Through the grapevine: 3rd-generation Spanish winemaker brings experience to Va. vineyard

STAFFORD, Va. — As he walks up and down the rows of barren February grapevines, pruning several wiry ones along the way, David Pagan Castaño seems in his element. 

“I was born in the winemaking business,” the head winemaker at Potomac Point Vineyard and Winery explains. “My grandfather started his own winery in Spain.” 

Castaño, a third-generation winemaker hailing from Yecla, Spain, holds a master’s degree in oenology (the study of wines) and viticulture (the study of grape cultivation) from the Polytechnic University of Valencia. Before settling in Virginia wine country, he polished his craft in France, New Zealand and California. 

While Castaño acknowledges California remains king of American wine production, he says the Virginia grape is making itself known. 

“We have proven that we’ve been competing against them — competitions, international,” he said. “We don’t have the same volume, but we definitely have very, very outstanding wines here."

 David Pagan Castaño, head winemaker at Potomac Point Vineyard and Winery in Stafford, Va., examines grapevines that need pruning, Friday, Feb. 2, 2018. (Lindsey Leake/American University)

David Pagan Castaño, head winemaker at Potomac Point Vineyard and Winery in Stafford, Va., examines grapevines that need pruning, Friday, Feb. 2, 2018. (Lindsey Leake/American University)

 David Pagan Castaño, head winemaker at Potomac Point Vineyard and Winery in Stafford, Va., walks down a hill to greet an employee who is clearing away dead vines, Friday, Feb. 2, 2018. (Lindsey Leake/American University)

David Pagan Castaño, head winemaker at Potomac Point Vineyard and Winery in Stafford, Va., walks down a hill to greet an employee who is clearing away dead vines, Friday, Feb. 2, 2018. (Lindsey Leake/American University)

 David Pagan Castaño prunes grapevines at Potomac Point Vineyard and Winery in Stafford, Va., Friday, Feb. 2, 2018. “The plant now is at hibernation,” the head winemaker said. (Lindsey Leake/American University)

David Pagan Castaño prunes grapevines at Potomac Point Vineyard and Winery in Stafford, Va., Friday, Feb. 2, 2018. “The plant now is at hibernation,” the head winemaker said. (Lindsey Leake/American University)

 Withered grapes dangle from a vine at Potomac Point Vineyard and Winery in Stafford, Va., Friday, Feb. 2, 2018. (Lindsey Leake/American University)

Withered grapes dangle from a vine at Potomac Point Vineyard and Winery in Stafford, Va., Friday, Feb. 2, 2018. (Lindsey Leake/American University)

 Head winemaker David Pagan Castaño surveys vats at Potomac Point Vineyard and Winery in Stafford, Va., Friday, Feb. 2, 2018. (Lindsey Leake/American University)

Head winemaker David Pagan Castaño surveys vats at Potomac Point Vineyard and Winery in Stafford, Va., Friday, Feb. 2, 2018. (Lindsey Leake/American University)

 The cellar at Potomac Point Vineyard and Winery in Stafford, Va., is pictured Friday, Feb. 2, 2018. (Lindsey Leake/American University)

The cellar at Potomac Point Vineyard and Winery in Stafford, Va., is pictured Friday, Feb. 2, 2018. (Lindsey Leake/American University)

 Wine bottle corks are pictured in the tasting room at Potomac Point Vineyard and Winery in Stafford, Va., Friday, Feb. 2, 2018. (Lindsey Leake/American University)

Wine bottle corks are pictured in the tasting room at Potomac Point Vineyard and Winery in Stafford, Va., Friday, Feb. 2, 2018. (Lindsey Leake/American University)

 Head winemaker   David Pagan Castaño pours a bottle of white wine in the tasting room at Potomac Point Vineyard and Winery in Stafford, Va., Friday, Feb. 2, 2018. (Lindsey Leake/American University)

Head winemaker David Pagan Castaño pours a bottle of white wine in the tasting room at Potomac Point Vineyard and Winery in Stafford, Va., Friday, Feb. 2, 2018. (Lindsey Leake/American University)

 Bottles of La Belle Vie are pictured at Potomac Point Vineyard and Winery in Stafford, Va., Friday, Feb. 2, 2018. The white wine is advertised as “a combination of tropical fruit flavors with hints of honeysuckle and orange peels.” (Lindsey Leake/American University)

Bottles of La Belle Vie are pictured at Potomac Point Vineyard and Winery in Stafford, Va., Friday, Feb. 2, 2018. The white wine is advertised as “a combination of tropical fruit flavors with hints of honeysuckle and orange peels.” (Lindsey Leake/American University)

 David Pagan Castaño, head winemaker at Potomac Point Vineyard and Winery in Stafford, Va., pours a glass of La Belle Vie in the tasting room, Friday, Feb. 2, 2018. Potomac Point says La Belle Vie is its most popular white wine. (Lindsey Leake/American University)

David Pagan Castaño, head winemaker at Potomac Point Vineyard and Winery in Stafford, Va., pours a glass of La Belle Vie in the tasting room, Friday, Feb. 2, 2018. Potomac Point says La Belle Vie is its most popular white wine. (Lindsey Leake/American University)

Lindsey Leake