Spotlight: Wisdom Oak Winery

The winery’s namesake tree stands among the vineyards. Photo: Courtesy Wisdom Oak Winery The winery’s namesake tree stands among the vineyards. Photo: Courtesy Wisdom Oak Winery

Jason Lavallee would like to thank everyone for being so nice. It’s not what a guy expects when he parachutes into town and opens a winery with his wife, and they’re total newbies to the industry, and he starts knocking on doors and asking established winemakers a lot of questions. “I was pretty open, like, ‘Hey I don’t know what I’m doing—can you give me some advice?’” Jason says.

The advice poured out by the barrelful. And then came the customer referrals from other wineries and tour companies. Today, less than two years after he and Laura opened their doors, they run a real business, with both the tasting room’s public space and production facilities more than doubling in size. Wisdom Oak’s ascent has been just as steep as the learning curve they faced.

Take this year, for instance. The couple had planned to close the North Garden winery and relax for the winter, but no dice. “People just kept showing up, so we decided to open the tasting room,” Jason says. “We’ve been busy since February 9.”

Wisdom Oak’s first wines, from the 2015 harvest, were not very good, Jason admits. So, he fortified them and made a port-style wine. He learned from his mistakes, and now makes about a half-dozen wines, including chardonnay, cabernet franc (red and rosé), vidal blanc, petit verdot, and petit manseng. The 2017 vintage of the latter won a Double Gold award in the San Francisco International Wine Competition.

He and Laura couldn’t have done it without help from the local wine community. “It’s been overwhelming, and humbling,” Jason says.

3613 Walnut Branch Ln., North Garden. 984-4272.

Posted In:     Knife & Fork

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