The Insider

2016 Harvest

As of October 14th, our harvest here at Doukénie was complete with the crushing of the last reds: Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot. Our Spring was very wet, but we stayed on top, controlling mold and mildew. The summer was very hot, but generally dry – perfect for the vines! Harvest started slightly earlier than typical, with many of our 14 varieties ripening simultaneously, making us very busy in the vineyard and in the wine cellar! We had some rain around the beginning of October which slowed things down, but it did little damage. Sébastien said the grapes were of phenomenal quality and it was a nice crop in terms of volume. This marks the third great harvest in row, a near miracle in Virginia! We’re going to have great wines through 2018!

2014 Dionysus

Sébastien makes a “special occasion” wine we call Dionysus. Our last vintage was a 2010 and we’ve been out of it for more than a year. This is a wine he only makes on the best vintage years and it is has developed a bit of a cult following. Dionysus is a Merlot from our oldest vines – 30 year-old Block #1. Its first press and gets special treatment for three years in our best French oak barrels. The next vintage will be the 2014, which has been quietly aging to perfection down in our wine cellar. Look for this special wine to be available late spring 2017.

The 2015 Reds

Our 2015 reds (Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Zeus, Vintner’s Reserve and Petit Verdot) have been aging in French oak since fermentation last October. Early barrel tastings indicate another phenomenal vintage for Doukénie! These wines will be bottled in early March and will be released over the course of next summer. Can’t wait? Take advantage of our barrel tasting opportunity and judge for yourself!

Creating Hope’s Legacy – July 2015

Last Friday, we processed the raspberries for Hope’s Legacy at Doukénie Winery. We put all 1.5 tons of raspberries into tank.

To make a raspberry wine, we have to add yeasts which will transform sugar into alcohol.

Measuring  Monday, we used a refractometer to know the actual percentage of sugar which is naturally in the juice. We found the sugar was too low compared to what was wanted and had to increase the sugar to 22 brix in order to obtain the desired level of alcohol.

Yeast Preparation  Tuesday, we added the dried yeast to warm water to rehydrate them.  When the temperature was right, we put the yeasts into the buckets and waited a few minutes to get them used to the water and its temperature (rehydration phase). Then, every 20 minutes, we added a little quantity of juice (multiplication phase) from the tanks to get the blend of water and yeasts 10°F cooler and to get the yeasts used to the juice and the cooler temperature of almost 50-60°F in the tanks.

Into the Tank    After adding the juice 5 times into the buckets, we could pour the yeast preparation into a tank to mix it with the juice, so the yeasts can begin their fermentation process.  Until the entire consumption of sugar by the yeasts, we will check the tanks temperature and the percentage of sugar in the juice, daily.

Aline Haegi



The Noble Colflection is back for your holiday gift giving. It’s always difficult to find the perfect client or corporate gift or just a gift for your father-in-law. Once again, Doukénie Winery has put together The Noble Collection, three award-wining Virginia wines as a package for your holiday gift-giving, all at discounted prices. The Noble Collection includes: our beautiful 100% Merlot Dionysus red cap; our newly released Vintner’s Reserve black cap – a noble blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Petit Verdot; and our Le Vin Rouge blue cap – a blend of Cabernet Franc and Merlot.

The phrase “noble grape” is a classical term used to describe the grapes traditionally associated with the highest quality wines. Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Petit Verdot are four of the five noble grapes of Bordeaux.

The Noble Collection includes one bottle of each in every package:

Non-Heritage Club Members: 10% savings = $110.52*

Not a Heritage Club Member, and want to receive these great discounts? Click here for more info.

Heritage Club Members: 20% savings = $98.24

Vintage Heritage Club Members: 25% savings = $92.10

* Prices do not include tax or shipping. This package is offered from November 7th, 2014 through January 5th, 2015.


By Henri, French intern – As you know, we are in the middle of harvest and in the middle of Virginia Wine month. We have been very busy because, this year, we have a huge harvest!Virginia wine grape harvest

Actually, all the tanks are full and the musts have beautiful colors, aromas and smells. All the white grapes are picked but we still have red grapes (Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc) in the field. We have pressed and barreled five red wines. They will stay in these barrels for about 18 months. Every two weeks, we will do the ‘topping’, refilling the barrels to replace the evaporated wine.

