winery

Celebration in Hartland: Old Farm Winery’s First Anniversary

Story by Bill Kent
Photos by Michael Butcher

We’ve all seen it, somewhere in our lives: that house on the hill.

Jon Hickox first saw Longfield Manor when he was a teenager. It stood on a rise along what he and his friends called the “cut-through” connecting Evergreen Mills Road with Route 50.

He would look at the house on his way to carpentry jobs or farm work. As one of eight children born to a Navy captain, he worked for everything, up to and including a business degree at George Mason, his first jobs as a contractor, and then, a residential and commercial developer.

He would see that same house during hunting season, when, after a long day in the woods, he would gift his kill to families who lived along the road. He was intrigued to know that the farm itself dates back to the 1700s and that much of the land had once belonged to Hunt Country legend Randolph “Randy” Rouse, former Master of the Fairfax Hunt.

Newly renovated Longfield Manor is ready for special events.

“Every time I saw that house, I imagined that whoever lived there was happy in some way. Don’t get me wrong —I had a great childhood growing up in Burke Centre in Fairfax. I’ve seen plenty of great places to live. I’ve even built some. But this house was special.”

Twenty-five years later Hickox bought the house and the surrounding 35 acres. “I had put a bug in the ear of the developers that we should essentially get rid of the golf course community concept and put in a winery, kind of like farm-to-table but grape-to-glass. After I closed on the deal I drove out again [and] stood right where I was when I first saw the house. [I] said to myself, ‘I have to turn this into something amazing.’”

I don’t see us as making wine. I see us making happiness.

– Hickox

It’s been nearly a year since Hickox opened Old Farm Winery at Hartland. It is his fourth Virginia vineyard, second winery, and the first in Loudoun County and, perhaps, in the entire state, to not merely grow grapes, but act as an event center and community focal point for the Hartland community, an 800-acre Aldie luxury residential development.

For Hickox and his staff of eight, it has been a year of successes, lessons, and “moments so special that, for me at least, there’s so much more in being part of a community.” He continues, “It isn’t enough to put a good wine in a bottle and sell it at a fair price. I don’t see us as making wine. I see us making happiness.”

As he did when building houses, Hickox has done every job at Old Farm Winery from planting the vines, to working the tasting room, to restoring the farm’s main house.

His favorite job? “The crush. That’s spending twelve hours to harvest grapes, crush them all, send the juice to tanks, then cleaning everything up. It is extremely intense. To work with a team and to endure the great physical non-stop efforts all working towards a common goal in such a setting is an amazing experience. It’s like running a marathon but nobody can finish alone.”

All that crushing happens at The Winery at Bull Run, Hickox’s first foray into wine making. Currently celebrating its tenth year, Bull Run was born when the 2008 recession doomed another developer’s Centreville residential project. Hickox bought the land and decided that the region may not need more houses as much as a more attractive use of the countryside. 

“I like wine but I don’t have a complex palate. What I enjoy is getting out into the open areas with my family and experiencing the history, the scenery, the flavor, and character of a place. You can do that with wine. It was enough to get me interested.”

He planted grapes, sited the tasting room to take advantage of the landscape, hired an expert winemaker, and promoted the winery to both nearby Washington, D.C. residents and Hunt Country locals. 

He wasn’t sure if the winery was going to succeed until one day when he visited it anonymously on a summer weekend. “I saw that one woman was sitting by herself and seemed very sad. I asked very discreetly of the tasting room staff if there was anything we could do. They had heard she was going through a difficult breakup, so we left well enough alone. An hour later, I saw her talking to someone and her mood had changed a little.”

A month later Hickox heard that the two he saw chatting had become engaged at the winery. A week after that she came right up to Hickox and asked him if he owned the winery. “I said I did, was there anything wrong? She said nothing was wrong — in fact, so many good things had happened to her here, she wanted to ask me if she could have her wedding here. Of course, I said ‘yes.’ That was one of our first, and, as far as I’m concerned, best weddings at Bull Run.”

And it was proof for Hickox that wineries are more than just places to make, taste, and buy wine. “We have the opportunity to become part of people’s lives. Those people are a community, whether they’re from out of state or the next town over. From then on, I knew that putting a winery into a community could be a great thing.”

