Winery Review: Paradise Springs
Highly Awarded Winery Tucked Away in Clifton Virginia.
When I am in the mood for good wine but not in the mood to drive, Paradise Springs is my answer. Not only is it close to DC (it's actually the closest winery to DC), but the wines are extraordinary! In fact, five of their wines won gold medals at the 2018 Virginia Governor’s Cup!
Paradise Springs Winery is tucked away in Clifton, Virginia, along a windy road lined with gorgeous homes that I could only dream to one day afford. It appears as if out of nowhere, as the windy road gives no indication that a winery would be around one of the bends.
After you park and wend your way to the tasting room, you are greeted by the staff of Paradise Springs. I almost felt like it was Moe's, as the familiar, "Welcome to Paradise!" is what a few of the staff members said upon entering. It was very welcoming!
It can be a little confusing at first to know how to approach a tasting. There is a long tasting bar on the right when you walk in. In the middle of the bar are two retractable barriers in the form of an aisle. The tastings are held on either side of the middle “aisle”. The middle aisle is for people who want to just buy a glass/bottle and go sit down somewhere. It took me a few minutes to figure this out, as I was waiting in the wrong area. Luckily, I saw others do the same, so it’s not uncommon to not know what to do at first!
Navigating the Tasting Room
Today, some friends and I had the pleasure of having a tasting with Ben. He was ready for us, eager to tell us about Paradise’s wines. He was very knowledgeable about the wines and how they were made. He made small talk in between tastes, making it seem like we were drinking wine with a friend, rather than an employee! Madison, the Wine Club Manager, was also talking with guests, making sure that everyone was having a good time!
A tasting is $15 and includes 7 wines. There are additional tastings of Paradise's reserved wines (which include many of the award winners), and you can pick and choose to add some to your tasting for a small fee.
My Favorites from the Tasting
2015 Chardonnay (2017 Virginia Governor’s Cup Silver Medal). This wine tastes of baked Granny Smith apples on toasted brioche bread. It made me think of baking apple pie on a cold day. This Chardonnay spent some time in a French Oak barrel, so while there were oak flavorings, it wasn't the heavy, buttery oak like a California Chardonnay.
2016 Chardonnay (2018 Virginia Governor’s Cup Gold Medal). This was one of those wines that you could get a small tasting of for an extra fee. Seeing that it won gold, of course I tried some! There was a lot of green apple on the nose with a creamy texture. It tasted very similar to the 2015, but I felt that the 2015 had a little more oak than this one. I’m picturing a cobb salad with shrimp with this wine!
2015 Cabernet Franc (2018 Virginia Governor’s Cup Gold Medal). Just like most Cab Franc's, the nose on this wine is very fruit forward, full of cranberry, plum, and blueberry, with tastes of spice, leather, and tobacco. It was mixed with a little Merlot, Petit Verdot, and Tannat. The wine was medium bodied, and I would imagine would be good chilled. It had some tannin at the end, making for a long finish.
2013 Tannat (2018 Virginia Governor’s Cup Silver Medal). This was another of the reserved fine wines that I sampled. I love a good tannat. They are big, bold, red wines with a nice bite. This one smelled of leather, tobacco, and black fruits, and was mouth-puckering, yet juicy. This tannat needs a big food to stand up to it, like a roast.
2013 PVT (2018 Virginia Governor’s Cup Gold Medal). Another one from the sample menu. I very much enjoyed this wine, even though it was a little tight. It definitely needs another year or two to reach its prime, but it is still good now! There was a lot of baking spice, cherry, and vanilla to this wine, and could stand up to heavier dishes, like a beef stew.
Other Wines Available for Tasting
2016 Vidal Blanc. After spending 10 months in stainless steel, this crisp and refreshing white wine had notes of lemongrass, granny smith apple, and citrus. This is a great poolside or patio wine to enjoy on a nice evening.
2015 Viognier. Loads of peach and melon were apparent on the nose, with a lovely, almost creamy texture on the palate. This Viognier was aged sur-lie, meaning that it spent time aging with the yeasts. This bright yet full-bodied wine had a lot of peach and melon flavors. I would recommend a grilled chicken and mango salsa to go with this!
2015 Petit Manseng (2018 Virginia Governor’s Cup Gold Medal). A fantastic picnic wine! Dry, but with sweeter flavors, this white wine is sure to please all palates. Pineapple and guava notes with a medium body make this a fantastic Thai food pairing!
2015 Sommet Blanc. 90% Vidal Blanc, 10% Traminette. This was the sweetest white on the tasting menu. It was very tropical, with a lot of pineapple, lychee, and passion fruit. This is definitely a poolside wine! It would go well with spicy curries or spicy stuffed poblano chiles as well.
2015 Cabernet Sauvignon. Woah! This wine was a lot lighter than I thought it would be! Red berries and spice were apparent in the smell as soon as I swirled the glass. There was very little tannin to this wine. A roast chicken with a side salad would go well with the lighter body of this wine.
2015 Melange. This wine might have the capability to be paired with anything! Made with Merlot, Petit Verdot, Cab Franc, and Cab Sauvignon, this wine has medium tannin, medium acidity, and medium body to pair with almost any food. Red fruits and vanilla were apparent on the nose, with vanilla coming through on the palate. Don’t know what you are having for dinner tonight? Try this wine!
2014 Meritage. This wine was layer upon layer of flavor. With smells of baking spices and tastes of cherry and vanilla, Paradise's Meritage has a little bit of something for everyone. It has a slight tannic bite that would do well with red meats and balsamic/tomato-based sauces.
Port-style Wine. This dessert wine spent time in bourbon and brandy barrels. It tasted like a raspberry pie, only this pie has 19% alcohol!
Paradise Springs Winery is such a relaxing venue for a winery. You really do feel like you are in paradise! There is a wide-open lawn where you can picnic, play a game of catch, or walk around with a glass of wine. Paradise is one of the last wineries in the area that allows you to bring your own food (in designated areas, of course). Many people choose to do so and enjoyed a picnic lunch with a bottle or two of wine. Dogs are welcome, so long as they stay on a leash. There are a ton of other charming things to do in Clifton Virginia, so make a day trip and enjoy.
Paradise Springs Winery is open daily, 11-7pm (11-9 on Fridays). For more information, visit their website, Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter. Thank you to both Ben and Madison for an excellent tasting!
Editors Note: This article was updated in December 2020