Re-visiting Zephaniah Farm Vineyard, lighting the fire with two new vintages in Virginia Wine Country

We wrote in November about Zephaniah Farm Vineyard in Leesburg, VA, a must-visit winery of unrivaled character and charm in the heart of Virginia wine country. Zephaniah is delightful any time of the year, but we think it really shines in the winter, when there's hot mulled wine on offer, and owner-winemakers Bill and Bonnie keep a fire to warm the living-room-turned-tasting-room of the old country manor that has been passed through generations of Bill's family. Washingtonians, regional neighbors, and visitors alike should add Zephaniah to their wintertime adventure list, and seize the opportunity to get so far away from the city in only an hour's drive from Washington, DC.

Zephaniah has begun pouring two new vintages -- 2015 Steamship White and 2013 Three Captains Red -- since we last covered them. With Valentine's Day fast approaching, and cold weather decidedly upon us at least for a bit longer, we wanted to encourage your visit to this most special of Virginia wineries. Consider stopping in at nearby Stone Tower, Willowcroft, or any of the other many (we mean many) wineries while you visit this region of the state. Stop for lunch at either The Wine Kitchen or Shoe's Cup and Cork in quaint downtown Leesburg. There's a lot of wine country waiting for you here; Zephaniah Farm Vineyard is, in our view, the exemplar with which to begin.

Weather cools, and we begin thinking of Zephaniah Farm Vineyard in Leesburg, Virginia — one of our favorite fall and winter wine destinations. We have a long list of wonderful wineries from around the world to share with you as I write this very post, but we’re talking about Zephaniah now in mid-November because we really hope you’ll take the time to visit the farm this winter when it’s at its best. You will feel at home from the moment you walk through the tasting room door in the old farm house, settle in next to the cozy wood fire, taste their great lineup of small production wine, and enjoy the hospitality that only a family winery can share.

Now under the care of Bill Hatch and Bonnie Archer, the farm has been in the family for generations. There’s a lot of history here, from the grass fed beef that they still raise, to the old pictures of Zephaniah himself — a Navy Captain — to Bill’s and Bonnie’s grown children who are very much a part of the winemaking operation today. They’ve grown the vineyard to ten acres that yield about 1200 cases per year in the ten years they’ve spent producing wine here. Small production, in this case, is an easy euphemism for ‘every bottle made with great passion and care’.
— Wine:Thirty Flight on Zephaniah Farm Vineyard, November 2016

2015 Steamship White

This blend has changed considerably from its 2014 predecessor, bumping up the Chardonel to 80% (was 58% the previous year), and replacing the Cabernet Franc, Petit Manseng, and Vidal Blanc with a new lineup of 10% Chardonnay, 6% Merlot, 2% Viognier (which does very well in Virginia), and 2% Vermentino. The dominant Chardonel clearly pops out in the nose, but we were surprised by the assertiveness we found from the little touch of Vermentino. The Steamship White gets some aging in new oak, and nicely blends notes of banana and brioche for a lovely experience.

2013 Three Captains Red

We love the Three Captain's Red as a blend of Cabernet Franc and Chambourcin, two red grapes that generally perform very well in Virginia. Chambourcin headlined the 2012 vintage at 53%, but has been pushed aside in 2013 coming in as but 45% of the blend to Cabernet Franc's 46%. Cabernet Sauvignon rounds out the remaining 9% of the blend that asserts itself well with elements of white and black pepper so characteristic of Cabernet Franc and red fruit flavors that paint the mouth a bit more dryly than its immediate 2012 predecessor. As always, try the Three Captains Red with chocolate.