Paradise Springs Winery—Fairfax's One and Only
Keeping agriculture alive, the Wiles family sets up shop in Clifton
Imagine for a second that you are in possession of 350 acres of land passed down from generation to generation through an original land grant issued by Lord Fairfax in 1716. Imagine, as well, that on this property you have a log cabin built in the early 1800s that nobody is using. Additionally, take a moment to think what you might do knowing that the land surrounding the cabin is zoned as "agricultural" by Fairfax County. What would you do?
The Wiles family decided to open a winery.
"We were kind of brainstorming, what can we do with this place?" Kirk Wiles said during a recent chat. "It's in an agricultural and forestal district—so agriculture is allowed on the property. We were trying to figure out how to make this place work for us. Then we came up with the idea of creating a winery."
Unfortunately, the term "agriculture" means different things to different people. To the Wiles family, growing and harvesting grapes constituted agriculture. To some county planners hosting tastings and visitors didn't.
"The county claimed a winery in their county wasn't agriculture, though the state of Virginia defined it as such," said Wiles. "That led to a dispute in which the county claimed we didn't have the proper zoning. We had two years in court with the county, fighting this. Fortunately we came out on top."
Paradise Springs Winery opened its doors in January 2010 amid, according to a Washington Post article, a fair amount of acrimony. But with the legal battles now in the past, Kirk Wiles is looking toward the future.
"We have special events and wine dinners, but we're really limited right now on what we can offer," Wiles explained. "That will change in 2011 when we open the new building."
The "new building" in question will be a 12,000-square-foot barn with a 40-foot tasting room, open barrels and plenty of space for moderately sized events.
So far, the winery has gotten off to a fairly fast start, Wiles said.
"Our chardonnay just won the Governor's Cup for best white wine in the state," Wiles offered. "It's the first time in the 29-year history of the cup that a first-year winery won."
Though their wines are sold at shops in Clifton and elsewhere around the state, the chardonnay will only be available in the Paradise Springs tasting room, according to the Paradise Springs Web site.
The tasting room is open Wednesday through Sunday, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. The winery currently offers four whites and four reds, a rose and a sparkling viognier which you can sample for $7. Groups of 8 or more are asked to make advance reservations.
To learn more, go to www.paradisespringswinery.com.