Molon Lave Vineyards: handcrafting wine jewels

By Posted on May 15 2015 | By

Louizos Papadopoulos began designing custom jewelry in Greece when he was 12 years old. By age 17, he joined a large design firm in Athens and continues to “work on the bench” today.

IMG_1093 (1)He also handcrafts wine at his Opal winery. Creating beauty from jewels and grapes is his passion. But it doesn’t stop there. Visitors to Molon Lave Vineyards also experience the landscaped beauty of his winery. Papadopoulos is an artist and the world his palette.

If his life’s work appears to come naturally, there’s good reason. His father, Louis Papadopoulos, owner of Mediterranean Cellars in Warrenton, is a fourth generation jeweler and has been making wine since 1961.

Jewelry design and winemaking are part of his son’s DNA. “Winemaking is kind of inherited to us. In Greece everyone would make wine for the house,” Louizos Papadopoulos explains.

Father and son moved permanently to the United States in 1984 and built a successful jewelry design business in Northern Virginia. In 1989, the family purchased the property in Warrenton and planted their first vines.

But jewelry design and winemaking are time consuming and his father decided to retire in 2000 to devote full-time to building and operating Mediterranean Cellars. The winery opened in 2004.

A year prior to its launch, the Molon Lave property was purchased for the purpose of providing additional grape supply for his father’s winery. The original hobby had become a serious business and the decision was made to open a second winery.

Molon Lave opened its tasting room in 2009 and has replicated the family’s jewelry success in Virginia wine production. The 50 acre winery currently produces 4,000 cases a year with a production goal of 8,000 cases.

Currently there are 12 acres under vine with an additional six acres to be added this year. More than 10 varietals are planted including Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Viognier, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot.

IMG_1096“Our motto and philosophy is to combine European style winemaking with grapes grown in Virginia. We are doing it in a way you can taste the fruit itself without having to guess real hard what you are drinking. We don’t standardize the wines the way they do on the West Coast.

“We try to enhance the existing fruit using Old World winemaking,” said Papadopoulos. 

For some Old Dominion wineries building a business that will eventually be run by the owners’ children is a primary goal. Molon Lave embraces the strategy.

Papadopoulos’ three daughters play active roles in the business. Katherine is the tasting room manager, Evy the office manager and Leah studies at George Mason University while assisting at both wineries.

Louisos“They are the third generation of our active winemaking family,” Papadopoulos said.

His wife, Alex, focuses on entertaining jewelry business customers who visit the winery; a considerable clientele since the firm has been in operation for 31 years.

The enjoyment of wine is enhanced by a graceful setting and Molon Lave delivers on the concept. The winery’s tasting room is framed by a 2,500 square foot patio and walkway that leads to an 8,300 square foot pavilion located on a knoll overlooking the winery, vineyards and a two and a half acre pond.IMG_1098

To sip wine and gaze upon the peaceful Virginia countryside defines relaxation; a goal most guests have in mind when arriving on the property.

The name of the winery reflects both the owners’ culture and life philosophy. Molon Lave is an ancient Greek phrase meaning “Come and get them”.

It was the response uttered by King Leonidas to a demand from an overwhelming large Persian army for his small Greek force to lay down their arms during the battle of Thermopylae in 480 BC.

The defiant military response embodies the dignity and pride of the Papadopoulos family.

It also sounds like a gracious offer to their guests to taste the wines and then “come and get them”. An offer responded to daily.

Molon Lave is opened seven days a week from 11 to 6 p.m. Visit them at for additional information on their wines and special events.


John’ Pick of the month IMG_1103

Molon Lave Vineyards 

2012 Cabernet Sauvignon 


This award winning 100 percent cabernet sauvignon was aged for 14 months in French and American oak. The wine displays the depth of a well-crafted cab showcasing red and black fruit a silky mouth feel and a smooth dry finish.

The wine is also Kosher for Passover meaning it was kept free from contact with grain, bread and dough during production and aging.


Published May 14, 2015 in the Culpeper Times.

Categories : WINE ARTICLES