It’s Easy Being Green

Celebrating 10 years of DuCard Vineyards’ award-winning and sustainable wines.

Photo by Charlottesville Wine & Country.

The way Scott Elliff of DuCard Vineyards tells it, when he left D.C. and bought a farm in Madison County 20-some years ago, he planted grapes on a whim because “a soon-to-be-retired country gentleman should have a view of grapevines” and experts told him the “crummy” soil was perfect for grapes. Farming turned out to be “pretty darned hard,” he says, but he learned enough that his customers made award-winning wines from his grapes. Inspired, he built a winery and tasting room, and now he wins his own awards.

In addition to making good wine, Elliff wanted to do it “the best way possible.” To that end, he sells 99 percent of his wine at the winery. “We want people to come out to our place and have an experience, see the grapes, see the winemaking, enjoy the mountains, get a little bit of soft education, have a little fun,” he says. 

Striving to be as environmentally responsible as possible, Elliff built the winery using reclaimed wood, added solar panels, eliminated plastic tableware, and added an electric car charging station, among many other measures. “It’s usually more expensive,” he says of his green initiatives, “but it’s my place and I want to do it right.”

In a broader sense, Elliff considers supporting his community a type of sustainability. He lets community groups use his space, supplies wine for events, and sells specially labeled wines to support nonprofits and the National Park Trust. “When you own a winery, you don’t have hard currency, but we have wine, so that’s what we use,” he says with a chuckle.

Elliff is celebrating the winery’s 10th anniversary this fall with a special release wine called Decade One; both in-person and virtual tastings; and a new program called Sipping for Saplings in partnership with Friends of the Rappahannock, where everyone who buys wine will also receive a tree to plant at home. He says DuCard has wide lawns, widely spaced tables, and music many Saturday nights. “We can’t have a big slam dance party like we might have done in the past,” he says, “so we’re doing an ongoing celebration.” DuCardVineyards.com


This article originally appeared in the December 2020 issue of Virginia Living magazine.

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