To garner a medal, or medals at the annual Virginia Governor’s Cup wine competition in Richmond is an achievement in itself, but to be crowned as the overall winner is the ultimate accolade, and an acknowledgement that the victor’s wine is the best in the Commonwealth.
868 Estate Vineyards, located just west of the Town of Hillsboro in Loudoun County, Virginia accomplished this impressive feat in February 2020 when it triumphed over 105 competitor vineyards, which entered no fewer than 530 wines, to become the 2020 Virginia Governor’s Cup outright winner.
868’s winning wine was its 2017 Vidal Blanc Passito, made from the American hybrid grape, Vidal Blanc, and made using the Italian appassimento method. This technique is one where the grapes are partially dried for a month in shallow baskets in order to produce a highly concentrated sugar content. The result is a rich, sweet and intense honey, pineapple and tropical fruit flavor, best served cold.
The idea behind this particular varietal was the brainchild of winemaker, co-owner and company president, Carl Di Manno who, together with fellow owners Peter Deliso and Wendy Charron, purchased the 120-acre property, which included renowned farm to fork restaurant, Grandale Farm restaurant, in 2011. Saving it from becoming what was destined to be just another housing subdivision, 868 Estate Vineyards was founded. Now, less than a decade later, the Governor’s Cup resides proudly in the 868 Estate Vineyards tasting room, where it will remain until next year’s winner is announced.
Grandale Farm’s executive chef and co-founder, Author Clark, had been creating exquisite dishes for its discerning clientele since the restaurant opened in 2005 until late 2019, when Chef Clark passed the baton to Chef Thomas Kozak. Today, Grandale offers all of 868’s wines to its diners which include its Chardonel, Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Canvas White, a blend of Chardonel and Vidal Blanc.
Initial grapevine planting took place in 2012, and resulted in 10 acres of vines which has expanded to 22 acres during the intervening eight years. Visitors enjoy their favorite wines either in the tasting room, conveniently located opposite the restaurant, or outside under or by the pavilion. Notably, all of the grapes which went into the winning wine came from the estate’s one third acre, dedicated Vidal Blanc vineyard block!
In addition to the tasting room and restaurant, 868 takes art seriously, with local artists from Loudoun and Fairfax Counties in Virginia, Montgomery County in Maryland and Jefferson County in West Virginia exhibiting and offering their works for sale for three months at a time.
Events at 868 include several weddings and corporate gatherings annually plus festivities tailored specifically for ‘Elevation Club’ members, patrons who have committed to buying one case per year, picked up four times annually.
In the words of Peter Deliso’s wife, Nancy, 868’s Marketing Director, “868 Estate Vineyards is an avid proponent of a culture of wine, food, art and nature, all of which flourish at the property”. These four values appear to resonate with a lot of folks judging by the number of people coming and going during my visit.
868 Estate Vineyards and Grandale Farm Restaurant are located at 14001 Harpers Ferry Road, Hillsboro, VA 20132. (540) 668-7008
Originally published in the spring 2020 edition of Country Zest & Style magazine - words and photos by Peter Leonard-Morgan
Every now and again, a remarkable property comes up for sale. I was fortunate enough to have been engaged by the owners of an 11.7 acre parcel in Great Falls last year which closed this week. It is in fact two spectacular parcels, located in Cornwell Farm just off Georgetown Pike. My clients have owned these properties since 1972 and built a family home on one of the lots in 1978.
Any new undertaking is bound to prompt questions, especially when it involves a large sum of money. As you dive into your first investment property, you’re probably wondering how to select a promising property, how to attract future renters, and what your responsibilities will be. Read on as we explore all this in detail!
What Makes for a Promising Property?
There are many things that contribute to how profitable an investment property is. Topping the list is location. For example, when you look at the available data, Virginia offers a profitable rental market, both for short- and long-term rental properties. The vacation rental market and the residential market both reflect a strong history, with the price-to-rent ratio teetering on the top edge favorability for renters. That means residential renters will find it more desirable to rent than buy when they examine their finances.
Beyond the numbers, the property itself should offer desirability to renters. Residential renters will look carefully at things like the suburb, available storage, and neutral decor. Evolve notes vacationers, on the other hand, search for things like a useful kitchen, wifi availability, parking, and pet-friendliness. In both cases, eye appeal will always be important, and better renters will be willing to pay more for an aesthetically pleasing environment.
How Do You Attract Renters?
Once you settle on a property, you’ll want to ensure it both attracts quality renters and is reasonably easy to maintain. For a vacation rental, this might mean including classic and well-made furniture, ample lighting, and a touch of luxury. For both vacation and residential properties, it should include upgrades like refreshed cabinetry, newly painted walls, low-maintenance (but well-maintained) landscaping, and hardwood floors.
Selections like these will spark interest from renters while ensuring your upkeep is minimal. For example, hardwood floors will stand up far better to renter wear and tear than carpet, and they are in high demand these days. Even if renters ding it up, the average cost to refinish hardwood comes in at $3 to $8 per square foot, which is unlikely to be needed very often. On the other hand, carpet would most likely require replacement more frequently, and would look worn as soon as the first grape juice gets spilled. Per Carpet Captain, you can expect the lowest end carpet to run $1 per square foot.
Of course, once your property is all prettied up, you need to get the word out about what a great location it’s in, and how beautiful and comfortable it is. BiggerPockets points out that since everyone is shopping online these days, professional photos are a must for effective property marketing.
Your online listing should include all the pertinent details, such as space, amenities, parking, and pet-friendliness, and you might consider some incentives to draw your initial clientele. A bonus night or free month can make your place all the more tantalizing to prospective renters.
What Are Your Responsibilities?
As a property owner, your responsibilities center around providing a functional and safe living space. That means when things break, it falls to you to ensure they get repaired in a timely manner. The more responsive you are to requests, the better chance you have of getting and keeping quality renters, too. This means late-night calls, bills from repairmen, and so forth.
Some property owners elect to pass the daily grind to a property management company. These professional services can tackle everything from properly screening tenants to hiring maintenance work while you enjoy passive income. Generally speaking, you can expect to pay a property management agency between 8 and 12 percent of the monthly rent.
It’s normal to have a lot of questions buzzing through your mind when you are investing a large sum of money. Take things slowly and do it the right way. That’s the primary secret in ensuring a favorable outcome with your first investment property.
Peter writes for his local magazine, Country Zest & Style, as its Wine Editor. He also enjoys writing blogs on interesting and pertinent real estate matters, so please follow!