being produced or bottled.
Award Winning Virginia Wines
Vint Hill has playfully kept the Cold War and spy themes in all they do, from their slogans to the pin-up girls on many of their labels. As fun as this place is, don’t underestimate the quality of their wines. There are some winners here!
With 80% of the grapes coming from the Charlottesville area of Virginia and the other 20% coming from California and Washington, it is easy (and fun) to do a regional comparison. The $10 tasting included the following reds and whites:
Whites: 2014 Phillips Falk Sauvignon Blanc (California), 2014 Covert Winework’s “Monitoring Station No. 1” (100% barrel aged Virginia Chardonnay), 2015 Covert Winework’s Misty (100% Virginia Cuvee Blanc composed of 50% Reisling, 30% Traminette, 15% Viognier, 5% Petit Manseng), 2015 Vint Hill Petit Manseng;
Reds: 2013 Vint Hill Merlot (Virginia), 2013 Petit Verdot (Virginia), 2013 Vint Hill Syrah (Washington), 2014 Vint Hill Chambourcin (Virginia), Cold War Red (see below).
Vint Hill Craft Winery Wine Tasting
Charlotte, one of our servers, was an absolute wealth of information, not only on Vint Hill’s offerings, but on Virginia Wine, in general. Having visited more than 200 Virginia wineries, she had answers to all my questions. Of the wines offered here, my personal fave was the Misty (Cuvee Blanc) with distinct tangerine and grapefruit on the nose and a crisp finish of pear and peach. I can’t think of a better way to spend a hot summer afternoon than with one of these chilled and ready to go.
Our other server, Valerie, told us (almost) all about the Cold War Red. A robust full-bodied red blend that plays off the covert theme of the winery. You’ll notice there is no listing of varietals, no year, nothing. There is a saying in the spy world: Secrets are based on “need to know.” And you don’t need to know. It was fun trying to guess the composition of this three-grape blend. I was certain of the Cabernet Franc, fairly certain of the Cabernet Sauvignon, and unable to pull the third. Valerie, of course, knew the composition. She could tell us, but then she’d have to . . . well, you know.
Winemaking Classes at Vint Hill
While the wines Vint Hill offers are undeniably enjoyable, this is also a craft winery. That means you, my friend, can learn the art of winemaking, and they take it very seriously. I met with Jennifer, the General Manager, who gave me the full rundown of their programs, and there is definitely something here for everyone.
They have everything from home winemaking classes (a professionally-guided option with choice of varietal for $399) all the way up to a full Vintner program, where you learn the entire winemaking arc, from grape selection and harvest through producing your very own Virginia Alcohol Beverage Control-approved Label. Not to mention it will have you producing your own barrel of wine (the program runs $6,000.) There are many choices in between, and the folks at Vint Hill are super supportive and knowledgeable. How fabulous is that?
I had the pleasure of touring the production facility up close and personal, exploring the barrel room and production equipment, and seeing how the craft winery operates in detail.
Outside, Vint Hill offers tasting bars on the green areas surrounding the winery (weather permitting), as well as a cozy fenced field adorned with Adirondack chairs, picnic tables, and plenty of space for picnicking on the grass under a shady tree.
Vint Hill’s Cold War Museum
Not only is Vint Hill a great winery to visit for both clever décor and serious wines, but you can make a day of it. A few paces from the foot of the winery sits the boutique Cold War Museum, chock-full of fun and wildly cool antiques and memorabilia all related to the Cold War. Across from the museum is the Covert Café, if all that wine made you hungry. And in case any of your friends are craft beer fans, Old Bust Head Brewery has their tasting room on the other side of the parking area. So much to do, it is worth the half-hour trip from the beltway!
Vint Hill Winery is located in Vint Hill, Virginia, residing on an Army base that was so secretive, rumor has it it still won’t show up on your GPS. And it’s so much fun that even their shirts are written in Morse code! Just, uh . . . don’t tell them Jana sent you. Shh.
Vint Hill Craft Winery, located at 7150 Lineweaver Road, Vint Hill, Virginia.
Want to tour another winery with me? Check out my full list of winery and vineyard visits!