Arterra Winery - Where Earth and Art Combine
Located in Delaplane VA, Arterra, which means “Art of the Land” is both winery and gallery. Winery owner Sandy Gray-Murray is also an artist and runs Hawkmoth Art. So, while you’re getting your wine on, you can also enjoy (and shop for) Sandy’s beautiful art which encompasses a variety of media from ceramics to paintings to etched glass.
Co-owner and winemaker (and husband to Sandy) Jason Murray is the ultimate terroirist and was an absolute joy to taste with. He is all about letting the land and the grapes do what they do with minimal intervention to craft authentic Virginia wine. I seriously got to get my geek on talking to him but he can certainly bring it down a notch when needed. He was just so laid back and so easy to talk to.
Jason is committed to using Virginia fruit in his wines and only uses native yeast fermentation. These yeasts grow naturally on the grapes and produce distinct wines with a very different profile and mouthfeel that certainly reflect their terroir. These wines seem to have more depth, length, and width on the palate.
I tasted Jason’s entire portfolio including Riesling, Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Tannat, a Bordeaux Blend and even a couple of dessert wines. And for you Rosé fans, Arterra is adding a Rosé crafted with Malbec and Petit Verdot to its lineup soon. Here are a few standouts.
I’m always surprised when I find one I like other than Chablis. The grapes are grown in a mix of coveted granite and greenstone soils, which gives the wines great minerality, depth of fruit flavor, and an added elegance. Jason’s Chard sees neutral French oak, is aged sur lie, and then goes back into steel.
2015 Cabernet Franc
I generally love Cab Franc and enthusiastically celebrate Cab Franc Day every December. Like the purist he is, Jason’s Cab Franc has no bleed off, no new oak, no additives, no fining…no, no, no. It sees 9 months of neutral oak before going back to stainless steel where it’s held before bottling. Medium bodied with a bit of funk in the glass, this was as wild as it was elegant.
Since I “discovered” it in Uruguay all those years ago and then found it growing wonderfully in Texas, I’ve been hooked on Tannat. I actually did a side by side comparative tasting of the 2015 and 2016 late harvest Tannat (so named as its picked very late when the grapes have started drying out on the vine). The 2015 Tannat was one of the more elegant Tannats I recall drinking. The 2016 late harvest Tannat, which is not produced every year, had some sweetness due to the concentrated fruit and was quite an experience to drink and exhibited an elegance I wasn’t expecting. It’s seriously hard to go wrong with either one.
Jason and Sandy are hands-on in just about every way. In addition to their handcrafted art and wines, they built most of their winery (other than the framing) themselves. I think it turned out great! And if you want to linger, there are no shortage of fantastic outdoor seating areas.
When to Go
Arterra Wines is open 11 am – 5 pm Friday-Sunday. Appointments are available Monday-Thursday 11 am – 5 pm. Tastings are $10 per person for 4 wines or $15 for 6 wines. Arterra Wines is one of 26 wineries on the Fauquier Wine Trail . Be sure to plan a visit and make it a weekend outing in Virginia wine country.
This article is an excerpt from a post that originally appeared on The Corkscrew Conceirge blog.