SHV Blog

Sunset Hills Blog

Welcome to the blog of Sunset Hills Vineyard! From the trials of hand-tending vines in five different vineyards to releasing wines that our winemaker has carefully crafted, our goal is to share what’s going on at Sunset Hills with you! We hope that you’ll gain knowledge and find entertainment from this blog. Located in Purcellville, Sunset Hills is a proud producer of high-quality wine in Loudoun County wine country.

Rikki Cushwa
May 8, 2020 | Rikki Cushwa

June Club Wine Release Recipes


June Club Wine Release Recipes


The Sunset Red is the perfect table wine. It is also a good by the fire, cozied up with a blanket, kind of wine. It’s light in body, filled with dark fruit flavors, and a delicate tannic structure. I wanted to pair this wine with something light and fun and save the steak for the 2012 Mosaic I’ve been holding onto. The winemaker’s suggested pairing was barbeque chicken. I went with her suggestion, but of course I put my own little twist to it and made barbeque chicken nachos! I used chicken thighs and grilled them low and slow. I personally like to use the grill because of the smokiness and that little hint of char; but you can also cook the chicken in the oven or if you’re lucky to find a rotisserie chicken, that will work too! After the chicken was grilled, I shredded the meat with a fork and tossed it with a tangy, yet sweet barbeque sauce and set aside. I lined a baking sheet with parchment paper, spread out the tortilla chips then started layering… Shredded cheese, jalapenos, red onions, tomatoes, corn, BBQ chicken, then baked until cheese was melted.  Once everything came together in the oven, I made some restaurant style queso to drizzle over top (because you can never have enough cheese). I topped everything off with a dollop of sour cream, cilantro, and some homemade salsa. I like my light bodied reds slightly chilled, so after I got my wine to the right temperature, I poured myself a glass and piled a plate full of nachos and devoured. Grab plenty of napkins, you’re going to need them. 



Barbeque Chicken Nachos

1 lb chicken thighs (or rotisserie chicken)
2 tbsp BBQ sauce of your choice
1 bag of tortilla chips
1 ½ cups shredded cheese
1 ear of corn – or small can
1 tomato (diced)
1 jalapeno (diced)
½ red onion (chopped)
Sour cream



½ lb white American cheese
¼ cup milk (add more to thin out)
1 tbsp butter
1 (4oz) can green chilies
¼ tsp cumin
¼ tsp chili powder
1 clove garlic (minced)
½ yellow onion
1 jalapeno or serrano pepper 


Cook chicken to your desire. Place chicken in a large bowl, use a fork to shred.  Add your favorite barbeque sauce, toss and set aside. On a large baking sheet, line with parchment paper, spread out tortilla chips. Add shredded cheese, red onions, tomatoes, jalapenos, corn, bake at 400 until cheese has melted (about 5-10 mins). Drizzle queso over nachos, add toppings of your choice (salsa, sour cream, cilantro, limes, etc)
In a small sauce pan on medium high , add cheese, milk, butter, and green chilies. In a small sauté pan, cook onions, peppers, and garlic (about 2-3 mins until fragrant). Add onions and pepper mix to the sauce pan. Stir until melted and combine. – serve immediately 


The 2019 Shenandoah Springs Rose is bursting with flavors of fresh strawberry and summer watermelon. 2019 was a great year for red grapes, specifically our Cabernet Franc and Merlot, which is what went into this vintage. I wanted to highlight the juicy fruit flavors that are oh-so present in this rose. There is a slight acidity to the wine that I had to play with, so for this pairing I chose a light salad. One of the salads we offer for Divine Wine group tours is the spinach and berry salad, which is the first thing that popped in my head when I tried this rose. I start with fresh spinach and mixed green, then add sliced strawberries, blueberries, red onions, candied walnuts and pecans, and gorgonzola. For the dressing, I have two options, balsamic vinaigrette or creamy poppy seed, there’s no wrong choice for this light and flavorful salad!


Spinach and Berry salad
2 cups Spinach
1 cup spring mix
6 strawberries (sliced)
¼ cup blueberries
¼ red onion (diced)
2 tbsp gorgonzola
2 tbsp candied nuts
2 tbsp Poppy Seed or Balsalmic Vinegerette 


In a large bowl, add spinach, spring mix, strawberries, blueberries, red onion, gorgonzola, and walnuts and pecans. Drizzle either balsamic vinaigrette or creamy poppy seed dressing, toss and serve!


