In June, the VA Wine and Book Club selected Barrel Oak Winery in Delaplane, Virginia to pair with our book Lexicon by Max Barry. This was the first time coming to Barrel Oak for most of us, and it had been near the top of our must-visit list for a while. One of the first things that caught my eye and brought Barrel Oak onto my radar initially was the dog-friendly praise the winery received. In multiple publications, I came across Barrel Oak’s name as a very dog-friendly winery. For example, on the AmericanWineryGuide.com blog, I came across Barrel Oak on the “America’s Most Dog Friendly Wineries” list. As a dog-lover and owner of two rescues, I could not wait to check this place out.
When first arriving to Barrel Oak, the first thing I noticed was the ease to find parking. Compared to other wineries I have been to, this winery had plenty of parking in the fields near the entrance. Thankfully, it was a beautiful, dry day so my little Civic Hybrid did not have any troubles with the rolling hills. As we walked towards the winery entrance, I was impressed with how many dogs were there! In addition to guests who brought their dogs for a nice outing, there were dog adoptions going on as well as dog treats available for sale by a local pet rescue. It was a dog haven…
Entering the tasting room (which of course was dog friendly) we were pleasantly greeted by a great staff. It could not have been more warm and welcoming! We chose a table (with ease… no overcrowded wait to find a seat) and opted to get their fruit, meat, and cheese platter (which was pretty good) then went outside for a tasting. They have a few different tasting options, including their “BOW” tasting and their “WOW” tasting, or a combination of the two which is what we went for. My three personal favorites included:
- BOWHaus White 2013 – a refreshing, crisp and summery tasting white. I am picky with my whites, and this one was one of the better I have had in a while, Another pleasant aspect of this wine was 100% of the grapes used were from the property.
- Peanuts Petit Cuvee 2012 – my personal favorite of the 11 we sampled! It was sweet, but not too sweet. It had fruity notes and was light for summer sipping. I had to buy a bottle of this wine to take home and share.
- Norton 2012 – I do love my Norton, and this wine did not disappoint. It was a lot smoother from other Norton’s I have sampled.
As we sampled the wine, we learned about some of the history of the property and of the grapes. (Including Norton wine was used as a communion wine in Missouri). I am disappointed to say we did not make it over to the John Marshall house (Oak Hill Estate) on property this particular day… the house on property we learned is around 240 years old and is a location that is not only filled with history, but also features a local farmer’s market and additional wine tasting that is free for guests of Barrel Oak who bring a plastic sample cup from the front with them to the house. I can’t wait to go back to Barrel Oak to explore this house more…
Following our tasting and mini-history lesson, we went down to explore the self-guided downstairs production area tour where we were met with another friendly staff member who talked a little more with us about their wines on property and what they currently had in the room. She also brought us over to their Barrel Club room to explain more about the membership and show us the barrels they currently had aging on display. It was a nice touch!
Some other notes about the winery worth sharing: Their bathrooms were big and clean! Another added plus. They do take reservations from groups of eight or more. They are on Facebook and Twitter, so check them out for the latest. They had a sangria bar I am sad to say we missed out on sampling! Finally, picnicking is a breeze… there were plenty of tables inside and outside. Upon arriving, the number of cars parked had us worried we wouldn’t get a good spot, but that was not the case. In addition, you could bring your own picnic basket or purchase your snacks from them.
Barrel Oak Winery was a great experience, and I can’t wait to return. The location was easy to get to just off 66, parking was easy and the venue itself was clean and open, the staff were friendly and welcoming, the wines were great, and the atmosphere was relaxed and completely dog-friendly. As soon as I expressed any interest in the history of wine and the property, the staff were ready to jump in and share their knowledge. When we mentioned we were part of a book club, they invited us back for activities that would be fun for the group throughout the year, including an opportunity to assist with the bottling process or stomp grapes. Looking forward to returning with our dogs for another visit!