Maggie Malick Wine Caves
Three tips for visiting this Loudoun County, Virginia winery. Spoiler alert: Dogs are involved
TIP #1. Bring your dog: The winery's pond is a draw for dog owners all around the region. Expect your dog to get wet! To say the winery is dog-friendly is to understate. If you're not a dog owner, you'll enjoy the happy action watching the dogs frolic.
TIP #2. Get the charcuterie: It arrives as a box of groceries, essentially, for an assemble-yourself snack or lunch. The meats and cheeses are great though, much better than you'd expect. A bit pricey: our Meat Lover's box was $33.
TIP #3. Try a lot of wines: In truth, these were not the best wines we've had in Virginia. But at $10 to $14 for six tastes, you're likely to find at least one you like. We liked the Viognier and Petit Manseng, two whites with nice floral notes that are often planted in Virginia.
Maggie Malick's back story
Maggie's is a woman-owned winery, and she has an interesting back story. Trained as an aerospace engineer, Maggie Malick also played sousaphone for the Washington Redskins' band. She's behind the design of the "cave" concept -- the barrel and tasting room is partially buried under 4 feet of earth to keep the room cool in Washington's punishing summers.
Maggie's a self-taught winemaker who's putting together some interesting blends and growing some unusual grapes. For example, the TnT blend is a mix of two grapes: Tannat and Tempranillo. The former is usually used in small amounts in blends to give the wine backbone; the latter is a big, strong Spanish red rarely grown in Virginia. While not my favorite, the wine gets high marks for creativity and ambition. So does the co-fermented Tannat-Viognier -- a red/white mix you see very rarely.
Maggie has won the Loudoun County Winemaker of the year, and her wines have won several Governor's Cup medals. Her Albarino recently won a place in the Governor's Case -- a selection of 12 wines from around Virginia that get the highest marks in professional tastings.