Muse’s proprietors are husband and wife, Robert Muse and Sally Cowal. Robert is an international lawyer who (as an Arizonan) trained as a barrister in England. Sally is a former United States ambassador who is now Senior Vice President of Global Cancer Control at the American Cancer Society.
Shenandoah River Fork at Muse Vineyards
There’s always a river. Like many Americans, farming is a large part of Robert’s background. In the 17th Century, his French Huguenot ancestors came to America and settled on the banks of the Potomac where they started planting tobacco. Their property adjoined George Washington’s birthplace.
In 2003 Robert and Sally drove to Woodstock, Virginia to look at a property with an overgrown vineyard. They bought the property specifically for the vineyard and began working to resuscitate the vines.
Robert & Sally next purchased a 200-year-old Mennonite farm adjacent to their property on the banks of the Shenandoah River and expanded to thirty acres of vines. After much research they learned how to combine the qualities of Muse’s soil, its topography, and its proximity to the river to produce a range of exceptional wine grapes.
Muse has planted some twenty different grape varieties. According to Robert, “The varieties we’ve planted produce interesting wine: for instance, Sangiovese is the grape from which Tuscan wines are made, mid-weight with cherry notes; while the Nebbiolo grape produces the complex wines of Italy’s Piedmont region. We use those grapes and others to produce bold reds that are refreshing, food complimentary wines.”
- Muse Vineyards sits at an elevation of 1,000 feet and rests on Virginia shale and rocky red clay soils. The top vineyard sits on a terrace formed millions of years ago by the Shenandoah River that today flows one hundred feet below. The soil is a loose loam formed from crystalline rock. Red gravelly clay begins at a depth of about three feet. Gentle inclines combine with the rocky soil to ensure good drainage.
- The vineyard next to the tasting room, where Cabernet Sauvignon and some white varieties are grown, plunges down a steep shale outcropping.
- The lower vineyard is on the river’s bank and consists of silt loam alluvium formed from sandstone and shale.