Notaviva marches to a different tune

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It’s not easy getting a winery under way, a fact that will be on full display on television this month. Home & Garden Television will air “Dream House,” an eight-episode special detailing the efforts of Shannon and Stephen Mackey to open Notaviva Vineyards in Loudoun County earlier this year.

“It’s basically a reality show about what it takes to overextend yourself creatively, financially and emotionally to get something like this built,” says Stephen Mackey. He used his online journal about Notaviva to win the attention of the TV show’s producers. Now the blog includes more than 600 entries and 3,000 photos documenting the winery’s progress.

Filming took place over 15 months, covering everything from planting vines to the winery’s construction. The show also captures personal travails along the way. The Mackeys had to build their business while starting a family and juggling full-time jobs in multimedia production. “We’ve put a lot of sweat equity into this place,” Stephen says.

The Mackeys were still dating when “on a romantic whim” at a local festival in 2002, they decided to pursue winemaking. “We had no idea even how to actually grow a grape at that point,” Stephen recalls.

It turned out, though, that their lack of experience gave the Mackeys freedom to try a new approach to the winery business. Notaviva stands out from the crowd because of its involvement with music. The winery’s name, in fact, comes from the Italian word for the effect of music on human emotions. Notaviva hosts concerts every weekend, and its tasting room includes a production studio equipped with sound editing machines and musical instruments.

In fact, the Mackeys believe wine drinking should be paired with music. They recommend drinking Notaviva’s Cabernet Franc, Cantabile (the term for easy, flowing music), while listening to a string quartet or a cello concerto.

The winery’s musical connection appears to be a hit with customers. Notaviva’s weekend concerts have drawn capacity crowds, and the winery has provided as many as 100 tastings a day. 


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