-Rikki Cushwa

Executive Chef

Sunset Hills and 50 West Vineyards 

You can order these wines online by joining our wine club! Click here to join the club and bring home 100% Virginia wine from the Best Winery in Loudoun. Our wines are available via two safe and easy ways; Barn Side pickup Thursdays through Mondays 11 AM to 5 PM or shipping wine directly to your door with UPS! Be sure to tag us on Facebook or Instagram if you try out these recipes and pairings or even just to show us how you are enjoying these wines! Cheers!

Time Posted: May 8, 2020 at 10:47 AM Permalink to June Club Wine Release Recipes Permalink Comments for June Club Wine Release Recipes Comments (231)
Rikki Cushwa
April 16, 2020 | Rikki Cushwa

April & May Club Wine Recipes


The 2019 Sunset Rose is probably my favorite vintage thus far. The 2019 harvest was so bountiful with high quality grapes, and it really shows in this rose. Since the wine is basically the star of the show with all my recipes, I didn’t want to overshadow the flavors with a heavy meal. Besides, most of the time when we drink rose, it’s before dinner with appetizers or a mid-day snack. I don’t know about you, but my favorite snack is meat, cheese, and bread. I honestly think I could live off a charcuterie board! I prefer to do three meats, three cheeses, a French baguette, crackers, and of course accoutrements like honey, olives, mustard, and jam. It’s great to have options, and endless combinations of flavors. For the meats, I like to choose a salty, spicy, and savory, like prosciutto, sopressata, and salami. For the cheese, I like to have a soft, a stinky, and a mild such as goat cheese, manchego, and sharp cheddar. Then I’ll add a little sides of honey, Dijon mustard, fig jam or chutney, olives, mixed nuts, and fruit. I like to slice my baguette and toss with olive oil and bake until slightly golden brown, and add come herbed crackers as well for a little more flavor. There’s no wrong way to assemble a charcuterie board, but I love to arrange certain combinations beside each other and then fill in the gaps with mixed nuts, dried and fresh fruits!

The 2015 Petit Verdot is probably my favorite varietal at Sunset Hills. This tiny grape is packed full of earthy flavors and rich dark fruit notes that are so well balanced with an easy but tannic finish. Of course, this wine would pair well with any red meat, but I decided to try something new and simple. For this pairing, I made a bison burger with thick cut bacon, provolone, bibb lettuce, caramelized onions, tomato, and a “special sauce” on a toasted brioche bun. Bison burger was surprisingly easy to find and its somewhat healthier than beef since it contains less fat and has more protein. Bison also has a richer flavor than lean beef in my opinion. I started off by placing the burger in a large bowl, then added ground mustard, salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, smoked paprika, and Worcestershire. After the burger and spices were combined, I formed 4, ½ inch thick patties and let them sit out at room temperature for about 30 mins. In the meantime, I fried 8 slices of bacon, caramelized some onions. Then I made the “special sauce” using mayo, balsamic glaze, ketchup, Dijon mustard, Worcestershire, salt and pepper. I buttered and toasted the buns then piled everything high, opened a bottle of Petit Verdot and indulged.


Bison Burger

1 lb ground bison
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 cloves garlic (minced)
½ tsp ground mustard
½ tsp onion powder
¼ tsp smoked paprika
Salt and pepper
1 large yellow onion (sliced)
2 tbsp butter
8 slices thick cut bacon (cooked)
4 brioche buns
Provolone cheese

Special sauce

¼ cup mayo
1 tbsp ketchup
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp balsamic glaze (or balsamic vinegar with a dash of honey)




In a large bowl, combine bison, Worcestershire, garlic, ground mustard, onion powder, smoked paprika, salt and pepper. Form 4 patties, and let sit at room temperature for 30 mins

In a large skillet over medium heat, melt butter. Add onions and a little salt, and cook on medium low heat for about 20 minutes, until caramelized and golden brown

Remove onions from pan, return heat to medium high and cook patties about 3-5 mins on each side. Add cheese, let it melt, then remove from pan and rest for 5 mins.

In a small bowl mix together mayo, mustard, ketchup, and glaze.

Toast and butter the buns, spread on the special sauce, layer with lettuce, tomato, bison burger, caramelized onions, and bacon.


   - Rikki Cushwa
     Executive Chef
     Sunset Hills & 50 West Vineyards

You can order these wines online by clicking here. Bring home 100% Virginia wine from the Best Winery in Loudoun. Our wines are available via two safe and easy ways; Barn Side pickup Thursdays through Mondays 11 to 5 PM or shipping wine directly to your door with UPS! Be sure to tag us on Facebook or Instagram if you try out these recipes and pairings or even just to show us how you are enjoying these wines! Cheers!

Time Posted: Apr 16, 2020 at 12:12 PM Permalink to April & May Club Wine Recipes Permalink Comments for April & May Club Wine Recipes Comments (28)
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