Have you ever taken a vacation to a remote destination on a tropical island and returned wanting to tell all your friends, but really thinking it better to keep the secret to yourself? Our experience at Glass House Winery was just that, a treat to savor and enhanced only by the prospect of sharing it with others. Glass House Winery in Free Union, Virginia was only opened a few months ago and word is rapidly spreading.
The winery is strategically sited, embraced by rows of grapevines overlooking a small, geese populated lake with a backdrop of Buck Mountain. The structure of the winery is striking, an eclectic juncture of a copper clad tasting room and a soaring tropical greenhouse, thus the name Glass House. Jeff and Michelle Sanders spent substantial time (five years) on the island of Roatan off the coast of Honduras and recreated some of that lush tropical atmosphere in their greenhouse. The greenhouse serves as a conservatory for Kumquats, Banana Trees producing ice cream flavored bananas, a highly prized Royal Hawaiian Pineapple and tables graced by tiny Sago Palms.
The floor is a Brazilian wood similar to teak and the climate is carefully controlled with a vented roof and mechanical sun screen. A perfectly delightful spot for a light picnic (self provided) complemented by a bottle of artisan wine. The greenhouse can accommodate 88 guests seated for weddings or events! Invite me, please!
Attention to detail begins in the mosaic studded retaining wall in the parking lot and proceeds to the doorway where, Vina, the wine goddess greets you, grapes in one hand and a glass of wine in the other. Several other clever whimsical touches including a giraffe create a fun and light hearted foyer.
Accents of pineapples adorn niches and shelves, carrying on the logo of Glass House and reinforcing the symbol of Virginia hospitality. The winery puppy, Dogbert, eagerly approached us with a wagging tail, and then stretched out for a nap in the warm sun by the patio door.
Michelle Sanders, owner and Chocolatier Extraordinaire, offered us glasses for tasting and a history of the young winery. We started with a 2009 Pinot Gris followed by a 2009 Viognier. The Pinot Gris was unremarkable and light, but the Viognier had more character and with a creamy texture and nice bouquet. The third wine was the Cvillian, a red blend of Chambourcin, Cabernet Franc and Merlot grapes grown on the property and on nearby vineyards. We purchased the next wine, the Twenty First, a Meritage blend of Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Petit Verdot grapes and named after the 21st amendment. Can you recall the significance of that amendment? It also had the most fruit and was quite good.
On our visit to DuCard Winery, in Madison, we were tipped off to the dessert wine. Marty Mitchell, the tasting room manager at DuCard was so delighted with it that she actually is credited with naming the wine, Meglio Del Sesso, her initial observation. In Italian it translates to “Better than …” use your imagination! We sipped this along with a sampling of Michelle’s own hand crafted chocolate Red Wine Cream – a ganache made from Norton wine and dark chocolate, hand enrobed in 72% dark chocolate. An exquisite combination! The chocolates are artistically packaged and sold only at the winery. The gourmet chocolates are Early Grey, Salted Caramel and Espresso and sold by the dozen. A perfect Valentines gift for your sweetheart!
Music is provided in the evening on Fridays. Look for special events at their website or Facebook page! The winery is open Fridays noon-8pm
and Sundays and holiday Mondays noon-5pm