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A first for Loudoun wine: ‘The Barns’ wins 2017 Governor’s Cup

The Barns at Hamilton Station Vineyards owners Andrew and Maryann Fialdini with Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) at the Governor’s Cup gala in Richmond. Courtesy Photo/Amelia Heymann
For the first time in history, the Virginia Governor's Cup is coming to Loudoun County.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) announced tonight The Barns at Hamilton Station Vineyards' 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon was the top-scoring wine of the 2017 Virginia Wineries Association Governor's Cup, the state's premiere competition.

The Barns' victory comes with a small caveat for the hyper-local Loudoun wine lover – the grapes came from the Charlottesville area.

Still, it was a jubilant night for Barns owner Andrew Fialdini at the Hotel John Marshall in Richmond, where the governor and state wine officials announced the 12 labels comprising the Governor's Case – arguably the commonwealth's top 12 wines.

“We were thrilled and very surprised,” said Fialdini. “Normally, with our cabernet sauvingon, we use it for blending. It's not every year we use it as a single varietal, but we thought 2014 was good enough to do it.”

The 100 percent Virginia cabernet sauvignon was aged in French and American oak and expresses notes of dark cherry and coffee, according to tasting notes.

While The Barns sources fruit from other locations in Virginia, Fialdini has three acres under vine and produces wine from the Hamilton property.

"After years in government service, my wife and I were looking to start a second career where we could work the land," Fialdini said in a prepared statement. "This experience has surpassed all our expectations."

The Barns at Hamilton Station owner Andrew Fialdini addresses a couple-hundred person crowd after winning the Governor's Cup. Courtesy Photo/Amelia Heymann


The Governor's Cup winner was crafted by heralded vintner Michael Shaps, who is based out of Charlottesville. Shaps called the wine “a classic Virginia cabernet sauvignon.”

“Perfectly balanced and has mature tannins that are ripe but not overly extracted, and it has nice acidity.” Shaps, who studied winemaking in Burgundy and produces his own French label, said in a statement. “The fruit comes from mostly Carter’s Mountain with some additional fruit from Mount Juliet vineyards. Carter’s Mountain has southwest exposure, constant breezes, great drainage and a slightly cooler climate to retain nature acidity.”

A boutique winery, The Barns at Hamilton Station Vineyards opened in 2012.

The Barns wasn't the only Loudoun County winery celebrating Tuesday night. Breaux Vineyards of Purcellville placed in the Governor's Case with its 2012 Meritage.

Jen Breaux of Breaux Vineyards said “we are amongst so many quality wine producers in Virginia, and this acknowledgment is quite an honor for us and a tip of the hat for Loudoun County terroir.”

Forming the Governor's Case, along with The Barns and Breaux, were:

-Barboursville Vineyards 2013 Paxxito
-Horton Vineyards 2015 Viognier
-Ingleside Vineyards, 2014 Petit Verdot
-Jefferson Vineyards, 2014 Petit Verdot
-King Family Vineyards, 2014 Loreley
-King Family Vineyards, 2014 Petit Verdot
-Michael Shaps Wineworks, 2014 Meritage
-Valley Road Vineyards, 2014 Petit Verdot
-Veritas Vineyard and Winery, 2014 Petit Manseng
-Veritas Vineyard and Winery, 2014 Petit Verdot Paul Shaffer 6th Edition

In prepared remarks, Gov. McAuliffe said, “I’m excited to see The Barns at Hamilton Station Cabernet Sauvignon win this year’s Governor’s Cup. Andrew and Maryann Fialdini are seeing the results of eight years of planning and hard work come to fruition."

Governor's Cup entries must consist of 100 percent Virginia fruit and include an affidavit with a certification of 100 percent state fruit and wine specifics, including the grape grower's name, grape location, alcohol, acidity or basicity and residual sugar.

Other Loudoun wines earning gold in this year's competition, though not scoring high enough to place in the case, were: Breaux's 2014 Meritage; The Barns at Hamilton Station's 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon and Sunset Hills Vineyard's 2012 Mosaic. The gold medal honorees were announced earlier this month.

Twenty-three Virginia wines out of 494 entrants earned gold in this year's Governor's Cup.

Sales of Virginia wine hit a record high in fiscal 2016, with more than 556,700 cases, or 6.6 million bottles, sold. The commonwealth is home to more than 230 wineries, 44 of which are in Loudoun County.

Breaux Vineyards in northwestern Loudoun also had a strong showing in the 2017 Governor's Cup. Courtesy Photo/Amelia Heymann


Related coverage:

-"Breaux, Sunset Hills and The Barns at Hamilton Station take gold in Governor’s Cup wine competition"
-"The largest planting in the US of this rare grape is here in Loudoun wine country"

-"Loudoun wineries secure three of top 12 spots in Governor’s Cup wine competition"

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