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Located on the family’s former apple orchard, Barren Ridge Vineyards is now home to Augusta County’s premier winery. John and Shelby Higgs converted their old apple barn into a state-of-the-art winery, preserving the original structure and wood beams. The tasting room features wonderful wines that are available daily for complimentary tours and tastings.
After almost 30 years in management at Philip Morris, John and Shelby Higgs decided it was time to come home to the Shenandoah Valley. Growing up on the apple orchard that his father purchased in 1934, John dreamed of faraway places, but as his children grew and his family’s farm became overgrown with weeds, John began to think of returning home. Living in Switzerland exposed him to European wines and the centuries-old traditions of grape growing and winemaking. John realized he could save his family’s neglected orchard.
In 2007 the Higgs gathered dozens of friends to plant over an acre of European vinifera vines on the sloping hills of the family farm. He hired local contractors to renovate the old barn and add a wing for winery production. For his first vintage he bought grapes from neighboring Virginia vineyards – viognier, traminette, vidal blanc, touriga, merlot, petit verdot, and cabernet franc. He bottled viognier, vidal blanc, traminette, touriga, and a rosé in the spring of 2008. The Higgs planted more vines in the spring of 2008 and will continue to plant a total of 10 acres, including viognier, chardonnay, merlot, vidal blanc, petit verdot, and traminette.