My latest Virginia winery field trip brought me to The Barns at Hamilton Station, located in tiny Hamilton, Virgnia, just ten miles west of Leesburg. The Barns at Hamilton Station won this year’s Virginia Governor’s Cup (Virginia’s foremost wine competition) with their 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon, marking the first time the award has gone to a winery in Loudoun County.
Proprietors Andrew and Maryann Fialdini are only the third owners of The Barns property. I wondered about the name (The Barns at Hamilton Station), and then it hit me. There are barns (plural) on the property, and they are located less than a mile from Hamilton Station, a former stop on the old Washington & Old Dominion Railroad.
The property consists of 11 acres, two of which are under vine — planted to Petit Verdot and Viognier. The Barns sources most of their grapes from vineyards in Hillsboro, Shenandoah, and Charlottesville. (For terroir sticklers, the grapes for the winning 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon were sourced from Charlottesville — from mostly Carter’s Mountain with some additional fruit from Mount Juliet vineyards.) At present, winemaker Michael Schaps (based out of Charlottesville), produces about 3,000 cases per year for The Barns, and the wines are only available at the winery.
The tasting room is inside the beautifully restored 107 year old bank barn, built in 1910. All of the floors are original, and the tables in the tasting room are made from reclaimed barn wood. The massive and spectacular chandelier is made out of repurposed wine barrel staves. It’s available at Restoration Hardware. I know this because I covet.
In a stroke of repurposing genius, the front of the tasting bar is made out of the original pig pen roof. I love the patina on this. How can I incorporate a vintage pig-pen roof into my house?
The Fialdini’s have done a terrific job preserving, displaying, and repurposing the many historical and architectural relics found on the property.
For those of you who enjoy the occasional cigar, The Barns has a Cigar Cave, which is a stop along the Virginia Wine & Cigar Trail. Yep, that’s a thing. Who knew? I wish this photo was scratch & sniff — it smells fabulous in here. Well, fabulous if you like cigars.
I was hoping to taste the 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon, but they are completely out of it. The Virginia Governor’s Cup competition requires wineries to reserve fifty cases of each wine they submit for marketing purposes. By the time The Barns scraped together that quantity, they didn’t have any left. Ultimately, a good problem to have.
Here are the wines we tasted:
2014 Chardonnay ⭐⭐⭐/86
100% Chardonnay sourced from the Wild Meadow vineyard in Hillsboro. Aged for 3 months in French oak and 6 months in stainless steel. Crisp, with flavors of citrus and green apple. A racy acidity holds everything together. $26.
NV Bliss ⭐⭐⭐/85
A blend of equal parts Chardonnay and Viognier plus 17% Riesling. Fermented in stainless steel. The Riesling is a supporting character, but very apparent, bringing a cohesive acidity to the blend. Loads of apples, stone fruits and citrus. $26.
2015 Viognier ⭐⭐⭐/85
Even though I’m still on a break from Viognier, this wine wins for distinctiveness. Fermented and aged in stainless steel. Lately, I find Viognier a bit flabby, but this one has piles of citrus and . . . acid. If I had smelled this wine blind, I might have called it a California Sauvignon Blanc. Super interesting. Violating the rules of my own Viognier break, I bought a bottle of this one. $28.
2015 Bank Barn White ⭐⭐/83
A blend of Vidal Blanc, Traminette, Petit Manseng (aged in oak, all others in stainless), Rousanne, Riesling and Chardonnay. An easy-going fruit basket of wine. Slightly sweet at 2.7% residual sugar. Not my thing, but folks who like sweet(er) wines will love this one. $26.
Before we move on to the reds . . . meet Vino, one of the barn cats that conveyed with the property. Vino is great, no?
2014 Bank Barn Red ⭐⭐/84
A blend of Chambourcin, Syrah, Petit Verdot, Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon. Fruit forward (a basket of berries) and uncomplicated, with nearly invisible tannins. The tasting room often chills this wine and serves it cold. It would make a super sangria, too! $24.
2014 Cabernet Franc ⭐⭐⭐/86
A blend of 82% Cabernet Franc and 18% Cabernet Sauvignon. Aged in French oak. Abundant tobacco and old leather, spiced cranberries and white pepper. I really wanted to take a bottle of this wine into the cigar cave and drink it there! $26.
2013 Merlot ⭐⭐/84
100% Merlot. Aged for 10 months in French and American oak. Cherry, tobacco, cranberry, and earth. A bit tart, perhaps, but amiable nonetheless. $26.
2014 Malbec ⭐⭐/84
Made in the French style (contrasting the jammy Argentine expression). Grapes were sourced from Hillsboro. Aged for 6 months in oak and 3 months in stainless steel. Fairly light bodied, yet quite tart and tannic, with notes of blueberry and violets. $28.
2014 Petit Verdot ⭐⭐⭐/86
The grapes for this wine were sourced from Charlottesville. Blackberries, blueberries, sage, violets and lilacs. Dense, but smooth tannins. Very enjoyable. $28.
The Barns will offer a 2014 Petit Verdot made with grapes sourced from the property (Hamilton Station Vineyard), but they haven’t brought it into the tasting room yet, so I didn’t get to sample. Reason to return!
2013 Meritage ⭐⭐⭐/87
A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot (dominant), Merlot and Malbec. Aged for 18 months in French oak. Bright fruit, cocoa, baking spices. Well balanced with integrated tannins. A bottle of this came home with me. $32.
Named for the year the bank barn was built (I love it!). 100% Chambourcin, aged for 14 months in French oak. 6% residual sugar and 18% ABV. Chambourcin is a hybrid grape of unknown parentage, and admittedly not one of my favorite grapes — most Chambourcin tastes like herbal Nyquil to me. 1910 is a pleasant wine, but it’s a bit medicinal for me (it’s the Chambourcin). If someone broke out a cigar, though . . .
The Barns Bottomline: A comfortable and cozy spot to spend an afternoon. If the weather isn’t ideal, the barn is warm and dry. If it’s nice outside, there are plenty of spots to sit a spell and relax with a glass of very good wine. For those of you who like destination biking, The Barns would make an excellent rest stop along the W&OD Trail route.
Special thanks to The Barns tasting room manager, Susan, for the informative tour and tasting.