“A fun second act” is how Maria Rafferty describes her new venture, a new combined winery and brewery built on undeveloped land on Lake Manassas that opened March 6.
Rafferty, a former attorney and stay-at-home mom, launched the operation with family friend Tom Schrade, who owned a landscaping business and also has a background in restaurants; the duo was stirred to do something different when their kids grew up and moved out. “My house is on Lake Manassas and we all became aware of the undeveloped land near it that had beautiful views,” Rafferty says. “Both families bought it with the idea of a beautiful, relaxing place on the lake that sold both craft wine and beer.”
Most of the building and decor has either been repurposed or made by hand; much of the wood from which the building is composed was milled from the property, and old barrels became tables. The process was primarily a family affair, too. Schrade and Rafferty’s husband, Billy, built most of the building; her father, Leo O’Sullivan, crafted the large pub-style table in the brewery; her mother-in-law painted signs on pallet wood; her father-in-law salvaged pews from a burned church; and Schrade’s mother designed all of the landscaping.
“The most noteworthy thing is probably the stunning lake views,” Rafferty says. “It truly has been a project close to our hearts for the last year.” Visitors also can’t miss the “Love Pipe,” a tall metal drainpipe laser-cut to spell out “love” as an homage to the state motto. It was donated by Danny Barrett, a close personal friend of the family who passed away a few months ago, before seeing the pipe installed; a lock was installed on the pipe to honor the love between Danny and his wife, Joann.
Rafferty and Schrade are growing vidal blanc grapes which are still a few years away from being wine. Currently they lease 11 acres in Rappahannock and work with The Winery at Bull Run for their production; Rafferty cites the Cab Franc and dry, French-style rosé as a couple of her favorites. They also brew about a quarter of their beer and get the rest from Cedar Run Brewery.
Because of the potential dangers of the lake, the team decided to welcome only visitors ages 16 and up, and that policy includes a restriction on infants. Dogs are welcome outside as long as they are on a leash. There are warm pretzels, chips, and charcuterie boards from the local women-owned business The Grazing Board available; no outside food or drink is permitted.
Photo by Kelsey Hrebenach
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