Why I have not written this post before now is unclear to me; however, there is no doubt in anyone’s mind that I am part of the wine lover’s club. To be fair, I get it honestly from my father and his brothers. Some assembly of our family goes to the Dry Creek Valley Passport weekend every year. One uncle has a cellar that is so full, he actually tracks his wine with a spreadsheet. Every cabinet in my dad’s house opens a new assortment of bottles, some with a very scientific color coding system. (At one point my dad tried to use those round color-coding stickers to categorize his wines – ok for us to drink, a bit nicer so we should ask and those to be saved for special occasion. He didn’t bother trying to explain the system to us and now can’t even remember it himself, so clearly it works.)
Needless to say, it’s no surprise that I have a wine problem. And by problem I mean, I don’t know which bottle to drink next because there are too many to choose from. I’ll admit we’ve gone a little overboard – we have another case coming in November! – and I’ve been wondering how we are going to drink all this wine just the two of us, but then I remembered that my dad is coming for Thanksgiving …
To get to the point , one of the best parts about living in DC is being close to Virginia wine country. I know what you’re thinking, “Virginia has wine country?” Ok, if you’ve read this far, you have probably at least heard of Virginia wines, but may not realize that many are actually very good. Virginia has several different wine regions across the state and hundreds of wineries.
Yesterday I mentioned that Dave and I find an excuse to go tasting whenever we can, and always try to take friends who are visiting. It’s a great day trip from DC, or if you prefer to make it an overnight, find a cute B&B in one of the many quaint towns, like Middleburg, or even rent a cabin like we did for New Year’s Eve.
Whenever we are planning to go, I consult Virginia Wine. They have a free paper guide map and their website is also a fantastic resource. (Note: it’s mobile friendly if you forget to bring your map with you or don’t have one.) If you go to the regions section, you can see the breakdown of VA. Also scroll down and on the right you’ll see a column on Virginia Wine Trails. Each trail usually has its own website with details about the “trail” that include more information than just the wineries, like Nelson 151 – with wineries, breweries, etc.
- Aspen Dale – my absolute favorite! They pair all their wines with food, including chocolate and cheese. All their wines are good, but I think the best is the Rockawalkin’.
- Cobbler Mountain – my friend Alycyn used to pour there on the weekends and they recently expanded to open a new beautiful tasting room. They have a killer view and adorable family too!
- Gray Ghost – we have only been once, but really enjoyed their wine. I signed up for their newsletter and they are always having fun events! If only we lived closer …
- La Grange – I’ve been to La Grange a couple times and think it is just the perfect spot to sit outside with a bottle and cheese platter.
- Boxwood – has some great reds and is just outside of Middleburg.
- Zephaniah Farm Vineyard – owned by possibly the sweetest couple on the planet! I visited with my friend Emily and we closed the place down. It was so dark when we left that the owner walked us to the car with a flashlight himself!
This region is great to combine with Shenandoah National Park, especially in the fall when the leaves are changing:
- Barren Ridge
- Cross Keys
- Wicked Oak Farms & Vineyard
- In Staunton, VA there are a few great places to try: Yelping Dog Wine, Ox-Eye Vineyards and Red Beard Brewing Company. If you have a hankering for pizza, my book club would recommend Shenandoah Pizza, but only if our friend Luke is working.
This list is by no means inclusive. There are several other regions and plenty of other great wineries in the regions above. Get out and explore – then report back!