He admits the challenge of opening a vineyard during the pandemic “…was scary at times. I had to reassure my bankers that the pandemic restrictions would end and that people would one day want to go into an enclosed building and eat and drink. We had supply chain problems for what we needed to build the tasting room and restore the farmhouse. At one point the price of lumber went up 280 percent.”

“We have the opportunity to become part of people’s lives. Those people are a community, whether they’re from out of state or the next town over.”

– Hickox

Throughout his renovations, Hickox was careful to keep the simple, modest lines of the farmhouse. Inside, the rooms are slowly being renovated into meeting rooms and office spaces with a bridal suite taking up much of the second floor.

Hickox wanted to be a good neighbor to those coming into the Hartland development so he planted his vines to give open views to the nearby homeowners, and put some distance between them and the areas of the winery where festivities occur. Two older structures dating back to the 1700s will be converted into wine making and storage areas. A “family-friendly” area is located on a rise above the tasting area. 

The outdoor bar has a great view of the vines with Longfield Manor in the background.

His wife suggested that he offer a Hunt Country-themed wine. Created by Bull Run Winery winemaker Ashton Lough (with a tip of the hat to Randy Rouse), the mildly sweet white “Tally Ho” has been this year’s best seller. “Our Tally-Ho, a white Virginia blend with Vidal Blanc, Traminette, and Seyval Blanc has been our flagship white. [It’s] named after a foxhunting term and our very rich foxhunting history in Loudoun County,” CJ Evans, the tasting room manager at Old Farm, explains. The winery also offers a hard cider — an unusual touch that reflects the regional roots. 

 “Then it was all about putting our place on the map. Ours isn’t like the wineries on major roads. People have to know where we are and want to find us.” 

A lineup of Old Farm favorites including the rosé, hard cider, and Tally-Ho.

He sought a balance between themed nights for the neighbors and weekend events that would draw visitors from further away. Movie nights, trivia nights and wine pairings with cookies and barbecue gave way to weekend gatherings for Jeep owners, and six charitable fundraisers for causes ranging from breast cancer research to environmental preservation. “We reached out locally to find out what our community wanted to support and offered our facilities as a way of supporting them.” Evans adds, “We had a Lū’au-themed event with a pig roast, and fun and games for all.  It was the first time …where I saw the promise in the space we are fortunate to have here.”

On Valentine’s Day, the winery offered a special contest for military personnel and first responders: a drawing in which the winner got a free wedding at the winery.

And it was at that August wedding of Army officer Nicholas Andrew Greene and Jordyn Emma Buckingham, that Hickox felt that Old Farm Winery was going to be a success.

“I walked around and, believe me, I was as nervous as a bride’s father. This was the most important moment in this couple’s life and everything had to go right.”

Did it? “Yes, it did, for them. For me, I walked around and I was surrounded by people who were having a good time. Even the ones that cry at weddings — it was all good. We made some happiness that day.” ML

This article first appeared in the October 2022 issue.

New, Noteworthy, and Need-to-visit: Hunt Country Wineries and Vineyards Off the Beaten Path

With the cool autumn air comes a desire to embrace the season and gather with friends and family at one of the many vineyards or wineries throughout the Virginia wine region. Luckily, no matter what vintage or grape varietals you prefer, there’s something for everyone in Hunt Country.

We’ve rounded up local wineries and vineyards that are ripe for the picking to consider adding to your fall bucket list or upcoming wine tour. 

Three Creeks Winery

18548 Harmony Church Road
Hamilton, VA 20158

For a hidden gem just minutes from Leesburg, wine devotees should not overlook Three Creeks Winery on Harmony Church Road. Owners P.J. and John Lawrence are known for their hospitality and love getting to know their patrons, making it feel like a truly intimate experience. 

The adult-only winery offers vineyard views with outdoor seating in a serene setting. Grab a glass and have a seat near one of the creeks or head into the barn for a tasting to enjoy European-style wines in French varietals grown in Virginia’s soil. 

The winery offers six reds and four whites as well as a rosé made with grapes from a selection of Virginia vineyards. Two of the reds include grapes from the state of Washington and Northern California. The 2019 Sur-Lie Viognier, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sur-Lie Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, and Melange Rouge all received silver medals at the 2022 Governor’s Cup competition.

Endhardt Vineyards. Courtesy of Endhardt Vineyards.

