Philip Carter Winery builds on legendary past

By Posted on Jun 12 2014 | By

Carter family produced first successful Vitis Vinifera wine in Virginia  

Over 250 years ago, the ancestors of the owner of Philip Carter Winery of Virginia were recognized by both the London society and Virginia’s Royal Governor Francis Fauquier as having made quality wine from the tasty, but notoriously difficult to grow, European grape.

Charles and Landon Carter were awarded a gold medal and kudos for their “spirited attempt towards the accomplishment of their views, respecting wine in America.”

IMG_9084Today, that legacy is being carried forward at the Fauquier County winery under the guidance of the proprietor and Richmond lawyer Philip Carter Strother.

“My family goes back to the formation of Fauquier County in the mid-1600s. Owning a winery was solidified in my mind when I was in law school. It was a way to ultimately preserve our family farm for generations into the future,” says Strother.

It’s also a way to provide wine lovers a beautiful setting in which to enjoy a selection of fine wines seven days a week; a win-win strategy for success.

Strother’s love of the land and his family’s history led to a successful legal practice in environmental law and land use development. As part of that practice, he has been representing farm wineries for almost fifteen years and was instrumental in passage of the Farm Wineries Zoning Act in 2007.

“The law deregulated the wine industry as it related to local government regulations and removed the ability of localities to regulate, to a large extent, the wine industry,” he says.

“I believe it’s the single most important piece of legislation passed since the original Farm Winery Act.” A supportive legal environment has been critical to the success of an industry that today boasts over 260 wineries in the Commonwealth.

Vines & wines
In 2006, an existing 26 acre Fauquier County winery came on the market and Strother quickly purchased it. His family had owned farming property in the county for over three hundred and sixty years and the barrister wanted to continue the agricultural tradition.

Philip Carter Winery of Virginia

Philip Carter Winery of Virginia

The property had the added benefit of being “located one parcel over from the Strother family grave site” further tying the land to his family’s history. “I purchased the property because it was a turnkey operation that allowed me to continue practicing law,” says Strother.

Before taking possession of the property, Strother would travel almost daily from Richmond to the winery to learn first hand about vineyard and cellar production techniques. It was on-the-job training for the city lawyer that enhanced his understanding of where he wanted to take his new venture.

“The farm had eight acres of vineyards and today we have sixteen under vine. We produced 500 cases our first year and are now making about 4,000. Ninety-nine percent of our resources have gone into the wine production side of the business,” Strother emphasizes.

The key to creating fine wine is giving the keys to the cellar to a talented winemaker. “We believe Jeremy Ligon is a rising star in the Virginia wine industry. Jeremy is a native Virginian whose parents own a vineyard in southwest Virginia. He has been working in vineyards since he was a teenager.”

Ligon also has his wine bona fides, holding degrees in viniculture and enology from California State University, Fresno, one of the nation’s most prestigious wine programs.

“We are really trying to complement what others are doing in the industry. We want to elevate the quality of Virginia wine,” states Strother.

Typically, the winery features eight wines for tasting, including Chardonnay, Vidal Blanc, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and a red blend. The tasting room sits on a slight rise overlooking rolling vineyards with mountains views framing the scene.

To sip wine in this bucolic setting is to appreciate Strother’s “passion and dedication to producing premium wines.”

For more information on the winery’s hours and events visit http://www.pcwinery.com/

John’s Pick of the Month  

Philip Carter Winery 

‘II Corotoman 


Fittingly, this Bordeaux-styled red blend was named after the 17th century plantation located on the Rappahannock River that was home to Robert Carter, a colonial Governor of Virginia and one of the wealthiest men in the British colonies in North America.

The wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Petit Verdot. It has fruit forward aromas of black cherry and plum and coats the palate with a soft lingering richness typical of a left bank Bordeaux wine. Pair with any quality cut of filet mignon or prime rib.IMG_9100


Published in the June 5, 2014 edition of the Culpeper Times.


Categories : WINE ARTICLES