Paradise Springs Winery - Story (2024)

A story about family

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Paradise Springs Winery - Story (1)The site of Paradise Springs Winery lies on 36 acres nestled in the quiet corner of Clifton, VA on the edge of Fairfax County. The property borders Hemlock Regional Park with the Bull Run River flowing only steps through the woods. Originally, the property was part of a one-thousand acre land grant from Lord Fairfax in 1716 to the family’s direct ancestors and has been passed down through the generations since. Several hundred acres still remain in the family today.

The original log cabin is estimated to have been built between 1800 and 1825 as there is no record of the exact date. In 1955 the property undertook a major renovation led by Howard Richter, a protégé of the great Frank Lloyd Wright. Another wing was added to the original cabin that includes a kitchen, bathroom, plumbing, and electricity. The original foundation was reinforced and transformed into a cellar complete with a built-in wine rack. Influences of Frank Lloyd Wright’s work can be seen throughout the renovation including the indirect lighting, hidden spaces, intricate electrical switches, small entrances into large rooms, and the concept of bringing nature indoors. In 1956 a red barn that sat just off Main Street in downtown Fairfax, was taken apart, individually numbered, and reassembled piece by piece on the property.

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More than 20 years ago, Jane and her Aunt, the late Esther Kincheloe Podolnick, had a conversation about how the property would make the perfect backdrop for a winery. That conversation resonated throughout the years and with the recent assent of the Virginia wine industry, the idea once again took off. Jane’s eldest son, Kirk Wiles, recognized the opportunity and grabbed the reins on the project. As a graduate of the University of Miami, Kirk moved back to Virginia in 2004 and started connecting the dots in putting together what would be Fairfax County’s first and only winery. In 2006 they met an acclaimed winegrower and vintner in Virginia who offered to serve as Consultant and Inaugural Winemaker to help guild them towards opening the winery. Armed with one of the most talented teams in the Virginia wine industry, Paradise Springs Winery was founded in 2007 as a family business and their first vintage was crafted that fall, a Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. In April 2008, the first estate vineyard, comprised of Cabernet Franc, was planted on the west end of the property and has since seen exceptional growth due to the rich fertile soils within the Occoquan Watershed.

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The beginnings of Paradise Springs were not without its bumps in the road. In July of 2008, Fairfax County officials informed Kirk that the winery would not be permitted on-site because based on their interpretation of their own zoning ordinance, a Virginia Farm Winery was not an agricultural use. They deemed it industrial/manufacturing, more suited for an industrial district. Because a vineyard is not allowed to be planted in such district, this classification effectively barred the existence of a Farm Winery throughout the entire county. Not willing to go down with out a fight, Kirk turned to Philip Carter Strother of Strother Law Offices in Richmond, VA to help right the ship. Philip, also a fellow Virginia winery owner, worked side by side with Kirk in and out of courts for the next year and a half. On September 3rd, 2009, a decision came down from the Virginia ABC Board proclaiming Paradise Springs Winery’s right to operate and effectively issued their license. The determination was appealed by a few disgruntled neighbors but ultimately was upheld and the winery opened its doors for business on January 16th, 2010.

In a day and age where working together within the same industry almost never occurs, Paradise Springs Winery is the product of a fellowship that the Virginia wine industry displays. By working hand in hand, a first class winery has been born closer to Washington DC than ever before. An anomalous victory in which agriculture has beaten development. Today the site remains one of the few historical gems left amongst the ever expanding city sprawl of Northern Virginia and will continue to be a passed family relic for generations more to come.

What's ina Name?

The name Paradise Springs comes directly from the history books of Clifton, Virginia. Its origin was that of mineral springs on the west side of town. Clifton was considered a resort destination by many in Washington. It is said that past Presidents and Generals visited the town for its healing waters. In 1904, water from Paradise Springs was sent off to be tested and was found pure enough for commercial bottling. So in 1910, a bottling plant was constructed and Paradise Springs bottled water. The clear colored bottles displayed simply the word "PARADISE" blown into the glass. The Herald even once reported that Paradise Springs was "on the boom". Nonetheless, the business eventually went under and became nothing more than a historical reference.

