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Stafford County winery gets Spanish winemaker

Potomac Point Vineyard & Winery in Stafford County reminds its new winemaker of his roots.

David Pagán Castaño is a third-generation winemaker from Yecla, Spain, and grew up working at a winery founded by his grandfather.

“This is a winery that is very Mediterranean,” he said, referring to Potomac Point’s old-world, Tuscan-styled vineyard and winery. “I come from the Mediterranean part of Spain. This feels like home.”

Castaño, 33, took over the winemaking duties in May from Simone Bergese, after working at Beaux Vineyards in Loudoun County for three years. Bergese, who has moved to Atlanta, was one of the first people in the local wine business that he met after moving to Virginia three years ago.

“Since then, we’ve been friends and my wife and I have attended events here ,” he said. “The relationship and the place were very attractive to me.”

Castaño, who is Virginia’s only Spanish winemaker, plans to continue making the wines that Potomac Point, which just celebrated its seventh anniversary, is known for. These include such favorites as La Belle Vie White, Cabernet Franc and Rabelos Port.

“The goal is to maintain the profiles of the wines,” he said.

But Castaño is also creating a special wine that blends his Spanish heritage with that of his wife, Virginia native Nicole Eickhoff, and their 7-month-old son.

Camino, Spanish for path or journey, will be a marriage of Monestrel, a red wine that his family’s Bodegas Castaño winery is known for, and Potomac Point’s Cabernet Franc, which national and state wine experts consider

to be among Virginia’s best red wines.

Camino, Castaño said, “will be a way to explain my life with a wine. My wife is from here, I’m from Spain and my son is from both. I’m making a wine with my family in Spain and the one here, so it will be a blend.”

The wine, which he described

as being robust and complex,

is expected to be ready by late summer. A launch party is planned for the end of August.

Castaño has been immersed in the world of wine ever since he, his brothers and their cousins spent their summers helping their grandfather at Bodegas Castaño

as they were growing up.

“Basically, I started making wine without knowing it,” he said.

Family life, including celebrations, were centered around the winery, and followed the Spanish tradition of taking long, leisurely lunches in the early afternoon. When he visited Potomac Point, said Castaño, who celebrated his 30th birthday there, he saw that their owners and staff understood that Mediterranean style of living.

“The wine culture here is ripe for it, especially at Potomac Point,” he said.

Castaño did his undergraduate studies in agriculture and food science at the Politecnic University of Valencia in Spain, and then got his master’s degree in oenology and viticulture from Polytechnic University of Valencia, Spain, with postgraduate master classes at the Ecole Superieure d’Agriculture d’Angers & De Toulouse, France.

During this time he continued working for the family business, but eventually decided he wanted to leave to explore winemaking in different countries. He first went to Sonoma, Calif., to study Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel and Cabernet grapes and wines.

“I’d studied them in school and wanted to experience them,” Castaño said. “I was there seven months during harvest and when the wine was made.”

He then went to Marlborough, New Zealand, to work with Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir, and Cotes-du-Rhone, France, to learn about Grenache, Syrah and Marsanne.

“Then I went back to Spain in the Canary Islands, which has volcanic soils. It’s very unique terroir; that’s part of my background [in school],” said Castaño.

In all, he’s worked with more than 40 grape varietals, and won more than a dozen international awards for his wines in the last five years.

Castaño moved to Virginia three years ago at the urging of his wife, a University of Virginia grad who’d worked in the Canary Islands.

“My wife kind of dragged me here,” Castaño said of Virginia. “Then we had our son. We’re settling down, and I think Virginia is kind of home.”

Cathy Jett: 540/374-5407