A Summer Winery Visit
Although fall is a beautiful time for an outing to a Virginia winery, I most enjoy visiting in late summer when the ripening fruit is still on the vine. This is a good time to chat with the owners, winemakers or tasting room staff, before the busyness of harvest begins.
My husband and I visited Septenary Winery in late August and chatted with Sarah and Todd Zimmerman, both UVA alumni. After several decades raising a family and pursing their professional careers out-of-state, they fulfilled their dream of moving back to the Charlottesville area.
Their estate, Seven Oaks, is a Virginia Historic Landmark and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. They purchased the 109-acre property in Greenwood from Coran Capshaw in 2014. The property includes several buildings including the manor house, which was built in 1847; the tasting room, which opened in December 2017; a recently completed production facility, completed late last year; a summer kitchen, after which the rosé is named, a carriage house, and a lovely pool in front of the tasting room.
The estate was named for the seven oaks planted in the early 1900s. Each tree was named after a Virginia president. Sadly in 1954, Hurricane Hazel destroyed six of the seven trees. Legend has it that the remaining oak is the one named after Thomas Jefferson.
Seven Oaks has seven acres of grapes planted 15 years ago. The vineyard includes: Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Syrah and Viognier.
They also purchased land in Essex County on the Eastern Shore where they have 26 acres of 35-year old vines: Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris.
Winemaker Sebastien Marquet was trained in Burgundy, France, and produced the first vintage in 2014 from the Essex County grapes. The 2015 vintage was the first to include the Seven Oaks gapes.
The winery’s name came of a desire to honor the seven oaks concept. However, California based J. Lohr has a Seven Oaks Cabernet Sauvignon so they needed to find an alternative. Their winery’s name is derived from the Latin word “septenary” meaning consisting of or pertaining to the number seven. The label contains a “V” for Virginia and two columns after it, which reflect the architecture of the home and form the Roman numeral seven.
The wines are only available for purchase at the winery. A quarterly wine club consists of three bottles per shipment with wine discounts of 15%. A nice bonus for wine club members is use of the private upstairs space on Friday evenings.
The tasting room is open Thursday through Sunday from 11 am to 5:30 pm. This is an adult only (21+) establishment. The tasting room fee is $14.00.
We enjoyed all the wines we tasted. My favorites were the 2017 stainless-steel Viognier ($30); the 2017 “Summer Kitchen” rosé ($26) produced from estate Syrah with a splash of Sauvignon Blanc from Essex, and the 2015 Carriage House red dominated by Merlot with 11% Cabernet Franc ($35).