AWG Correspondent

Anthony Marocco

Chester Gap Cellars Photos

Chester Gap Cellars Review

Region: Virginia

Reviewed: March 16, 2013 by Anthony Marocco
Published: April 10, 2013

After a five year search for the perfect terroir and an incredible view, Bernd and Kristi Jung started Chester Gap Cellars in 2000. Bernd, a former Olympic water skier from Germany, began to plot out his land to provide what turned out to be the perfect conditions for growing some of the best wine grapes in Northern Virginia.

Just off of Route 522 in Front Royal, Chester Gap Cellars sits at an altitude of 1,000 feet, overlooking the Blue Ridge Mountains and the hills of Southeast Piedmont. If you are looking for a relaxing and tranquil experience, look no further.

Upon reaching the iconic roadside barrel bearing the Chester Gap Cellars sign, visitors follow a narrow dirt road leading through the gates of Chester Gap Cellars. Vine are everywhere - starting at the top of the property and sloping straight down, to the base of the property.

One of the major reasons for purchasing the property was the existence of ideal grape-growing conditions. The combination of rocky soils, slope for drainage, near frost-free conditions, and cooler valley temperatures all allow the grapes to reach their fullest potential on the vines.

The tasting room reminds me of an old, restored storage barn. Along the right side of the tasting room are doors which lead out to a large observation deck that sits suspended over the vines and overlooking the valley, providing one of the most picturesque views in all of Northern Virginia. The deck contains a few picnic tables where guests can enjoy a picnic lunch with a selection of Chester Gap Cellars’ wine. The inside of the tasting room contains an L shaped tasting bar with the various offerings listed on the dry erase board behind the bar. The front facing portion of the bar is in typical pub style while the extension portion is built on some old wine barrels that are covered with finished wood. There are small bistro tables scattered along the back side of the tasting room, with a few cork decorated barrels adding to the ambiance. The facility is gorgeous and, again, if tranquility is your goal, this is the place for you.

Bernd Jung believes in allowing the grapes to reach their maximum potential with the least amount of intervention in the vineyard. The result is a line of incredible wines that show just how a quality Virginia wine should taste. Approximately 9.5 acres of vines cover the property; varieties include Viognier, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and small quantities of Petit Manseng.

The $7 tasting fee is waived with the purchase of a bottle. The question isn’t which bottle to buy but rather how many bottles to buy. As far as my tasting notes, I generally include the top picks of the tasting. The problem here -- they are all top picks, starting with the Viognier. The Viognier ($16) always shows well with copious amounts of floral laced white fruit on the nose and palate but adding undertones of banana and crisp toast notes on the finish. The 2011 is dynamite estate grown varietal to say the least.

Next up is the highly anticipated Cuvee Manseng, which is a blend of 67% Petit Manseng and 33% Viognier. A burst of pineapple and honey wafts up from the glass while adding lush pineapple flavors with smooth citrus undertones, finishing perfectly balanced between acidity and sweetness. Excellent and well worth the wait!

While we wait out the Viognier Reserve later this year, we broke into the Red offerings starting with the 2009 Vintner’s Red consisting of 53% Cabernet Franc, 20% Petit Verdot, and 27% Merlot. Spice, plum, and cherry aromas mingle while bold cherry and spice flavors add subtle floral qualities to the dry, firm finish.

Next up, the 2010 Merlot ($22) which, if history has taught us anything about Chester Gap, it’s that they make some of the best Virginia Merlot around. This 100% Merlot varietal comes out of the bottle swinging for the fences, with black currant and cherry dominating from the nose to the palate but showing smooth tannins and adding a kiss of black pepper on the finish.

The wine that ended up stealing the show however, was the 2010 Cabernet Franc ($22). You may want to inhale the bouquet, pause, and repeat a couple times before punching your ticket to Flavor Country. Light tobacco outlines lush dark fruits on the nose, while black cherry flavors take a step forward to dance with subtle notes of cedar and spice, closing out with silky tannins that stick around well after the sip.

Amazing, incredible, and a plethora of other adjectives can’t begin to explain how great this 2010 vintage is. As always the tasting experience was beyond words and the staff was extremely friendly and knowledgeable. If a break from the city life is what you are seeking then look no further.

Address & Contact Information: 4615 Remount Rd. Front Royal, Virginia 22630. Telephone: 540-636-8086, email:, website: Tasting Hours: Fri-Sat 11:00-6:00, Sun 11:00-5:00, Memorial and Labor Day 11:00-5:00 or by appt..

Overall Rating:  

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