Rosemont of Virginia
Owners: Stephen & Chandra Rose
Winemaker: Justin Rose
Vineyards: 26.3 acres
Vineyard management: Conventional
Soil: Sandy clay loam
Grapes grown: Cabernet Franc, Chambourcin, Chardonel, Graciano, Grenache, Merlot, Mourvedre, Petit Verdot, Pinot Gris, Syrah, Tannat, Traminette, Vermentino, Vidal Blanc
Annual production: 80,000 bottles
- The Rosemont Estate has been in the Rose family since 1858.
- In addition to classic French vinifera grapes, the Rose family champions the potential of hybrid varieties, which they feel are particularly well-suited to the region and climate.
- All of the wines are 100% estate-grown, produced, and bottled on the estate.
- “My winemaking philosophy is that you must put the tough work into the vineyard to make the best wine possible.” – Justin Rose
The Rosemont Estate, located near Lake Gaston in southern Virginia, by the border with North Carolina, has been in the Rose family since 1858. Operations over the years have included vegetable farming, raising dairy cows, and a peach orchard, among others. When Stephen and Chandra Rose decided to plant vineyards in 2003, they were one of the first in the region to do so. They built their state-of-the-art underground gravity-flow cellar in 2006. Stephen and Chandra’s son Justin completed a postgraduate Enology degree at Napa Valley College, then returned home to Virginia in 2007 to take the reins for the first vintage at Rosemont.
Virginia can be a tough place to grow grapes, with challenges from late frost, to humidity, to hurricanes. The vines need to be able to stand up to harsh winters as well as heat and humidity in the growing season. For this reason, they worked with local viticulturist Lucie Morton and decided to plant both classic French vinifera grapes and hybrid varieties. “With our warmer climate and Virginia’s humidity, we felt that hybrid varieties would have a good home here,” the Rose family tells us, “and we’ve enjoyed having the opportunity to introduce more people to grapes that they aren’t immediately familiar with.” Justin works hard in the vineyard to give each varietal the attention it needs to flourish–each one has different needs with regard to sun exposure, crop load, water stress, and disease management. “Some varietals we can almost grow organically, while others need more love and attention throughout the growing season,” he explains.
For Justin, blending is fundamental when it comes to achieving complexity and balance in the wines. Even for single varietal wines, he might blend grapes from different areas of the vineyard, or different clones, or different rootstocks. He also ferments white and rosé wines in both neutral oak and stainless steel–“I find that we can gain complexity in blending the two styles together,” he explains. Reds are fermented and aged with a restrained portion of new oak, in order to showcase the varietal character and natural grape tannins. The exception is bolder reds, like Petit Verdot and Tannat, which benefit from more new oak. As Justin sees it, “working in the cellar, thoughtfully blending to create the right balance, quality, and consistency that we are looking for, helps us make the best wines possible from each vintage.” Recently, the team at Rosemont has enjoyed experimenting with different ways of using their fruit, from sparkling wines to vermouth.