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Vineyard Spotlight: 8 Chains North Winery

Located in Waterford, VA

8 Chains North Winery

Can you provide a brief overview of the history and founding of your winery?

Ben has been in the VA wine world since 1998 when he started as the General Manager at Tarara’s tasting room. He soon learned he was happier, more interested, and had a talent for growing grapes and making excellent wine his customers enjoyed. In 2004, he established a custom vineyard management and installation company. He was the original owner of 8 Chains North from 2010-2021. He, together with his father, planted 8CN’s first vineyard named Furnace Mountain Vineyard (FMV) in 2004 on his sister’s Leesburg Farm near the Potomac River. 8 Chains North gets its name from this first vineyard. FMV was planted 528 feet, or 8 chains north of White’s Ford, a strategic Civil War crossing most notably used by the Confederate Army to cross into Maryland on the way to Antietam. A surveyor’s chain or Gunter’s chain (invented by Edmund Gunter) is a land measurement equaling 66 feet. Today it is known as Piscataway Crossing Regional Park. Thus the name 8 Chains North.

What inspired the establishment of your winery, and how has it evolved over the years?

In 2021, Ben sold the house, vineyard and winery to Edz Sturans and Cissi DeMarco, but remains the Chief Winemaker and Viticulturist. Cissi and Edz, were looking for a place to start our lives together and found it in August 2021 at 8 Chains North (8CN). We decided to “retire” to the winery but instead tripled our workload. One of our requirements was that Ben agrees to stay on as our Winegrower / Winemaker. He said yes, so went for it. Do we have a background in winemaking? No – only sampling and enjoying. Have we learned a LOT about winemaking? We think that is an understatement and we keep learning from Ben, our peers and Mother Earth. Our focus and attention to detail is in the vineyard, where great wines are made. This philosophy is evident in our handcrafted Old World-style wines.

Are there any unique stories or anecdotes associated with the founding of your winery?

In 2013, northern Virginia had a very short, poor growing season. Many wineries needed to go elsewhere to look for grapes, juice or wine. Ben was only interested in grapes that could be nurtured into wine from scratch. He found a couple of winegrowers with similar growing philosophies in the Colombia Valley region of Washington state, including Yakima and Horse Heaven Hills AVA’s, that were willing to ship grapes. The growers call on the day they are picking fruit to let us know the timing. They load the grapes on a refrigerated truck and two drivers make their way tirelessly across the country to get grapes to us in as little as 30 hours. The downside is that we must be ready to unload no matter what time of day they arrive! And the results speak for themselves. We import grapes that don’t grow particularly well in Virginia: Tempranillo, Mourvedre, Syrah, Grenache, Malbec, and Cabernet Sauvignon. We will try Pinot Noir this year as well. The dry climate, low humidity, volcanic, sandy soils and additional hours of sunlight in that area make for excellent grape growing conditions in most years. Edz and Cissi rekindled the relationships after acquiring 8CN and we continue to work with those winegrowers. Most recently we bought grapes from 6 Prong Vineyards and McKinley Springs Vineyards.

Are there any particular vintages that you are especially proud of, and why?

Vintages vary greatly from year to year largely based on weather. We would all pick different favorites! Although, 2022 was one of the best recent vintages and look out for 2023, which Ben believes is the best he has seen since he started in the NoVa wine industry.

Are there specific grape varieties that thrive in your vineyards, and why were they chosen?

Sauvignon Blanc, Albarino, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Tannat are among our best growers

Describe the atmosphere and experience visitors can expect at your tasting room.

Among Leesburg wineries, 8 Chains North is most known as a family-owned producer of quality handcrafted wines. The winery includes an inviting Tasting Room, extensive outdoor seating, a dog park, and beautiful private event spaces perfect for weddings, special occasions, and corporate functions—all with stunning vineyard views. We offer a variety of tasting options, including guided tastings, flights, table rentals, private picnics, and large group tastings.

Reservations are required for groups of 9 or more guests. All other seating is first come, first served. We also offer a variety of delicious food options, including charcuterie and bruschetta boards, Friday–Sunday.

Are there any unique events or activities that you host for visitors at your winery?

Check our calendar or sign up for our emails. We regularly host special events for the public and well and exclusive events for our club members.

To learn more about 8 Chains North Winery, visit their website here!

Stay tuned for more Vineyard Spotlights!

About the VWDC

Established by the Virginia General Assembly in 2007, the Virginia Winery Distribution Company (VWDC) is a non-profit, non-stock corporation housed within the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) to provide wholesale wine distribution services for licensed Virginia wineries and farm wineries.


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