Endhardt Vineyards

19600 Lincoln Road
Purcellville, VA 20132

Endhardt Vineyards is situated on 46 acres of idyllic rolling hills with 11 acres of vines. Located a few miles outside the village of Lincoln near Purcellville, owner Johannes (known as “Hannes”) Endhardt, and his wife, Sarah, opened the winery in 2021. “We are focused on creating memorable, high-quality Virginia wines while providing an incredible atmosphere to connect with family and friends,” Hannes says.

Guests will enjoy the beautiful vista overlooking grape vines while sampling  their wine selection. Hannes recommends a stainless steel 2021 Chardonnay that is finished on some very light oak. Another popular choice is the 2019 Bordeaux blend that has 50 percent Merlot, 25 percent Cab Franc and 25 percent Petit Verdot resulting in “beautiful notes of red currant and dark cherry with a light pepper finish.”

Hope Flower Farm and Winery

40905 Stumptown Road
Waterford, VA 20197

Picture meandering around a flower field bursting with color as you enjoy a house-made wine or cider. You can make this experience come to life with a visit to Hope Flower Farm and Winery!

October marks the height of dahlia season at Hope Flower Farm in Waterford — the perfect occasion to snip flowers and sip one of the farm’s seasonal drinks. The “cut your own” flowers at Hope’s harvest fields make it a sought-out destination for picnics, photo shoots, and outdoor gatherings. Guests can walk around the farm and see the gardens, the animals, and enjoy being surrounded by the floral beauty.

The farm features flower-inspired wines from around the world including a seasonally driven fall wine selection. In addition to wines, the farm also makes ciders including the “Jack Cat,” which is a hard apple cider with hints of hops. The newest addition to the menu is the farm’s Strawberry Lavender drink.

Purchased by Holly and Evan Chapple in July 2015, this historic 25-acre estate was the beginning of an exciting new chapter for Holly’s successful floral and event business, Holly Heider Chapple Flowers.

Holly was able to expand from her home-based studio of 23 years to the rural retreat that now serves as a gathering place to teach and mentor fellow floral designers.

The estate, once a working dairy farm, is named in honor of the Hope family that farmed the land for over 60 years. The farm includes a stone Quaker house built in 1820, three barns, a guesthouse, and a smaller barn which serves as a studio. 

Already known as a playground for floral design, Hope Flower Farm is gaining a well deserved reputation as a social spot for a glass of vino in a field of flowers. 

Bluemont Station Brewery & Winery. Courtesy of Bluemont Station Brewery & Winery.

Bluemont Station Brewery & Winery

18301 Whitehall Estate Lane
Bluemont, VA 20135 

For a total crowd-pleaser, set your sights on Bluemont Station Brewery & Winery, located at Whitehall Estate. Towering 100-year-old trees offer shade and tranquility on this 50-acre countryside escape. Their slogan, “Come together and visit often,” accurately captures the ambiance of this Loudoun newcomer. In addition to pours of your choice, guests have the opportunity to sample a wide variety of dining options. 

The property, a combination of rustic charm and southern elegance, has been owned by David Weinschel and Doug Armstrong since 1993. Previously Whitehall Estate,  it served solely as a wedding and events venue until March when it was transformed into a brewery and winery. “Being a wedding venue for years, people would come out, they would enjoy this beautiful property and then we’d never see them again,” says Doug, who is enthusiastic about the new operation. They’ve been growing Cabernet Franc grapes on the property for 10 years, in preparation.

The name “Bluemont Station” is a nod to Bluemont’s rail line past. The line went right across the front of the property, connecting Washington, D.C’s social elite to a mountain “cool air” retreat. While visiting Bluemont Station Brewery & Winery, guests can check out a vintage 1926 train caboose that has been restored and is now a centerpiece of the facility and its brand.

Hope Flower Farm and Winery. Courtesy of Hope Flower Farm and Winery.

October One Vineyard

7 Loudoun Street SW
Leesburg, VA 20175

Recently added to the Leesburg scene is a wine tasting room called One October, or O1V. The owners, Bob and Loree Rupy, opened the shop in August after years of experience growing grapes and making wine at their vineyard. In 2013, they planted their first grapes for the brand on their 30-acre Bluemont property. At first, the Rupys sold locally at farmers markets and events before expanding to the Leesburg brick-and-mortar facility.

