Accidentally but purposefully, I stumbled upon Stinson Vineyards! Scheduled for a wine blending class taught by Matthieu Finot (love how the French spell Matthew!) and hosted by Stinson Vineyards, I drove towards White Hall in western Albemarle County. I am a local realtor and know my way around the area quite well and had never even heard of this vineyard! We literally drove past it 3 times, before noticing the parking area between the Piedmont House and the newly transformed garage addition tasting room. I actually asked for directions at the Piedmont Store at the corner of 810 & Sugar Hollow Road and was sent off in the opposite direction. Surprisingly, it is located just past the store on the right, practically a stones throw away! Recently, Cathy Harding had written an in-depth article about it in Cville magazine. She is (and should have been sooner) now on my list of absolute “ must reads”. At this point I decided we need to get the word out about this up and coming winery.
Finally inside the tasting room, I explained my difficulty in locating the winery. I was smilingly informed by Scott Stinson, owner/renovator/architect, that if I had just asked for him they would have directed me there. Well! If that’s not country living with lifelong locals! Ask them for directions and the ironic typical response is, “You remember where the old Gentry place used to be…”! If you knew all that you wouldn’t be asking for directions! Sorry, I digress…
Stinson Vineyards, as described on their website, is now on its way to becoming an environmentally sustainable, family run micro-vineyard. Piedmont House, the main house is in White Hall, Virginia, a tiny country town with panoramic views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Built in 1796, it was expanded to the current square footage in the 1840s. Apparently, rumor circulated that General “Stonewall” Jackson occupied the home during his Valley Campaign of 1862. The Stinsons purchased adjoining acreage to start their new five acre vineyard for a grand total of twelve acres. The original, mostly Cabernet Sauvignon vines from the 1970′s on the property were sadly neglected and have been undergoing restoration, hence the need for newer healthier vines. The Stinson’s plan to open the winery to the public June 16th and celebrate their grand opening on the 4th of July of this year. Stinson, Mountfair, White Hall, Glass House and soon to be winery, Moss will combine to create The Appellation Trail, the newest wine trail in the northwestern sector of Albemarle County.
This was my first class through PVCC towards a certificate in oenolgy and viticulture and was it ever fun! Several class members hailed from Northern Virginia and a few are in the process of opening their own wineries with vineyards already in production. Dennis Vrooman, a veterinarian in Virginia Beach, Christine Wells Vrooman and their son have a vineyard in Amherst, named Ankida Ridge Vineyard, with their own winery soon to open!
Matthieu Finot, winemaker for King Family, led our class. He is serious about his vocation but had a good sense of humor in dealing with some of us not as experienced oenophiles! Many of the students were already acquainted from previous classes and quite knowledgeable about wines which created a pleasant, relaxed atmosphere.
Rachel Stinson, Director of Operations, helped facilitate our class. She also happens to be Scott Stinson’s daughter. He defers to her readily and has the utmost confidence in her abilities.
She is an asset to the operation and an excellent ambassador for the family venture. Rachel is working alongside Matthieu learning about the entire wine making process. She is also tech savvy and I believe is responsible for their blog and social media. We enjoyed having her and Nathan Vrooman on our wine blending team! Look for good things to come from one of the newest wineries in our state of Virginia! I look forward to watching their progress and tasting their future harvest!