It is funny what one finds when they clean. In the case of Carl and Donna Henrikson, they cleaned their kitchen and found a winery. So the story goes that Carl and Donna laughingly tell while sitting in their tasting room enjoying the amazing view some six hundred feet up looking out towards Old Rag Mountain in Washington, Virginia.
Carl, who has been involved in various business ventures from the CEO of an IT company to the chairman of the board of supervisors of a neighboring county (all of which he describes as sales), gives the appearance of a man who has just shaken a troupe of monkeys off his back and is enjoying the relief. A wine aficionado since the age of thirteen when a sommelier took him under wing and began his education in wine, Carl began making wine in 2003, storing six gallon containers of fermenting wine in his kitchen. In 2009, with their children grown, deciding it was time for a life style change, Carl and his wife, Donna, began the process of finding a property that would suit them. After looking at various properties, they began a year long process of purchasing the twenty five acres on which they now live, moving in on November 1, 2010.
Donna, who grew up in Idaho where the farm her family owned practiced sustained farming, is no stranger to hard work. After a career with the government while living in Northern Virginia, she commented she was glad to get out in the country. Both Carl and Donna have stated that they are really enjoying the change of scenery, complete with black bears that occasionally stroll through the property. Donna’s plans for a garden large enough to feed her and Carl have had to include contingency plans for feeding their large furry neighbors.
Planting one thousand Viognier vines in the rocky soil of Rappahannock County is enough to test whether or not any vision is real or just a pipe dream. Despite being jarred while attempting to auger the holes necessary to plant coupled with having to water by hand one thousand vines, the Henriksons persevered and are looking forward to expanding their vineyard on the north facing slope that fronts their property.
Pioneers had to build their own dwellings so Carl and Donna do not qualify as pioneers, but they are in the process of remodeling the comfortable yet updated tasting room with a view that will enhance any wine poured there. In addition, many customers come with picnic baskets and enjoy the scenery while drinking some of the wonderful wines that are offered. The addition of stone steps and a large deck on the back (where bear watching is encouraged at a safe distance) are just part of the many plans for this extraordinarily beautiful facility.
Partnering with Potomac Point Winery in Stafford County, Virginia, two wines presently bear the Little Washington Winery label:
-Little Washington White – Mesmerized
A refreshing blend that combines the floral aromatics of Viognier with the enticing lilac aroma of Vidal Blanc. On the palate, bright citrus and melon flavors are accented by herbal overtones that would be a superb match with a plate of fettucine and an herbal cream sauce.
-Little Washington Red – George
Soft tannins and concentrated fruit give this Cabernet Merlot blend perfectly balanced flavor and body. The black cherry, currant, and green olive aromas – combined with mint, tobacco and tea-leaf tones give a rich supple taste that cries out Goat Cheese Gouda as a paring.
Besides their own wines, to be introduced at Little Washington Winery is the Dirt Road Flight. An ever changing group of artisan wines from all over the country that will make tasting a journey to the farthest regions where craft wines are found. Ranging from the Tedeschi Vineyards in Maui, Hawaii to the Finger Lakes of upstate New York, wines that will not be found in the large package stores will be available for tasting.
Carl and Donna are presenting a complete wine tasting experience with excellent wines that reflect the growth and sophistication that is becoming a hallmark of Virginia Wines. By adding the Dirt Road Flight, they present a concept that reflects confidence and integrity seen in very few wine tasting rooms. Even though they did not build their own dwelling, maybe they are pioneers after all.
The grand opening for the Little Washington Winery will begin with a ribbon cutting scheduled for 11:11:11 AM on November 11, 2011 (that’s right, 11:11:11 on 11/11/11) with an open house scheduled from 11:00 AM until 5:00 PM.