Albariño with the Bull Run Mountains



VIP Wines of the Month

Report from the Tasting Room
Report from the Cellar
Report from the Farm 

Report from The Little River Bakehouse
Report from Locksley Farmstead Cheese

Note from Jenni

VIP Club Selections for August, 2020

August??? How in the world is it August??? It's hard to believe that we are in the last month of summer already, it seems like spring and summer passed in the blink of an eye. At the same time it seems like an eternity since this long strange year began.  August is frequently the hottest month of the year and often referred to as the "Dog Days of Summer". Have you every wondered where that description came from? Well, I have so I did a little research. Typically the "Dog Days" refer to the time between the beginning of July and the middle of August. During this time Sirius, the brightest star visible to us, is in the same area of the sky as the sun. Sirius is part of the constellation Canis Major (Greater Dog), so it is also called the Dog Star, thus the "Dog Days". Ancient Romans actually believed that when Sirius was in this position it actually added to the heat generated by the sun and that was why it was the hottest time of the year. Here at the Ag District we have found the perfect way to beat the heat during the Dog Days --- wine slushies! So come on out and cool of with our favorite frozen beverage!

When you visit, please remember that we are still operating under COVID restrictions. Social distancing at all times and wearing masks while in the building are still mandates that everyone must observe. You can see the full list of rules by clicking here.

Due to our current operating restrictions related to the COVID-19 virus, we will not be holding our monthly VIP pickup party in August. Stay healthy and we will see you when things return to normal!

Our hours are 12:00pm - 6:00pm Monday - Thursday, 12:00pm - 8:00pm Friday and Saturday, and 12:00pm - 7:00pm Sunday. We have great wine, hot pizza, take-home pizza kits, farmstead cheese, fresh bread, eggs, and more - all availble 7 days a week. You can place your order ahead of time by calling 540-687-8222 or stop by to place your order at the window.

The white wine selection for August is Chrysalis Vineyards 2019 Tximeleta. This wine is made exclusively from the Fer Servadou grape crushed directly into press and left on the skins to extract color before finally being pressed off. The juice is barrel fermented in neutral oak. Occasional battonage (lees stirring) increases mouth feel and texture. Light acidity on the tip of the tongue accompanies freshly ripened strawberries and summer wild raspberries. A slight creaminess on the finish gives a richer mouth feel. For a refreshing summer appetizer pair Tximeleta with Prosciutto wrapped melon balls.

The red wine selection for our VIP Club members this month is Chrysalis Vineyards 2016 Nebbiolo. Nebbiolo is the wine grape of the famed Barolo and Barbaresco regions of Italy, is grown right here in Virginia at our Hollin Vineyard in Delaplane. The 2016 Nebbiolo is Italian in style but with a hint of New World impact and fruit-forward character. Ripe, red berry fruit fills the aroma and palate. Intensely tannic (the way Nebbiolo should be), this wine will benefit from years of aging. Pair our Nebbiolo with an earthy mushroom risotto or some Locksley Cheese Prince John (our slightly funky, washed-rind cheese).

As a reminder to our members, all VIP wine is available for pickup at the Ag District Center tasting room anytime during regular business hours. If you can’t make it out to pick up your wines on a monthly basis, we will hold them for you. Due to storage limitations, however, we do ask that you pick them up once you accumulate a case (6 months). We can also arrange for wine to be shipped to most locations, at your request.

Also, please remember that you can always find your paired recipes and detailed tasting notes at in the Private VIP Club Area. Also check in with us or follow us on Facebook for updates and announcements.

NOTE: Please do not reply to this emailed Newsletter. Your email will not be handled in a timely manner or may even be lost.


Our Trellis Seating & Dramatic Sky

Boy, oh boy has it been HOT! July brought us a record string of days over 90 degrees, but that didn't stop anyone from heading out to the Ag District to enjoy some cold wine and hot pizza! Fortunately, our little hill enjoys an almost constant breeze and we have lots of shade under our trellis and umbrellas. Our VIP club members can also enjoy our limited indoor seating that we have reserved just for them!  We really are very lucky to have such spacious lawn areas. It has allowed us to spread everyone out to keep them both comfortable and safe! 

