Archive for January, 2012

Guests Come for the Wine But Are taken By the Beauty 

The wine is called Mesmerized. It’s a blend of Viognier and Vidal Blanc and earned its name from the behavior of arriving guests. As soon as they enter the tasting room they head for the deck. They’re mesmerized.

And well they should be. Sweeping views of rolling pastoral farmland unfold before the eye until resting on the distant peak of Old Rag Mountain; one of the most popular hiking spots in the Mid-Atlantic region.

“We looked at a bazillion properties before falling in love with this place,” says Donna Henrickson, co-owner of Little Washington Winery. “We’ve been here over a year and Carl and I still sit on the deck in the evenings in awe of this place. We can’t believe we found such an idyllic spot.”

But the land is not all views. Its twenty-five acres of southeast facing slopes and rocky soil crest at over 850 feet elevation providing an ideal location for growing wine grapes. Yet the Henricksons have taken their love of wine to even greater heights.

Donna & Carl Henrickson

“As a teenager my parents would save a few sips from their evening bottle of Bordeaux and have me taste it while teaching me to read the wine label. It was a memory that gave birth to my love of wine,” Carl fondly recalls.

Carl spent his career in business and community management. He sat on the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors from 1976 to 1984 and served in positions from sales manager to president of local software companies. Donna’s career was public relations and marketing in the hospitality trade and at the State Department.

By 2003, Carl’s home winemaking hobby had become an obsession and the couple focused on their retirement dream of owning a winery. What ensued were endless trips statewide looking at land and wineries.

In preparation to opening their own tasting room, they enrolled in Jim Law’s vineyard management and winemaking classes. They also gained invaluable experience producing major marketing events for Virginia wineries and publishing the popular Virginia Winery Hopping Guide; a vest pocket annual atlas listing wineries and directional maps to tasting rooms statewide.

In 2008, they finally happened upon a property with a winding dirt road entrance and located in the shadows of the Blue Ridge Mountains. “We looked at each other and said, this is it,” says Donna. After their extensive search, they elected to start from scratch and build a boutique wine destination near the historic village of Little Washington.

Today, the dream is being realized but retirement is still years away. The couple is having too much fun for now. “It’s hard work starting a winery from scratch. But it is gratifying to see people enjoying our wines and this peaceful setting,” says Donna.

The couple planted two acres of Viognier on the property in 2011. An additional four acres of red Bordeaux varietals will be trellised this year. Their goal is to keep the winery small. “We don’t want a huge operation. We’re focused on producing a few world-class wines and keeping this incredible 25 acres in farm use. This is a destination where folks can come, sit in awe, and get hooked on preserving farmland,” explains Carl.

In keeping with their unique business careers, the tasting notes at the winery reflect a business strategy seldom seen in Virginia. Each week, three Little Washington wines are featured alongside three wines from farm wineries in Virginia and points worldwide.

“Farm wineries are cool no matter where they’re located. Small lot wines are being hand-crafted globally and we want to share the best of them with our guests. We feel a connection to these winemakers and are pleased to open additional markets to them. We call the selections our ‘Dirt Road Tour’ in honor of the back roads where many of the producers are located.”

The Dirt Road wines are selected by Andrew Stover, a professional sommelier and winemaker. “Andrew has a broad knowledge of small wineries producing worthy wines. We’re fortunate to have his involvement in the selection process,” says Donna.

"Dirt Road" Wine Rack

Customers can choose from both Little Washington wines and selections from the “Dirt Road Rack” located in the back of the tasting room. All of the wines are periodically rotated through the tasting bar so visitors are provided a different tasting experience every time they visit the winery.

Little Washington Winery is a unique and welcome addition to the Virginia wine scene. Its owners are unpretentious and view wine as an everyday beverage and consummate food companion. “Some folks get a little carried away with intimidating winespeak. That’s not us. Our passion is about sharing the serenity of this place and making good wine,” says Carl.

Little Washington Winery is located at 72 Christmas Lane, Washington, VA.  The tasting room is open Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 11am to 5pm. 540.987.8265. Visit them at  

Published in the Spring 2012 edition of the Virginia Wine Gazette.
Categories : WINE ARTICLES

Rappahannock Cellars Expands Winery

Posted on Jan 05 2012 | By

Growth of Wine Club Leads to New & Expansive Members Lounge 

When John Delmare, owner of Rappahannock Cellars in Huntly, opened the doors to his tasting room in 2001 there wasn’t a single California-styled wine club operating in Virginia. Today, the Old Dominion has dozens of such clubs scattered throughout the state.

John Delmare

“I was surprised that no winery was operating a club that regularly ships wine to its customers, while at the same time offering special privileges at the winery to those loyal supporters. It’s a sound way to build your business and to connect with a group of people who can act as ambassadors for both your business and the state in general,” says Delmare.

Today, Rappahannock Cellars is a leader in the Virginia wine industry. “About sixty-five percent of our wine is shipped to our membership,” states Delmare.

Such growth dictated an expansion of both the winery’s warehouse and its members’ club room. On December 10th, the new room officially opened. Not one to think small, Delmare created a 2,000 square foot venue located over top of a new equally-sized warehouse facility. The club room can comfortably seat 150 people for casual tasting, wine dinners and other similar events.

As one enters the warmly appointed room, multiple picture windows offer views in every direction of vineyards, forests and mountains. Sipping wine in such an atmosphere is a sure cure for chasing away the workweek blues. “Many of our members visit us on weekends to relax and enjoy the beauty of Rappahannock County. The room can serve as their ‘country club’ and its expansion is our way of saying thanks for their loyal support,’’ says Delmare.

The room will also be available for lease during the week to public and corporate users.

The growth of Virginia wine might well be labeled “explosive”. The first commercial winery was licensed in 1967 and today there are some 230 wineries in the state. Industry experts predict that the acceleration of the industry will result in a doubling the Nation’s wine consumption in the next decade. If that comes to pass,Virginia could well be home to some 500 wineries by 2021. In Rappahanock County there are currently seven tasting rooms in operation: Chester Gap, Gadino, Gray Ghost, Little Washington,Narmada, Rappahannock Cellars and Sharp Rock.

“I welcome our county neighbors to come and visit us. We’d love to give them a tour of our expanded facilities and share with them the benefits of being a club member. Most local members save on the expense of shipping by picking up their monthly allotments here at the winery.  Plus, it creates an opportunity to spend a few hours of relaxation in a beautiful setting,” says Delmare.

The Delmare family is large and guests will often be greeted by family members who work and manage winery operations. Rappahannock Cellars is opened seven days a week from 11:30am to 5pm, and on Saturday till 6pm. Learn more about their extensive wine list and events by visiting    


Published in the January 5, 2012 edition of the Rappahannock News.

Categories : WINE ARTICLES