Family-centered Morais Vineyards and Winery

By Posted on Apr 13 2015 | By

Morais Vineyards (3)Joe Morais, owner of Morais Vineyards and Winery in Bealeton, loves to ask the question “What’s the smallest room in the house?” Hmmm…let’s think.

“It’s the dining room,” he quickly replies. The dining room? Yep. And why? Because it’s not used that often. Morais (more ice) thinks that’s a shame. “The master bedroom is the largest room” but it’s used for sleeping.

He goes on to share his life philosophy driving the simple question. Family is everything. He has three daughters, six grandchildren and a large extended family.

“The dining room is where we talk with the family,” said Morais. So many families eat out today and often “you’ll see the kids playing with their iPhones or other devices. Are they talking with their parents? No. My dining room seats 40 people and provides space for our family to share their lives.”

Most of us could not afford a 40-person dining room but it’s emblematic of his belief the family is the center of life. His home is in Lake Manassas and was built with family in mind. His winery fosters the same atmosphere.

Morais and his five brothers are successful businessmen. He arrived in the United States 47 years ago and today his construction and concrete companies employ 400 people. Hard working and focused defines the man.

But work was also stressful so he opened his winery in 2011 to help slow down and enjoy life more. Nonetheless, even the grand opening was an earth shattering event—literally. It was August 23, 2011; the day the famous 5.8 magnitude earthquake struck Virginia.

“It was the first meeting of a local business association at the winery. They were meeting in our hall,” said Morais. While it was a “jolt” for the attendees all went well and the winery did not sustain damage. It’s been peaceful sailing ever since.

Dream winery
Morais Vineyards (1)As one drives up the curving lane to the winery and crests a small rise a dramatic building appears. It is the tasting room and event hall embodied in a replica castle from Portugal where his middle daughter was married. They commissioned an architect to eliminate the middle floor from the original castle; otherwise, it looks like a piece of history direct from the Old Country.

Morais owned the 178 acre site for 30 years before building the winery. During that period his children rarely visited the property. Today, the family frequently enjoys what he calls the “farm”.

“People will call me and I tell them I am with the other family”, he said. Taken aback, they say they didn’t realize he had two families. “Yes, I have a family at the farm too. When they see my car coming, they run up to the fence so I can feed them. I have goats, sheep, chickens, dogs and more and they have free run” in the woods and pastures of the fenced property.

Just as he enjoys the farm winery with both of his “families”, he encourages visitors to do the same. He wants families to come out, enjoy the Virginia countryside, bring picnic baskets, sip his wines and spend a day on the farm.

“They can bring all the food they want. I will even help them eat it too!” said Morais laughing.

FullSizeRender (3)The winery also hosts some 30 weddings a year. ”I call this my dream place. But people come here to satisfy their dreams too.”

The wines
The winery has 14 acres under vine. The vineyard includes Albarino, Muscatel, Vidal Blanc, Touriga Nacional, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and a few additional plantings. Annual production is 2,700 cases, or 32,000 bottles.

All of the wines are grown, produced and bottled on the estate. Morais is not seeking to increase production but to focus on quality not quantity.

To that end, he brought a young winemaker from Portugal, Vitor Guimarãis, to man his cellar.  Guimarãis is a fourth generation winemaker and holds a Masters Degree in Viticulture and Enology from Lisbon’s Superior Institute of Agronomy, one of Europe’s leading colleges in the field. Many of his wines are award winners.

Joe Morais has an enduring message he shares with everyone. “Get away from the phones; get out to the Virginia countryside—not just to Morais Vineyards. America is beautiful; enjoy the views.

“Our lives pass on. We all should leave something behind before we go. Leave behind the good deeds not just the good times. That’s our point of view,” said Morais.

Sound advice. And no better place to start than by spending an afternoon at Morais Vineyards and Winery.

The winery is opened Saturdays and Sundays 12 noon to 6 p.m. year round. For more information on its wines and events visit http://www.moraisvineyards.com/

John’ Pick of the Month 

Morais Vineyards and Winery

Red Select


A multiple medal winner blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc. Aged for two years in French oak barrels, the wine is fruit forward displaying cherry and raspberry notes on the palate and framed by a smooth mouthfeel. Pair with any beef entrée.


Published in the April 9, 2015 edition of the Culpeper Times.

Categories : WINE ARTICLES