You could say that the story of Dry Mill Winery is as long as the history of wine in Virginia. European colonists were already planting vineyards in 16th century. By the early 1800s, Thomas Jefferson, one of the greatest patrons of wine in the United States, had established two vineyards in his south orchard at Monticello. In the early 1900s, Charlottesville's Monticello Wine Company was so well regarded that the city declared itself "the Capital of the Wine Belt in Virginia".
The Opportunity - Winery For Sale
But in fact, Virginia's hot humid summers proved challenging to viticulture over the years. Black rot and the root louse phylloxera savaged vineyards planted with classic European grape varieties. It is only within the past 20 years that growers successfully adapted, learning to cultivate French hybrids and American varietals that spawned a game-changing revolution for Virginia wine. Virginia now ranks 5th in the US for both bearing acreage and grape production. Loudoun County, just west of Washington D.C., is one of the counties at the heart of this turnaround.
A Labor of Love
In the 1980s, a growing number of for-profit and non-profit organizations were established to help promote Virginia wine. A few prescient individuals could see the opportunity that Virginia wine presented. One of these far-sighted individuals was a man by the name of Dean Vanhuss. Dean began growing grapes in Loudoun in the late 1990s. After retiring from a career in Northern Virginia's "Tech Corridor", Dean turned his full attention to a lifelong dream of making wine. With his wife Nancy and his daughter Michelle Pizarello, Dean set about finding the perfect place to make wine and share it with the public.
In 2009, with the help of local Realtor, Kelly Gaitten, Dean & Nancy acquired 9 gorgeous, rolling acres just west of Historic Downtown Leesburg, Loudoun's county seat. The site had a history of it's own and enormous potential as winery. The first job was to renovate the old barn previously used by the Loudoun Hunt.
The old barn was sturdy, but was truly nothing more than an old horse barn. Dean, Nancy & Michelle carefully restored the structure, reusing nearly all of the original wood. Their goal to was to preserve the character of the building and give their winery a rustic and authentic feel. Exposed wooden beams, a tin roof, wall sconces and a fireplace transformed the old horse stalls into a warm and cozy tasting room. The original large wooden storm shutters now slide past the winery’s French doors, inviting visitors inside. The outside patio seats up to thirty people for wine tasting and light fare. The old hay loft is now a spacious meeting room featuring two balconies that overlook the property.
While some vines have been planted on the lower level of the property, the full potential of the 9 acre lot has yet to be realized. Dean continued to produce most of the grapes for Dry Mill’s many award winning wines at Short Hill Vineyards, Dean & Nancy’s home in nearby Lovettsville. Standing on the balcony looking up the steep slope, it’s easy to imagine the property fully planted like a hillside vineyard in Provence or Napa Valley.
The Fruits of Our Labor - Winery For Sale
Ten years later Dean & Nancy have accomplished nearly everything they set out to do. They’ve won dozens and dozens of awards for their wine. They created a thriving business with a loyal following and a reputation for quality. They made hundreds if not thousands of new friends from all around the world. They’ve made continuous investment in a facility that will hopefully continue as a winery, or take on a new life as something more. They’ve chosen the time to hand over stewardship of this property and this business to the next owners. Even more, they’ve created a large surplus inventory of wine that could be transferred to the new ownership as part of the sale.
Dean & Nancy would very much like to be hand’s on during the transition and assist the new owners as they take over. With access to their experience and expertise, it’s entirely reasonable that someone without prior winery management experience could sustain and grow the business.
The Return of the Hunt
Among the many satisfying moments along the way was the return of the Loudoun Hunt to their old barn. It was a great day at the winery, and seeing members of the hunt in their traditional garb reminds us of the history and tradition of this place.
Are You The One?
Someone will read this blog post and feel a stirring of the heart. Someone will read this and see the hand of fate pointing them down a road they’ve longed to travel. If you are that person, please, pick up the phone and call or text Kelly at 703-966-7036. It’s time to start the next chapter of your life, and the realization of your dreams. All reasonable offers considered. The owners are looking for “the right buyer”, not just the highest bidder.
For more information, view the full MLS Listing here: 18195 Dry Mill Road, Leesburg, Virginia
Video Overview of the Property – Winery For Sale
Could It Be Something Else?
Absolutely. For sentimental reasons, the owners would love to transition the property to someone who shares their love of wine and wine-making. That being said, this is an incredible venue, close to Historic Downtown Leesburg, near the Washington & Old Dominion Bike Trail, with a large parking lot and spacious grounds. The facility might work as a restaurant, a venue for weddings & events, a brewery, or any one of the new “agri-tourism” businesses springing up all over Loudoun. All scenarios subject to consideration of current zoning ordinances and other relevant regulation.