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100 years later we are again bottling Paradise Springs but in the form of wine! Some of the original "PARADISE" water bottles can be seen on display at the winery.

History of Wine in Clifton

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It is said that the founding of Clifton lay in the aspiration to make great wine. One night, while returning from the war, Harrison G. Otis passed through the town on the Orange and Alexandria railroad. While sticking his head out of the window to get some fresh air, he heard the squealing of hogs feeding on the profusion of wild grapes that grew in the area. So in 1868, he returned to the area and planted vineyards on the west side of town. Like Thomas Jefferson, his attempts failed as there was not enough technology at the time to allow Virginia wines to succeed. Even though his venture did not go as planned, Harrison went on to purchase the Deveraux Railroad Station (Clifton Station), develop the post office, build the town's hotel, and become known as the founder of Clifton.

Clifton, Virginia

Paradise Springs Winery - Story (6)Clifton, Virginia: One of the final frontiers left in Northern Virginia. It is a small town that has not developed much since its inception in the late 1800's. There are no traffic lights or direct postal service but rather a couple restaurants and pubs, a few shops, an ice cream stand, and a hundred year old general store. Horses can often be seen riding through town. Its façade is composed of houses that are almost all over one hundred and twenty years old. White picket fences line main street, rustic lanterns and barrels full of flowers adorn the streets. And yet, within this quiet community, lies a history that rests deep within this nation's beginnings.

Paradise Springs Winery - Story (7)Originally known as Devereux Station, Clifton was borne as a direct result of the Civil war. In 1861, the Union army incorporated the Orange and Alexandria Railroad Company into their military system. Serving as the southern-most point of the Union army, Clifton housed soldiers placed to guard against a Confederate invasion. Often times troops marched through town, fighting small battles and preparing to set up camp along the creek. After the war was over, Harrison G. Otis (commonly credited as being the founder of the town) helped to modernize the railroad, and in doing so, he purchased Devereux Station.

After failed attempts at cultivating grapes in his vineyard, Otis opened a hotel in the building that now serves as Trummer's on Main restaurant. The town quickly became a retreat for the wealthy of Washington. Although its previous reputation preceded it as great hunting grounds (George Washington and Lord Fairfax used to ride here on their hunts), its new fame was the saloons, hot springs, and peaceful small-town pace. Clifton became the first community in Fairfax to have power in 1925 with the coming of the Bull Run power company. The first high school in the county was also opened here, with students shuttled in by train. The Buckley store, built in 1900, was another major factor in the town's growth. Claiming to have "everything from a pin to a plow" the store was later closed and converted into the Heart and Hand restaurant.

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A few of Clifton's most notable guests include actress Helen Hayes who frequently summered here, Jeff Arch who wrote his famous screenplay for Sleepless in Seattle in a house on Main Street, and past presidents who came to dine at the fine eating establishments. Events throughout the year such as Clifton Day, the Candlelight Homes Tour, and the Clifton Wine Festival allow tourists to come enjoy the town.

Paradise Springs Winery - Story (9)Today, the southern railway caboose sits in town as a beautiful bright red landmark designating the spot of the original Devereux station. Aptly nicknamed the "Brigadoon of Virginia", Clifton was declared a National Historic District by the U.S. Department of Interior in 1985. In a world of continuous development, its charm remains intact and is worthy of a visit by all.

Paradise Springs Winery - Story (2024)

FAQs

What winery is credited with being the largest winery in the world and what is their top product? ›

Gallo. Founded in Modesto, California in 1933 by Ernest and Julio Gallo, the winery was already the largest in the USA by 1966. Today, it's far and away the largest in the world — and getting bigger. For s decade, the company has been on an acquisition drive, snapping up key vineyards and brands from around California.

How do I email Paradise Springs winery? ›

Please email wine@paradisespringswinery.com for your inquiry.

What is the number one winery in the world? ›

Argentina's Catena Zapata was just crowned the No. 1 wine estate in the world to go experience firsthand. Catena Zapata in Argentina tops the list at No. 1.

What is America's most awarded winery? ›

Domaine Serene | America's Most Awarded Winery.

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