All photos via Brian M. Christopher
AUTHOR: Lisa M. Christopher, Tasting Room Manager at Maggie Malick Wine Caves
As the tasting room manager, October is my favorite time of year at Maggie Malick Wine Caves. I enjoy sharing the unique attributes of the winery with visitors and the October color just makes that part of my job easier.
Open since 2013, the Wine Cave is one of Virginia’s newer wineries, although, we’ve been growing and selling grapes since 2001. The estate is nestled on 215 acres of the Between the Hills Valley in Northern Virginia’s Loudoun County. But there is more here than a vineyard and winery. It’s an area steeped in geologic and uniquely American history.
The area around our winery was the backdrop of Revolutionary and Civil War skirmishes. There are building ruins and objects found on property that attest to its historic past.
When it comes to making wine, Virginia’s history goes back four centuries. Colonial Virginia had the distinction of requiring early settlers to make wine. Thus, the state has been growing grapes since the early 1600s. So, it makes perfect sense that October also is Virginia Wine Month when the Wine Cave celebrates its part in the Commonwealth’s 400-year tradition.
The Wine Cave also is the perfect place to enjoy the simple pleasures of watching the Blue Ridge and Short Hill mountains as they become awash with brilliant fall colors this time of year.
We grow 15 varieties of authentic, Old World grapes on 30 acres of vineyards to produce some of the finest estate-grown grapes and wines in the area. Maggie has garnered 40 wine medals in 2018, bringing her professional tally to almost 100 in the last five years. Six of her 2018 medals were awarded to her by the Loudoun Wine Awards. Maggie and husband/grape grower Mark will be pouring their gold medal 2017 Albariño at the annual Loudoun Wine Awards dinner on Oct. 19, showcasing the best wines in the county.
With the changing seasons and cooler weather, the Wine Cave soon will feature outdoor fire pits with warming embers to help ward off seasonal chills. I always like to sip some of Maggie’s award-winning Petit Verdot when I want to warm up in the cooler months. Or, I might wrap my hands around a cozy mug of her mulled wine – a harbinger of the holiday season coming next month – made with her cinnamon-y Garnacha, which is a light-bodied red that pairs well with Thanksgiving turkey and cranberries.
By this time of year, grape harvest typically is in full swing and Maggie’s wine-making process is completely transparent. The Wine Cave is a versatile, multi-purpose facility where we press, ferment and bottle our estate-grown grapes and pour award-winning wines.
Often, during the fall harvest season, visitors can enjoy fresh grapes, freshly pressed grape juice and wine made from a previous vintage of the same grapes.
With more than 40 wineries in Loudoun County, each one reflects the unique personality of its owner. At the Wine Cave, we focus on making good wine. Plain and simple. In my opinion, the Wine Cave’s best aesthetic is its rustic, unpretentious and open atmosphere welcoming picnickers, children and dogs. (The latter of which spend a lot of time carousing in and around our ponds or running on the rolling green hills.)
Wine Cave tasting room associates also spend a lot of time educating visitors about wine during their tasting. We find that a lot of our guests are first-timers to wineries and we want to take the time to teach people about our grapes, wine and how they can best enjoy food and wine pairings.
I cook a lot with Maggie’s wines. Several of the recipes on Maggie’s website, for cooking and baking with her Petit Manseng wines, for example, are recipes that I developed in my kitchen at home. My daughters, Kathryn and Elizabeth, who also work at the winery, are two of the toughest food critics you’ll ever meet. But they both love when I make my Petit Manseng Chicken and serve Petit Manseng Cheesecake for dessert. In fact, I talk so much about food and wine pairings in the Cave that visitors often tell me I should write a cookbook!
Check out Maggie’s Recipe Page at: https://www.maggiemalickwinecaves.com/wine-recipes.html
We hope to see you soon in the Wine Cave!