Taste of Terroir: Greenhill Winery & Vineyards

Middleburg is one of our favorite places to spend time.  Historic homes surrounded by picturesque landscapes, horse farms and polo fields, a quaint town filled with antique shops, fine dining and our favorite spot to spoil the dogs (Wylie Wagg).  Of course, we can’t visit Middleburg without a stop at one of our favorite local wineries, Greenhill Winery & Vineyards.  Greenhill is not only producing some fabulous wines, but a visit to their charming tasting room and beautiful grounds is a chance to “Experience the Authentic” in Virginia.

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The History.

A reoccurring theme that we hear from so many in the Virginia wine industry is that it all began with “falling in love with Virginia wine country.”  The story of Greenhilll Winery & Vineyards is no different.  Owner David Greenhill frequently visited the many boutique wineries of Northern Virginia and the Blue Ridge Mountains, returning time and time again for the views, the history, the passion, the connection to the people and the land, and the elegant, sophisticated, yet still simple lifestyle wine country offers.  When Swedenburg Estate Vineyard in Middleburg, Virginia became available for purchase David eagerly capitalized on this unique opportunity.  He purchased the 128 acre property in May of 2013 and established what is now known as Greenhill Winery & Vineyards.

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The People.

David Greenhill, Owner.

Originally from North Carolina, David attended the United States Air Force academy and earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from UNC.  He also holds a masters degree in Philosophy and Theology from Yale University.  An entrepreneur, David is successful in both the wine industry and the private sector as a partner in a satellite communications company.

Sébastien Marquet, Winemaker.

A native of Burgundy, France, Sébastien has had a long career and extensive experience in winemaking from all over the world.  He earned his bachelor’s degree from the world renowned Lycée Viti-oenologie de Beaune and over time has developed his skill set to produce quality wines from a variety of terroirs and regions including Sonoma, Napa Valley, Burgundy and Virginia amongst others.  Marquet takes a very hands-on approach to winemaking involving himself in every aspect of production.

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Winemaker Chat.

 Sébastien: “My philosophy is to adapt my knowledge, and experience, to the unique terroir I am presented with.  I am a traditionalist, taking Old World techniques, and refining them for the New World palate.  To me, making wine is both a science and an art, a communion with nature; it’s a lifestyle.”

Together, David and Sébastien’s goal is simple, Greenhill hopes “to deliver the expression of our terroir, its aromas and flavor, into ever glass.”

The Vineyard.

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Located in the heart of horse and hound country, the Middleburg AVA is known for its fertile soil comprised of gneiss and granite and is among the best for grape growing in Northern Virginia.  Greenhill has 20 acres of vines planted on their estate vineyard and owns and farms 16 acres on a secondary vineyard in Amherst County, Naked Valley Vineyards.  Planted on their properties are Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Merlot, along with Riesling and Seyval Blanc.  Many vines have been planted in recent years to keep up with demand and bring new varietals to Greenhill’s portfolio, including the addition of Viognier and Petit Syrah.  The estate vineyard has an optimal elevation for grape growing at 450 ft.  That elevation, combined with the natural rolling hills of the Middleburg countryside, provides frost protection and optimal drainage necessary to protect the roots; resulting in high quality grape production.

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The Winemaking.

Greenhill’s wines are crafted to reflect the true elements of the natural terroir— the climate, nature, weather and soil of the season.  Each vintage is individually different, an expression of the year and the factors that make it unique— cold temperatures, amount of rain, sunlight exposure, etc.  While differences exist year after year, each wine is crafted with the goal of maintaining consistency of presentation expected from the wine. Winemaker Marquet has utilized his wide range of knowledge and experience of winemaking from terroirs worldwide and refined his approach to quality and consistency, ensuring that each vintage is both an expression of the wine growing season and true to the traditional flavors of the grape.

The Tasting Room.

The original tasting room is simple, yet elegant–a perfect representation of Middleburg and classic Virginia history.  Although somewhat small, the tasting room feels open and airy and is filled with natural light. The staff does a fabulous job of accommodating tasting parties of all kinds.  Greenhill offers seated as well as classic bar tastings.  Tastings are also made available on the gorgeous patio which boasts a great view of the Blue Ridge Mountains and surrounding grounds.  Currently, an addition and soon to be new tasting room and event space is under construction, which will have similar views and provide ample seating and space for wine enthusiasts to enjoy.

Also located on the property is a second and exclusive tasting room for wine club members in the historic manor house dating back to 1762.  Separated from the hustle and bustle of the tasting room, this space is perfect for an intimate gathering and offers a tranquil and serene setting for an afternoon picnic or private tasting overlooking the horse farm and pond on property.

Club members are entitled to complimentary tastings, access to the clubhouse and release parties, discounts on private events and 15% off of wine purchases.

The Wine.

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Greenhill offers a great mix of award-winning whites, reds and (our favorite) a super delicious sparkling Blanc de Blancs and Bordeaux-style blends.  In addition to the classic wine tasting experience, guests can also enjoy a wine pairing with exotic chocolate truffles, a barrel tasting, wine dinners, vineyard tours, “vineyasa” yoga and more!

For those who may have heard the rumors, yes it’s true, Greenhill’s Blanc de Blancs was featured in the Oscar’s swag bag this past year!  

Two of their latest releases that we were able to sample include the 2014 Mythology and 2015 Viognier.

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2014 Mythology:  The newly released 2014 Greenhill Mythology is a right-bank style Bordeaux blend consisting of 52% Merlot, 26% Cabernet Franc and 22% Petit Verdot.  Barrel aged in French oak, this wine is big, bold, chewy and earthy.  Fruit forward (love the Petit Verdot!) with a rich, plummy essence on the nose and palate.

  • Where would we drink it?  In a perfect world, we’d rock some blanket scarves and frolic through the vineyard on a chilly, foggy November afternoon with a glass of this in hand.
  • Recommended food pairing?  This wine can certainly be enjoyed alone, but would pair well with a hearty beef stew, filet mignon or game dishes.

2015 Viognier: The official state grape can take on many different forms, and this one is top-notch.  While some Viogniers can present with an overly floral nose, Greenhill’s Viognier expresses floral aromas balanced with hints of vanilla and crème brûlée.  On the palate, stone fruit is prominent finishing with with round notes of honey and baking spices; the perfect combination.

  • Where would we drink it?  This is our afternoon wine— a great substitute for tea, or paired with brunch.  Spending your afternoon at the Salamander?  This Viognier would go perfectly with a mani/pedi!
  • Recommended food pairing?  This wine would pair well with a light dish— any seafood really, but we’d go with our favorite, crab cakes.

Greenhill is the perfect place to enjoy a true taste of Virginia.  The tasting room is open until sunset, so make sure you pay them a visit to try some of their award winning wines and relax in the countryside.  You’ll be in great company (check out the letter from #FLOTUS hanging in the tasting room!).

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