Do you know how barrels adjust the flavor and composition of the wine? Actually, we have different kinds of barrels for all sorts of wine. We have four main criteria to choose a barrel:

  • wood
  • toast level
  • age
  • capacity

Barrels come from American Oak, French Oak and Hungarian Oak. Each oak brings different flavors to the wine: for a more full-bodied wine, the American oak works best. For a sweet wine, the French is the one you want.Virginia Wine Barrels

The toast level determines the level of exchange between oak and wine creating different flavors. There are four toasting possibilities: Light, Medium, Medium + and Heavy.  The winemaker makes the decision to use both new and old barrels to achieve just the right flavor combination. The newer barrels release more oak flavor than the older ones.

Finally, the size of the barrel provides the area of wood to be in contact with the wine, more the exchange, the bigger the flavor. At Doukenie, the barrels are a 60 gallon capacity (225 liters). We use French oak with a medium or medium + toast. The wines are not too strong, but with delicate and subtle flavors of black fruit, spices and sometimes caramel. The work of a winemaker is to maintain his barrels. We have to obstruct the holes with a wood insert, like a piece of chestnut wood, and tighten the barrel with iron Virginia wine barrel repairhoops. We repaired the barrels that you see in the photo, tightening the barrel with pieces of chestnut wood.

This is my last post and my last week here at Doukenie Winery. I am going back to Toulouse, France to finish my education. It was an amazing experience to be part of the Doukenie team. Thank you, Sebastien Marquet, for being a great teacher and mentor during three months. Thank you so much!  -Henri

By Henri, our French intern –We started our fall harvest 2014 a week ago, and this is really awesome! I will describe the journey of a grape at Doukénie Winery during harvest.

When we are harvesting at Doukénie Winery, we want the best quality of clusters to produce the best quality of wine. So all the grapes are hand-picked.  At the same time, we remove the grapes with the most rot. The grapes go Virginia grapesinto small crates to avoid getting crushed or damaged. The crates go directly to the crusher-de-stemmer.

When the crates of grapes get put on the conveyer, this gives us another opportunity to remove any additional rot and leaves. The grapes then go in the de-stemmer; the berries are separated from the stems. The stems go to the compost while the berries go to the crusher. Now the berries burst with juice.  

We now have two choices: 1) to put the berries in the press if it is for a white wine, or 2) to put the berries in a tank if it is a red wine. One of the distinguishing features of Doukénie Winery is to have the press and the tank downstairs. Gravity allows the berries go in either the tank or the press without having to use a pump.

During the crushing, we sterilize the ‘must’ with SO2. This prevents the developments of undesirable pathogens. We also add yeast to the must. We can choose the type of yeast that we want for the type of must that we have. The yeast will transform the sugar (glucose) of the juice into alcohol (ethanol). This also produces CO2 and heat. We have to be careful with the temperature of the tank: if it goes too high, the yeast can die. With the level of sugar, we can see the evolution of the fermentation.

For a red wine, the berries go into a tank. They will stay in this tank around 2-3 weeks. During that time, the alcoholic fermentation will start. The red must has pieces of berries, and during the fermentation, the yeast produces gas. These gases will create solid particles on the surface. We punch down the top to keep the berries in contact with the juice. In fact, it is the skins, the seeds and the pulp of the berries that will create the tannins, acid, polyphenols. In addition, we do some pump over. This involves pumping the juice down and sprinkling the top. When the fermentation is done, we empty the tank of the juice. We do one Virginia Wine Grapesmore press to get any juice from the particles. Every drop counts.  The wine can then go inside a barrel.

For a white wine, the berries go into a press. We extract the juice and then it goes into a tank. The tank stays cold with a system of glycolic refrigeration. Enzymes are added to the juice to destroy any particles and facilitate the sedimentation. The larger particles and the lees fall to the bottom of the tank. The juice is then decanted into another tank. We rack the bottom of the first tank to clean it and throw away the lees.  After, the fermentation takes place, the wine stays in a stainless steel tank or goes in a French Oak barrel (for the Chardonnay, for example).

The next step is the vinification! See you next week for other blog post full of facts and winery terms about the Harvest 2014 at Doukénie Winery!

