Husband and wife, Jeff and Laura McCarthy Louden, equally share ownership and operation of the business. Bringing essential ingredients and individual talents to the table, both are integral players to keeping the farm and business rolling.
Jeff and Laura McCarthy Louden
Where is this Cobbler Mountain farm and how did it begin? Cobbler Mountain Cellars is a licensed operating vineyard and farm winery with a visitor tasting room nestled on Big Cobbler Mountain in Northern Fauquier County, Delaplane, Virginia. The property, owned by Jeff and Laura McCarthy Louden, is located 45 miles West of Washington, D.C. and 20 miles North-West of the county seat, Warrenton. Located in Delaplane, VA. Starting from scratch after 40 years of vacancy, Jeff, Laura & the children have restored the family farm, bringing farming & life back to the Mountain. After years of patience, the farm is seeing its rewards, including award-winning wines and the invitation to serve eight of the wines to the Department of State, Office of Protocol in Washington D.C.
Cobbler Mountain Cellars is a wine producer, making classic vaeritals that do very well in Virginia, such as Chardonnay, Petit Verdot, Malbec, Merlot, Vidal Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, as well as a red blend that quite impressive.
They are also a Cidery, making Hard cider, some with hop, some with blackberry, some with maple syrup, some with Cinnamon or Pumpkin. Quite a wide selection to please everyone.
Date Founded: July 2005
Owner: Jeff and Laura McCarthy Louden
Laura McCarthy Louden’s father, Lawrence Daniel McCarthy, purchased the farm in 1959. Leaving Washington, D.C., a writing post with the Associated Press and a sold houseboat in the harbor ~ he searched for open space with land and a farm school to take his writing into the classroom. He made a handshake deal with the farmer ready to retire from Cobbler Mountain and settled on $100 an acre, plus the cow and chickens. Next, McCarthy acquired a new teaching job in the little town of nearby Marshall. The brick building still stands currently as the local library and community center. He was quickly known for his connection to students, especially those with special needs and disabilities. The farm became a learning center for all ~ even though many peers didn’t understand his patience for wobbler walkers and wheelchairs on fieldtrips to his farm or the Blue Ridge Parkway ... or the importance of describing to a blind child the wilderness “seen” before them.
One school in Greeneville-Spartanburg, SC wrote asking he be at their helm, offering a full Directorship. After recently marrying and making plans to start a family on the farm ...this new offer came with a pause ... followed by acceptance to start a new venture down South in 1967 ...with plans to return. The old farmhouse was filled by tenants during the years the couple began their “mission” with the Southern school. Upon arrival to his new job, McCarthy was dismayed over the conditions of the school ... housed in an old building. There was asbestos, dark halls, few teachers, parent-only volunteers (not the Volunteer Corps found in America today) ... yet a determined leader. He sought out others to form a “working committee” to delve into a year-long Federal grant proposal seeking funds for a new state-of-the art facility. It was filed and the committee was full of anticipation. While waiting, McCarthy was anxious to prepare for what he felt was coming. Without official orders, he integrated the two segregated schools in the region ... hauling desks, chairs, supplies ... all for the sake of giving the SAME opportunity to both races.
Many say, “He was working before his time.” The move happened peacefully with no riots. Shortly afterwards though, his life ended at the young age of 42 from sudden heart failure. That morning at the table of breakfast laid out by his wife he said to her, “I still feel like I haven’t done enough’. They did not know his grant had been accepted and that Laura was on the way. She was born, raised and educated in SC, yet was introduced to the farm through visits in the summer to see the O’Malley & McCarthy relatives in the Washington area. Keeping tenants for a handful of years after his death, turned burdensome. The neighboring cattle farmer offered to keep watch and create pasture for his herd on the farm to keep the land in use. His seasonal bush-hogging kept the fields of hay mowed, yet many, many years later meant a washed away road, a fallen bridge, a house in need of repair and fields wanting attention.
Laura loved the farm as a little girl. The breezy fields, the fresh stream, the wild mountain ... all full of life and full of seasons. For her, it was a dream to have the wildlife as your neighbors and the excitement of the big city a close drive away. Not to mention the lively Irish kin in surrounding pockets ... whose gatherings were always filled with music and joy. This notion stayed in the back of her mind for years. It didn’t seem possible, especially after so many, many, many trips to the property with her mother and sister while growing up ... just to “check on the farm”. Hiking to the hilltop knoll to look out at the mountain view and valley was a tradition. Parking the car on the main road was the only way in (Laura’s mother wouldn’t allow them to swing the big cattle gate open for fear of letting loose prime black angus). “Oh, Mother! They are only a MILE back!!” she’d hear from the girls miserably hoisting their teenage figures in their 1980s fashion jeans over the rusty fence. Several hours later, covered in ticks and occasional cow patties, the deed was done for them. Mother had seen her farm once again. Laid eyes on the crumbling farmhouse. Counted the failed pine seedlings once hopeful for tree farming. She had dreamed of the long-ago-dream, now impossible for reaching. It was all too overwhelming and too complicated to request the county for an equal divide of land for two daughters .... once again sending her back to SC with a tail between her legs.
With all of this tucked far, far in the back of Laura’s mind .... land once loved by Laura’s father ... transferred to a love of the farm by Laura’s mother ... now had become a love of her own. When asked to describe “how she came about this land”... to this day ... this story is told because without the Irish writer-teacher-lover of the wild ..... there would be no connection and there would be no history to share and pass down. So if you have truly been reading this timeline and are truly interested in meeting a young couple determined to finish the dream that started a generation ago ... in hopes to share with future generations ... then you have opened up the right book. We will be happy to tell you the rest and hopefully share many, many more chapters with you to come.
LAURA McCARTHY LOUDEN
Winery Acreage: 12
Winery Production: 2,500 + kegs / 9L cases
Varietals Produced: Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Viognier Hard Cider (Traditional, Hop (IPA), Original Honey, Cinnamon, Pumpkin and Wild Blackberry Hop)
Winemaker: Jeff Louden
Over the years, Laura’s attachment to the land grew stronger and stronger. The turning point was her introduction of the farm to her new husband, Jeff, on trips to Cobbler Mountain during the years 2000 - 2005. Forty-plus years later, with a new generation on board, the farm had a plan. Phase One: Formulated an LLC and established climate stations throughout the farm in 2005. Phase Two: In 2006, Jeff & Laura relocated to the area to begin a long process of restoration and preparation for plantings of the first 2 acre block of vineyard: Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon & Cabernet Franc. Phase Three: Performed new surveys, land transfers, developed infrastructure including new road, bridge and power in 2007. Phase Four: Searched for builders of integrity, researched & designed house plans & finally retained loan for construction. Phase Five: In 2009, built the house with start-up cellar space for the business. A Farm Awakening occurred October 19th, filling the land with music, family, laughter and harmony ~ 50 years after the original purchase date. The address of the new house 5909 Long Fall Lane represents these monumental years: (1959 – 2009).
The first grape vines were established in Spring of 2006 including two acres of Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. Winery production began in Fall of 2010 after the Farm Winery License was in place. In the Spring of 2011, one acre of Viognier was planted on Earth Day. In addition to estate-grown varietals, additional crops were co-farmed in several regions where partnerships were established. Upon opening, handcrafted wines on the tasting menu included Chardonnay, Hard Apple Cider, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and the popular Meritage blend.