First Colony Winery

First Colony Winery


First Colony boasts breathtaking sunsets, charming Old World gardens, meticulously manicured vineyards and newly renovated facilities. The warm hospitality and elegant atmosphere will make you feel like kicking back and staying awhile. New owners, Heather and Bruce Spiess and Jeff Miller are looking forward to welcoming old and new friends to visit First Colony. Off the bat, changes will be subtle but you can be sure they have exciting things planned for the future of First Colony.

Location Description

Nestled in beautiful Albemarle County, the heart of Virginia wine country.


  • Producing award-winning Wines.

Additional Information

  • Meeting / Conference Facilities:
  • Caves:
  • Wedding Facilities:
  • Picnic Facilities:
  • Dog Friendly:
  • Winery Tours:
  • Wine Tasting:
  • Art or Architecture:
  • Organic / Biodynamic:
  • Awards:
  • Wine Club:
  • Lodging / Bed & Breakfast:

Average Bottle Price

$ 20


Director of Operations & Winemaker

First Colony is very excited to have Brad McCarthy spearheading its renovations, winemaking and new vision. Brad was born in Palo Alto, California but moved to Charlottesville as a toddler, bringing the California wine-bug of the 1970s with him. The 2014 harvest marks Brad's 27th year in winemaking. He is known as one of Virginia's winemakers that made winemaking in Virginia viable. Over the last three decades, he has been involved in starting some of Virginia's most respected wineries, either as a winemaker or consultant. His skill and passion have been instrumental in earning Virginia wines the respect they now have. His wines have won numerous awards, including those that took the Governor's Cup two years running when he was with White Hall Vineyards. Brad has worked in Virginia, California, France, and South Africa; and he has collaborated with winemakers worldwide. Brad's style has always been to let the fruit express itself and find its full potential. His intuitive palate--one that has made him legendary in local blind tastings--is one of our most valuable assets.


In October 2013, master thatcher Colin McGhee began transforming the existing processing building roof to resemble that of a 17th century northern European country farm building. The roof is made entirely from imported Turkish water reed. It has a life of 50 to 300 years and is treated periodically with fire retardant. To the owners’ knowledge First Colony is the only winery in the US with a thatched roof. The roof was topped off on March 15, 2014 with a rooster weathervane, affectionately and appropriately named Colin Reed or “CR”, after the thatcher and the medium.

The Team


Bruce is a Professor of Cardiothoracic Anesthesiology and Emergency Medicine at Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center in Richmond, VA. Bruce is responsible for patients undergoing heart surgery as well as other critically ill and trauma patients at the medical center. He is acting director of Virginia Commonwealth University Reanimation Engineering Shock Institute (VCURES), a consortium of researchers. He was trained in Chicago at Rush Medical College and did his anesthesia training at the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota. Since training he has been in active practice for over 30 years, much of the time in Washington state where he enjoyed the fabulous wines of the Pacific Northwest. Although a scientist at heart, Bruce has tremendous vision and enthusiasm for making First Colony a first-rate Virginia winery.


Jeffrey W. Miller is a Wealth Management Advisor, having formed Miller Financial Services under Northwestern Mutual in 1987. He received his B.S. in Business, Economics and Sociology from the University of Richmond in May of that year. Since then he has received his Accredited Estate Planner, Chartered Financial Consultant, and Chartered Life Underwriter designations. Jeff has a national planning practice that specializes in holistic financial planning for individuals and small businesses and his investment management business ranks in the top 10 nationally of more than 8,000 advisors. Jeff has held past board seats on the St. Catherine’s School Foundation Board, The Richmond Symphony and The Richmond Chapter of the American Red Cross. He is a current member of the University of Richmond Estate Advisory Council, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Charitable Advisors Committee and the Richmond Estate Planning Council. Jeff has two teenage daughters, Taylor and Maddie, with whom he enjoys many water sports and being active outdoors. He is very passionate about First Colony Winery, the many changes he and his partners Bruce and Heather Spiess have enacted, and FCW's robust growth potential.

Vineyard Manager

Austin was born and raised in Richmond, VA and is a 2008 graduate from Randolph Macon College where he received his BA in Sociology. During college and after graduation, Austin spent much time in Europe, especially Italy where he developed his love of red wines. Once back in Richmond, Austin decided to pursue a career in the wine business working retail at Barrel Thief. He quickly learned that his skills were much better utilized in a hands-on environment. He was hired at First Colony in 2009 as a field hand where he has honed his skills tending the vines and learning much about vineyard management. He has earned his certificates in Enology and Viticulture from Piedmont Virginia Community College and is a Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW).


Heather is the Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Ruggles Service Corporation, a multi-association management company in Richmond, VA, established in 1974 by her father who passed away in 2006. She has been employed at Ruggles since 1999 and has owned the company with her brother since 2002. A dance major at Hollins College, she has lived in the Richmond area since she was 8 and has roots that run deep in Virginia. Heather’s son, Austin Hamilton (Certified Wine Specialist) is the Vineyard Manager at First Colony; and it is Austin’s interest in viticulture, enology and specifically the Virginia wine industry which piqued Heather and Bruce’s interest in taking on a new venture: owning a Virginia winery. Heather and Bruce, along with their partner, Jeff Miller, are very excited about this adventure and look forward to becoming a part of the fast-growing Virginia wine industry.

Estate Vineyards / AVA

In 2013, First Colony added 4.5 acres of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon to its existing 6.5 acres of Chardonnay, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc and Traminette. In 2014 the Traminette was replaced with Vidal Blanc to better serve our needs. Our plan is to continue to expand our vineyard each year until we have approximately 20-25 acres under vine.

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Mon - Sun: 11:00 am - 5:00 pm


1650 Harris Creek Rd
Charlottesville, Virginia 22902
United States

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