Daniel and Katie Gomez liked Delaplane Cellars so much as customers that they now own it.
The couple and two friends, Nicholas Jordan and Thomas Duckenfield, paid the asking price of $5.3 million to Jim and Betsy Dolphin, who founded Delaplane Cellars in 2007.
The real estate listing “popped up on my Facebook page,” said Daniel Gomez. Roy Melloni of TTR Sotheby’s International Realty handled the sale, which was completed within a month after the property was listed.
The price includes the vineyards, winery and tasting room building and a house.
The purchase fulfills an ambition of the partners – all wine lovers -- to get into the business of making and selling wine.
“I think this is the right fit for us,” Gomez said.
Gomez and Jordan are government contractors in Arlington. Gomez, 37, grew up in Colorado; he moved East for his career. His wife, the former Katie Stokely, grew up in Warrenton. The couple have a son, Benjamin, 2.
Duckenfield is an attorney in Washington, D.C.
Gomez notes that Delaplane Cellars is now minority-owned. He is Hispanic and his partners are African American. “There are not a lot of minority-owned wineries,” Gomez said.
The longtime friends plan to be hands-on owners as much as their day jobs allow, but they’ll be hiring a general manager. Gomez will serve as managing partner.
A smooth transition is planned.
“Jim and Betsy have done a phenomenal job,” Gomez said during an interview next to the tasting room. “I hope the clientele appreciate that we make really great French wine. We’re going to continue that. My hope is that we’ll maintain that consistency. I believe the wine here is phenomenal. I’d put it against any other wines in Virginia. And we have the most gorgeous view.”
Customers who join the Delaplane Cellars wine club receive a limited number of complimentary wine tastings and discounts and advance notice about special offerings.
“You can taste everywhere but join the place you really love,” Gomez said.
The partners plan to add some “elevated” tastings, where customers pay for a meal with wines chosen to pair with the food.
“With the tasting menu you see how wine can choose the food and how food chooses the wine. It provides a great experience,” Gomez explained. “I like long dinners – two to three hours. You’re able to forge a lot of relationships. We’re 45 minutes from the Beltway. You can be in a gorgeous place enjoying wine and food and getting to know people. You can’t always find that in the busy places in D.C.”
The partners plan to use the house on the property for special “higher-end tastings.”
They also want to introduce new wines.
“Our priority is also to offer some new releases. We’ve committed to a certain number,” Gomez said.
Lisa Christopher interacts with customers as the guest experience manager at Delaplane Cellars. She started the job just a few months ago. She sees good things ahead.
The Dolphins “put the nuts and bolts together from the ground up. We want to take that, enhance it and make it better,” Christopher said. “I think the guests will like what [the new owners] will be doing.”
Rick Tagg will continue as the winemaker at Delaplane Cellars. Gomez said Tagg has high standards. “He will not pour a bad wine or use bad fruit,” Gomez said.
There are 22 acres of grapes planted at Delaplane Cellars. Fruit is also purchased from local growers.
Gomez said the partners will be replanting soon with some new varieties of grapes.
Most of the grapes have been harvested for this season.
“The Cab Sauv grapes look great. We’ll probably pull them at the end of the week,” Gomez said of the grapes used in Cabernet Sauvignon wine.
They are still learning the business.
“We’ll probably be picking a lot of people’s brains,” said Gomez.
Reach James Ivancic at email@example.com