An Interview with John Kent Cooke, owner of Virginia’s own The Boxwood Estate Winery and The Tasting Room.
By Ericha Richards
Although Washingtonians are no rookies to knowing quality wines, it is surprising to most that very few of the most popular wines in the District are of local origin. John Kent Cooke is out to change that. The Boxwood Estate Winery in Middleburg, Virginia is nothing short of a fulfillment of his every dream. Having been the heir to the once larger-than-life Redskins empire, John Kent Cooke swiftly changed paths and ventured into the world of the fine wines. With the recent opening of the Tasting Room’s fourth location at the National Harbor, Kent Cooke is on his way to creating another mega-empire in the Washington D.C. metro area. He is also ensuring that everyone in the Washington D.C. metro area has access to a Tasting Room with locations also including Chevy Chase, Reston, and Middleburg. WL got a chance to chat with Kent Cooke about the success of his current venture and what makes this a lasting brand.
Washington Life: Why was the National Harbor selected as the fourth location for the Tasting Room expansion?
John Kent Cooke: A well planned, designed and built complex along the Potomac. Extensively promoted and very popular. And I have a soft spot for Prince Georges County.
WL: What do you think of Virginia wines?
JKC: Virginia is on its way to be recognized as a fine wine area, as Thomas Jefferson foresaw. There are more than 200 wineries in the state today and many are serious, as we are at Boxwood, in making premium wines. We are proud of recently receiving a silver medal for our Topiary 2007 in Decanter Magazine’s World Wine Awards for 2011.
WL: Red or White? Do you have a preference?
JCK: Red, naturally (that is all we make).
WL: What is your most savored wine memory?
JKC: Opening our first bottle from Boxwood Winery, the 2007 vintage.
WL: What makes the Tasting Room different from others of its kind?
JKC: The Tasting Rooms are wine bars affiliated with Boxwood Winery. We use Enomatic machines which allow customers to sample and judge our wines with wines made throughout the world. We offer light fare of cheese plates, charcuterie, salads and hors d’oeuvres to sample with the wines, but we are a wine bar and wine shop first, a restaurant second. All the wines can be purchased to take home. It is a unique concept and very popular.