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Vineyard Spotlight: Bluestone Vineyard

Located in Bridgewater, VA

Virginia Winery Distribution Company
Bluestone Vineyard

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

In 2008, Curt and Jackie Hartman expanded their small, hobby vineyard into a 5 acre commercial, and have since expanded to manage 27 acres of vines in the central Shenandoah Valley. Moving their operation from the garage to the current winery in 2010, they opened their doors in 2011. Their sons R.C. and Lee manage organization and production, helping keep wine quality as the focus of this central Shenandoah Valley farm.

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

It started as a hobby and has expanded into full time work for the whole family, with 3 generations living at the vineyard. When family friend Phil Kreider, who grew grapes in his backyard, wished aloud that he wanted more space to grow grapes, the Hartman family soon found themselves learning about viticulture and winemaking. After selling the family business, the Hartmans found themselves with a new career in the world of wine, bringing on board two of their three sons to help create one of the premier wineries of the Shenandoah Valley. The size has expanded, and more people visit the family's home, but at the core of Bluestone is the idea that every drop is sacred and that we focus all of our energy on the single opportunity we have annually to make the best wine we can.

Can you highlight a few of your flagship or signature wines and what makes them stand out?

Our barrel fermented Chardonnay has been a flagship wine and was included in the 2016 Governor's Case, winning gold and accolades in many competitions. Our Chardonnay really shows the limestone soil and the high elevation site, with a clean minerality and good acid from the Shenandoah Valley.

The Steep Face is a site specific Chambourcin, grown on one of the steepest vineyard sites in the Commonwealth. It includes 40% whole clusters during fermentation and aged in older barrels to let the grapes be the focus. A beautiful wine showing hybrid varietals can sing when given the love often reserved for vinifera.

Blue Ice was the first wine to earn distinction in a major competition and continues to be our most decorated wine.

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

While years like 2010, 2014, 2017, and 2019 can produce wines that bring high praise from magazines and competitions, it is the harder years that we are most proud to make great wine. Even in 2020, when we were hit by 5 frost events after harvest, we were able to make some exciting bottles of wine.

How do you approach the creation of new wine varieties or blends?

Our Vineyard Site Series is our way to allow the winemaker some flexibility to try new winemaking practices, while we maintain our more traditional lineup. Native fermentations, petillent naturels, orange wines and ripasso, vin gris and vin paille are just a few of the fun projects that Lee has released under this Vineyard Site Series with the non-traditional labels. Every winemaking team has room for improvement, and so we continue our education through programs like the Virginia Winemakers Research Exchange. Using the experience of the entire state has sharpened our learning curve beyond anything we could do alone.

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

Our Chardonnay and Cabernet Franc have really grown into expressive, beautiful wines that express the site, even through different styles. Whether the Chardonnay is made as a sparkler, fermented in barrel or steel, they are undeniably Bluestone Chardonnay. Whether the Cabernet Franc is fully destemmed and crushed, whole cluster fermented, or made into a vin gris or rose, it always tastes like our high elevation, Valley site. We have a dozen varietals.

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

Laid back and approachable, our property has a beautiful view of not only the Blue Ridge Mountains but also Alleghenies as well.

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

Our Toast the Weekend Concert Series happens every 2nd and 4th Friday of the month from May-September -Our annual Weihnachtsmarkt showcases the atmosphere of an outdoor German Christmas Market. With local vendors, German cuisine and hot Gluhwein, we've brought our winemaker's time living in Germany to the Shenandoah Valley.

What do you hope guests take away from their visit to your winery?

To us, wine is a farm product, not a luxury item with a pretentious culture around it. It is meant to be enjoyed by everyone, not just on special occasions, but as an occasion to make part of every day special. Rather than high pressure decisions around a large wine list, maybe you can have a great wine experience through someone with steel toed boots and a Grateful Dead hat.

Do you have any specific recommendations for food pairings with your wines?

Blue Ice with Blue Cheese! (No need to pair with something sweet, let the wine be the dessert) Steep Face with Cherry Pain Perdu and Chicken Pate Cabernet Franc with Coffee-Seared Tenderloin Chardonnay with Citrus Marinated Lobster Carpaccio.

How do you help customers enhance their dining experiences with your wines?

We encourage them to use Riedel stemware, to better showcase the wines. Pair your wine with food that has been made with the same care and deliberation as our wine. Don't overthink it. Just enjoy it the way you enjoy it.

How does your winery engage with the local community?

We host wine education events so that our guests will have a better understanding of what we do and how and why. Our winemaker has opened a wine bar in Downtown Harrisonburg (Rootstock Wine Bar and Provisions), to help cultivate a local wine drinking community.

Are there sustainability initiatives or practices your winery is involved in?

About half of our vineyard is planted to hybrids, which generally require less spray than vinifera. We have wine available in cans, which are lightweight and easier to recycle than glass We keg wines and encourage our guests to use refillable growlers.

To learn more about Bluestone Vineyard, 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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