Over the years, we have stopped at a number of vineyards on the way home from day hikes at Sky Meadows. Two of our favorites are Delaplane Cellars and Barrel Oak Winery, for very different reasons. Barrel Oak, which we’ll save for another post on another day, has some great wines and is a large, fun atmosphere if you’re with a group of folks, or if you have your dogs or children along. Delaplane features a much different vibe.
The somewhat austere house rules at Delaplane set it apart from most other Virginia wineries: ALL guests must be 21 years old or over (no children permitted) and no large groups. There is a moratorium on limousines or buses. This means, among other things, that you can enjoy your experience at Delaplane without a nearby gaggle of squealing half-drunk (or fully drunk) bridesmaids toasting a girl wearing a sash and tiara. Delaplane is not a stop on any of the popular Virginia wine bus tours, so there are no troupes of tippling tourists crammed at the tasting bar, either. Dogs are permitted, but only in designated outdoor areas (not in the tasting room or on the deck). Delaplane frequently features live music and it’s quite lovely to be able to hear the musicians or singer(s) without loud groups of people talking above it.
The “no children” rule had us curious when we first came. Clear signage on the way into the tasting room warns patrons of the 21-and-over-only policy, yet on our inaugural visit we sat outside on the deck and watched a family with kids & stroller approach — stop to read the sign — and then open the door and come on in anyway. Curious about how this was going to go down, Henri went inside on some pretense…but really to eavesdrop (don’t judge!). A friendly staff member met the group as they entered and explained the no-children policy politely, then offered the family free tasting certificates for nearby Barrel Oak Winery, which has different policies. The family thanked them, took the free tastings, and headed out. No fuss. No muss. We were impressed with how diplomatically and respectfully Delaplane’s staff protected the experience of their patrons and honored their own decisions about how they want to present their wines. (We were also impressed by the apparent cooperative relationship between the two neighboring vineyards).
Though Delaplane may sound dull or sterile due to their tasting-room rules, we have never found it to be either. Our pourers are always friendly, chatty (but not to a fault), helpful, and knowledgeable. The music is always a perfect volume to be able to listen, but also to have a normal-voice conversation as you do. It’s not a silent “listening room” any more than it is a raucous bar. It’s pretty perfect for a date or a small group of friends. We’ve noticed that some folks on Yelp and other review sites have not appreciated Delaplane’s efforts to establish a relaxing grown-up oasis that focuses on the wine and the views, but we love it for those very reasons.
Oh, did you want to hear about the wines?! Glad you’ve kept reading, because the other thing we really like about Delaplane Cellars is just that. They feature several wines we enjoy, and one that stands out as a favorite for us among Virginia wines.
[At Delaplane] I found a consistency of adroitly fine winemaking with nicely original touches throughout the product line. ~ Richard Leahy
If you know us at all, you know that we are red wine fans first and foremost (though Fergus has developed a freakish passion for rosés of late.) We typically like bold, deep, full red wines.
The wine we come back for over and over again — and recommend to our friends — is Delaplane’s Duet. We suppose that the name is appropriate since we’ve been raving about what a great date place this is for couples, but the name came about because the grapes in it were grown in two Northern Virginia counties: Loudoun and Fauquier. It is a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc. In the vernacular of winos, Duet is “fruit-forward” and full, but we find the balance with its notable oakiness to be really nice. (Is “oakiness” an actual word?)
Fergus bought a bottle of Delaplane’s rosé (simply called Rosé ) on our most recent visit, and proclaims it an all-time favorite, as well. The other wine that we enjoy the most here is a red blend they call the Cinq series. They are on Cinq5 at the moment, which may seem a bit redundant until you realize that its forebearers were Cinq4, Cinq3, etc. In the white category, we prefer Delaplane’s Traminette, though we don’t dislike their Chardonnay.
Friday-Sunday from 11AM to 5PM and also some holidays
Tasting menu ranges in price from $8-$12; “light fare” also available for purchase.
Hands-down, this is our absolute favorite Virginia “date” winery. It’s just a great place to go as a couple to enjoy some wine, gorgeous views, music, and one another’s company in a relaxed, comfortable atmosphere. Not romantic in the hackneyed Valentines Day way, its romance is derived from the beauty and simple elegance of both the surrounding view and the tasting room/deck.
Views. We have to agree with Richard Leahy‘s assessment that Delaplane offers “one of the nicest tasting room views in Northern Virginia.” The tasting room, itself, is also tastefully elegant in a minimalist way, and features none of the gaudy, overwrought decor you find in many VA wineries.
- The water cups are made from corn.
- The napkins, paper towels and restroom paper are made of recycled paper.
- Our hand soap is scent free and is environmentally friendly.
- The Light Fare we offer is from local farmers and bakers.
- The tasting bar, doors, front steps, flooring, future fireplace and retaining walls come from trees, wood and stone walls that were on the property during the development of the vineyards and the winery.
Concern for the environment. Though their website proclaims that it’s “not easy being green,” Delaplane is dedicated to just that. Janine Finnell, Founder and Clean Energy Ambassador of Leaders in Energy, writes about it here.
VA TRAIL PAIRINGS
- Any of the trails at Sky Meadows State Park
- Other Hikes Quite Nearby:
- Manassas Gap
- Ashby Gap
- GRT Wildlife Management Area