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Loudoun’s Newest Vineyard Proprietor — Peter Deliso and Silhouette Vineyards

As a general practice I don’t typically post current events type of articles here, but I find the current growth and acquisition trend in Virginia an interesting beat to follow.

At the risk of appearing to beat the same ‘ol drum, I am yet again reporting on growth of the Virginia wine industry.  As outlined in a recent Op-Ed piece authored by Virginia Secretary of Agriculture Todd Haymore in The Daily Progress, these are big times for Virginia wine — General Assembly approval of winery creation/expansion tax credit, notable national press recognition, numerous export trade deals for Virginia wineries, significant year-over-year sales growth.   Add to this the findings of an economic impact study recently announced by Governor McDonnell that show economic impact of the Virginia wine industry grew 106% to $747 million.

There are of course a number of drivers behind the Virginia wine’s sales growth. Aside from those noted above, another obvious driver is the number of new wineries opening throughout the Commonwealth.  Every week seems to bring news of a new winery starting up or a new vineyard being planted or a new license applied for.

One such new Virginia wine resident is Peter Deliso, who recently purchased Grandale Farm Restaurant as well as a 90-acre plot of land — located in Purcellville, VA, adjacent to Breaux Vineyards — that will be home to Silhouette Vineyards.

I recently caught up with Peter for a quick interview to discuss his new acquisition and plans for the future.

DWYL:  Peter, you’ve recently purchased property in Loudoun County with the intent of establishing a vineyard and winery operation.  Give us some background information on Silhouette Vineyards and the Principals.

Silhouette Vineyards, now called “el. 868“, was originally founded by the Deliso, DiManno and Charron families, who combined efforts in 2009 with a shared vision of building a premier Virginia winery and tasting room in Loudoun County.

Carl DiManno serves as our President and winemaker.  Carl holds a Master of Science in Enology from the University of California, Davis and served as the vineyard manager and winemaker at Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyards from 2004 to 2011.  He also operates a consulting practice, Mid-Atlantic Winery Services that consults to a variety of local, regional and national wineries on innovative wine making techniques.  Wendy Charron and Peter Deliso have been friends and colleagues for over 20 years and, along with Carl, share a passion for fine wine, gourmet food and entertaining as well as a common belief that Virginia is poised to take its place among the nation’s premier wine regions.

The Silhouette Team: Chris Charron, Wendy Charron, Dr. Tom Orme, Peter Deliso, Nancy Deliso, Carl DiManno, Erin DiManno, Chris Hoyt

DWYL:  Where in Loudoun County is your new soon-to-be-vineyard property and why did you purchase this particular parcel?

After two years of searching for the perfect location, in July 2011 the team purchased the 90-acre parcel immediately adjacent to Grandale Farm on Harpers Ferry Road.  In addition to great soils, aspect and a convenient place on the Loudoun County Wine Trail, the site boasts the highest elevation in the valley between the Short Hill and Blue Ridge mountains.  It offers inspirational views of the valley and mountains as well as spectacular sunsets that evolve each night as the Sun retires for the evening behind the Blue Ridge.  Hence, the name “el. 868“.

DWYL:  In addition to this 90-acre parcel, you also made another purchase — one of Loudoun County’s most notable restaurants, Grandale Farm?

When we met our neighbors at Grandale Farm, Dr. Thomas Orme and Executive Chef Author J Clark, it became immediately apparent we had a unique opportunity to combine efforts and create a destination that offers a wine, culinary and “artistic” experience unique to vineyards in Northern Virginia and Maryland.  Grandale Farm has a stellar reputation for elegant dining, dinner-lecture events, quality dinner theater and beautifully appointed events.  Author J. Clark hails from the American Culinary Institute and has a singular focus on providing his customers with a memorable quality experience.  We officially combined forces with Grandale Farm in January adding 30 acres to the venture (for a total site of 120 acres) as well as the existing restaurant and catering operations.  Dr. Orme and our Executive Chef, Author J Clark remain partners in the business along with the original founding families.

View from Grandale deck. (Photo credit: GrandaleFarm.com)

DWYL:  What changes can customers expect at Grandale?

We just started renovations on the Grandale site.  We plan to give Grandale a “facelift” in 2012 by upgrading the restaurant, converting what is now “Gran Hall” into an expanded tasting room, and adding newly designed and landscaped outdoor seating and events areas.  These “Phase I” renovations will be completed in May.  We are also planting ten acres of densely-planted, low-yield vineyards (similar to what you now see at Boxwood) this Spring, which we expect will yield outstanding fruit quality.  Carl is already working on his custom blends that will be available for sale to visitors when we launch this year.

DWYL:  What is your ultimate goal with Silhouette Vineyards in terms of size and production?

Our ultimate goal is to have over 35 acres under vine, construct a new and beautifully appointed tasting room on the site’s hilltop, and reach a production capacity of approximately 10,000 cases.  This will all be an expansion on the renovations underway today.  We all certainly hope and look forward to sharing our journey to that goal with our friends, patrons, and all Virginia wine lovers!!

Building a winery from the ground up — picking the vineyard site, obtaining the services of vineyard consultant(s), deciding on grapes and rootstock, planning, zoning, and the thousand other decisions that must be made — says a lot about the commitment and constitution Peter and his associates.

Thank you, Peter, for taking the time to answer a few questions and congratulations on your new venture!  I look forward to visiting Grandale soon to continue our conversation.