Winemaker Lori Corcoran

Who she is: Owner and chief winemaker at Corcoran Vineyards & Cider in Waterford, VA

What she does: The longtime dream of growing grapes and having her own vineyard started taking shape in 2001. That was the year Lori Corcoran and her husband, Jim, started prepping the fields on their Waterford, VA, property. They were embarking on a trial planting of grapes that they had ordered from Sonoma Grapevines.

Why she does it: “When the vines arrived in 2002, we planted the first block of Chardonnay grapes on our farm, which is known as Corky’s Farm in Waterford,” she says. “That was the beginning of Corcoran Vineyards & Cider.”

WHO MADE THIS WINE?

By Hope Katz Gibbs

The longtime dream of growing grapes and having her own vineyard started taking shape in 2001. That was the year Lori Corcoran and her husband, Jim, started prepping the fields on their Waterford, VA, property. They were embarking on a trial planting of grapes that they had ordered from Sonoma Grapevines.

“When the vines arrived in 2002, we planted the first block of Chardonnay grapes on our farm, which is known as Corky’s Farm in Waterford,” she says. “That was the beginning of Corcoran Vineyards & Cider.”

How does a gal get into the winemaking business?

Though Lori has built a boutique winery that produces about 2,000 cases of high-quality, award-winning wines each year, she didn’t plan on getting into the wine business. After graduating from San Jose State University in 1989 with a degree in justice administration, her intent was to join the FBI.

Along the way, her passion for wine led her to take classes in winemaking. She now believes that although she is an award-winning winemaker, the wine is truly made in the vineyard.

“Our partnerships with area growers have been the key to our ability to consistently produce high-quality wines,” she explains, noting she still takes classes and keeps close track of the latest trends and techniques in the winery trade journals.

Of course, there have been challenges. “The trickiest part is understanding the dynamics of what we do in the vineyard and the effect it has on the quality of our wine. My goal is to continue to improve the quality, and I would recommend other women become winemakers because they have better palates and more patience.”

When not making wine, Lori stays busy keeping up with her four kids — all teenagers and young adults — on the farm. “They enjoy the farm aspect and do help in the vineyard,” she says. “We can only hope that someday they will take over the family biz.”

She also volunteers whatever free time she has to numerous causes. She just stepped down as president of the Loudoun Wineries Association after spending four years on the board, and also serves on the boards for the Loudoun Convention and Visitors Association and the Loudoun Valley Home Grown Markets Association.

Visit the Vineyards

Lori and Jim encourage visits to their tasting room, which is located just outside the village of Waterford at 14635 Corky’s Farm Lane. The tasting room itself is in a 1750 restored log cabin. The picnic area overlooks the property’s beautiful pond.

There is a $5 charge for tasting; the fee includes tastings of at least seven distinctive wines. For groups of 10 or more, the tasting fee is $10 and reservations are required. Call to reserve a spot today, or make your reservation online.

You Must Try These Wines

Lori and Jim are proud of the wines they have created. They realize that while people may have specific passions for reds or whites, it’s always good to sample the merchandise. Consider these:

  • Apple Wine : Made from a variety of local apples, this wine is “dry” but bursting with apple aromas and flavors. The perfect companion with white meats like chicken or turkey or with Sunday brunch!
  • 2011 Riesling: Riesling grown locally on limestone soil, capturing intense minerality. This is a dry wine bursting with lemongrass flavors and crisp acidity, and it pairs nicely with pork.
  • 2012 Chardonnay: This Chardonnay was fermented and aged in all stainless steel, maintaining all the fruit characteristics. Perfect with your white meats or a sunny porch.
  • 2011 Seyval Blanc: Bursting with fruit flavors and a light sweetness, this wine is a great companion for a picnic.
  • 2008 Cabernet Franc: From our Benevino Vineyard location, we made this wine for five years. Light spice and soft tannins makes this a perfect BBQ companion on a warm summer night.
  • 2011 Tannat: French grape normally used for blending, this wine is light on tannins with fresh cherry, cranberry, and plum flavors. Perfectly paired with spicy sausage, lamb, or duck.
  • 2012 Pinot Noir : Grown for us locally here in Loudoun County, this Pinot Noir is bursting with dark cherry flavors and rich in tannins. Nice with grilled beef or mushrooms.
  • Black Jack: Chambourcin, fermented with blackberries and blended with Petit Verdot and Merlot, gives this wine a slight fruit sweetness with some soft tannins. Can be enjoyed with spicy foods.
  • 2010 RAZ: Merlot grapes were fermented with fresh raspberries to get this off-dry dessert wine. Lots of raspberries on the front, but finishes with the soft tannins of the Merlot. Pairs with dark chocolate.
  • 2011 USB: Using our local grown Chambourcin grapes, fortified with Brandy and aged in Whiskey barrels for 12 months, this is a “Port-style” wine rich in black cherries, caramel, and mocha. Perfect companion on a summer night by the fire with s’mores!
  • 2008 Cello: Made with 100 percent Petit Manseng grapes, this wine is our version of the Italian Lemon Cello. Bursting with lemon aromas and flavors because of the lemon zest infusion. Chill Cello to be icy cold and enjoy as an aperitif or as a nightcap on a warm evening.
  • 2012 Waterford: Viognier fortified with Brandy and aged in Whiskey barrels for one year makes this our “White Port-style” wine. Rich with butterscotch, honey, and peach, this makes a delicious dessert on its own.

Cooking With Wine

When it comes to pairing food with their wines, Lori says she doesn’t have a favorite recipe, but she does add wine to all of her cooking.

“A bottle of Chardonnay in the pan while cooking a turkey or chicken makes the best gravy. Cabernet Franc in with our potroast gives some added spice. Chambourcin goes into all of my red sauces, and I put Viognier in our salad dressing (see that recipe below, along with one for Mulled Wine).”

Cheers to that!

Mulled Wine Recipe

This mulled wine isn’t sweet, but it has lots of spice and actually does pair with most of those delicious desserts quite well.

Ingredients:
2 cups water
2 cinnamon sticks
10 whole allspice
10 whole cloves
½ cup sugar
Zest of ½ orange, plus orange slices for garnish (optional)
One bottle of Corcoran Vineyards Cabernet Franc

Directions: Combine water, spices, sugar, and orange zest in 2-quart saucepan. Stir and cook over medium heat until sugar is dissolved. Simmer over low heat for one hour. The liquid will reduce by half and fill your home with a wonderful aroma! Strain out spices, and return the liquid to the pan. Add one bottle of Corcoran Vineyards Cabernet Franc. Heat on low until warm (being careful not to boil).

Zesty Mustard Viognier Dressing

Ingredients:
1 c. mayonnaise
¼ c. dijon mustard
¼ c. Viognier wine
1 T. sugar
1 tsp. honey
¼ tsp. black pepper
¼ tsp. kosher salt

Directions: Whisk all ingredients together until smooth and creamy. Pour or spoon it over your favorite greens. Enjoy! (Yields approximately 1.5 cups)

Learn more at Corcoran Vineyards & Cider.


The Women