Laurie Stevens, Tasting Room Manager


Presses Ready to Go!

We wrapped up July with the last bottling of the year. I can now confirm that the Snobby Bitch is back in the tasting room! Getting the flavor and aromatics just right, is essential for everyone’s favorite sangria. Snobby Bitch best pairs with pool parties and days at the beach.  

With harvest prep complete Jason and I are focused on the vineyard. Veraison, the color change in grapes marks the start of looking for ripeness, will begin soon and it won't be long before we start harvesting our first fruit of the season. Determining a proper pick date is based on the style of wine. For our Albariño Verde we focus on the slight green flavors, a lower brix and a tinge of acid that will leave your mouth watering. For Viognier we look more at a physiological ripeness. Meaning, we focus on the flavors and colors of the juice. Remember, we look for cantaloupe, honey dew, and a bit of mango character in our Viognier to determine ripeness.  

As our fruit nears ripeness, Jason and I will begin pulling in “berry samples” for lab testing. At Chrysalis we focus on 3 types of lab results. The first is pH, which helps determine the concentration of acidity or alkalinity of a wine. This is especially important when attempting to balance acids in white wine. Red wines trend towards the 3.3-3.8 range for bottle aging and silkier mouth feel. Whereas “crisp” white wines are in a pH range of 3.1-3.4.

Hand in hand with pH is TA or “total acidity”. This is a measurement of the quantity of acid found in the juice or wine. This helps us make decisions on determining ripeness for various varieties. Producing  great rosé isn’t just about the color, there should also be a touch of acid on the tip of your tongue. Understanding TA also aids in determining what wines to blend together. Our Estate Bottled Norton has a terrific mid palate simply because we adjust the TA with Tannat, which has less acid and more structure.  

Most commonly discussed is brix or the degree of sweetness. Identifying the sugar levels in grapes allows us to estimate the overall alcohol percentage in our wine. For instance, we arrest the fermentation of our Sarah’s Patio Red to retain those natural sugars. This improves the fruitiness of the wine. Stylistically, we wouldn’t want a white wine to appear “hot” on the palate due to excessive alcohol.

2020 is shaping up to be another promising vintage. Jason and I will continue to monitor the fruit from the lab. This is only the first step though in producing quality wine!

Jake Blodinger, Assistant Winemaker


Ripening Grapes

When I asked for less rain, I didn’t mean no rain! July has seen just a few thunderstorms and a little bit of rain. This creates concern for our vineyard because of drought stress. Even Norton needs a little rain to produce that delicious fruit. Freddi was quick to act and our drip irrigation is already at work keeping the vines watered.  

The canopies are open allowing the fruit to receive just the right amount of sunshine. Due to the intense heat the overall disease pressure seems to be down but we are maintaining a very close eye. While things appear to be just right, the vineyard crew is taking some time to thin some fruit. 

Thinning fruit refers to removing any excessive clusters from the shoots. We make this determination by looking at the total amount of leaves per shoot. On average, it takes roughly 12-14 leaves per shoot to ripen a single cluster of grapes. For two or more clusters its safe to assume at least 24-30 leaves. Removing extra clusters not only encourages ripeness but also helps with the phenolic development in the fruit itself. The vine will pour more energy into developing quality fruit if it doesn’t have to spread energy between multiple clusters. Think of it like concentrating ripeness. 

Like all agriculture it’s important to produce the proper yield. It takes a lot energy and nutrients from the vines to produce fruit. Over producing in the vineyard leads to weak vines, which becomes problematic for dormancy in the cold months. This becomes especially important when temperatures drop below freezing. Over cropped vines will have thin or frail shoots that are easily broken. 

As always, the crew works exceptionally hard to produce the best fruit possible each vintage. 2020 is shaping up to be a promising year!

Jake Blodinger, Assistant Winemaker


Wine... Pizza... Outdoors!

