By Amy Falkofske
Sponsored by Monroe Bay Winery
Monroe Bay Winery is a destination wedding venue situated on around 10 acres of private land on Monroe Bay in Colonial Beach, Virginia. It features a 3,000 square foot authentic, straw bale barn that seats up to 200 people. There’s also plenty of outdoor space with amazing water views for your special day.
Inspired by the South of France
Kiki Apple, owner of Monroe Bay Winery, got her inspiration for the winery from her time in France.
“… The first house I ever bought when I was 28 was an old stone watermill in the south of France, and that’s where I fell in love with wine … I [also] fell in love with the architecture and became interested in historic preservation,” said Kiki.
A Beautiful Location and a Historic Landmark
Monroe Bay Winery sits on land that is part of the birthplace of our fifth president, James Monroe. Kiki said she chose this location because she fell in love with it.
“It’s a gorgeous piece of land on the water. I went and sat by the water and fell in love with it,” she said.
Unique and Environmentally Friendly
Monroe Bay’s wedding venue is both unique and environmentally friendly. The straw bale barn is only two years old, though the winery itself has been around for 10 years.
“Two things I really believe in are taking care of our environment and recycling … [W]e’ve done a lot of that in both how we build our building and what we do,” said Kiki.
The roof of the barn was built by an Amish crew from Pennsylvania in the style of an open pavilion. The walls were made out of straw bales with the help of world-famous straw bale specialist Andrew Morrison of strawbale.com, and 40 people who wanted to be a part of a straw bale building project. The walls are made out of hydraulic lime, the same material used to make the castles in France. They’re also made out of recycled wine bottles, giving them a stained-glass look. A popular place for brides and grooms to take photos is under a grouping of wine bottles that spell out the word love.
“It’s like having a double stained glass window in the wall. Depending upon where the light is, in the morning, it’s on our right side near the bar. In the afternoon, it’s on the back end, and then towards the evening, it’s in the love window. It depends on where the sun is. When it’s coming through the bottles, it’s just almost magical,” said Kiki.
Kiki completed the work with the wine bottles herself with the help of a contractor. That was done in three steps: cutting the wine bottles, laying the design out on the floor and taping the bottle pieces together, and placing the design into the wall with plaster.
The winery offers a variety of red and white wines including Chardonnay, Blue Heron White, Petit Manseng, Viognier, Blue Heron Rosé, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Blue Heron Red. If hard cider is more your taste, you can choose from four different flavors: Pumpkin Spice Cider, Boardwalk Cider, Hopped Cider, or the standard Hard Cider.
The wines and ciders are sold at the Falls Church Farmers Market on Saturday mornings, Ballston Farmers Market on Thursday evenings, and Monroe Market in the town of Colonial Beach on Sunday evenings and special events. The winery is open on Saturdays and Sundays from 12:00 to 5:00 p.m. (Weddings take place in the evening.)
More than a Winery
Besides wine tastings and weddings, Monroe Bay hosts karaoke every other Sunday. Kiki is an artist, so art is also a part of Monroe Bay. She plans to hold a workshop in the fall where attendees can make a fall art project. She also hopes to hold an arts and crafts show in the future.
Kiki pointed out that Colonial Beach is the second largest beach in Virginia (second to Virginia Beach) and that it’s closer to the D.C. and Richmond metropolitan areas, both just about an hour away.
“A lot of people say when they go to Colonial Beach … ‘Gosh, I feel like I’m in the Bahamas … I forget I’m still in Virginia.’ It’s a cute, little, quaint town that is a fun destination without having to go too far away,” she said.
Monroe Bay Winery is located at 4786 James Monroe Highway in Colonial Beach.