Historic Effingham Manor to open as winery

By Posted on Feb 04 2016 | By

Note: Effinghman Manor’s opening has been delayed pending Prince William County approval. A hearing is anticipated in September or October 2016.

Nokesville plantation to offer public access to 249 year-old mansion

This spring the doors of a large, two story, five bay eighteenth-century Tidewater-style home will open to both wine and history lovers.

KIMG0420 (1)The home is in remarkable condition given its Pre-Revolutionary War provenance but an eight man crew is working seven days a week to further provide guests a comfortable venue for sipping wine and exploring the 16 acre property. It is scheduled to open in April.

Effingham Manor was built in 1767 for William Alexander, grandson of John Alexander for whom the city of Alexandria was named. William and his wife Mary spent their entire lives on the plantation raising 16 children. He was obviously a busy man.

Alexander was also a member of the Prince William County Committee of Safety in 1774, Lieutenant Colonel of the Militia during the Revolutionary War and a justice. He inherited the land at age 20 and lived to 70 years-old. He is buried on the property.

It’s believed the estate was named in honor of Baron Frances Howard, 5th Lord Howard of Effingham and Governor of Virginia from 1683 to 1692. The home was built by British convicts exiled to America.

As expected of a property owned by wealthy early Americans, the plantation originally encompassed 42 square miles. The home is surrounded by several outbuildings including a blacksmith shop, former slave quarters, smokehouse and a triple terraced lawn.

After Alexander’s death, the property was divided into smaller parcels. During the Civil war Union soldiers encamped on the land. Weary infantrymen nailed horseshoes to trees and slumbered in hammocks tied to them. There are reports of horseshoes still hanging from nearby ancient trees.

By 1937, the home had fallen into severe disrepair and underwent a major restoration. Electricity, central heating and indoor plumbing were incorporated into the home.

In the mid-1950s, a three generation family of surgeons purchased the then 687-acre cattle farm and resided there until it was sold in 2004.

A developer purchased the property and built large homes on portions of the land. He further restored the manor house in anticipation of making it a wedding venue but went bankrupt before his plans were realized.

Enter the entrepreneur

Chris Pearmund

Chris Pearmund

When the banked-owned property failed to sell, the bankers turned to a familiar name in Virginia wine: Chris Pearmund.

The experienced vintner was offered an opportunity to turn the property into a first class winery while maintaining its historic character.

Pearmund, 54, owner of Pearmund Cellars and Vint Hill Craft Winery and instrumental in operating The Winery at Bull Run has been involved in opening numerous Virginia wineries over last two decades. He immediately recognized the potential of the home.

“Effingham Manor is the 16th winery I’ve been associated with. I call it my ‘sweet 16’ project,” Pearmund said.

The hands-on entrepreneur and his crew are working full-time with hammer and paint brush to meet the April opening date.

The work involves refinishing floors, building a tasting bar in the home, completing restoration of the slave quarters for a second tasting venue, updating lighting systems and installing a $100,000 septic system.

Pearmund, managing partner of the winery, has assembled a group of 15 investors and reached 80 percent of his targeted $2.5 million restoration and expansion budget.

Plans also include building an operating winery on site and planting a vineyard by the fall of 2016. The vintner explains grapes don’t necessarily have to be grown on a winery site but does anticipate a small vineyard of up to 15 acres.

“In Virginia wine you often grow grapes in a different location from where you are selling the wine, especially at closer in suburban type settings. Wine grapes favor rocky, leaner soil with good drainage. Flat, rich farmland favorable to other agricultural products often does not produce the best fruit,” Pearmund explained.

Pearmund, in partnership with The Winery at Bull Run has planted 35 acres of grapes in Rappahannock County that will help supply wine for his new venture.

Meanwhile, he is bottling wine under the Effingham Manor label at his Pearmund Cellars winery in anticipation of the spring opening.

Pearmund is grateful for the opportunity he’s been given to launch another winery on such a unique property. “This is a very rich, historical, and important property. I want to completely respect it and leave it better that I found it.

“I think Effingham Manor will bring a lot of respect to Virginia wine. I want to make it a smaller version of Mt. Vernon or Monticello,” Pearmund said.

Effingham Manor is located at 14337 Trotters Ridge Place, Nokesville. For more information and progress reports on its opening visit http://effinghammanor.com/



Published in the February 3, 2016 edition of the Fauquier Times.

Categories : WINE ARTICLES