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Vineyard Spotlight: Paradise Springs Winery

Located in Clifton, VA

Paradise Springs Winery

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

The site of Paradise Springs Winery lies on 36 acres nestled in the quiet corner of Clifton, VA on the edge of Fairfax County. The property borders Hemlock Regional Park with the Bull Run River flowing only steps through the woods. Originally, the property was part of a one-thousand-acre land grant from Lord Fairfax in 1716 to the family’s direct ancestors and has been passed down through the generations since. Several hundred acres still remain in the family today. After graduating from the University of Miami, Kirk Wiles moved back to Virginia in 2004 and started putting together what would be Fairfax County’s first winery on his family's property with his mother, Jane Kincheloe Wiles. In 2006 he met an acclaimed winegrower and vintner in Virginia who offered to serve as Consultant and Inaugural Winemaker to help guide them towards opening the winery. Armed with one of the most talented teams in the Virginia wine industry, Paradise Springs Winery was founded in 2007 as a family business and their first vintage was crafted that fall, a Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon.

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

More than 20 years ago, Jane Kincheloe Wiles and her Aunt, the late Esther Kincheloe Podolnick, had a conversation about how the property would make the perfect backdrop for a winery. That conversation resonated throughout the years and with the recent assent of the Virginia wine industry, the idea once again took off. Jane’s eldest son, Kirk Wiles, recognized the opportunity and grabbed the reins on the project. Today, Paradise Springs produces over 12,000 cases of a wide array of high-quality wines with Virginia-grown grapes. Tastings, tours, wine dinners, entertainment, public events, and much more can be found at the winery.

Paradise Springs opened a second winery location in Santa Barbara, California in 2014 focusing on high-quality, small-production wines from the Sta. Rita Hills and Happy Canyon AVAs. The upscale modern tasting room is located in the heart of downtown Santa Barbara's The Funk Zone just two blocks away from the ocean and features an open-air patio with fire pits, a private cellar room, a putting green, and unmatched hospitality. Come experience Santa Barbara wine along the coast of America's Riviera in the heart of Southern California.

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

The beginnings of Paradise Springs were not without its bumps in the road. In July of 2008, Fairfax County officials informed Kirk that the winery would not be permitted on-site because based on their interpretation of their own zoning ordinance, a Virginia Farm Winery was not an agricultural use. They deemed it industrial/manufacturing, more suited for an industrial district. Because a vineyard is not allowed to be planted in such a district, this classification effectively barred the existence of a Farm Winery throughout the entire county. Not willing to go down without a fight, Kirk turned to Philip Carter Strother of Strother Law Offices in Richmond, VA to help right the ship. Philip, also a fellow Virginia winery owner, worked side by side with Kirk in and out of courts for the next year and a half. On September 3rd, 2009, a decision came down from the Virginia ABC Board proclaiming Paradise Springs Winery’s right to operate and effectively issuing their license. The determination was appealed by a few disgruntled neighbors but ultimately was upheld and the winery opened its doors for business on January 16th, 2010.

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

PVT is a 50/50 blend of Petit Verdot and Tannat. PVT is one of our proprietary wines that is consistently highly rated and well-loved by our guests. It is a wine that is built to age for many years. The Moment is a Bordeaux-style wine that was created with the idea of celebrating all of life's special moments in mind. It is another one of our higher-end wines that performs well in competition and is a favorite with guests. Barrel One is a very special Cabernet Franc produced exclusively with the grapes grown on our Clifton property. Our vineyard is approximately one acre, which produces around one barrel of wine, or about 260 bottles, making this our most exclusive and limited-production wine.

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

The 2018 vintage was very difficult to manage as it was one of the wettest seasons in recorded history. These types of years are typically known as winemaker’s vintages, because winemakers in our region still prevail with hard work, despite the challenges they face. Bud break came as expected in Virginia, and not quite as early as it had been the year before. Given all the rain, vineyards focused on the canopy management of the vines and had to spray for mildew and mold more than in a typical year. In order not to risk losing fruit to the weather, we took fruit earlier than usual as opposed to letting it hang on the vine longer. Although this decision left the wines a little lighter in body and alcohol, they are clean and more European in style. The 2019 vintage will be remembered as a better than average for Virginia and one of the best of that decade. We were able to produce some truly incredible wines during this vintage and won several awards at the Virginia Governor's Cup for this vintage of wines including 2019 Cabernet Franc, 2019 Petit Verdot, 2019 Meritage, and 2019 PVT.

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

We like to try new things and excel in the process! We make a few wines that are single-vineyard to showcase the unique terroirs of our Shenandoah vineyard (Brown Bear Vineyard) and Loudoun County vineyard (Williams Gap). Additionally, we like to try new ways of making wines. We have concrete eggs that we use to produce a concrete Petit Manseng. In 2022 we also produced our first Pét Nat wine called Verve, which was a fantastic success.

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

Much of our Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc grapes are grown exclusively at our Brown Bear Vineyard location in the Shenandoah Valley AVA. The vineyard sits in one of the driest areas for average rainfall east of the Mississippi River. This factor, plus its higher elevation and rocky soils, creates the perfect combination of environmental factors for premium wine grapes.

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

The tasting room features a large black marble bar on one side and a full view into our barrel room on the other. The walls are entirely made of wood and mirror the wood stain in our historic cabin on the property. It is a very comfortable environment that welcomes guests ranging from wine novices to wine experts. Our educators pride themselves in meeting each guest at their comfort level and guiding them through our stories and wines.

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

We host in-house events all year round! We have a Rosé Day twice a year to celebrate all things rosé. We have a Harvest Dinner in the fall, and Valentine's Dinner in the Winter. We host special tastings all throughout the year including Barrel Tastings, our Super Bowl of Wines Tasting, Vertical Tastings and so many more.

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

We are very proud of our story and our excellent wines. We want every guest who visits to receive top-notch service and leave with great memories, and then to share our story and return with friends.

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

Our wines span a wide array of types and styles. You will likely find a perfect wine pairing for any meal you would like to cook. Our reds are typically bigger and bolder and will pair well with your classic meats, while our whites can pair with anything from Thai to fish to delicate cheeses.

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

We are always interested in helping our guests find the perfect pairing for a special meal! Our wine educators can consult and answer questions over the phone as well as discuss in person as assist them with their selection.

Do you support any charitable or environmental causes?

Paradise Springs Winery is a proud partner of One805 at our Santa Barbara Tasting Room. 1/3 of all proceeds from sales of Pink Ash Rosé are donated to support our first responders and the future prevention of wildfires in our community.

To learn more about Paradise Springs 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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