Where would you spend your birthday? Why not at one of Northern Virginia’s highest-rated and most exclusive wineries?
This was my second trip to RdV. For the $65 per person fee you get an hour long tour and a tasting of four wines.
The tour itself is amazing. The facility is gorgeous, even if Wine Friend 1 felt that the style and decor left it a little on the “cold” side. It may have been the rainy weather too, but it is a little austere and modern. The caves to me were the highlight the barrels lining the hallway gave it a serious French feeling (not that I’ve been to France (yet) but this is what I picture it looking like).
The tour includes stories. Lots of stories. Stories oh how the owner became interested in wine, how the property was found by accident while driving on a side road in Delaplane and getting stopped by sheep in the road. The core samples hanging in the cellar were a cool touch.
I will give them credit – a great deal of thought goes into every aspect of the decor. The barrels over broken rock from the property (for purposes of humidity) was a great touch.
The caves wind through to a spot where you can see the granite under the vines and get a sense for why this site is so good for growing wine grapes – all the water drains right away and the vines are made to struggle.
A long hallway of bottles stored leads us to the bottling apparatus and then the “lab” or at least what looks like a lab. Here we hear the story of the Bordeaux blender and how he sampled the first vintage of RdV in a blind tasting and came to say that he must blend the wine. It’s a great story. One wonders whether the story is true. After all, the whole tour provides the sense of mystique and wonder that is part of the charm and the sales pitch.
Finally, we head upstairs to the table where we sit in front of four glasses, three have a vintage of the Rendezvous blend, and one has the current release of Lost Mountain (with a note saying it is sold out).
Make no mistake – the wine is exceptional – there is significant boldness to it and in some there is tremendous bright fruit. Even the 2018 rosé that they served on entry had nice fruit to it and wowed us. The charcuterie plate was delicious, even the (eeek) duck paté.
The sales pitch shares that in order to use the member salon, one must join the club at the highest level – 6 bottles of rendezvous and 6 of lost mountain per year, with a cost of $1,500. Rendezvous is selling at $75 per bottle, and lost mountain has jumped to $175. They have created a lower tier to provide “access” to their shipments – coming in at $500 per year, you get 2 rendezvous and 2 lost mountain. But you don’t get the salon access.
While I adored the wine, I have to say that this is what I found unsettling about the visit. This exclusivity is kind of off-putting. Granted, I don’t have the cashflow to support a membership, and if I did, I may just do it. But the idea that there really isn’t a place for someone like me, who enjoys Virginia wine and some of the nerdy facts about it, to have access to this winery, is confusing. The market here does seem to focus outside of me – fine dining, international competitions, etc. After all, José Andrés sourced his vegetables on the property for a time. But at the end, it’s off-putting. I grabbed a few bottles (of Rendezvous, mind you!) to bring home. I appreciate when winemakers make the wine accessible to all – let the high-end tasters enjoy various subtleties, and let the rest of us be wowed by views and scenery as well as the good wine.
I loved this visit, I really did. I hope they will make the decision to make the space more accessible, and make the wine more accessible in price, offering us all the opportunity to enjoy what RdV offers.