If you are remotely interested in Virginia wine or enotourism, you may have heard of RdV Vineyards in Northern Virginia, more specifically Delaplane. One of only a few Virginia wineries to receive national coverage, the average price of a bottle of RdV wine costs around $100. Oh, and if you would like to visit the vineyard, you need to make a reservation—no wandering in on a random Saturday. Your tour/tasting costs $65. So, what is the experience like and is it worth the money? I’ll give you an overview.
Reserving Your Visit to RdV Vineyards
Like I said, if you want to visit RdV Vineyards, you need to make a reservation in advance. The vineyard is open Thursday through Sunday year-round. No guests under 21 are allowed, this includes infants and children. Pets are also not allowed. The tour and tasting costs $65 per person and you must use a credit card to hold your reservation. If you are planning to go during Spring or Fall when winery visits are popular, book early. The number of visits per day are limited and the tasting/tour time slots do fill up.
You can’t bring pets to RdV, but if you’re lucky one of the winery dogs will greet you.
Arriving at RdV Vineyards for your Tour
RdV is easy to find with any GPS. As you pull up, it’s the big white property that resembles a farmhouse with rolling hills and vineyards surrounding it. Iron gates that open automatically welcome you onto the property.
Once you park and walk in, you will be greeted with a glass of French champagne to showcase the style and standard of wines owner Rutger de Vink is looking to create. When the entire group scheduled for your time slot arrives, the tour will commence.
The Tour of RdV Vineyards
I won’t share de Vink’s entire story and that of the property—you’ll need to visit yourself for the full tale. However, the walk through the facility provides an overview of how de Vink went from recon marine and corporate executive to winemaker, why the terroir is so special, and what drew famed French enologist Eric Boissenot to offer his skills blending RdV wines.
From a visual standpoint, the farmhouse is beautiful, but the highlight of the tour is the cellar, which is long, dark and reminiscent of what I’d imagine you find in a French chateau. One wall shows off the rocky terrain the vineyard is built on—of course you often hear that dense, rocky and clay-filled soil makes for the best wines, but seeing it in person and imagining the work it must take to grow the fruit really is impressive.
Tasting at RdV Vineyards
After the tour of the property comes the crowning moment. You sit down to taste several of RdV’s vintages alongside a local charcuterie plate. On my visit, we tasted the current vintage of the vineyard’s signature wine, Lost Mountain, which is always a Cabernet-dominant blend. We also sampled a few vintages of the Rendezvous, a more round and fruit-driven blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot that’s meant to be drunk immediately.
There wasn’t one wine in the selection we tasted that I didn’t immensely enjoy. Overall the wines possess wonderful fruit notes, but are balanced with a minerality and smoothness that is reminiscent of the French blending style. You are welcome to purchase any of the wines to take home after your tasting. The prices vary by vintage, but the Lost Mountain generally costs around $125 per bottle and the Rendezvous generally costs around $75 per bottle.
RdV does also make a less expensive blend called Friends & Family that can be difficult to find and purchase. If you see a bottle, though, it’s certainly worth the $38.
RdV Ambassadors Club
If you live in the area, you might consider joining the RdV Ambassadors. Heck, I don’t live in the area and I have been tempted to join on multiple visits. Your Ambassador membership comes with the purchase of a half case of bottles and includes the opportunity to return to the property any time to share a bottle of RdV wine or other hand-picked wines available exclusively for Ambassador purchase along with invitations to special members-only events. On one of my visits, a mention of a lobster party on the lawn had me wondering if the drive from Richmond would be worth it.
The Rest of Your Day
While you’re in Delaplane, you might as well visit a few more vineyards.
Three Fox Vineyards
If you arrive a little before your visit time, just about 5 minutes down the road is Three Fox Vineyards. This small winery provides an intimate take on Virginia wine with French- and Italian-style varieties made by husband-and-wife team John and Holli Todhunter.
Made with some estate-grown and some locally sourced grapes, my favorites on my visit were the tangy, acidic Northern Italian style 2017 Calabrese Pinot Grigio and the 2016 La Trovatella Merlot.
The Merlot is blended with 80% Cabernet Franc, making it reminiscent of a right-bank Bordeaux. I really enjoyed the red berry and mocha notes along with the long, silky finish. Three Fox also generally pours at least one guest wine—on my visit it happened to be Thibaut-Janisson Blanc de Chardonnay, which happens to be one of my absolute favorite Virginia wines!
You also don’t want to visit RdV without a visit to Linden Vineyards, one of the other most respected vineyards in the area. When de Vink was starting RdV, he worked closely with Linden’s winemaker Jim Law, so tasting Linden’s wines will help you to better understand RdV’s success. If at all possible, try to arrive on the hour between 12 and 3 on a Saturday so you can take advantage of the special reserve cellar tasting. Read about my experience at Linden Vineyards.
Blue Valley Vineyard and Winery
If you are staying overnight or want to sneak in one more visit, my latest discovery in the Delaplane region is Blue Valley Vineyard and Winery. It’s just about a 10-minute drive from RdV and is located on the top of a hill with beautiful views in every direction. Owner John Zissios grew up making wine with his father in Greece and decided to purchase a winery in Virginia to continue the tradition with his family.
The tasting room is spacious—10,000 feet—with a menu of snacks to accompany your wine. Inside features large windows so you can still enjoy the views. There are also two patios for sprawling out in the right weather.
In terms of tasting, you can choose whites, reds and roses, or the whole shebang. The 2016 Estate Muscat Ottonel, which is generally used in dry white wines in Austria and Hungry and is a grape I haven’t seen in Virginia before, was a standout on my visit. I also enjoyed the white Heritage blend and the red Celebration blend. On my recent visit, my friend and I chose a baguette from New York, some salami, and mozzarella topped with Greek herbs in olive oil to accompany our wine.
Dining Near RdV Vineyards
Field & Main in Marshall, Virginia, is an 11-minute drive and dinner is served Thursday through Monday from 5:30 to 9 p.m. The 10-foot-wide open hearth is where delicious meats like whole rockfish with soy and olive oil or Black Angus ribeye with brown butter black garlic sauce are carefully roasted to perfection. Make a reservation to ensure you get a table.
If you’re looking for lunch near RdV, also head to Marshall, but hit up The Whole Ox. This butcher shop also serves dine-in and takeout food like steak frites, a buttermilk-brined fried chicken sandwich, a brioche burger, and beef-tallow-fried frites. Yes please!
Where to Stay Near RdV Vineyards
If you’re going for the luxury wine tasting, why not choose a luxury stay as well? The Salamander Resort & Spa is a 25-minute drive and provides lavish accommodations in the heart of horse country. Sign up for the email newsletter so you’ll know about special rates and ways to make the stay more affordable. Although, it is worth every indulgent penny.