Middleburg, Virginia, nestled against the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains fifty miles from Washington, D.C., is a picturesque town rich in local art, historical landmarks, equine events, and boutique shopping. With rolling hills and farmland in abundance, it is no wonder Middleburg is also known for its exquisite vineyards and fine eateries. City Lifestyle staff Aaron Swart, Steven Casupanan, and Joanna Tannenbaum, with her husband Brian, invited Midlothian Lifestyle partner Larry King and his wife Mary for a weekend getaway to experience the best Middleburg has to offer with a private wine tasting at the exclusive RdV Vineyards and lunch at the Gold Cup Wine Bar at the elegant Salamander Middleburg.
The first stop on their adventure was the gorgeous RdV Vineyards. Winemaker Joshua Grainer, a New Kent native and managing director at the vineyard, invited City Lifestyle to introduce RdV to local Richmonders. Just two and a half hours away, the vineyard is a secret destination not many Richmonders know about. "The property was absolutely stunning from entering through the front gates, driving up to their signature white silo, and taking in the manicured landscaping," says Steven. "It's like we entered a whole new world—truly a hidden gem in Virginia!" RdV's hospitality director, friendly and wine-savvy Karl Kuhn, welcomed all with a glass of champagne and steered everyone outdoors to begin a private tour of the vineyards, starting with the sixteen acres of vines on the hill.
Karl first explained how and why Rutger de Vink found the perfect site for his vineyard. After five years of exploring destinations along the East and West Coasts of America, Rutger settled on a distinct hillside made of granite near the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. "Granite gives us incredible drainage," Karl says. "This soil is horrible for agriculture; nothing will grow there, but it is perfect for vines because you want to restrict their water," Karl says. "You want the vines to be stressed out, so they shut down and focus on a sweet inner berry; therefore, we can make a great wine out of it."
Next on the tour, Karl guided everyone inside and showed a large display of photos showcasing the vineyard building. After walking downstairs toward the caves, Karl pointed out samples of granite. Because Rutger believed granite would be the key to great wine, he took core samples before purchasing the property, which now hangs on the wall to show visitors how granite varies from the topsoil to the bedrock and 36 feet down. Karl rounded the corner and brought the group into the "heart of the winery," where the bulk of the work happens. After vineyard workers handpick the grapes, they are brought to the large metal vats to ferment and macerate into wine.
Cool temperatures and dimly lit tunnels lined with wine-filled oak barrels led guests to a dark room where the wine rests for three years: two years in the barrel, one year in the bottle. To illustrate the timeline from grape to wine, Karl explained how Rutger purchased the property in 2003, workers picked the first grapes in 2008, and RdV sold its first bottle in 2011! The group walked to the end of the tunnel, where they found themselves upon a granite wall. "I loved the rock display, showing the graduation of granite and how the drainage system worked with the grape vines' root systems amidst the rock," Aaron says. "I enjoyed learning about the incredible cellar and aging process, where we had another unexpected and delightful tasting!"
Karl showed the group the bottling machine, stating it could produce 30,000 bottles of wine in 30 hours! When it comes to the creative labels, Rutgers great-grandfather unknowingly designed them. Vink means finch in Dutch. "Rutger's great-grandfather had a sketch in one of his journals, and we think he wanted to use it for a family crest back in the day, but it never came to fruition," Karl says. "And we decided to use it for the labels." The finch on the left-hand side faces backward to reflect the past, and the other two birds face forward to highlight the progress and direction of RdV Vineyards.
After a quick visit to a room lined wall-to-wall with vintage wines worldwide, the group enjoyed a vertical flight of three red wines and a handcrafted charcuterie and cheese board with seasonal items. The tasting ended shortly after with pleasant conversation and delectable wines and snacks, but not before Karl gifted everyone a bottle of honey from the vineyard's hives! "Karl was great! Very informative, friendly, and hospitable while being very responsive to everyone's questions," Brian says.
A quick thirty-minute drive is all it took to reach Salamander Middleburg’s resort of "pure magic and majestic grounds," as Aaron describes it. With 25 acres dedicated to horse riding, the charming and exquisite resort features 168 guestrooms with scenic views of the gorgeous countryside. With activities such as zip lining, tennis, nature hikes, and archery available, there is never a dull moment at the Salamander. Additionally, health and wellness are top priorities for guests, and the Salamander offers an expansive spa with fourteen treatment rooms and a private outdoor courtyard, complete with a heated pool!
The City Lifestyle group was lucky to experience the refined and marvelous setting and cuisine of Gold Cup Wine Bar in the resort. The restaurant presented an exceptional lineup to suit everyone's tastes, from savory appetizers and tasty beverages to fulfilling mains and decadent desserts. Steven started with a smokey .37 Special cocktail accompanied by Braised PEI Mussels, Bistecca Y Chorizo, and sushi. He finished with Gold Cup's signature dessert, a slice of Salamander Cake, and what a treat it was! "Not too sweet, well-balanced, backed with a crunch and flavors of pumpkin chocolate chip cake, dark chocolate devil's food cake, cream cheese buttercream, and candied hazelnut crunch texture made it simply the best," Steven says.
"The Gold Cup Wine Bar was classic and rustic, and the drinks were top shelf!" Aaron says. "My favorite drink of the day was the Ice Dragon, a wonderful, refreshing cocktail, and the signature cake- holy cow—what a tower of delight!" Brian tried the Chapel Hill Farm Meatballs and claimed, "As a New Yorker well-versed in Italian fare, the meatballs were truly exceptional!" After the meatballs, he ordered the Salamander Smash Burger, handcrafted with quality beef, Tillamook cheddar, and special sauce, stacked between a fresh brioche bun. "The burger was superior, packed with flavor, and cooked to a flawless medium," Brian says. As for Mary's "steak was cooked to perfection," and she enjoyed all the appetizers accompanied by a glass of smooth red wine.
After lunch, the group strolled around the resort and grounds, taking in all its grandeur. "I enjoyed walking around and looking at all the different style rooms," Larry says. "Outside, every bush was perfectly cut, and the landscape was well maintained." Aaron adds, "The grounds were majestic, and the main house filled with splendid decor and lavish furniture. One can tell that this was a place of timelessness- the art and the grandeur beckoned my curiosity, for sure."
As City Lifestyle's weekend getaway to Middleburg ended, the group agreed they had a wonderful experience. "I learned a lot and will be back; it's a great little town close by," Larry says. "The tour at RdV and lunch at Gold Cup Wine Bar were complementary to one another," Brian says, "creating the ultimate weekend getaway." To experience a magical getaway close to home, reserve a private wine tasting at RdV Vineyard and an overnight stay at the luxurious Salamander Middleburg. Visit rdvvineyards.com and salamanderresort.com
2550 Delaplane Grade Road
Delaplane, Virginia 20144
500 North Pendleton Street
Middleburg, Virginia 20117
"My initial impressions of RdV were those of elegance, poise, modernity, and a sense of history. The tour itself was incredible- every detail had a specific purpose." - Aaron Swart
"The Gold Cup Wine Bar was very accommodating and catered to our taste for recommendations. The ambiance of being seated by the fireplace certainly made it a cozy dining experience," - Steven Casupanan