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Nesting eagles, river breezes and farmland as old as the first settlers.

A passion for fine wine and sustainable working lands drove Tayloe and Suzy Dameron to open Upper Shirley Vineyards, a state-of-the-art winery in the cradle of American history. The vineyards are nestled alongside the gently flowing James River with breathtaking views of the Presquile National Wildlife Refuge, a 1,329-acre island bird sanctuary. 

Upper Shirley Vineyards neighbor Shirley Plantation, which dates to 1613, is a National Historic Landmark and the country’s oldest working farm. Upper Shirley Vineyards welcomes guests to its beautiful 14,000-square-foot Low Country winery to taste its wines, enjoy Chef Carlisle Bannister’s fine Southern cooking and celebrate life in the warm embrace of Tidewater Virginia.

 
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Proprietors

Suzy and Tayloe Dameron are the proud owners of Upper Shirley Vineyards, which they founded at their historic home and equestrian farm. Suzy was at Hollins College and Tayloe, whose family settled in Tidewater Virginia in the early 1700s, was a cadet at the Virginia Military Institute, when they met and married soon after graduation. The couple moved to Germany, where Tayloe served as a lieutenant in the Army’s 8th Infantry Division and Suzy taught school. Some 33 years, two children, a Darden MBA, and a twenty-year finance career (mostly in Manhattan) later, they are here to share a genuine Virginia experience.

The Damerons live on the vineyard grounds in a private house built in 1867 from bricks salvaged from a circa 1660 house that once flanked the manor house at nearby Shirley Plantation. 

 
 
 

Our Team

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Carlisle Bannister / Partner & Executive Chef

“Food is my life,” says Chef Carlisle, a fourth-generation Richmond restaurateur. Carlisle learned scratch cooking in his grandparents’ kitchen and at the Campus Room, the beloved Virginia Commonwealth University institution owned and operated by his parents for more than three decades. A graduate of the University of South Carolina, Carlisle has worked in all aspects of restaurants, fine dining, corporate food service and catering, operating his own boutique catering company, Culinary Connection, since 1999. He’s passionate about fresh, local ingredients and expressing his deep Southern heritage on the plate. His ultimate goal: making diners happy. “I love to cook, and I love to engage with people,” Carlisle says. When he’s not wearing the white jacket, Carlisle enjoys fathering four active kids, coaching football, hunting and fishing.

 

Michael Shaps / Winemaker

Michael has been making wine in Virginia since 1995. He previously worked with two highly regarded central Virginia wineries – Jefferson Vineyards, and King Family Vineyards.  In 2004, he won the Virginia Governor’s Cup Wine Competition, a venue where he has accumulated numerous gold medals over the years.  Michael has been lauded by numerous publications, including Saveur, Wine Spectator, Wine Enthusiast, Wine Advocate, Washingtonian and the Washington Post. He is also a partner in Maison Shaps Winery in Meursault, France, and holds a BPA (Brevet Professionnel Agricole) in Enology and Viticulture from Lycée Viticole de Beaune, France.  

 

 
 
 

Kaitlin Everett / General Manager

Daughter of the acclaimed chef and restaurateur, David Everett, Kaitlin has worked in all eight of his renowned establishments. She continued to pursue the industry by working in multiple fine dining establishments, including Acacia Mid-Town; restaurants are just in her genes. Kaitlin has been on the Upper Shirley Vineyards team since its inception, making her a major asset to our growth. Native of Williamsburg, she competed her BFA in Craft and Material Studies with a focus in Metal Smithing from Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts in Richmond.   "Having grown up in the industry, I've learned that a restaurant is more than just a place of employment for me; it's my whole life. "

 

Miranda Bricker / Director of Events

Born and raised in Albemarle County, Miranda grew up surrounded by the vineyards of the Monticello appellation. A graduate of Virginia Tech’s Hospitality and Tourism Management program, Miranda interned at several top Virginia wineries and says she’s thrilled to be part of the Upper Shirley Vineyards team. “There’s something very special about getting married at a Virginia winery,” she says.                                                                                               “Guests these days want more than a wild weekend. They’re hungry to learn about the land and winemaking. They want a deeper, more cultured experience.”

 
 
 

Ryan Swann / Vineyard Manager

A Tidewater native, Ryan was born to farm. The son of Virginia’s 2004 Farmer of the Year, Ryan was a leader in the Future Farmers of America and attended the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Virginia Tech. On the estate since the first vine was planted, Ryan continues to march us down the path of sustainability and best practices.