The next chapter has come for one of the most influential Virginia winemakers ever to live. And, he’s throwing a party to celebrate. July 24 is the Grand Opening of the new tasting room for Michael Shaps Wineworks.
After learning to make wine in Burgundy, Shaps came to Charlottesville in 1995, lured by the idea that Virginia had the potential to make world class wines like those he made in France. He first worked as head winemaker at Jefferson Vineyards before launching his own Michael Shaps label in 2000. In the two decades since, no one has been more responsible for the growth of Virginia wine, not only through his own wines, which have received more accolades than any other at the annual Governor’s Cup, but also by consulting with dozens of aspiring winemakers throughout Virginia. Many of the Commonwealth’s most esteemed wineries bear Shaps’ influence.
Ever-growing, Michael Shaps Wineworks has announced the purchase of Thatch Winery, just down the road from its existing winery. Shaps says the purchase will have many benefits: more space for vines, bottling, and warehousing. But, the one that excites him most is an improved experience for guests.
For all its winemaking excellence, the winery’s setting has never allowed the spectacular wine-tasting experience that some Virginia vineyards offer. Shaps has one tasting room in town: an urban setting at Wineworks Extended, which offers flights, wines on tap, growlers, carafes, and bottles. The Thatch property will replace Shaps’ second tasting room onsite at the winery. “It’s exciting to have the ability to accommodate our guests with seating in a peaceful setting,” said Shaps.”At our previous tasting room on Harris Creek, it has always been a challenge to welcome guests and offer a nice ambiance, while being surrounded by ongoing production.”
If you’ve ever considered joining the Michael Shaps Wine Club, now might be a good time. Even under normal circumstances, the benefits of membership are many: 30% discount on all Wine Club wines, 20% discount on all other wine bottles, complimentary wine tastings for two, 20% off wine flights at Wineworks Extended, access to pre-release and “library” wines, tickets to quarterly parties, and perqs at special events. At the Grand Opening, for example, the winery will invite club members upstairs to the tasting room’s Loft to enjoy “complimentary hors d’oeuvres and a tasting of wines selected by Michael for this joyous occasion.” (If this all sounds like an ad, in the interest of full disclosure I should mention that I have a free membership. But, then again, all memberships are free!)
The Grand Opening of Michael Shaps’ Tasting Room is July 24th from 12-5pm at 1650 Harris Creek Road. (Members are welcome in the Loft from 1-4pm.) All guests receive 20% off bottle purchases all day long, and staff will guide guests through tastings of Michael Shaps Virginia wines and Maison Shaps Burgundy wines. Follow along here.