Enjoying DC Wine Country: Loudoun County, Virginia
With so many good options for Virginia wine outside our back door, they all deserve their own post! This time, we’ll focus on Loudoun County. Nearly the same distance as Fauquier (previous post), Loudoun is just a short drive on Route 7 from the District. Enjoy gorgeous picturesque views of rolling hillsides, paired with refreshing, high-quality, award-winning wines. Choose two or three and make it an all day day trip. Here’s a few favorite Loudoun wineries.
First Stop: Hillsborough Vineyards
Heading out to Virginia wine country, make your first stop of the day at Hillsborough Vineyards. Situated atop a hill in Purcellville, VA, this boutique vineyard produces consistant wines with peaceful scenery. The tasting room overlooks the rolling hills with plenty of windows to take in the view. The outdoor patio is filled with tables and adirondacks to enjoy your picnic and glasses of wine.
Now onto the wine! Their wines are Old World style with many french varietals including Petite Verdot, Petite Manseng and Fer Servadou. Mostly all blends, popular choices are the Garnet (Cabernet Sauvignon 75%, Petite Verdot 13%, Merlot 12%) which is a Bordeaux style blend showing dark fruit palate and pairs perfectly with light snacks and cheese. I enjoy it because it’s a medium bodied red that can easily be drank on it’s own and for a decent price of $22. The Garnet is also award-winning, bringing home a gold, silver and bronze medals.
The Onyx is another show stopper. It’s more tannic and much bigger mouth feel than the Garnet, the Onyx is 100% Tannat. This wine is more for the serious wine drinker. Intense with spice, earthy notes and chocolate, this wine will stand up to any hearty meal.
Second Stop: Sunset Hills Vineyard
Just a few miles down the road, you’ll reach Sunset Hills. Popular among many winery-goers, Sunset Hills has won numerous local awards for favorite winery and has also installed solar panels, largest in the county to promote going green. The tasting room is always bustling with plenty of employees ready to take you through the lineup. The large tasting room is a popular pick for larger parties, although they don’t allow buses on weekends anymore according to their website.
They have perfected the famous Virginia varietals, Viognier and Cabernet Franc. 2011 is the first vintage they were able to use mostly estate grown Viognier grapes (Viognier 96%, Petite Manseng 4%). This one, compared to last years, is a little more delicate with round flavors of stone fruit and floral notes. The Cabernet Franc (Cabernet Franc 86%, Petit Verdot 8%, Merlot 4%, Tannat 2%) shows complexity of red fruit, light tannins and will age for at least 3-5 years.
Third Stop: Casanel Vineyards
A little off the beaten path, down a dirt road, Casanel Vineyards, dating back to the Civil War, is a peaceful, serene way to end your day. Using the historical brick building as their tasting room, there’s a small tasting bar with Civil War memorablia scattered about. The friendly staff will lead you through the tasting where all the wines are named in Porteguese, the owner’s decent. The outdoor patio overlooks the vines and historical buildings including an old red barn.
Having the same winemaker as Hillsborough, the wines are French-style as well. My favorites here include the Don Lorenzo and Batucada. The Don Lorenzo is their first estate grown wine which is a blend of Pinot Gris and Chardonnay. Fresh and light, this wine showcases citrus, stone fruit and honeysuckle. It’s a perfect option for a warm summer day with light foods. The Batucada is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon and currently holds an award – Gold medal in the 2011 Virginia State Fair! Like most Cabs, this one has a more earthy palate with hints of herbs and dark fruit. This wine would be perfect with a rich dish.
Now with 2 options of day trips to DC’s Wine Country, what are you waiting for?
If you’re looking for great wines but not planning a trip, check out Jessica’s post about Summer wines.
Jessica has completed the world reknown wine certification, Wine & Spirit Education Trust out of London and is the editor/author of One Classic Wino, a blog about her adventures as a “wino”. Check out Jess’s blog daily for wine pairings, recommendations for the season, and fun recaps of all of her (many) wine adventures!
In addition, she founded Young Winos of DC in August 2010, a group of 20-somethings that convene monthly to share good times and learn about wine.