Virginia wine updates: Sweely’s new name, and an honor for Breaux

The worst kept secret in Virginia wine is now official: Sweely Estate winery, purchased last summer by Steve and Jean Case of America Online fame, will be renamed Early Mountain Vineyards, with a grand opening scheduled for later this spring.

Sweely ... er, Early Mountain Vineyards

The Cases were planning to have a basic website up and running this morning, a spokesman said.

The new name refers to the history of the site in Madison County, north of Charlottesville. The land used to be owned by Joseph Early, who served with George Washington during the Revolutionary War and later hosted the nation’s first president on his travels through the Old Dominion.

In totally unrelated news (except that it’s about Virginia wine), Breaux Vineyards in Loudoun County is celebrating this week, as their viognier was listed by British wine scribe Oz Clarke as #87 in his new book called “250 Best Wines 2012.” The Breaux 2010 Viognier was also hailed last summer by British writer Jancis Robinson after her Virginia tour.

I’ve been consistently impressed with Breaux’ viognier because of its restraint. It seems a tad unripe at first – at least compared to other more flirtatious wines – but it is well focused and I find myself coming back to it for extended, thought-provoking conversation (not to carry a metaphor too far, though it is late as I write this).

The recognition from Clarke and Robinson are vindication of Breaux’ efforts to market its wines in the United Kingdom, through Christopher Parker’s New Horizons venture. I’m always amazed that it’s easier to find Virginia wine in London than in D.C.

So congratulations to Early Mountain Vineyards on a new start, and to Breaux for a well-deserved accolade!


About Dave McIntyre

Wine columnist for The Washington Post, co-founder of, and blogger at Dave McIntyre's WineLine (
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