During a 2004 vacation in Key West, Brian Roeder asked his wife Sharon a fateful question, “If you could see yourself doing something else, what would it be?“And that question led to all of this,” he said, gesturing out the couple’s kitchen window to the vineyard, winery and scenic mountain views beyond.
Before Brian and Sharon even started designing a winery, they talked about what they wanted to achieve. "We didn't want to just sell wine,” Brian said. “We wanted to create a place of community."
As that community has grown and developed since Barrel Oak Winery (BOW) opened near Delaplane in 2008, it welcomed, among others, parents with children, people with dogs, hiking groups fresh off the trail, bikers, foreign dignitaries, and Washington’s elite with a warm handshake and a smile. The positive atmosphere at Barrel Oak has not gone unnoticed, including being recognized as the #1 Family Friendly Winery in the World (Wine Enthusiast Magazine, April 2012).
Dog friendliness is another aspect of the winery’s welcoming atmosphere. Brian and Sharon share their household with four pleasant pooches, and have included their furry presence into all aspects of the company’s branding. From the front door, to the paw prints on the menu, to the pups on the labels, there is no questioning how dog friendly they are at Barrel Oak Winery. Why they even has a dog on staff, named Birch. The friendly Hungarian Viszla, who ran away to the winery in the way some people run away to the circus, can be found lounging in sunny spots, playing fetch, and greeting customers on all but the hottest days of the year. He even has his own “desk” in the winemaker’s office, beneath Sharon Roeder’s workstation.
In more nuts-and-bolts business terms, "we try to make sure that every weekend there is something happening here at the winery," Brian said, “and even when nothing is going on, on say, a Tuesday in February, it’s key that our customers know and feel how much we appreciate them, and that BOW is a special place”
"My e-mails (distributed to the winery’s 10K+ email list) say, 'here's the experience; here's what the dream looked like this week, and here’s an invitation to join us.'"
"People come, and they love the feel of the place. They come back and bring their friends, and they all love it. So they bring their friends. The circle of friends just keeps getting bigger."
Authur Ashe said, “From what we get, we can make a living; what we give, however, makes a life”
Because the Roeders are dedicated to creating community, non-profit charity groups figure prominently into BOW’s growing group of friends.
"One Veterans' Day, we did a fundraiser for Fisher House, which houses military families whose loved ones have been injured in the wars, so they can stay close to them without going bankrupt on hotel bills. It was one of our first fundraisers," Brian said.
"Volunteers did a barbecue and raised $1,500 for Fisher House just by selling hot dogs and hamburgers."
Another typical charity activity involves the Roeders bringing in a band, at their expense. The music is a draw, and charities benefit by adding a silent auction, raffle or other activity into the mix. BOW then commits a donation of proceeds from bottle sales during the event. “It’s really a win/win scenario” says BOW's Marketing Consultant, Kristin Heydt, “Our staff feels good about supporting charities we love, and we meet a lot of great friends and local customers in the process.”
“Since we opened our doors in 2008, Barrel Oak Winery has helped charitable organizations raise over $800K through events like these,” Brian said
From day one of its operation, Barrel Oak Winery has given 10 cents to charity for every bottle of wine it has sold, and as an organization has donated over $45K in charitable support.
Real Virginia Wine.
Since the first vine was planted on the Delaplane farmstead in 2006, Sharon and Brian Roeder have remained committed to providing their customers with premium examples of fine Virginia winemaking. The 26-acre vineyard is home to a selection of traditional vinifera and American and French hybrids.
Wine varietals include: Seyval Blanc, Vidal Blanc, Petit Manseng, Viognier, Chardonnay, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Traminette, Chambourcin, as well as newly planted Norton, Cabernet Franc, and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Their dedication to utmost quality has not been un-noticed by national and international wine judges. Barrel Oak Winery boasts a growing record of awards and accolades for their hand-crafted vintages. Our winemakers Rick Tagg and Sharon Roeder have racked up close to 300 regional, national and international awards since 2008 (a list of the awards can be seen here). A few notable award winning wines include the 2010 Chardonnay Reserve (Stainless) (DOUBLE GOLD: 2012 San Francisco Chronicle International Wine Competition), the 2010 Cabernet Franc (PLATINUM MEDAL: 2013 San Diego International Wine Competition), the 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon (DOUBLE GOLD MEDAL: 2012 INDY International Wine Competition) as well as our 2008 Norton (RED WINE OF THE YEAR and DOUBLE GOLD: 2009 INDY International Wine Competition).
Barrel Oak Winery’s production continues to expand with the introduction of the winery’s first subscription club. Participants in the BOWbyMail wine club have wines delivered to their homes via UPS in states that allow such deliveries. The featured wines will include small-lot and experimental varietals. It started as a pet project of winemakers Sharon Roeder and Rick Tagg. In addition to BOWbyMail, we offer our patrons the opportunity to be part of the Dream on a variety of levels: including the BOW Club, becoming a Barrel Owner or even the opportunity to become a partner! You can join today right here.
Just as our community, vineyard, and wine list have grown, so has the tasting room. First, the patio expanded and now features the outdoor Pavilion bar (and the best sunset views). The 2013 expansion added the huge Tower room which doubled our indoor seating, added space for groups, and boasts the best views of the vineyards. The tower room can also be a great place to catch one of the many musical acts at BOW. The 2013 expansion also removed the wait for the restroom, increasing the facilities from 3, to 15! Speaking of expanding the facilities, in 2014 our parking area doubled, so no worries about finding a spot for your car. If you are looking for a picnic table, we have over 60 on our lawn for your family and friends (four-legged and two-legged) to enjoy any pleasant afternoon or evening. Memorial Day 2014 marked our 6th anniversary. To celebrate we opened the Tent Bar, our second outdoor bar, which can accommodate over 50 people for tastings and boasts the best views of our vineyards. It is an amazing sight to see all of the families, friends and puppies enjoying themselves at Barrel Oak, and we hope you will join us soon.
“People ask us questions all the time about the weather and its effect on the vineyard, or the economy and its impact on our business,” Brian reflected, “but flexibility is key in all things. You shrug your shoulders, take a deep breath and forge ahead boldly. It’s what we do. It’s how we live. Enjoy this life. You’ve only got one. Live the dream without fear of when or how it will end.”