Virginian Wine Travels: The Winery at Bull Run

In the interests of full disclosure, this was our second stop of the day, read into that what you will. We were either a little worn out from previous wine tastings, or more predisposed to the wine!

Anyway, the Winery at Bull Run has only been open for a couple of years. It’s notable for the fact that it grows the Norton grape as well as being situated next to a civil war battlefield. (See there is something for everyone in wine!)

So, the Norton grape is the true American grape. It is cultivated primarily in the Midwest, but it was first grown in Richmond, Virginia during the early 19th century. It was first available commercially in the 1830’s, but the wine industry in the US was impacted/stopped/driven underground by prohibition (incidentally something that we English school children do learn about, unlike the Civil war) and unfortunately the vineyards in the Midwest never recovered to the same extent that Napa did. However, it is now seeing somewhat of a resurgence, it is now the official grape of Missouri and more and more wines in Virginia are being made from Norton.

As for the grape itself it is particularly appropriate for making dry wines. It can provide a breadth of aromas and flavors in the wine; from herbal to smooth chocolate, with both red fruit and black fruits present. The largest plantation of Norton is found just outside DC, at Chrysalis Vineyards in Middleburg.

Now for the history, I’m less clear on the precise details of the civil war battlefield, given that we skip over that in English school history lessons. But what I do know is that the Manassas National Battlefield Park was the site of 2 civil war battles, unsurprisingly called the first and second battles of Bull Run in 1861 and 1862. And it was here that Confederate General Thomas J. Jackson acquired his nickname "Stonewall." The house on the grounds of the winery served as a hospital during the battles and you can still see a number of historical artifacts in the tasting room. I’m sure that the website, staff at the winery and general American education system will make many of you much more knowledgeable about this period in American history than I, but it was fascinating all the same.

The wine here was good, we obviously managed to buy some to take home as well as drinking some on the grounds. The wines, like Paradise Springs are still young. But they had some nice reds, particularly the Meritage. And the whites were pretty good too.

Definitely an enjoyable way to spend a Sunday afternoon, you can also bring a picnic here to enjoy outside in the grounds. And in the winter there are fireplaces inside, so really a visit at any time of year would work!