A Perfect Pairing of Wine & History
By Kelly Morris
Everybody loves wine. Well, almost everybody—apologies to my hops, malt and grain friends; we’ll get to you in a later issue. Back to everyone loving wine, we at Willowsford do. So much so, that it was apparent we needed to find the right partner to help us with our own. One that would provide the perfect flavors of both white and red and with a brand that was as strong, discerning and as distinguishable as our own. Off we went on our wine tasting venture.
If you live in Virginia, specifically Northern Virginia, you’re acutely and pleasantly aware of just how many wineries are among us. Loudoun County and the surrounding area is a wine destination that boasts scenic views of the Bull Run Mountains, charming small towns and historic sites. But, there’s one winery that we think stands out amongst the many: The Winery at Bull Run.
In 2008, owner Jon Hickox purchased 21 acres along Lee Highway in Centreville and fulfilled his dream of establishing a family-oriented winery that honored his own ancestors and that of his predecessors on the property, while also paying homage to the history of the land. And what a rich history that is:
In 1729, an Englishman, the Sixth Lord of Fairfax, granted 2,832 acres of land along Bull Run to Landon Carter. The land remained in the Carter family for over 100 years when it was sold to the Ball family in 1840. It’s during this time that Hillwood was built, originally used as a caretaker’s house. The foundation of which remains as a monument just outside the tasting room at the Winery. The Hillwood property would stay with the Ball family through the Civil War where it would witness the First and Second Battles of Bull Run (also known as Manassas) as Union and Confederate armies crisscrossed the rolling landscape.
The land would later pass on to the Thorntons and eventually sold to Thomas A. Lee in 1876 for $600. The Lees and a few of their children would occupy Hillwood and farm the land while others settled in Manassas, Richmond and Washington D.C. Hillwood would switch hands three more times until the original clapboard and brick house burned in a fire in 1990 where it sat idle for 18 years until Jon Hickox purchased it in 2008.
Today, The Winery at Bull Run sits on 225 scenic acres adjacent to Manassas National Battlefield Park. Ten acres of vines grow onsite with the bulk of their fruit grown and harvested at their 115-acre estate vineyard in Little Washington, Virginia, which they call Rock Mill Vineyard. At Rock Mill Vineyard, there are 39,000 vines growing across nearly 50 acres producing the majority of their wines for harvest.
While sipping on their award-winning wines, the vines and the Battlefield are sights to savor but walking around the property offers a more tangible lesson on the legacy of the land. The ruins of Hillwood serve as a beautiful archaeological site asking to be photographed. Just outside the tasting room are the remnants of the root cellar which the Lees kept cold until summer with chunks of winter ice they cut from Bull Run. The building itself takes up the same footprint and is built using stones from the original barn (seen vaguely in the right corner of Lee family photo). And the wooden mantle is the only piece of lumber salvaged from Hillwood after the fire.
While many families made this land their home, The Lee family has a long-standing heritage that extends all the way to Willowsford. The stone building that we preserved in front of the Sycamore Pool is what remains of a farmstead built circa 1800. Standing through two centuries in Loudoun County, the stone dairy, smokehouse and farmhouse were home to many Loudoun County families including the Lees. The dairy, part of the residence’s domestic yard and garden area, is the only building left standing today. But in true Willowsford custom, stone from the farmhouse was used in the construction of The Tenant House Information Center, in a masonry style reflecting vernacular buildings.
This coincidental connection to the land, the Lee family and our shared passion for history and preservation is what brought Willowsford and The Winery at Bull Run together in the first place. And it’s how we knew we had to work together. Well, that and the wine. The Winery at Bull Run has produced and bottled a red and white that are deliciously, distinctively Willowsford. We are excited about the opportunity to bring them to the dinner tables of our residents and to our varied lifestyle events.
The Winery at Bull Run
15950 Lee Highway
Centreville, VA 20120
11 AM – 7 PM, Saturday – Wednesday
Thursdays until 8 PM
Fridays until 10 PM
Willowsford Ramblings is a blog by Willowsford, a community of new single-family homes in Loudoun County, Northern Virginia.55 and older communities, active adult communities, adult communities, agri-hood, agrihood, ashburn va new homes, Chantilly va new homes, Community Supported Agriculture, CSA, eat local, Farm to table, home communities, homes aldie va, homes for seniors, Loudoun County, main-level living, new build homes for sale, new home builders, new home communities, new home developments, northern virginia, over 55 communities, retirement communities, retirement living, senior independent living, senior living, the lee family, the winery at bull run, Willowsford, willowsford blog, willowsford conservancy, Willowsford Farm, Willowsford Ramblings, willowsford va, Willowsford Virginia, willowsford wine