Chatham Vineyards is owned and operated by the Wehner family at historic Chatham Farm which has been a working farm for four centuries.
Jon Wehner is a second-generation winegrower on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. He learned about grape growing from his parents who operated Great Falls Vineyard in Great Falls, Virginia for over thirty years. He and his wife, Mills, and their three children own and operate the vineyard and winery.
Since 1999, more than twenty acres of high-density (1,740 vines per acre) French vinifera varietals have been planted. They are Merlot (clone 181 and 3 on rootstock 101-14 and 3309), Chardonnay (French Dijon clones 95/96 and 76, and California Clones 4 and 5 on 3309 rootstock), Cabernet Franc (clone 214 on 101-14 rootstock), Cabernet Sauvignon (clone 337 on 101-14 rootstock) and Petit Verdot (clone 400 on 101-14 rootstock). The vineyards are cane pruned during the winter months to balance the vines and limit yields to less than 4 tons per acre thereby concentrating wine flavors. The grapes are hand-picked and sorted before pressing to ensure the highest quality of the juice. Grapes not vinified at the winery are sold to other wineries in Virginia.
The land at Chatham, which overlooks Church Creek, was patented in 1640. The Federal-period brick house, Chatham, was built in 1818 by Major Scarborough Pitts and named for William Pitt, the Earl of Chatham and friend of the American Revolution. The historic outbuildings, barns and two early 1900s homes on the property have been renovated in recent years. Chatham Farm has been a working farm for four centuries.
The winery was constructed in 2005 and currently has a production capacity of 3,000 to 5,000 cases annually. Winemaking equipment includes a computerized Europress 2200 litre, a Zickler-Rauch destemmer/crusher A-12, French and Virginia oak cooperage, and stainless steel fermenters with dimpled glycol cooling jackets custom-made in Italy. Temperature in the winery is maintained at 50 degrees year round. A retail tasting room is located in the winery.
Future plans include the relocation and restoration of an 1890s farmhouse adjoining the winery to serve as a tasting room and special events facility.