We (John and P-J Lawrence) have been residents of Northern Virginia since 1988...twenty-four of those years in Loudoun County. Like many wine devotees, we fell in love with the wonders of wine during a visit to Napa in 1986. Ever since, our vacations have nearly always centered on wine destinations throughout the US and Europe. While we found the early Virginia wines a bit "rough", by 2008 we began to see well crafted wines being produced by a few Virginia wine makers. By 2010, in our estimation, a renaissance in Virginia wine making was underway. We began enjoying and collecting Virginia wines.
In 2012 a colleague purchased an old apple orchard in Rappahannock County adjacent to Old Rag Mountain. The site was at just under 1,000 ft elevation. The soil was fractured, crumbly granite with a perfect north to south slope. We were going to plant a vineyard. Ok, now what? Over the next 12 months on Saturdays we attended viticulture and enology at Piedmont Community College in Charlottesville.
Our First Bottle From Our First Barrel of Wine we Made with Ashton - 2012 Cabernet Franc. It is still Wonderful!
During our experience with Piedmont Community College we became aware of the "Be a Winemaker" program at Vint Hill Craft Winery. This was the perfect opportunity for us. From "Crush-to-Bottling" we were able to work with the Vint Hill winemaker to learn and experience all aspects of winemaking, while crafting our own barrel of wine of the varietal or blend we desired.
This was the beginning of our relationship with Ashton Lough - Our belief in and desire to be involved in the Virginia wine making industry
Ashton Lough: Three Creeks Winemaker
Ashton has a Masters degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from the University of Georgia. Ashton completed all of the doctoral course work but decided to pursue a career in commercial wine-making rather than complete his doctoral thesis - lucky for all of us fine wine lovers.
Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, as it turns out, is the perfect major for wine-making. It combines intense study of Organic and Inorganic Chemistry, Microbiology, Cellular Biology and Biochemical pathways. A perfect combination of disciplines to understand yeast and their synthesis of ethanol from fermentable sugars. With degrees in hand, lots of home winemaking experience and reading most of the available winemaking texts, Ashton accepted the position as winemaker for Pearmund Cellars and moved to Virginia in 2012. Not long after, his demonstrated mastery of all aspects of wine-making lead him, in addition to his role as the winemaker for Pearmund Cellars, to take on the winemaking responsibilities for Vint Hill Craft Winery, The Winery at Bull Run, Effingham Manor and Fleetwood Farm Winery.
In 2018 Ashton focused his work to being the winemaker for The Winery at Bull Run. In this position he continues to make a portion of the wine for Fleetwood Farm Winery and now is the winemaker for Three Creeks Winery.
Ashton's underlying philosophy in winemaking is balance, Balance is getting the relationships between fruit, acid and tannins (red wines) in the right concentrations to deliver the best tasting experience possible for each particular vintage. Without balance wines become one dimensional. Making wine fulfills both Ashton's love of science and art. Most of the early decisions in the process relate to science and structure, later decisions focus on flavor and artistic profile. There are approximately 300 decisions from grape to bottle, and the closer you get to the bottle the more exacting you must be. Exceptional wine is the corner stone of the Three Creeks experience, and in creating world class wines, if you start with a solid foundation, the flavor takes care of itself.