Sharp Rock Vineyards

Sharp Rock Vineyards tasting room barn
Unpretentious and welcoming, Sharp Rock has become one of our favorite stops in Sperryville.

We’ve quite literally been visiting Sharp Rock Vineyards for as long as we’ve been hiking in Virginia, since we discovered it several years ago on our gateway hike at Old Rag Mountain. Cleverly situated so that busy Old Rag hiking traffic can literally not miss it, Sharp Rock sits near a gently burbling trout stream (the Hughes River) on an idyllic 20+ acre farm, and — through the years — has been graced by the presence of some of the finest wine dogs in the country. (Years ago we were first greeted at the door by Bo, a friendly yellow lab who was featured in the very first edition of Wine Dogs USA). These days, owners Jimm and Kathy East rescue Bernese Mountain Dogs, two of which gave us a friendly welcome on our most recent visit.

Sharp Rock Vineyards tasting room interior
Henri and Jimm East, owner & winemaker, chat in the tasting room.

The tasting room at Sharp Rock sits above a small, unassuming barn. To get to it, you’ll drive by the large main house and the small B&B cottage near the stream, to the parking area just outside the tasting room.

Take a look around the hospitable, spacious grounds — noticing the welcoming, scattered seating areas arranged nonchalantly out near the vines and a small, as well as a somewhat more structured seating area next to the barn, where entertainment is sometimes featured. Then, head into the little barn and up the steps to a cozy area with one tasting bar and a small sitting area that overlooks the vines. You’ll more than likely have your tasting poured by the owner and winemaker, himself. I can’t remember a time we’ve been there (and there have been many) that Jimm wasn’t the person pouring each taste and discussing the wines with us as we go along. It’s rarely crowded when we stop by, though we suspect it may be more so on holidays.

sharp-rock-cottage
image of cottage from sharprockvineyards.com
THE WINES

Our tasting on 15 January 2017 featured six wines: Chardonnay, Chardonnay Reserve, Rosé Noir, Old Rag Red, Cabernet Franc, and Pinnacle, though we’ve been there frequently enough to try each of their wines at one time or another. On this visit, we brought home a bottle of Old Rag Red, Rosé Noir, and the Cabernet Franc, though we also enjoyed the Chardonnay Reserve and Pinnacle (a Cabernet/Malbec blend) quite a bit too. The Rosé Noir is made with 100% Cabernet grapes that Jimm leaves on the skins for three days to produce a darker rosé (thus the “noir”). It has fruity aromas of strawberry and grapefruit, and a nice balance of sweetness and acidity. Old Rag Red, one of our perennial favorites, is a hearty red blend of three Bordeaux along with some Nebbiolo grapes.

Sharp Rock Vineyards view from tasting room
View from the little sitting area above the barn, just off the tasting room.

Sharp Rock also runs a B&B, with two different spaces that patrons can rent to stay for longer than a sunny afternoon by mountains and river. The owner and winemaker does a great job of summing up the Sharp Rock experience in this brief video:

HOURS

Open all year Friday through Sunday and on Monday holidays, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; in October, Thursday through Monday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Also open by appointment all year.

WINE TASTING/FOOD

Tasting is $7-8, and some light fare is also available for purchase. You are welcome to bring a picnic and enjoy it out by the vines, next to the barn, or up on the covered seating area just off the tasting room.

BEST FOR…

A great post-hike stop, you’ll likely really enjoy chatting with the owners and their friendly wine dogs. Bring some snacks or a picnic and enjoy a glass of wine as you rest after a long day on the trail. By the time you leave, you’ll feel like family.

VA TRAIL PAIRINGS

Map showing Sharp Rock Vineyards

Delaplane Cellars

 

Henri enjoying a glass of Duet on the deck at Delaplane Cellars
Delaplane Cellars is perfect for an afternoon date. [Henri’s date is…taking the photo].
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.

View from the deck at Delaplane Cellars
Henri, the youngest of 5 daughters, has nicknamed these hills as “Five Sisters.”
THE WINES

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.

Some wine & light fare at Delaplane Cellars

HOURS

Friday-Sunday from 11AM to 5PM and also some holidays

WINE TASTING/FOOD

Tasting menu ranges in price from $8-$12; “light fare” also available for purchase.

BEST FOR…

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

map of vineyards near Sky Meadows State Park