Meet the Winemakers

The Omni Homestead Resort embraces Virginia’s finest wines.

Wine lovers will be drawn to the Omni Homestead Resort’s new Virginia Wine Experience. It’s been a long time coming. A decade after the Homestead opened in 1766, Thomas Jefferson began growing wine grapes. While Jefferson never produced a harvest, his dream is now realized in the thoughtfully curated wines offered in the Virginia Wine Experience Salon—a sunny, glass-walled aerie located off the Great Hall among the hotel’s shops with a spectacular view of the resort’s lush grounds. 

The salon serves as the Homestead’s new tasting room, wine shop, and unofficial clubhouse for guests enrolled in the monthly Virginia Wine Experience events, which include a Meet & Greet, Taste & Talk, and Wine Dinner. Guests can attend one, two, or all three. Fred Reno, host of the Fine Wine Confidential podcast, organizes each weekend and chooses the wines, showcasing standout wineries like Michael Shaps, Barboursville, and Linden. 

General manager Mark Spadoni is the engine behind the resort’s new commitment to Virginia wines. “I grew up in Washington State, near Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery,” Spadoni says. “When I saw what was happening there in Woodinville—the sidewalks were crowded with more than 130 tasting rooms—I said to myself, how cool is this, to taste all this variety in one place? What if the Homestead could be a hub where people could taste and learn about really good Virginia wines?”  

Spadoni’s plans are big and free-flowing: He hopes to convert one of the Homestead’s cottages into a permanent Virginia wine education center and, someday, launch a wine and food festival to rival the best in the country. He proved his enthusiasm by showing up for all three Wine Experience events on a recent weekend, then heading to Richmond a week later to sample even more wines at the Virginia Governor’s Cup Gala.

At Saturday’s dinner, Chef Todd Owen builds the menu around the winemaker’s selections. A rosemary-cured boar accompanies Early Mountain Vineyards’ 2020 Cabernet Franc. Salmon belly, red beets, dark cherry, and pickled mustard seed is served with winemaker Ben Jordan’s Young Red, a 2020 Chambourcin—a grape variety not often seen at upscale wine dinners, but one that Jordan insists is underappreciated. 

That juxtaposition of Virginia’s grande dame hotel, the Virginia Wine Experience, and Ben Jordan’s “try something new” ethos brings the best of Virginia Wine Country together in one place: one foot rooted in tradition, and the other tromping off into the future. Omni Hotel & Resorts has also announced its plans to donate 750,000 meals to Feeding America® as part of their brand’s Say Goodnight To Hunger initiative.

The Virginia Wine Tasting Salon at the Omni Homestead Resort

Located off the hotel’s Great Hall, the Salon offers a choice of four flights, 20 wines by the glass, or more than 40 bottles from Virginia’s top wineries. Virginia Wine Experience Weekends includes three optional events:

Friday, 4:00–5:30 p.m.: Meet & Greet and bottle signing with the featured winery. Tastings $30–$40.

Saturday, 4:00–5:30 p.m.: Taste & Talk with the featured winemaker. $20 per person, including tasting.

Saturday, 6:00–9:00 p.m.: Wine reception followed by multi-course, wine-paired dinner. $125 per person. 

The Salon is open Wednesday–Saturday until 7:00 p.m.

Upcoming Virginia Wine Experience Weekends:

Sept. 16–17: Paradise Springs Winery (Clifton) with Kirk Wiles and Jane Kincheloe Wiles, owners.

October 8: Touching Lives, One Toast at a Time Wine Dinner

October 21-22: Fifty-Third Winery & Vineyard

This article originally appeared in the August 2022 issue.

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