Must admit I have lived in DC for three years and this summer was the first time time I visited the Loudoun County wineries. A little over an hour away from DC, there are beautiful rolling hills lined with vineyards and up and coming winemakers. It’s world away from government buildings and buzzing helicopters. It makes it the perfect day trip from Washington, DC.
One of the things I love about wine is that it tells a story. Whether it is Riesling at the Finger Lakes of urban vineyards in Vienna, there is always a tale to be told. One of the things I prefer about visiting smaller producers is that the tale is personal. You can taste and smell the passion and love that goes behind winemaking. This is no different at the Loudoun County wineries. Here are five wineries to visit in Virginia Wine Country:
Creek’s Edge: Sitting along the Catoctin Creek, there’s Creek’s Edge Winery. The tasting room is dark and cozy with beautiful wooden details, to include a gorgeous spiral staircase which leads to their cellar. Their tasting room also lends itself to weddings and its outdoor space hosts a series of concerts during the summer. Dining Travel Wine Pick: the 2012 Cabernet Franc, it’s spicy scent and peppery taste makes you want to bring a case home!
Doukenie: One of the most memorable stories I heard during my time at the Loudoun County wineries is the Doukenie wine story. The Bazaco family, who still lives at the Doukenie farm grounds, brought their passion for wine and agriculture from Greece to the United States almost a century ago. That passion can be tasted in their wines, which are light on the palate and perfect to have on a hot summer day at their beautiful patio. If you have the chance, have a tasting with Maria. She’s a former chef who will not only walk you through the tastings but will give you some great food pairing tips. Dining Traveler Tip: Conclude your tasting with Hope’s Baklava which is homemade by the Hope Bazaco, the family matriarch.
Stone Tower Winery: This gorgeous winery quickly grabs your attention due to its impressive attention to detail. A family operated winery, we were welcomed by Lacey, the owner’s daughter who manages this beautiful property. They have two tasting rooms. The first tasting room is rustic, where families and dogs are welcome. Their second tasting room and cellar are a different story. The decor is elegant yet modern with a beautiful neutral palette. Children are not allowed and the atmosphere is laid back luxury. The cellar leads to a beautiful event space which makes me hope that one of my friends chooses to get married there with its impressive views of the vineyards. Dining Traveler Wine Pick: the viognier. The grape thrives in Virginia and it has a light, fruity taste that goes well with the hot Virginia summers.
Greenhill Winery: Who knew Virginia could produce such a beautiful blanc de blancs? It is done at Greenhill Winery. Sommelier Anthony Downing walked us through the detailed tasting. Not to miss: The winery provides a two hour guided tour of the vineyards followed by a tasting all year round. The tasting room may be smaller than Stone Tower or Creek’s edge but it does provide an intimate experience with great wine. This winery also loves all things local, it has a special area with locally made products. You can grab cheese, meats, and honey made from local producers. Dining Traveler Wine Pick: the blanc de blancs, it’s simply beautiful.
50West: The location, as the name implies, is conveniently located off of route 50 in Middleburg, VA. It is one of the newest additions to the Loudoun County wineries. It is still a work in progress as they are still completing their licensing process to label their own wine. They are currently serving wine from their sister vineyard, Sunset Hills. Sitting atop a hill, we caught beautiful fall foliage from their spacious patio. They plan to complete their event space in the winter of 2015. Dining Traveler Wine Pick: The 2014 rose of cabernet franc. It has the perfect balance of a citrus flavors with a light finish.
The Verdict: After two trips to the Loudoun County wineries, I am sold. I have been to the wine region extremes: ones where you feel you need to be a sommelier to have a bonafide experience to others who produce “wine slushies” (the horror). This area strikes the perfect balance. Although Loudoun County is a young wine region, I admire that winemakers are experimenting with grapes and soil without disrespecting deep rooted wine traditions.