Recently a few friends and I visited Notaviva Vineyards, a new winery in Loudoun County, Virginia, just an hour’s drive from Washington, D.C. The sign for Notaviva Vineyards on Sagle Road in Purcellville is small and inconspicuous (we drove by it at first and had to turn around). And the place doesn’t look like much from the parking lot—just a decent-sized house overlooking some farmland. Once inside, though, undoubtedly someone from your group will remark that they want their next house to look exactly like this. Consisting of hardwood floors, plum-colored walls, and lofty ceilings that invite guests to look up to see two more floors overlooking the tasting area, the house’s unexpected quirk was that it was held together with wooden pegs—a bit like Lincoln Logs.
Our rag-tag group was a far cry from the jacketed thirty-somethings who ducked into a “StretchUV” as we pulled into the Notaviva parking lot. We had just come from a morning of picking apples at a farm down the road. We were underdressed and young and weren’t about to spend a ton of money on several bottles of wine. But, among the five vineyards that we visited that day, we were welcomed above and beyond the rest. Notaviva gives wine-lovers something novel: an invitation into the winemakers’ home. The woman pouring our tasting, we quickly found out, was one of the owners. Our friendly hostess invited us into her kitchen and chatted with us over the long U-shaped counter about her family’s story, and it’s one she tells with a glow.
The owners, a warm and energetic young couple, came up with the crazy, wonderful idea to reinvent their lives in the early days of their courtship, when they were both working office jobs. They asked for grape vines on their wedding registry and now run a successful vineyard out of this home where they also raise their small children.
After our tasting, we bought a bottle and went upstairs, where we sat and listened to a live local musician playing acoustic guitar. The overall experience felt pleasantly intimate, like being a guest at someone’s family gathering. This was much the opposite of our experience at nearby Breaux Vineyards, a larger outfit which left us feeling rushed and unnoticed (although, for the younger crowd, the name of that winery is pronounced “bro,” which inevitably leads to a rather jocular drinking session).
The French word terroir, loosely meaning “a sense of place,” is often used to describe the distinctions given to a wine from the soil and climate in which it’s grown. Notaviva wines certainly share similarities with the other Virginia wineries in terms of taste and texture, but a visit to this vineyard shows something else, a new sense of terroir stemming from its unusual roots: the inspiration that seems to pour out of every bottle. Sitting in that beautiful house sipping a glass of their Vivace viognier, anything felt possible, especially those bottled-up dreams of completely reinventing your life. --Nick Boedicker
PHOTO: The tasting room at Notaviva Vineyards (courtesy, Loudoun Convention & Visitors Association)
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