On Saturday I had a bit of a bizarre visit to a local winery, the Winery at La Grange in Haymarket, VA. I was curious to check it out after learning that it had been sold by its original local owner, Chris Pearmund, to a chinese corporation.
I met up with two of my small business friends, Rachel the Artist and Lauree the Coach, and we headed out to the winery where our other friend, Steffanie the Sudsologist had a booth set up at the winery’s Fall Craft Fair.
It was such a weird setup, like the winery event coordinators had event A.D.D.
The winery itself is a beautiful old brick home on rolling acres, and it’s well designed with tables and fire pits spread out over the grounds. There were a handful of craft and Pampered Chef tables scattered around outside. In the same area there was a wedding ceremony, so if the photographer wasn’t careful, there would be craft booths in the background. That’s not something I would want in my wedding photos. And I like crafts!
Adjacent to the wedding ceremony was some sort of grape-related activity, with people dressed up in black trash bags. Again, not exactly my idea of the ideal wedding photo backdrop. But hey, to each their own. . .But wait, there’s more!
There as also a very large First Birthday Party being held outside around a fireplace, with around 40 guests.
And while we wandered around, confused that we couldn’t find Steffanie’s booth, a truck parked and opened up to reveal a pop-up boutique. Style Ride, the mobile boutique. Ok, now that’s a pretty cool concept:
Unfortunately I don’t think the Winery at LaGrange was a good market for them. I also have my doubts as to how rewarding the location was for the cupcake trailer, another really cute mobile storefront:
We finally found Steffanie’s booth inside on the second floor, above the wine tasting room. At lest it was near the restroom, so people who tasted wine downstairs could still run into her if they used the facilities.
And in the other upstairs room there was a ghost story event every hour. Told by the winery’s resident ghost hunters.
In short, there were a ton of half-assed events behing held at the winery that day.
But how was the wine?
Rachel, Lauree and I all did the wine tasting. It was $17 to taste all the wines. That’s a steep price compared to most local wineries.
The only wine we enjoyed enough to buy a glass of was the chardonnay, the first on the list. This shocked us all, as we all prefer red wines. More disappointing than the prices, which ranged from $27-$38 (ish) a bottle, were the selection of grapes used.
The winery grows three varietals: Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, and a white grape (can’t remember which). It doesn’t really matter, becuase ost of the wines were noted as being from “Virginia” – becuase the winery buys a ton of grapes. One went so far as to be from “America” becuase a portion of the grapes are shipped from California.
If the wines had been good, I would have given the winemakers more leeway on where they sourced their grapes from. But I’d rather give my business to a winery only makes a few wines becuase they are focused on growing a few grapes well.
The wine tasting and the wines were overpriced, the events were poorly organized, the service was adequately bland at best, and the winery is not a truly local business. It’s unfortunate to see such a beautiful and historic property have such a poor quality winery business on it. With much better, more focused wineries like Linden Vineyards within a similar driving distance I won’t be back to the Winery at La Grange anytime soon.