Greetings from The Little River Bakehouse, hope everybody is staying safe and sane. It's been a very hot and humid July but that didn't keep us from turning our artisanal breads and pizzas from our 600 degree oven seven days a week. Now that we have our routines in place and safety measures at full swing I have found the time to start introducing new specials to my pizza menu every weekend so be sure to check what we have coming up, they will hit the menu every Friday and will go through the weekend or until we run out whichever comes first. Just another way of showing of the creativity and quality that our customers are getting to know.

It has been a year since I have joined the team here at The Ag District in running the kitchen here and it has been a very fulfilling and enjoyable year cooking here and I hope for many more to come. This has been my first year of running my own kitchen and what a first year it has been, nothing could have prepared me for the past 6 months but we are still getting through with our food being three times as more popular than when I took over the kitchen a year ago. I hope to continue to push the quality of my pizza and the freshness of the ingredients even further this next year and really wow everybody. Hope to see you out here soon for a pie in the meantime be safe and be sane.

Keaton Beus, Little River Bakehouse Manager


King Richard Blue CheeseHave you heard?!  Our blue cheese is finally here!  King Richard Blue, aptly named for its English origin, has a mild, earthy, blue flavor, with a creamy, melt in your mouth texture and salty finish.  This cheese sure will add both another flavor profile and a touch of color to any cheese or charcuterie board with its abundance of BLUE. 

Where does this BLUE come from? 

During the cheese make process, a mold culture known as Penicillium roqueforti is added, which once a few more steps occur, will create the perfect environment for mold growth.  One week later, we punch holes into the cheese with stainless steel rods, a two person job that is easier said than done, also known as “needling.”  This allows oxygen to circulate and encourages the growth of that signature blue mold throughout the cheese.  Additionally, this process softens the texture and develops our very own distinct blue flavor in the large world of blue cheeses.

What's the best way to store blue cheese?

Once cut/opened, blue cheese should be wrapped in foil, parchment or wax paper and stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.  It is common, when reopening or opening for the first time, to allow blue cheese to breathe.The cheese may have a slight ammoniated smell as the mold prefers air, but will ripen way too fast if left opened with access to too much air.

What does King Richard Blue pair best with?

Fruits, particularly, apples, oranges, grapes or pears, jams or jellies, such as orange marmalade, honey or also nuts.

The best red wines to pair are pinot noir, cabernet sauvignon, Malbec and zinfandel, but classical blue cheese pairings include fortified wine like Port or Madeira or even off dry white wine such as Riesling or gewürztraminer. Try it with Chrysalis Vineyards Borboleta (port-style) or Sarah's Patio White (semi-sweet Vidal Blanc).

Be sure to take advantage of our limited time introductory pricing and come pick up a wedge of this delicious King Richard Blue at the Ag District!

Erin Saacke, Cheesemaker

Note from Jenni
Albariño Vine

Well, I was going to write about Albariño for my Note from Jenni, but I just got captivated by the photos of all our foods and the beauty of The Ag District. Mind you, Albariño is a great grape for Virginia, and we’re very proud to be one of the first in America to present this ultra-premium variety. Clearly, we’re on the short list for the best Albariño outside of Galicia, Spain (and, frankly, better than most made there). Come and get it.

Now let’s talk about our food and our environment. I AM SO PROUD of what we’ve accomplished with our wines and cheeses and breads and pizzas, and when they’re enjoyed in the beauty of the Bull Run Mountains, I don’t know of anything more unique and splendid. All on one farm… and all from one group of passionate foodies. This is a unique thing, people… a unique experience we’ve created here. And we’ve created it for you!

Please come share the beauty with us… and help us sustain this farm with your patronage and goodwill.

Stay healthy… and take care,


Jennifer McCloud

Chrysalis Vineyards at The Ag District
39025 John Mosby Highway (Tasting Room/Creamery/Kitchen)
23876 Champe Ford Road (Winery/Milking Center/Offices)
Middleburg, VA 20117
Office: 540-687-8222


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