Stone Tower Winery joins the wine craze
As the CEO of Belfort Furniture, Mike Huber has had a huge impact on the economy in Loudoun County.
Now, Huber is developing a new masterpiece on his family’s land.
Stone Tower Winery is a new venture for Huber and after monitoring the wine industry in Loudoun for a couple of years he felt it was time to get involved.
Sitting on the Huber estate along the hilly landscapes of Hogback Mountain between Leesburg and Aldie, Stone Tower Winery captures the scenic areas of western Loudoun County.
The property, which has been in Huber’s family for four decades, is believed to have contained a road well traveled by Civil War soldiers. The winery and vineyards are spread out among a 200-acre site.
Local product Bryan Toy was tapped by Huber to run the day-to-day operations as the manager of the vineyard.
“[Huber] has created a truly elegant vineyard on his family estate with a focus of producing high quality wines, beginning with high quality fruit,” Toy said. “We want to attract a little bit of everybody to this winery, because Mike’s vision is to produce a very high quality wine, but to make it available to everyone.”
Stone Tower planted their first vines – all white wines – in 2010, the winery produced its first vintage in 2011.
“We took our first sample harvest off of those last year for a 2011 vintage and we dropped a lot of fruit in them to really just see how the wines are going to do with those and really let the roots develop for high quality vines,” Toy said. “We planted all of our reds last year, including cabernet franc, petit verdo, merlot, cabernet sauvignon for a total of 22 acres planted at the moment.”
In 2014, there are plans at the winery to expand their acreage of planted vines from 22 to 55 acres.
Stone Tower has an ultimate goal of producing somewhere in the range of 10,000 to 13,000 cases of wine per year.
According to Toy, that number would put them into the upper end of production.
“With that number, it is essential we keep our focus on quality of the wine in order to get to that level,” Toy said.
Currently, Stone Tower wines are being produced at another facility until their venue is completed.
After breaking ground on their production facility and tasting room Sept. 23, Toy said the plan is to have production on-site in 2013 and to formerly open to the public in 2014 when the tasting room is completed.
The new tasting room will be approximately 7,000 square feet and included with that will be a VIP area for wine club members only.
Those visiting the vineyard will be able to take tours through the production facility as well.
The production facility will feature six oak fermentation tanks and six steel tanks, which are currently being custom built in France.
“When we were planning out the site we talked to several wineries, who all talked about space, space and more space and how if they could go back and redo it they would double what they thought they needed in terms of tasting room space,” Toy said. “They said once they got going and with the growth the industry has seen here, they need more storage space, tasting room space and all of that. We are trying to keep that in mind without overdoing it.”
A main feature of the winery is the intricate stone throughout the property. Each piece of stone was taken from the property itself and timber from the land is being harvested to build the tasting room.
One of the stone structures on the property is the “wine grotto.” More resembling a wine cave, the “wine grotto is built into one of the hillsides, much like you would see a military bunker.
“Essentially what we have decided is it is a wine room we built for reserves and storage or a more intimate space for tastings,” Toy said. “If you want a more one-on-one experience with a much more relaxed and slower pace, we can provide that.”
The winery also features an upscale barn for events and a maintenance facility for staff. The barn can be used for wedding receptions or other country themed parties.
Toy hopes to contribute to the new found success Virginia wines has seen over the last years.
“We hope to be a real contributor to getting Virginia recognized not only nationally, but also internationally,” Toy said. “I can say with enthusiasm that I am really excited for some of the things we are going to be doing here when we open.”