I think I can safely say that Chateau O’Brien is Paul’s favorite winery. It’s where he likes to take guests. It’s where he’s taken past lady friends. It’s where, up until this trip, he’s failed to take me. But I’m not salty about it, not even a smidge. (Okay. Maybe a smidge. Or three. But no more than five.)
Don’t let the crappy, crappy driveway (seriously, don’t try to go here if there’s any sort of bad weather happening) and weird building* fool you. The wines are pretty amazing, and I can see why Paul brings everyone here. The Las Vegas-meets Italy-meets Irish pub decor faded away as soon as I saw Howard, the owner, behind the bar. He’s a spectacular ball of energy, and he loves to talk about his wines.
There are two tastings on the menu, the classic and the lighter reds and sweet wines. We went for the classic, but since it was a quiet day, we actually got to taste several items that weren’t on our menu, including an apple ice wine that I thought was fantastic. Howard made sure we had a clean glass for almost every pour and gave us a brief history of his 16 years in business. He grows all of his own grapes from low-yield varietals and ages the reds for a minimum of 18 – 24 months in French oak. You won’t find any of the typical young Virginia reds here.
Hands down, the highlight of this trip was the Late Harvest Tannat. With a port nose and 18% alcohol, it will sneak up on you FAST. We brought a bottle home and will not be sharing it with anyone else but ourselves. I strongly suspect we should’ve purchased more than one bottle because I don’t think Howard had many left. Make sure you ask for it if you visit.
*Considering that later on this particular day I complained about the prevalence of barn-like buildings in Virginia wine country, you would think I would be happy about a different style of winery. But no.
Rating: Green! (We’ll totally come back.)
Tasting: $15 for 4 wines (but Howard seems like the type to always pour an extra taste or three)
Price: Average to high (mid-$20s all the way up to $79)
Kid Friendly: No
Highlights: Late Harvest Tannat
Time Since Lacy Last Ate: ~4.5 hours
Strangers Invited to Dinner: 0