AWG Correspondent

James Houston

Hillsborough Vineyards Photos

Hillsborough Vineyards Review

Region: Virginia

Reviewed: July 6, 2012 by James Houston
Published: July 17, 2012

Hillsborough Vineyards is easy to miss. Not because of a back-road location or any lack of repute, but because the entrance jumps out at you just as you’ve started to speed back up on the westbound Charles Town Pike after exiting the town of Hillsboro’s commercial center.

But as long as you’re anticipating the turn, or can pull a sudden hard right worthy of Starsky & Hutch without spilling your coffee, Hillsborough is an essential stop on the Loudoun County Wine Trail.

It is said that the best grapes are those grown on hillsides, which, if true, bodes well for Hillsborough. Approaching the tasting room, you notice that it’s in the middle of a significant incline, with vines above and below. Then you might notice the spectacular vista of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the not-so-far distance, blanketed in mist more often than not.

Historically, Loudoun County was a major dairy producing area. Today it is not uncommon to find wineries existing on former dairy farms, as is the case with Hillsborough. The land was originally owned by George William Fairfax in the 18th Century, and it was developed gradually as it changed hands over the generations.

The property was finally acquired by Turkish couple Bora and Zenyep Baki, with the intent of making it a retirement home. In 2002, it occurred to Bora that he could plant a few vines and make wine for his friends and family. Son Kerem, educated in enology at Virginia Tech, joined the project soon after and suddenly the family’s ambitions were larger than home winemaking.

Leaving the parking lot on foot, you navigate an intricate flower garden and pass koi ponds on the way to the main building. Adirondack chairs dot the patio, or you can opt to sit under the wisteria-draped verandas.

Inside the tasting room—formerly a barn—the walls are studded with bulbous gray stone and adorned with vintage farm equipment. Asli Baki, Kerem’s wife, oversees the tasting counter and explains that her husband’s approach to winemaking emphasizes the wine styles of Southern France.

Accordingly, Hillsborough’s wines feature classic Rhone varietals like Roussanne and Viognier, as well as lesser-known ones such as Petit Manseng, Fer Servadou, and Tannat—though Tannat is now seen at more than a few Virginia wineries. The standout for me was the Ruby 2007, a blend of Tannat, Fer Servadou and Petit Verdot. Complex and gamey, it features a colossal tannic structure propping up basso profundo notes of plum, licorice and pencil shavings.

The “Serefina” Rosé is also worth trying, dry—as most good Rosés are—and offering an intriguing combination of citrus and stonefruit, propped up by fantastic acidity. It is a 90% / 10% blend of Tannat and Petit Manseng.

Ms. Baki handles the tasting with attentive grace, juggling the surprisingly large Wednesday lunchtime crowd alone. I ask her if I can have a word with Kerem about some winemaking details. She squints out the window at a tractor chugging down a steep hill between rows of vines, then turns back to me somewhat regretfully.

Like a good winemaker, he’s busy with his grapes.

Address & Contact Information: 36716 Charles Town Pike Hillsboro, Virginia 20132. Telephone: 540-668-6216, email:, website: Tasting Hours: 11:00-5:00.

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