By Maria Canora, Hospitality and Special Events Manager – After a busy September of getting the children back to school and gearing up for end of the year work deadlines, we invite you to kick back and enjoy the stars and fine music. This event replaces our Italian Festival, and we hope our Heritage Club members take advantage of their complimentary ticket.banner

Here are 5 reasons you won’t want to miss this great night at Doukénie Winery, one of Virginia’s finest wineries that produce wine with tradition and excellence.

  1.  It’s not just about the complimentary glass of LeVin Rouge, it’s about the experience. Sharing award-winning Virginia wine with friends and family.
  2. Sit back and relax. Bring blankets and chairs, close your eyes and drink in the smell of the vines and earth as harvest is about to begin.
  3. Sing, clap your hands, tap your feet and get up and dance! When was the last time you just had a great time. Music by Gary Smallwood and Billy Thompson (band) will totally be a surprise.
  4. There’s always room for food to pair with a glass or bottle of wine. Deli South and Smokin’ Willie’s BBQ will be perfect with that glass of Merlot or Riesling.
  5. Stars…plenty of stars. Those are free too!

The fall at the vineyard is one of the best times. Spend the day or just come for the event. Either way, you won’t want to miss this night. Tickets are on sale now here. See you there.

By Henri, French Intern – This week, Doukénie Winery, one of Virginia’s award-winning wineries,  bottled three new Virginia wines: Chardonnay 2013, Vintner’s Reserve 2012 and Cabernet Sauvignon 2012. Virginia vineyard

The first step is to filter the wine from the barrels where they had been fermenting for one to two years. The wine should not be cloudy. With a pump, we emptied the barrels through a pad filter. The pad filter is made from a cellulose fiber. As the wine filters through, the pad keeps the biggest particles. There are two filtrations: the first time we filtrate, we use two kinds of cellulosic pad that are different sizes.  This process eliminates most of the big particles and the wine loses its cloudiness.

The second is a sterilization filtration. By the end, all the wine is filtered at 0.80µm. This means that these two filtrations eliminate particles like lactic bacteria, dead cells or yeast.

Next, the wine goes to a tank with a pipe. It stays there for one day, until the bottling begins. Now that the wine is in one place, we add sulfur SO2 to the wine. Sulfur has antiseptic and anti-oxidizing properties, providing  a repellent action on development microorganisms after bottling, preventing a too rapid combination of phenolic compounds with oxygen and finally avoids maderization of the wine.

Maderization is a transformation of the wine, which can occur naturally. After strong oxidation, the wine has changed color and taste. White wines become amber and red wines take on a brick color. Sulfur slows down the maderization and therefore keeps the wine drinkable bottling pump

The second step is to bottle the wine. A big truck comes directly to the winery equipped with a small bottling line. We brought the empty bottles, corks, capsules and labels. The wine is pumped through a pipe, from the tank to the truck.

Here is how a typical bottling process goes:

  • put empty washed bottles on the a conveyor belt
  • fill with wine, a little of CO2 is added before to drive the cork inside the bottle
  • the capsule(lead around the cork) and label is applied
  •  At the end of the conveyor belt, we pack the bottles into cases.
  • We close the case, stamp it with the name of the wine. After waiting five minutes for the cork to blow and completely destroy the bottle, we turn over the case and stack it on a palette.virginia bottling process
  • A palette holds 56 cases. The palettes go to the cold storage room.

This was very  satisfactory work because we were seeing the final product. Only it was hard at the end because a storm arrived and the cardboard boxes were getting wet and weak… like all the people who were bottling!

See you next week for more news of Doukénie Winery, a Virginia Winery! – Henri

By Henri, a French intern – Here’s an update on what’s been going on indiseased leaf at virginia winery, an award-wining Virginia winery located in DC’s Wine Country, where I’m working this summer. At this point, the hand work is almost finished until the harvest, which should start as early as August. These Virginia vines just need to be protected against two principal attackers.

First is disease. At Doukénie, we don’t have a lot of diseases. The invasion of Japanese beetles has been controlled. A little bit of downy mildew is present on the Chardonnay. But we treated the vines against this last week.

The second issue is the animals. We check the batteries of the electric machine to scare birdsfences frequently. Then, we have to protect the vines against the birds. Indeed, they peck the grapes and could bring additional rot. We installed different equipment: 2 cannons that make a big explosion every 20 minutes to scare off the birds. Three speakers were installed and they make a “cry” sound to scare the birds. Then we have a weathercock that moves and makes sound, and different pieces of metallic tape that reflect the sun protect the grapes.

