By Norwood Walker
The driveway at 568 Rigney Circle just outside of Chatham, Virginia leads down a gentle sloping incline with beautiful rows of grape vines on its left. Awaiting at the bottom of this incline is a log cabin with a wraparound porch that beckons to come sit and stay a while. Taste the wine that is obviously grown here, after all, where there are vines there is wine. This is the Homeplace Vineyard.
The Homeplace vineyard, located in Southside Virginia’s Pittsylvania County, was incorporated in 2004 by Joe and Brenda Williams along with their children Renee and husband Billy, Jesse and wife Penny, and Mary and husband Chris. The farm has been in the family for four generations and was originally purchased by Joe’s grandparents in 1912.
Traditionally a tobacco farm, the first grapes, Traminette, were planted in March 2005. Cabernet Sauvignon, Chambourcin, and Viognier were added over the next three years respectively. Currently approximately 5,600 vines on just over 9 acres are being tended.
The cabin that stands where the farmhouse once stood was built from logs taken from several old tobacco barns built by another ancestor. The original homeplace was destroyed by fire in December of 1979 and the cabin was constructed to serve as the tasting room. Just up the hill from the cabin is the long building housing the winery’s operations. More than just a tasting room, the cabin with its porch and large open space inside is anchored by the tasting bar and a beautiful stone fireplace is a place to sit and escape the world and its stress.
The ride through the rolling countryside with mountains in the distance starts the transition and the cabin and wine tasting completes it. Among the wines offered are three dry red wines, two white dry wines, and a strawberry wine. Many of these wines have won awards in competitions including the Chambourcin, a red wine which is a three-time winner, the Viognier a white wine which is a two-time winner, and the Vidal Blanc, a gold medal winner. Other offerings include Old Red Tractor which is a blend of Caberbet Sauvignon and Chambourcin with a hint of cherry, Sweet Red Combine which is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Chambourcin, and Traminette tasting better than jelly on a biscuit according to some sources, and the Old Green Tractor which is a blend of Viognier and Traminette, with Granny Smith Apple on the palette. The Cabin Sunset, their strawberry wine, is one of the most popular wines and has won 6 medals.
Two events of interest are sure to attract visitors to the winery in November and December. Flip Flop Friday which was postponed because of the threat from Hurricane Florence is scheduled for November 2. Always a fun night of music and wine, this year features The Michael Bennett Project. The Christmas Open House will be on December 1st 5pm to 8pm. Music will be provided by Laura Adcock Ellis and Jeff Todd, and yummy Hors d’oeuvres are offered as their gift to the guests in appreciation of their support over the past year.
The Homeplace is located just outside of Chatham, Virginia at 568 Rigney Circle only a 6-mile drive from the Tomahawk Winery. Visit their Facebook page or their website: www.thehomeplacevineyard.com.