Virginia’s award-winning Rappahannock Cellars announced the opening of Dida’s Distillery, the winery’s new on-site distillery specializing in 100 percent grape-based spirits. Dida’s Distillery pays tribute to owner John Delmare’s grandfather, Dida, and honors his family’s grape growing legacy.

The Delmare family’s fruit farming roots date back to the early 20th century. Delmare’s grandfather harvested Viognier grapes, now the state grape of Virginia, along the Dalmatian coast of Croatia before moving his family to California in 1906. There, Dida and Delmare’s father founded the Mariani Packing Company and Saratoga Vineyard & Mariana’s Winery. After spending years in California’s winemaking industry, Delmare and his wife packed their bags and headed east. The couple and their children settled down at the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains and shortly after founded Rappahannock Cellars in 2000.

Dida's Distillery, Huntly, Virginia Brandy

Fourteen years after their initial break into Virginia’s booming wine business, Delmare decided to further develop the winery’s grape growing capabilities by expanding into a boutique distillery. The opening of Dida’s Distillery had been in the works for nearly three years and finally came to fruition this November. Delmare and his team used the three-year planning period to organize harvests and perfect the craft of spirit making.

Dida’s Distillery produces both aged and light spirits which are distilled solely from premium wine grapes. These 100 percent gluten-free grape-based spirits are first pressed and fermented into intense wines and then distilled in small batches in the distillery’s custom-made, 100-gallon pot/column hybrid copper still.

“Grapes have some major advantages over grains—grapes have a lot more flavor and aroma,” says Delmare. “More flavor and aroma going into the still provides for more flavor and aroma in the final spirit. And not only as a brandy—grapes also make for incredibly smooth and flavorful vodkas and gins with character you can’t get from grains.”

Dida's Distillery, Huntly, Brandy, Vodka, Gin

A Pressed Vodka and Immature Brandy are currently available at the distillery’s tasting room and were crafted by one of Delmare’s 12 children, Allan Delmare. Two of Delmare’s other children, Kelly and Teresa, work respectively as the tasting room manager and wine club manager at Rappahannock Cellars.

Dida’s Distillery is located at 14437 Hume Road in Huntly and offers walk-in tastings from 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Friday through Sunday.

Written By

Grace Silipigni