The Winery at LaGrange showcasing premium fruit

By Posted on Nov 14 2019 | By

Virginia and West Coast grapes star in quality portfolio

Seth Chambers is a winemaker on the move. Wherever he can source grapes that shine, he moves on them. Virginia, California, Washington State and Oregon are four of his favorite venues.

But he quickly underscores he does not blend out-of-state and Old Dominion wine. Each offering stands on its own merits.

“Our goal at LaGrange is producing fine wine and pleasing customers,” says Chambers. “When guests taste our wines, I don’t think they think West Coast is better than Virginia. I am super proud of my Virginia Rosé, Petit Verdot and other wines.”

His wines are labeled Virginia or American so there is no sleight of hand about what’s in the bottle. What Chambers believes is there are certain terroirs—or the somewhereness of where the fruit is grown—that can produce different palate experiences.

To fully grasp the concept of terroir here’s a wee test: Where’s the best expression of a Georgia peach grown? Yep, Georgia.

In Virginia you rarely see grapes such as Gewürztraminer, Petit Sirah, Barbera, Nebbiolo, Zinfandel and more. They make excellent wines but the Old Dominion’s climate is often too cold, hot, or humid to bring out the best in those varietals.

But in the hands of a capable winemaker, it doesn’t matter where the wine is made. Once the fruit is in the cellar a qualified maestro can create a symphony of aromas and flavors from a variety of grapes.

“I want to be different and work with what Virginia produces best while also bringing out the best in West Coast fruit. It’s not an overlapping of styles. It’s what our guests are looking for.

“I try to be honest and upfront as winemaker. You can buy good wine at a lot of places today. At LaGrange it’s about producing a variety of quality wine while offering hospitality and a unique experience in the tasting room.

“An example was one of our Cabernet Sauvignon selections. The same wine was aged in French oak and American oak. We poured them as a pair and went back and forth contrasting the difference and similarities between the two oak styles,” says Chambers.

While the tasting room serves wines reflecting both east and west provenance, many of the more unique bottlings are destined for its wine club Black Label program. The club has been revamped this year and is gaining in popularity. Members receive special selections quarterly and can pick them up at the winery or have them shipped directly to their home wine cellar.

Bona vides
So where does the talent and skill originate to produce a panoply of wine styles? As with most success, it springs from a focused education coupled with passion. Chambers, 36, has both in ample supply.

Early in his formative years, he switched his college major from astrophysics to organic chemistry because he wanted to become a winemaker. He served a summer internship in 2006 at LaGrange, the year it opened.

“I left that summer with a determination that I had found my calling. I finished up at Penn State with a degree in organic chemistry and a minor in plant biology and got my first job as a winemaker in Virginia.”

The following spring, he obtained his Enology certification and in 2014 returned to LaGrange to lead its wine program. His education reflects a growing number of Virginia winemakers who hold wine and vineyard degrees as opposed to the early days when hobbyists largely morphed into winemakers.

The venue
With the dedication to producing a wide range of wines what might add to the experience? If the answer eludes, it’s likely you haven’t walked the hallowed grounds of LaGrange or toured its historic home.

Built in 1790, the manor house sits on a small rise in the shadow of Bull Run Mountain. The almost six-acre property was originally part of Robert “King” Carter’s Bull Run Tract in the 1600s known as LaGrange.

The property’s size ebbed and flowed over the centuries but fortuitously the three-story red brick manor house survived the vagaries of time. In December 2005, a small group of investors purchased the historic farm and dilapidated home and made necessary repairs to both. It opened it as a winery in September 2006.

Today the estate is a historical gift to wine lovers. To tour the home or relax on the park-like grounds while gazing at rolling vineyards and mountain scenes, is an invitation to step back in time and enjoy the liquid fruits of the vineyard and cellar.

“I live in nearby Gainesville,” says Chambers,” It’s always five to six degrees cooler out here. It’s a beautiful setting.”

The winery, located at 4970 Antioch Road, Haymarket, is opened seven days a week from noon to 9 p.m. enticing guests to sip and nibble from their own picnic baskets both during the day or after a day’s slog in the job harness.

For a full digital tour of The Winery at LaGrange, its history, wines, events, and more visit

Categories : WINE ARTICLES