PURCELLVILLE, VA, June 18, 2011 – Swirl, sniff, slurp and swoon. The dazzling wines and sunsets at Sunset Hills Vineyard in Purcellville are only a few reasons why D.C.-area wine aficionados can forego that flight to Napa and imbibe locally instead. Not only will Sunset Hills guests enjoy award-winning wines, but they can drink in sweeping views of the lush, verdant countryside from the vineyard’s lovingly restored red barn. A friend and I recently relaxed on one of the outdoor decks with a glass of delightfully aromatic and sweet Viognier.
“Sunset Hills is a lovely place to enjoy a glass of Virginia wine and spend time with family and/or friends. The bucolic setting, coupled with the expansive, and exquisitely renovated barn make it one of most desirable of the wineries in this area,” said Nancy Ferguson of Ashburn, Va.
You can sample a variety of wines during a tasting at Sunset Hills. Patrons can usually taste between 6-10 wines (a mix of reds and whites) for $7 a person. Tastings for groups of 8 or more (reservations are required) are $10 per person. Tastings take place either in Sunset Hills’ newly completed stone pavilion or inside the majestic barn.
The 1870s Amish-restored barn, which uses reclaimed lumber, features a lively tasting area complete with a solid mahogany island tasting bar. The bar can accommodate 50 guests. Elegant and rustic, the barn, complete with soaring 35-foot ceilings, has become a popular venue for weddings, birthday parties and other celebrations.
The stunning backdrops aside, Sunset Hills is all about making award-winning wines. In just six short years since the vineyard produced its first bottles, it has amassed an impressive 40-plus medals in local, national and international wine competitions.
According to Winemaker and Vineyard Manager Nate Walsh, “From vine to wine, the grapes at Sunset Hills pass a set of hands and eyes a minimum of 15 times. They are hand tended, handpicked and hand sorted to ensure only the best grapes end up in the bottle.” Said Diane Canney, who owns Sunset Hills Vineyard with her husband, Mike, “Nate is from ground to your glass.” According to Diane, it takes a cluster of grapes to fill your glass.
Meeting Diane is like reconnecting with a treasured friend. No highfalutin pretense here. Instead, this altogether gregarious and welcoming dynamo and former CIA professional, takes time to get to know her guests and is only too happy to give them a tour of the red barn. During my visit, Diane’s caffeinated dedication to customer service was evident as she buzzed from table to table on one of the outdoor decks, ensuring her guests’ satisfaction.
She also works with Mike doing the creative side of their “hobby out of control.” According to Diane, that includes working on the wine labels, graphics and the interior design. She is also trying her hand at grape-related jewelry. Mike, a former physicist and CEO of a Fortune 500 tech company, has started six companies from scratch. He’s also raced Trans Am cars, and even competed against Paul Newman.
While Sunset Hills is committed to producing wonderful wines, it’s also passionate about responsible environmental stewardship. The winery features 154 solar panels that will supply between 85 to 100 percent of its energy needs.
“Turning sunshine into wine is something I’ve always wanted to do here at Sunset Hills,” said Diane. “Converting the winery over to solar power is exciting and makes a statement that we can make great wine and protect the environment at the same time.”
Sunset Hills Vineyard is located at 38295 Fremont Overlook Lane in Purcellville, Va. Hours of operation are Monday through Thursday from noon to 5 p.m. and Friday through Sunday from noon to 6 p.m. For more information, including upcoming live music performances, call 540-882-4560 or go to www.sunsethillsvineyard.com.
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