Exploring Local Wineries
Like craft beer, the wine industry has exploded in the last few years, with wineries seemingly popping up overnight on a regular basis in Maryland and Virginia.
They range from people making wine in their garage to sprawling multi-acre vineyards that look like they’ve been dropped into Maryland and Virginia from the Napa Valley. Maryland wine has gotten a bad label in the past for subpar wines that are usually on the sweet side, but that has changed with upscale wineries such as Black Ankle, Boordy, and Bordeleau Vineyards making very solid wine in the Old Line State. Meanwhile, Linganore Winery has become a destination in and of itself with its several wine festivals throughout the year and the addition of Red Shedman Brewery on site.
(You can discuss this on the BSL Board here.)
But it’s northern Virginia that has really excelled in the last decade, producing wine that is on par with, and better than, much of the wine from California. Loudon County has an excellent wine trail consisting of 40 wineries. But to keep you from getting overwhelmed, here’s a four-winery tour to get you acclimated to local wine.
Breaux Vineyards, located minutes from Harpers Ferry, is perhaps the best place to start. It’s a beautiful 104-acre Tuscan inspired vineyard with a huge tasting room and grounds capable of handling large events, such as their Cajun Festival each June. Across the street is 868 Estate Vineyards, serving up delicious wines and food on grounds that include the upscale Grandale Restaurant, cornhole boards and live music. Further down the road is Hillsborough Vineyards, and while their wine is a step down from the first two, the view from their Adirondack chairs beneath a shaded trellis makes up for it. End this mini-tour at North Gate Vineyard, one of my favorites, with friendly service, great wines including a great Cabernet Franc, an outdoor fireplace and live music.
Sunset Hills Winery
If you’re not ready for the day to end yet there’s still plenty of wineries to explore from there. You’ll pass Two Twisted Posts on your way to Breaux, and even though it’s a new winery, their wine is already established as some of the best in Northern Virginia. Also close by are Sunset Hills, 8 Chains North, Corcoran and Creek’s Edge Winery. And just north of Leesburg, there’s Tarara, Hidden Brook, Lost Creek, Winery 32 and Fabbioli – and for the beer lovers out there, check out Vanish, a farm brewery that grows their own hops and serves awesome BBQ.
And really, this section of Loudon County is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Virginia wine. There’s more wine in Middleburg, Fauquier County and further south around Charlottesville. There’s barely a part of Virginia that doesn’t have a winery – and a good one at that.
So the next time the wife or girlfriend wants you to plan a day or weekend trip tell her, “Don’t worry babe. I’ve got this covered.”