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Clifton winery reps Fairfax County on world stage at Paris expo

Clifton’s Paradise Springs Winery is one of six Virginia wineries to attend the 2024 Wine Paris and Vinexpo Paris (courtesy Visit Fairfax)

The lead-up to Valentine’s Day has carried an extra note of sweetness for Paradise Springs Winery.

The Clifton winery is wrapping up a three-day stay in France for the fifth annual Wine Paris & Vinexpo Paris, where it’s representing Fairfax County as one of just six participating Virginia establishments.

Held this Monday through Wednesday (Feb. 12-14), the international trade show is one of the world’s biggest events for the wine and spirit industry, drawing businesses and entrepreneurs from nearly 50 countries and an estimated 40,000 visitors this year.

“To think of the journey we’ve been on since opening the winery over 18 years ago, to now have our wine being well received globally by audiences in different regions that are known the world over for producing excellent wines, is a really satisfying feeling,” Paradise Springs Winery CEO and founder Kirk Wiles said in a statement.

Encompassing 36 acres in Clifton near Hemlock Overlook Regional Park, Paradise Springs (13219 Yates Ford Road) became the first winery in Fairfax County when Wiles and his family launched it in 2007.

The business crafted its first vintage — a reserve cabernet sauvignon — that fall, but its doors didn’t open to the public until Jan. 16, 2010 due to some legal wrangling with the county over whether the property was zoned for a vineyard, Paradise Springs says in its official history.

The winery has since expanded to a second location that opened in Santa Barbara, California, in 2014, making it the first bi-coastal wine brand in the U.S., according to Visit Fairfax, the county’s official tourism marketing agency.

At this week’s Wine Paris Vinexpo, Paradise Springs showcased its 2021 petit verdot — which was named a Virginia Governor’s Cup Case winner last year. It also poured a cabernet franc petit manseng and a specialty mix of petit verdot and tannat that will be served at the home of the U.S. ambassador to France this week.

Fairfax County’s wine scene remains small. Paradise Springs is joined by the Winery at Bull Run, which opened in Centreville in 2012, and Woodlawn Press Winery, a family-owned microwinery located just off Richmond Highway in Mount Vernon.

However, as chair of the Virginia Wine Board for the past eight years, Wiles says attending the Wine Paris Vinexpo represents a significant step forward for the state’s wine industry.

“To be here in this moment is validating for the Commonwealth — being recognized as producing some of the best wine in the United States,” he said. “The goal is to reach new audiences that don’t know the quality of Virginia wine, and the more people that know about our exceptional product, the higher the demand will be.”

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