It has often been said (and written) that wine is about a place and a specific time in that place. This is the concept behind the French borrow word “Terroir” [see vincabulary]. I must disagree. While the land, the soils and the climate have major influences on wine, it’s the people that give wine life.
Tarara Winery is a great example of how important winemaking is as both and science and an art.
Located in Leesburg, Tarara’s 475 acres (60 planted) is wrapped by the Potomac River creating a unique riparian influence on both the soils and the vineyard mesoclimate.
One of the pioneers in Virginia wine, Tarara was cofounded in 1975 by Margaret Hubert and her late husband Whitie. When Tarara was founded, Loudoun County was a rural county far removed from the bustle of Washington DC. Today with significant population increases in the eastern half of the county, Loudoun has also become the County with the greatest number of wineries in the state.
Originally planted exclusively to hybrid grapes (as was the custom in the mid 1970s) all the estate vineyards have been converted to classic Vitis Vinifera varietals.
In addition to their estate production, Tarara utilizes long term vineyard leases across the state including: Tranquility (in Purcellville, also managed by estate vineyard manager Ben Renshaw), Honah Lee (in Orange managed by Wayne and Vera Preddy), Mountainview (in Roanoke County managed by Megan and Andy Seibel), and Indian Springs (in the Winchester area managed by Steven Brown).
As you can see from the vineyard descriptions, the people who manage the vineyards are an important part of the winegrowing process. There are countless decisions throughout the growing season that impact the final flavor profile of the grape.
Tarara’s conductor for this viticultural orchestral arrangement is Winemaker /General Manager Jordan Harris. Canadian born and trained, Harris brings a wealth of knowledge, inquisitiveness and passion to his post at Tarara. Well respected throughout the industry Harris is known for his passion to make great “not just good” wines.
In an interview with The Wine Blog [www.thewinehub.blogspot.com] last year, Harris explained his definition of Terroir, “Really terroir is defined by how everything surrounding the grape vine affects how that grape naturally wants to grow and what it may take from the soil. Some varieties work better than others in some terroirs. It is all about choosing the right varieties and clones for the vineyard, then farming that vineyard to extract all that Mother Nature is giving into the grape and let it express itself in the wine through a non-manipulation approach to winemaking”.
With a good dose of servant leadership, Harris takes a very low profile in comparison to the fruit, the growers and the wine itself – it’s not about him.
Tarara’s recent success is a testament to the original vision of the founders, the passion of their winegrowers and the flexibility and quiet confidence in their winemakers.
Always a pioneer, Tarara Winery continues to lead the Virginia wine industry in its consistent commitment to high quality wines across a variety of price points.