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Notaviva Vineyards: Fostering creativity, encouraging culture

Notaviva Vineyards: Fostering creativity, encouraging culture

Monday, Apr. 7, 2014 by Rachel Nania, Loudoun Times-Mirror online

PURCELLVILLE, Va. (AP) — The tasting room at Stephen and Shannon Mackey’s Loudoun County vineyard is every bit as quaint and cozy as one would expect to find at a local family-run winery.

There is a spacious bar for those coming to sample the vineyard’s varieties, rocking chairs by a large window overlooking the vines, three young boys running outside of the farmhouse … and Metallica blasting through the speakers.


“As former audio engineers, this is the coolest sound system in any winery in the world,” says Stephen Mackey, owner of Notaviva Vineyards in Purcellville.

After a few additional minutes of Metallica, Mackey switches the sound system to Hank Jr., Usher and organ music.

“The music is a little heavy to enjoy with a white, crisp wine,” he says.

“Most people hear that organ come out and they say, ‘Pour me a red!’ This is not a white wine music, you know?”

This eclectic song cycle is something through which Mackey rotates frequently for Notaviva’s unique offering: wine paired with music.

Skipping over more traditional pairings — say, wine and cheese — and going straight for music sounds a little unusual. But for the Mackeys, it makes perfect sense.

Stephen Mackey, originally of Sterling, and Shannon Mackey, of south Florida, both studied audio engineering technology at University of Miami.

“We both thought we wanted to work in recording studios,” says Stephen Mackey, who instead worked as a live music sound engineer, touring with artists including Garth Brooks, Matchbox20, Martina McBride and Amy Grant.

In 2000, Mackey moved back to Loudoun County, and not long after, reconnected with Shannon Mackey at a friend’s wedding. After spending some time at Stephen Mackey’s property on Short Hill Mountain, the two decided to chase down their dream of buying land and opening a vineyard.

“The next day, I went online and I Googled, ‘How do you grow grapes?” Stephen Mackey says. “It was a complete romantic whim, a leap of faith, that 11 years later is really a dream come true, almost.”

The Mackeys knew they needed to brand their vineyard in a way that set them apart from others in the area’s growing wine industry. Immediately, they decided to build their brand around a passion for music.

At first, the brand started with the name of the vineyard. Mackey explains Notaviva is an aggregation of two words: nota, meaning “music note,” and viva, meaning “with life.”

“When I came up with the word, it was intended to convey music’s impact on human emotion. Notaviva is that feeling you get when you hear your favorite song,” he says.

Now, the Mackeys host an annual summer music and wine pairing at their vineyard. The event is so popular that they hope to soon offer wine and music pairings a few times a month.

Music and wine may seem like two disparate subjects, but Mackey argues they are quite similar.

“They are both subjective. They’re personal. Everyone has his own favorite playlist and own favorite wine list,” he says. “A good wine is a wine you like. A good song is a song you like. If it moves you, it works.”

Read more on the Loudoun Times-Mirror website here. Congratulations Shannon & Steve on all of your success!