When McLean veterinarian Jack Sexton bought 30 acres on the outskirts of Round Hill in 1983, little could he or his family have known the adventure to follow that investment.
Over the years he bought neighboring parcels growing the land holdings to 200 acres. In 2006, he decided the rolling terrain could be ideal for growing grapes and began planting a vineyard to supply other area winemakers with fruit.
“One day he said to me, ‘let’s build a vineyard” just out of the blue,” recalled his wife, Jeanne on a recent visit. “And here we are.”
Today, Williams Gap Vineyard grows 10 varieties on 35 acres.
The vision changed again a couple of years ago, as Sexton—now semi-retired as his son, Jeb, took over the McLean Animal Hospital—began envisioning the vineyard’s barn as an event space. In 2019, he launched his own label bottling six wines created by Rob Cox, of Paradise Springs Winery in Clifton.
This weekend,, the reimagined barn opened as a full-fledged tasting room making Williams Gap the newest stop on Loudoun’s popular winery circuit. Later this year, the family plans to begin on-site wine making operations.
“No, we did not see this coming,” Sexton’s daughter, Caroline, said of the family’s journey.
Industry veteran Bridgette Smith joined the team in February to manage the tasting room. She said the indoor aesthetic of the rustic tasting room created by Amy Ramsey Walton Design in Hamilton and the quality of the wines have drawn accolades from early visitors, she said.
Among the first invited to the tasting room were representatives of Loudoun’s other wineries, a preview event that drew a packed house.
“The Loudoun County wine industry is not competitive by any means; It’s more of a family,” Smith said. “It was awesome to spend time with them.”
While launching a tasting room operation is a significant change, Smith said the focus will continue to be on the vineyard.
“We are vineyard first,” Smith said. “Jack believes that in the wine bottle you will notice the quality of the vineyard, the quality of the fruit, more so than anything else. That’s something that I cling to and that is the culture here.”
Williams Gap Vineyard, located at 35785 Sexton Farm Lane, is open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays and holiday Mondays from noon to 7 p.m. Reservations are recommended as venues continue to operate under COVID-19 precautions. Also, valet parking is offered.
For more information, go to williamsgapvineyard.com.