One October is open Wednesday through Sunday. O1V wines include a Viognier, Albariño, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc. Guests can either enjoy a flight or a glass on the outside patio or inside for a modernized, aesthetically pleasing atmosphere.

Eagle Tree Farm Vineyards

15100 Harrison Hill Lane
Leesburg, VA 20176

Venture off Highway 15 and take the gravel road less traveled to Eagle Tree Farm Vineyards which occupies a beautiful slice of rural Virginia. The family-owned, chef-driven winery and full-service restaurant sells estate-grown and vinified wines for your enjoyment.  

Eagle Tree is known for blueberry picking in the spring, but to wine enthusiasts and foodies, the place is much more. The picturesque grounds feature an outdoor pavilion with a wood-fired oven for pizzas and a nature trail. The property is open during the weekend and weekday evenings and is also family friendly.
Lori McKeever and Head Chef, Jeff Judge, are co-owners of the restaurant and vineyard. The restaurant is open year-round.  With Chardonnay, Viognier, Cab Franc, Talon, and Tannat, there’s something for everyone in your party. ML

This article originally appeared in the October 2022 issue.

Veramar Vineyard Offers Enhanced Tasting Program

by Brian Yost

There is something a little different going on just across the mountains in the Shenandoah Valley. Veramar Vineyard has initiated what it calls an “enhanced tasting.” They’re still doing a standard public tasting, but also have instituted a program that takes a deeper dive into some of their best wines in a guided, small-group setting.

If you’re unfamiliar with Veramar Vineyard, the Bogaty family owns it along with Bogati Bodega in Round Hill and James Charles Winery and Vineyard a little further west in Winchester. In addition to producing wine, James Charles and Bogati winemaker Justin Bogaty also does custom crush for a handful of other Virginia wineries. The quality of the family’s wine is highly regarded throughout the Commonwealth.

I was invited to the first of these tastings in March, so I arrived at the appointed time and waited in the tasting room for the rest of the group to assemble. The small groups are limit- ed to a maximum of eight people. After everyone arrived, we were ushered into a private tasting room just off the main public space.


Once inside, we were seated at a tasting bar. At each seat there were a pair of wine glasses and a plate of excellent Charcuterie. Behind the bar was Tom Donegan, Veramar’s wine specialist, who conducts many of the winery’s special events. Posted on the wall behind him was a board listing the four wines that comprised the day’s tasting.

I love the format. There are other wineries in the Commonwealth that do food and wine pairings, but they’re done either as a part of the regular tasting or as special events conducted for the wine club. To my knowledge, this is the only winery in the state that has a regular food and wine-pairing program that is available on a regular basis for the general public. In addition, these are reserve or club wines that are being poured. In other words, they are Veramar’s premier wines.

After a brief introduction and an explanation of how things would proceed, Tom began to step us through the wines. We started with a Fume Blanc, which is a style of Sauvignon Blanc. Paired with French olives, the wine itself was excellent with bright fruit and perfect balance. It was probably my favorite of the entire event and I took bottles home.

After that great start, we moved on to a Chambourcin dry-style Rosé that was pared with Prosciutto. The acidity of the wine was perfect alongside the saltiness of the cured meat. Then on to a Merlot that had a nose you could get lost in. The red fruit of the wine was expertly paired with a very rich duck rillette. We finished
with the Veramar Rooster Red, which is a Bordeaux blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot. The dark fruit of the blend was featured alongside a won- derful aged Manchego and fig jam.

The formal tasting lasted about a hour. Tom did a great job leading us through the wines and for anyone learning about wine, the pairing format is a great educational opportunity.

I also found a certain sense of camaraderie among the members of our group and I very much enjoyed interacting with them. After the event ended, there was no attempt to shuffle us back out of the room. We were afforded an opportunity to purchase glasses or bottles of wine and there was time to socialize and trade notes with other members of the group.

>If you’re interested in attending one of these sessions, you’ll need to check the Veramar website for times. The enhanced tastings are conducted just a couple Saturdays a month and require an advance reservation. I should also point out that the tasting list will vary from session to session. So it may be possible to attend more than one and taste a different line- up. In any case, I walked away a huge fan of the program and the Veramar wines. I strongly recommend checking it out for yourself.