After thirty years in the Virginia Wine Business, one might think awards and accolades become old hat, not so for Ingleside Plantation Vineyards. Voted the Best Winery in Eastern Virginia for two years in a row by Virginia Wine Lover magazine is testament that Proprietor Doug Flemer and his team are not content to rest on their rich history of winemaking but continue to innovate.
The building at Ingleside was first constructed in 1834 and served as a Boys’ School known as Washington Academy. During the Civil War, it was used first as a garrison and then as a courthouse (archeological artifacts that have been discovered on the property are on display in a small but impressive museum on the property).
The Flemer family acquired the Northern Neck property in 1890 and operated it as a dairy until the 1940s when they started their nursery business. In the late 70s, with help from viticulturalist Lucie Morton, the Flemers planted their first grapes. While the economy was a challenge, the passage of the Virginia Farm Winery law made the late 70s and early 80s a great time for Virginia Wine. Ingleside Plantation Vineyards was one of the pioneers founding in 1980.
The pioneering spirit extends beyond just the creation of the winery. Not only has Doug Flemer been a strong advocate for Virginia Wine, he walks the walk. Named the 2009 Grower of the Year by the Virginia Vineyards Association, Flemer also received the 2010 Gordon Murchie Lifetime achievement award from the Virginia Wineries Association.
Under Flemer’s leadership, Ingleside led the way with as the first Virginia winery to produce a methode champenoise sparkling wine and the first to bottle a varietal Petit Verdot [the 2007 Petit Verdot won “Best Petit Verdot” at the 2012 San Francisco International Wine Competition].
With over fifty acres of the 3,000 acre estate under vine, Winemaker Bill Swain has several different mesoclimates to consider as he grows each vintage.
The climate and topography, along with the soil which is a sandy loam, creates conditions reminiscent of those of the Bordeaux region of France.
Located within the Northern Neck George Washington Birthplace American Viticultural Area, there are only 10-20 miles separating the tributaries at any given point. The proximity to water causes less temperature variation, a milder winter and more frost-free days than most of mainland Virginia.
The vineyards are divided into four main sections consisting of Roxbury, Walnut Hill, Chesapeake and the Founder’s Vineyard.
Roxbury Vineyards are oriented such that they are well-drained towards the Potomac River. The Walnut Hill Vineyards is on one of the highest ridges in all of the Northern Neck such an aspect means the vines are well exposed to breezes off the rivers. The Chesapeake Vineyards are located behind the winery in medium textured soils. The Founder’s Vineyard consists of some of these vines are the oldest in the state of Virginia, having been planted in the 1970’s by Carl Flemer Jr., founder of Ingleside Winery.
Wine is always about a place; Ingleside is a place rich in heritage, unique mesoclimates and high quality winemaking. Ingleside continues to write Virginia wine history, with each vintage.