Monday, October 27, 2008

Barrel Oak Winery

After many months of delay, we finally visited Barrel Oak Winery, another new winery in Fauquier County. Sharon and Brian Roeder officially launched the winery in May 2008 and we have been lax in visiting - even after several friends and fellow bloggers had favorable impressions after their visits. This weekend the winery was hosting a Pumpkin Decorating for the Kids! so we drove out Route 66 for a visit. Several other families had already beaten us to the winery, and this was apparently a slow day. There were also several four legged friends as BOW encourages visitors to bring their leashed pets. Not only are dogs allowed on the patio - they are also welcome inside the tasting room. Our dogs like that idea.

Barrel Oak is located on a hill overlooking Little Cobbler Mountain and the John Marshall Oak Hill estate. The two year old estate vines roll along one side of the property and soon BOW will have a local source of Traminette, Seyval Blanc, Merlot, Chambourcin, Vidal Blanc, Petit Verdot and Petit Manseng. In the meanwhile, the winery sources grapes from several well established vineyards including Keswick Vineyards. The production facilities are built into a hill and the winery is heated and cooled by a geothermal system.

When we arrived, the children quickly found the pumpkin painting area and we were escorted to the tasting bar. The winery opened on a grand scale - producing over a dozen styles of wine. That's a large selection for any winery - not to mention one in its infancy. We started with the BowHaus White, a semi-dry blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Vidal Blanc. It has a citrus flavor and balanced acidity - and it was selected as our picnic choice for the day. The Seyval Blanc and Chardonnay Reserve were next with the later being a favorite. It is made in the traditional European style - sur lees - and fermented in stainles steel and aged in neutral French oak. The final white was their Viognier and this was the most interested version of this varietal we had tasted. It is made dry - but contains some sweetness. The citrus flavor makes way for a silky finish produced by aging in Hungarian oak. This is a nice wine. It's no surprise that the Late Harvest Viognier was also a good dessert styled wine.

Turning to reds, we started with the Bowhaus Red a table wine blend of Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petite Verdot, Malbec, and Touriga; Bordeaux and Portugal in a bottle. For a young wine, this is remarkably smooth with great flavor and little acidity. This was our second choice for the afternoon's picnic. The next wine was the Tour Ga Franc, a blend of Cabernet Franc and Touriga, and possibly the first time we had tasted this combination. It is also smooth with a little more spiciness than the Bowhaus Red. Plus, $2 from every bottle is donated to the Lance Armstrong Foundation. They followed with several Bordeaux styled wines, a Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot. The last was our favorite and perhaps our overall favorite; it is dry, full bodied with cherry and some chocolate flavors. This is a big wine. The other Bordeaux styled wines were not bad either - the Cabernet Sauvignon had a unique nutty finish whereas the Merlot and Cabernet Franc both had full cherry flavors with a slight spiciness to the Cab Franc.

Besides being only an hour outside of Washington, D.C., Barrel Oak Winery offers several incentives to visit. They host various events each month ranging from Friday night movies, Saturday night music, barrel tasting, book signing, plus more.... Even after the events, visitors must have an incentive to return which usually has a direct correlation to the quality of the wine. We really liked the wines, both the whites and reds - and the wine is competitively priced to other wineries in the area. So count us as future returnees.

More pictures are available at Compass Tours at

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