RdV Vineyards: Virginia Luxury Wine Escape

Kurt Jacobson

When one first hears about RdV vineyards in Delaplane, Virginia, it seems unusual that they aim to create the first American Cru. But as oenophiles find out, RdV might or already has succeeded. Upon arrival, the winery building makes a bold statement with a gleaming white silo reminiscent of a local farm.

Rutger de Vink is the owner and mastermind behind the vision to elevate American wine to a lofty level. Perhaps Rutger's training as a U.S. Marine with eight years in the service endows him with tenacity and vision to succeed? Whatever it is, Rutger has guided this dream of making America's best red wine and is gaining accolades and wine club members. 

One of the interesting aspects of Rutger’s past is that he didn’t come from a wine background. After the Marines he attended Colgate University for undergraduate and Kellogg to get an MBA , and then worked briefly at a Washington DC venture capital firm. The corporate lifestyle wasn’t for him; so he dreamt of working in a vineyard and enjoying the outdoors. 

A Wine Journey

To obtain a wine education Rutger worked at several wineries as a cellar rat, both in America and Europe. It was at Linden Vineyards where he met and worked with Jim Law, the godfather of Virginia wineries. Jim Law is known for mentoring several Virginia winemakers and his list of mentees is substantial.

When Rutger first laid eyes on the cattle farm just over the hills from Linden Vineyards, it wasn’t even on the market. But he returned shortly after and talked the farmer into selling. It came easy for the farmer to part ways with his farm because he thought the land was worthless for growing crops. Soil samples confirmed what Rutger thought: the land would be great for growing grapes. Visitors get an up-close look at the rock underneath RdV's soil when they venture into the barrel room. A tall and gnarly rock wall illustrates what's under the vines. This natural rock wall drips water on most days, highlighting the important drainage properties of the land.

The vines were planted in 2006, the state-of-the-art winemaking facility/tasting room was built in 2011. RdV opened the doors selling their first bottles of 2008 Lost Mountain at a lofty $88 each. It reminds me of the old saying, "If you don't ask, you don't get." The high price of those first bottles of wine indicated the resolve and vision Rutger had in creating America's first Cru.

Wine Guys

One who has grasped the same lofty vision of creating an American Cru is winemaker Josh Grainer, an affable right-hand man you'd want on the wine battlefield with you. On my first visit to RdV a bright blue December sky with puffy white clouds highlighted the building and vineyards. While it would have been nice to use the comfortable outdoor tasting area, it wasn't quite warm enough.

Josh took the time to show me the facility and guided a private tasting of the Lost Mountain and Rendezvous wines. He was relaxed and never rushed the tour or tasting. I was impressed with the wine, the tasting room, and the team. Rutger is fortunate to have hired and kept Josh on the team since the beginning of RdV.

Karl Kuhn is the Hospitality Director, another example of Rutger's ability to hire the best. Karl left a sommelier position at Washington DC's MiniBar, a José Andres restaurant with two Michelin stars. On my second visit to RdV, Karl gave my wife and me a tour and then guided part of our wine-tasting experience that included a 2021 Rendezvous, a 2020 Lost Mountain, and a 2019 Lost Mountain. We were impressed that the wine flight and water were served in luxury brand, Zalto glassware. RdV's typical wine lineup was highlighted with a carefully sourced local cheese and charcuterie board with French bread, lamb sausage, beef brisket, olives, and Virginia peanuts.

Join the Club

In my wine travels, I occasionally find a winery that primarily sells to its wine club members, which is RdV's business model. To visit for the first time, guests can reserve online for either the Premier tasting Experience, $135 per person, or the Estate Experience, $120 per person. The Premier Experience is for parties of 1-6 and includes a private tour of the facilities, wine tasting, including both recent and library vintages, and a seasonal charcuterie and cheese board. The Estate Experience includes most of the above, but the wine tasting is only for recent vintages.

When first-time guests join the wine club, they become known as "Ambassadors." There are two levels of membership. The first is Lost Mountain Three and the second is the Lost Mountain Six, each level denoting the number of bottles the members agree to buy. Currently, there is a waiting list for joining the wine club, and it takes approximately two to three months for an opening. RdV doesn't advertise, they have built the brand by word of mouth and their Ambassadors are treasured friends helping to spread the word.

Ambassadors are allocated three or six bottles and receive them in the fall release. The price per bottle at the time of this writing was $225, but it's subject to change. Karl told me, "We make around 2,500 cases per year and all of our wines tend to sell out every year." They keep a small amount of wine for the tasting room visitors. Ambassadors also have the option of purchasing RdV's Friends and Family blend each summer, priced at $50 per bottle at the time of this writing.

Where to Stay

Two luxurious places tend to appeal to RV visitors who want to spend a night or more in the area. One is Salamander Resort and Spa in Middleburg. This Forbes five-star-rated resort is tops for accommodations, dining, and Spa.

For a smaller Middleburg lodging establishment, the Red Fox Inn has an assortment of tavern suites, cottages, and a carriage house to choose from. The luxury cottages and carriage house vary in capacity from one to three bedrooms. The Red Fox Inn has its own restaurant and is within walking distance to others, including the popular King Street Oyster House.

Disclaimer: I was comped wine tasting twice at RdV as part of my research for this story. However, my views and opinions are my own.

Kurt Jacobson

Barrel sample display at RdV Vineyards.

Kurt Jacobson

RdV cheese and charcuterie board pairs well with their wine.

Kurt Jacobson

Karl Kuhn leads a wine tasting in front of the fireplace.

Kurt Jacobson

Kurt Jacobson is a semi-retired professional chef living in Baltimore who travels the world searching for great food, wine and adventure. A full-time travel writer, Kurt has been published in over 55 online travel websites, and 9 magazines. See more of Kurt's stories at ...(Read More)

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