On our way to La Grange, we headed west on General Lee Highway, took a wrong turn in the middle of Manassas Battlefield Park and found ourselves charging halfway through Bull Run. By the time we’d redirected ourselves toward the village of Haymarket, I felt like I’d lived through the beginning of the Civil War.
My sense of historic revisitation continued at The Winery at La Grange as we entered the 200 year-old manor house while a duo played Tequila Sunrise on the front patio. Inside, the tasting bar in the well-restored main room was packed solid, and it was suggested that we do our wine tasting in the barrel room out back. I’d never seen a winery operate so much like a restaurant.
Passing through a sunroom, where tasters were enjoying a picnic lunch, we made our way to a big barn that houses the winery. We could have tasted in the barrel room, but that bar was full. So, we moved on to the tank room where we had the full attention of Holly, who poured us the full schmeer of wines for $8.
At some point between the ripe, full 2009 Viognier and the crisp, minerally 2008 Fletchers (unoaked) Chardonnay, one of the double doors slid halfway shut and Holly said, “It’s probably our ghost.” Hair raised and goosebumped, Tara and I asked, “What ghost?”
It could have been the hen-pecked 19th century husband of a murderous wife, she said. Or, it might have been the ghost of any number of Rebel soldiers who’d passed through during the war. Either way, she emphasized, there was no wind to blow that door closed and it could not have moved without paranormal help.
Over the bright, cherry and strawberry-filled 2010 Rosé of Merlot, Holly told us about the house ghost, a little girl who is said to have sat in the front window, watching for Union soldiers. This child ghost had a habit of knocking down Christmas trees placed in front of the window.
Slightly creeped out, we tasted our way through the rich, chewy red wines, including a powerful 2008 Tannat, and the dense, Solera-blended 2009 port called Snort. Alas, no Norton. Not this year, anyway.
Moments later, the tank room was invaded by a gaggle of bridesmaids who appeared to be on their way to the Kentucky Derby. They had an appointment to taste, so we drifted back to the manor house for a self-guided tour.
Laughing picnickers sat at tables that punctuated the lush lawn all the way to the vineyard. Almost every parlor in the house was filled with people; locals, we presumed. Except in the ancient cellar, where expectant café tables sat empty, La Grange looked like a giant house party the way families gathered on plush seteés around antique coffee tables, quaffing wine and noshing food.
It would’ve been cool to hang out a while. On the way out we did buy wine, the lovely Rosé of Merlot that Tara thought would be perfect for a barbeque. Then, we headed toward Chrysalis Vineyards which, according to the The Wild Vine by Todd Kilman, is the motherload of Norton wine.
I’ll tell ya’ll about that next time.
Meanwhile, I have officially launched Blogsite Studio to help people get into blogging for fun or profit. I hope you’ll visit, digg it, tweet it, and like it.