Established in 1992, White Hall Vineyards is the fruition of a dream of Tony and Edith Champ. This Albemarle County based (13 miles from Charlottesville) winery is well known for its signature fruit forward taste. While the Champs were influenced by exploring the California wine industry in the 1960s, they developed their palates on the wines of the world during their time in Manhattan. With all of this as a backdrop, the Champs set out to find the best place to establish their vineyard dream.
The site of the estate vineyards in White Hall proved to have the best combination of open land, glorious scenery and a strong community that was, and is, supportive of the Virginia Wine Industry. At an elevation of 800 feet the vines benefit from a near constant mountain breeze.
Starting with just 6 acres, the vineyard now boasts closer to fifty acres under vine. Plantings include Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Gewürztraminer, Merlot, Muscat, Petit Manseng, Petit Verdot and Viognier.
The estate vineyards today provide about 85% of the winery’s total production, with the balance coming from top quality growers under long term lease arrangements.
Winemaker Mike Pancsak has been with White Hall for over ten years. He comes to Virginia by way of California with experience in the Santa Maria winegrowing region. His resume includes significant assignments at Qupe, Foxen Vineyards, and Bridlewood. Pancsak has an enology degree from Hancock College in Santa Maria as well as post graduate work at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. With a gentle winemaker’s touch he allows the fruit to express its true character. He is passionate about quality fruit and believes “great wines are made from the careful handling of great fruit”.
Pancsak’s blending ability really shines through the entire White Hall portfolio. Even though the exact blend will change dependent on what Mother Nature gives him in each vintage, the quality is consistent.
Chatting up the 2012 Harvest with White Hall Sales Manager Lisa Champ, she indicated she was actually very happy with the whites of 2011. She credited Panczak with choosing the proper timing for picking the 2011reds. “He took countless vineyard samples for analysis and focused on the weather patterns. Because of his hard work, we brought in the majority of our reds before the big storms came through.
The Champs’ original winery plan called for an ultimate annual production of 10,000 cases and the winery facility was designed to handle that capacity as well as host small private events. White Hall Vineyards built an expansive banquet room above the tasting room to host weddings and corporate events.
Never one to settle for just the ordinary, White Hall Vineyards is one of a handful of Virginia wineries that are being distributed internationally. Only a select group of wineries will attend the London Wine Show, this will be White Hall’s third year in the UK. Champ indicated that the initial sales have been very good and hopes to expand the number of wines that are currently being shipped “over the pond” for distribution.
Located just 13 miles from Charlottesville, White Hall Vineyards is about 2.5 hours from DC and about 1.5 hours from Richmond.