Virginia’s newest winery, Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards, opened on Friday June 17th. The operation is located on Bundoran Farm, a Preservation Development along the Plank Road just west of Rt. 29 in North Garden, with views of the valley between High Top Mountain and Tom Mountain.
Dean Andrews and Lynn Easton Andrews, a husband-wife owner/operator team, explain that Pippin Hill Farm is “envisioned as a fresh interpretation of the classic winery through the expertise of a collaboration of artisans, winemakers, local farm producers, and event designers.” Dean brings 30 years of professional hotel management experience to the operation, while Lynn, founder of Easton Events, brings leading event planning and design experience to Pippin Hill (she also directed the facility’s design to ensure it would be considered the premiere event venue in Virginia).
Other leading professionals on Pippin Hill’s team include Chris Hill, vineyard consultant; Michael Shaps, winemaker, of Virginia Wineworks; Amalia Scatena, executive chef, Craig Hartman, consulting chef, Whitney Walker, director of marketing and sales, and Francois Goffinet, Landscape Architect.
There are five acres of vineyard planted onsite to sauvignon blanc, viognier and petit verdot. The winery opens featuring a line of wines made with grapes sourced from around the Monticello AVA. Whites include: chardonnay (lightly oaked), viognier, winemaker’s select white (blend of traminette, viognier and chardonnay), rose of cabernet franc, winemaker’s select red (2/3 cabernet franc, 1/3 chambourcin), and Michael Shaps label petit verdot 2008.
Local and imported cheeses, charcuterie salads and daily specials will also be offered to accompany tastings or wine by the glass or bottle. Breads will be baked fresh daily in a brick oven. The winery will grow an herb garden and aside from sourcing local ingredients from farmers, Chef Scatena will make preserves from local fruit, balsamic vinegar from wine musts, appetizers with the vineyard’s pickled grape leaves, and salamis hung onsite, all as part of the “vineyard to table” concept of using local ingredients that she saw while training in Tuscany (80% of ingredients will be locally sourced).
In a press tour, Dean and Lynn explained that they wanted to combine their professional skills in a synergistic enterprise, and have thought about how to leverage events and wine and food destination tourism. Easton Events specialized in weddings, and the event space at Pippin Hill features a wood frame “granary” that can seat up to 200, with a bridal suite in a loft overhead, where the bride can toss the bouquet to the crowed below. “We combine an event space of a working winery with everything the bride needs for great views and photo opportunities, and fine-tuning details on site.” Over 30 weddings have already been booked at Pippin Hill Farm through fall 2012.
Dean explains that green design and construction was a high priority for Pippin Hill Farm. All heating and cooling for the buildings is geothermal, rain run-off is collected for vineyard irrigation (which is pumped through fountains to keep the water fresh). Cellulose is used for insulation, avoiding formaldehyde, and tasting room materials are reclaimed wood including a 400-year old Montezuma cyprus from Mexico.
The views from the walk from the parking lot to a long roofed terrace, and from the tasting room, are breathtaking of the valley along the plank road.
Dean is enthusiastic about joining the Virginia wine industry. “For the East Coast of the U.S., I can’t think of a better place to establish a wine industry than in Central Virginia. We have the potential to make world-class wine here. This is also a terrific industry because it’s non-competitive; it’s collaborative nature [in Virginia] appeals to me.”
Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards is located at 5022 Plank Road, North Garden, VA 22959, and will be open daily from 11:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. For more information, phone: 434-202-8063 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org website: www.pippinhillfarm.com.