By Ryan Cornell
FRONT ROYAL -- Downtown Front Royal is about to get a lot more...oaky.
A new micro-winery, located at the back of the Old Schoolhouse Building and across the street from the Warren County Courthouse, will uncork its first bottles of Riesling, Concord, Noiret and Seyval Blanc at a grand opening on Sept. 28.
Similar to the trendy microbreweries that have been popping up everywhere across the state, a micro-winery is not attached to a vineyard and produces a limited amount of wine, which is mostly enjoyed locally.
Although Miller Winery uses grapes from its own vineyard near Lake Anna, owner Jason Miller said much of their wine is pressed from half-ton lots of grapes out of Gordonsville and New York's Finger Lakes.
The winery is less than 1,400 square feet, but it's all the space Miller needs. He said part of the draw his micro-winery brings is the exclusivity of each wine.
"You're getting a bottle of wine that perhaps only 300 other people will ever taste on the face of the planet," he said.
A tasting room takes up most of the space. Behind the bar, five stainless steel tanks ferment different varieties of wine.
Miller said his Concord tastes like a Jolly Rancher and pairs well with gossip and "Desperate Housewives," while the Noiret is thick and peppery and is a great match with freshly hunted game.
"If there's one bad grape, I'll throw it away," he said. "Versus if I have 50 tons, you're not going to spend time on de-stemming and pouring a bad grape out."
He said his permit allows him to produce 5,000 gallons of wine at a time. Currently, the winery is making 300 gallons, he said, filling about 2,000 bottles.
"Maybe one day, we'll make a little business and mass-production, but we want to baby the wine, sample it and go slowly," he said.
He said the winery spent about nine months getting approved by Front Royal and the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, and another three months getting its wine labels approved by the government.
Because the micro-winery also was approved for distribution, Miller said he's working with businesses such as the Apple House to carry his wine.
Miller Winery plans to release an oaked Chardonnay before Thanksgiving and a sparkling wine close to New Year's Eve.
- Where: 23 S. Royal Ave., Front Royal
- When: noon-6 p.m. Saturdays starting Sept. 28; Sunday-Friday by appointment
- Cost: $16-$22 per bottle
- Call: 540-692-1411
- Online: millerwinery.com