Country life isn’t for the faint of heart and certainly entails novel reasons to reschedule business meetings. To whit, early one recent morning, en route to the Quievremont Winery, to interview John Guevremont, vintner Bon Vivant, at his newly opened tasting room in Gid Brown Hollow, I receive a text from him:
“Sorry Chris, I just had a call from the sheriff’s office that my bull is loose down around St. Peter’s Church! I’ll be down that way rounding him up!”.
Thankfully John and I rescheduled our interview for the following day around lunchtime, affording me the opportunity to graciously accept his offer of a wine tasting which likely would not have occurred the preceding morning.
The smell of freshly hewn lumber greeted me as I entered the cavernous wine tasting room on Gid Brown Hollow Road. I had a few moments to quietly savor the interior before John arrived. The ceiling soars and the Amish timber framed architecture is stunning. The wine tasting bar takes center stage and lies flush up against the far wall studded with oversized windows, allowing for graceful views of rolling hills filled with vines and a large deck overlooking an expansive pond. A second level loft is accessed by a Gone with the Wind style, spiral staircase twisting upwards like the tendrils of a grapevine.
John greets me with an affable grin, and a strong handshake, which my Dad always told me is a sign of strength and character. He talks animatedly of his winery, and his vision. He is a worldly man, extensive travels under his belt, the son of an aviator and himself a former U.S. Marine aviator.
As with most entrepreneurs, retirement is not in his makeup. In fact, paraphrasing a popular quote cited as a mantra by some, he tells: “Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.”
And so while John technically retired and moved to the country, to Rappahannock, he wanted still to pursue a dream, inspired by his travels in Europe where with his wife Teri, family and friends, he enjoyed the delights of great food and wines in intimate settings and therefore sought to replicate that experience in his own backyard.
His boutique winery specializes in Bordeaux-style wines and he will offer light fare and occasional entertainment, subtle music he tells, troubadour style. His wife Teri, is also technically retired, yet inherited a similar entrepreneurial gene and runs Reality Farm raising cattle, goats, chickens and providing all manner of dairy products.
John relates that in the beginning “after having consulted with some of the top viticulturists, winemakers and consultants in the region — all of whom interrogated me at length to ensure that I really wanted to undertake such an enterprise — we laid in our first three acres of vinifera grapes in 2007. Every year since, we have added another acre of grapes to our vineyard, planting in the most ideal terrain in terms of orientation to the sun, ventilation, drainage and soil. Our focus has been and will continue to be on grape quality, with the objective of producing small batches of exceptional wine.
“Our current grape varieties include Chardonnay, Malbec, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot and Petit Manseng. Knowing that the starting point for any good wine is a fine grape, we are looking forward to our 2017 vintages, as this year is shaping up nicely for our grape harvests. On or about May 2017, we will have our 2016 wines bottled and ready for consumption. We will continue to focus on ‘classic’ Bordeaux style wines, looking to maximize the inherent potential of our grapes.”
It’s important to note his wine is produced from estate grown grapes and carefully crafted at Guevremont Cellars. Many of his wines have already won numerous prestigious awards including the Virginia Governor’s Cup Silver and Bronze, New York Finger Lakes International Wine Competition Silver Medals, and Denver International Wine Festival Gold Medal..
I asked the origin of the Quièvremont Winery name. He proceeded to share the story of his French ancestor arriving in Quebec in the 1600’s from Normandy France, his last name Guevremont being the phonetic spelling variation on Quièvremont, the original spelling of the family name. In fact, he tells of utilizing social media to organize a family get together of all his relatives who now span the globe. Recently, 150 of them came to visit John and Teri’s Reality Farm and Winery to celebrate their shared ancestry..
During the wine tasting, while I savored every sip of Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet and more, the door opened and in walks none other than Bill Gadino of Gadino Cellars. The two are good friends and in fact do business together, and Bill’s infectious enthusiasm for his craft mirrors that of John’s.
Quièvremont Winery is located at 162 Gid Brown Hollow Road, between Sperryville and Washington. Open Thursday to Monday: Noon to 6 p.m.; Tuesday and Wednesday by appointment only.