Blue Valley Vineyard and Winery

By Posted on Oct 02 2015 | By

Delaplane estate rising to new heights

IMG_2035Even from a distance the edifice looks imposing. Understandably so. Its spacious tasting rooms and cellar clock in at over 20,000 square feet of spotless modernity.

As you wind gently up a country lane to the winery—perched on the highest point of the 63 acre property—its stature is fully revealed. But there’s a dilemma; gaze at the impressive two-story field stone winery or the 360 degree views of rolling countryside and Blue Ridge Mountains.

The solution? Head inside and taste the wines.

As one approaches the large arched front doors chances are you’ll be greeted by your first host, Jill, a ten-month-old beagle with a wagging tail. The signal is clear. This is an upscale establishment with a down home feel.

Children are also welcomed because “We have four grandchildren of our own,” co-owner Helen Zissios said.

Opened in April 2015, the multi-million dollar winery is gaining buzz as oenophiles visit and spread the word. And as impressive as the facility and grounds are, the project is not yet fully realized. Grassy picnic areas, waterfalls and a Koi pond are a few of the amenities still to come.

One guest remarked he had “visited some 200 Virginia wineries and Blue Valley has the best views of them all.”

Family affair

Stergio Zissios

Stergio Zissios

The winery has evolved from dream to reality due to the passion of the Greek Zissios family. John and Helen Zissios and their three adult children have all played a role in its creation. Their oldest son Stergio is the key player in the winery.

The story began one Sunday 18 years ago when mom and dad were enjoying a Sunday drive in Fauquier County. “My husband saw a sign on the ground covered with leaves,” Helen Zissios said. Upon inspection it revealed the property was for sale.

Unfortunately, it was the John Marshall estate consisting of 400 acres, more land than the family wanted. They offered to buy a portion and were rejected. But two weeks later the sales agent called back and asked then to pick out the lot they wanted.

The vision of a winery had not yet materialized. John Zissios had been a home winemaker for decades and simply wanted to grow grapes and enjoy the country life. Years later his oldest son Stergio convinced the family to build a winery on the very location the family home was to be situated.

It’s been a labor of love since. Helen Zissios says some people think a wealthy and detached owner is behind Blue Valley “but it’s not true”. While a sizeable portion of the family’s money has been invested in the business, their son Stergio, 34, reminds visitors 85 percent of the winery construction was completed by him and his father.

Hands on personifies the establishment.

And where does such skill sets come from? His father founded Capitol Services Heating, AC, Plumbing and remodeling thirty-five years ago. His second son, Demos, 33, runs the Falls Church firm today. Daughter Katerina, 28, is a Physician Assistant.

The wines
As experienced as John Zissios is in making wine, he wisely employed consultant John Levenberg to oversee his work. Levenberg made wine in California, France and New Zealand.

Wine Spectator magazine rated one of his reds as among the three best wines of the 2002 Bordeaux vintage. He also produced 23 wines rated 90 points or higher by wine legend Robert Parker, including two 100-point wines he crafted while working at Paul Hobbs winery in Sonoma County, CA.

With the pressures of running a new winery, John Zissios hired a talented young winemaker, Tyler Henley, in 2014 to craft his future wines. A tour of the wine cellar reveals over 30 stainless steel tanks, numerous French and American oak barrels and a dramatic stone-lined banquet room available for private dinners.

Currently, there are seven varietals grown on 17 estate acres with plans to expand plantings in the future. Last year, 9,800 cases of wine were produced with a goal of 20,000 cases rolling off the bottling line by 2022.

In addition to Virginia grapes used to make wines, the family buys fruit from California to help meet its production goals. The Zissios family is currently harvesting their own grapes. As more estate fruit becomes available, out-of-state purchases will be phased out.

The deft touch of John Zissios and John Levenberg is evident in the 11 clean and flavorful wines currently being poured in the tasting room.

IMG_0343“We are very particular about our wines and our service,” Helen Zissios said. The proof is in the bottle and the friendly staff. And the pièce de resistance? An expansive deck with umbrella tables off the side of the tasting room. A glass of wine can last a long time in such a setting as guests sip, gaze and unwind.

Blue Valley Vineyard and Winery is opened seven days a week. Visit http://www.bluevalleyvineyardandwinery.com/ for directions, operating hours and events.

                                                  John’s pick of the month


Blue Valley Vineyard and Winery

2013 Celebration


A unique blend of Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Sangiovese. The full-bodied wine presents with delicate aromatics and a rich mouth feel. The palate is replete with blackberry, cocoa and toasted vanilla. Aged in new French and American oak for 14 months, the wine is elegant, fruit forward and suitable with a wide range of grilled meats.

Categories : WINE ARTICLES