Actually, the Véraison is nearly complete. Véraison is a viticulture ripe wine grapes in Virginia(grape-growing) term meaning “the onset of ripening”. It is originally French, but has been adopted into English use. The official definition of veraison is “change of color of the grapes.” We started to take grape samples to test the level of sugar. To measure the right level of sugar, the grapes need to be a consistent color, up and down the grapes. With a spectrophotometer, we can see the level of sugar, expressed in Brix. The spectrophotometer deviates the sun when it goes through the juice of the crushed berries. The vines that are nearly ready are the Riesling and the Sauvignon Blanc.

Finally, the harvest will start in two or three weeks. And this year, we will have a lot of grapes to pick! See you next week for more news of the Virginia Winery, Doukenie Winery! – Henri

By Henri, our French intern – My second week at Doukénie Winery, a beautiful Virginia winery in Loudoun County, is filled with lots of little jobs that need to be done to maintain and take care of the vines, especially the new vines.

First, I worked on the baby vines. I put the wire down and I attached the iron Young Virginia Vinesstakes to the wire with the black clip (see photo). My hands remember that! This stake placed in the correct way allow the vines to grow easily. The vines are protected by a white cardboard tube. It is white because white is the color that brings the most usable UV to the plant. The two photosynthetic pigments, chlorophyll and carotenoid, are used by the chloroplast in the cells of the leaves. And this protection is a physical barrier for the animals and weeds.

The next job was to clean around the trees hedge. Indeed, there were some big stones, old stakes, big roots and branches. So with the truck and the trailer, a shovel, a pickaxe, shears and a machete, the workersDoukenie Winery Vines and I were ready to clean this up.

What’s happening with the grapes? After a long review, I don’t see a lot of diseases on the vines. This photo shows damage from the Japanese beetles. But we have stopped the invasion at this time. There is a little bit of downy mildew on the Chardonnay baby vines. So, when we see how many grapes are on a vine, we think that the harvest will be great. There are not many grapes per vine because the percent of grapes and leaves is equilibrate. It means that all the grapes could have enough nutriVirginia grapes for wineents, sugar and flavors. Actually, the Veraison starts everywhere. The Veraison is the beginning of the maturation.You could see it easily on the red grapes because the change of colors, like in the picture.

See you next week with more news from this Virginia winery, Doukénie Winery! — Henri

By Henri, a French Intern – Starting today and every week that I’m here at Doukénie, one of Loudoun County’s oldest Virginia vineyards, I will post about the work that I am doing in the vineyard and fields. I really want you, our readers and fans, to stay informed of whaWeeds around base of Virginia Vinest is happening every day during harvest at this beautiful Virginia winery. The first step to produce good wine is based on what is created in the field.

Wineries in Virgiina have a difficult time during July. The fourth week of July is decisive. During this time, I worked with baby vines that are two years old. I had to cut the vine shoots from the base of the vine. We paid attention to the shortest vines, cleaning out the weeds and re-attaching the vines to the stakes for additional support.

Next I started working on the Riesling vines, which typically grow in a grapnel shape. With these vines, I needed to cut the vine shoot and branches that grown too low. When the branches touch the ground, the humidity gets trapped among the branches and disease begins quickly, like the downy mildew.  The ivy that climbs on the vines and on the trellis post also need to be cut because they stifle the vines, making them die quickly. As you can see there is a lot of manual labor.

Virginia vines in July at Doukenie WineryNext I cut leaves that were growing in front of the grapes. This allows the sun to reheat the grapes, keeping the humidity down. Virginia is very hot and humid and knowing how to counter this humidity is critical. With less humidity, the grapes get fewer diseases and still get enough sun to mature and develop wonderful flavors. Virginia wineries have climate and weather conditiions to deal with regularly.

I then moved to another field working with the tractor. This was some big machine with a huge engine. My job was to place the branches in between the two wires and to cut the branches that were sticking out of the wires. While the tractor was cutting the branches at the top and at the right, it was also cutting the grass.

Now the vines are ready and healthy to help the grapes mature. But we will continue to keep an eye on the evolution of the disease and parasites and on the overall health of the grapes.

See you next week with more news from the Virginia winery, Doukénie Winery! — Henri