Annually, the world celebrates World Marselan Day on April 27. Why April 27?

The day was chosen to commemorate Marselan’s creator, the French ampelographer, Paul Truel’s birthday.

Why are we celebrating World Marselan Day at Hickory Hill? Read on!

Image shows Roger and Judy in the vineyard

Our Cabernet Sauvignon vines are turning thirty, and we’re looking back to our original ‘experimental’ vineyard of the 1980s for inspiration for our next steps as a Virginia Farm winery.

Don’t worry. Those older Cabernet Sauvignon vines still have many vintages left in them.

Forty years ago, Roger and Judy planted the first ‘experimental’ vineyard on the shores of Smith Mountain Lake.

This spring, in the vineyards, we’re adding two new rows of grape vines. Hickory Hill Vineyard’s winemaking daughter, Wendy, wanted a red wine grape suited for Smith Mountain Lake and our future. She discovered a descendant of Cabernet Sauvignon that loves summer heat for our next vineyard (and winery!) experiment.

Roger, Donald, Wendy, and brother Bob have planted Wendy’s choice for the new experiment:


The Marselan grape is a child of Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache. It’s as old as Donald, being developed in 1961 along the sunny Mediterranean of France. Small grapes in the cluster, like Marselan vines produced, were not in market favor in those years. But now,  smaller grapes have a greater skin-to-juice ratio often resulting in wines with deep color, aromas, and flavor.

Marselan thrives in the coastal heat. We shall discover if it thrives in the Hickory Hill vineyard by the shores of Smith Mountain Lake.

Provisionally approved by France’s AOC as a grape adapting to the climate changes in Bordeaux’s vineyards, we are testing it to see if Smith Mountain Lake, Hickory Cove spring waters, and fickle Mother Nature might nurture Marselan into a varietal that produces a good wine for us here at Smith Mountain Lake.

Putting in new vineyard rows of wine grapes takes planning, preparation, trellising work, and help! We purchased the Marselan vines last year, and they have been growing in Bakersfield, California, for two years. Holes, posts, and wires were dug and placed as the vines acclimated to Smith Mountain Lake’s spring weather for two weeks.

But what kind of wine will this Marselan grape make for Hickory Hill?

A sweet red for our sails?

A country red blend?

An age-able, big red monster of a dry red wine? Donald’s biased on this hope.

We’re patient. It’ll be a couple of years before we’re all having a barrel tasting of a Hickory Hill Marselan’s vintage. Wendy is hoping for 2025 or more likely 2026.

We also think Judy’s spirit will be right there tasting with us when we do.

Donald Furrow-Scott, Vigneron and Cellarmaster

We hope you will join us in tasting this experiment 2025 or 2026!


Donald & Wendy