In the United States, when you think of wineries and vineyards, you automatically may think California, Wine Country. But, there are over 200 wineries in Virginia, offering amazing selections of grapes to enjoy. During a Blue Ridge Wine Excursion, I learned that the history of wine in Virginia goes back to the 1600’s, when, the colony of Jamestown showed a desire to make wine. In fact, in 1619, the Virginia House of Burgesses passed Act 12, requiring each household to plant 10 vines and produce wine. Having learned of wine production in Virginia, my husband and I knew we had to investigate further. Armed with a list of 5 wineries to explore, we stated our drive from DC to Loudoun County, Virginia. Loudoun County has close to 40 wineries, all within a few miles apart from each other. It took us about 1 hour to reach our first winery, and this is what we found:
Bluemont Vineyard– As we drove up the mountain to the main entrance of Bluemont Vineyard, I was taken back by its beauty. Once we reached the top, I just could not believe how stunning the view was. The air was fresh, the extensive outdoor sitting areas, and gorgeous views of the vineyards left me speechless. I immediately felt relaxed, and looked forward to entering their beautiful barn to reach the tasting room. As we entered the barn, we found a cashier station, where you can order appetizers to enjoy with your wine tasting. They offer cheese boards, crackers, breads, pizzas, and other appetizers to enjoy with your wine. We walked the stairs to reach the second floor, where the wine tastings are offered. The deck of the barn is spacious and the views of Loudoun Valley are gorgeous. The winery offers plenty of options to sit and enjoy your tasting, indoor and outdoor. Bluemont offered two tasting experiences, the Farmhand Flight, for $10, this is a self-guided tasting. They offered six choices in the flight, including 4 whites, and 2 reds. The tasting portion was generous, and the wines were well balanced and very good. The grapes offered during our visit, included Vidal Blanc, Petit Manseng, Chardonnay, Viognier, Bordeaux, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon. Some of our favorite wines included their 2016 Farm Table White and the 2015 Merlot “The Ram”, which was full-bodied with prominent taste of black berries and cocoa.
After visiting Bluemont, we had built an appetite and were ready for some yummy BBQ. I had done my research and opted to include Monk’s BBQ, as part of our wine tasting trail. Monk’s is located in Purcellville, VA, a charming town, and just a few miles from all the wineries we visited, and yummy it was! We absolutely loved the food at Monk’s and cannot recommend this place enough! They offer amazing smoked meats such as brisket and ribs. We ordered a whole slab and beef brisket. The ribs were seasoned beautifully, they were tender and juicy inside. I loved the ribs, but their brisket just stole my heart. So tender, and just the perfect amount of fat and seasoning. We ordered their custard corn bread, yes, custard! which was perfection and their Gouda mac and cheese, creamy and wonderful. In addition, we had the smashed potatoes, topped with crispy bacon, and the Jalapeno Poppers, which were a daily special. We tried a few of their BBQ sauces and they were excellent. We seriously needed a nap after that lunch, but wine was calling, so we just had to find energy for our next stop!
Sunset Hills Vineyard– Just a few miles down the road from Monk’s BBQ, we reached Sunset Hills Vineyards. The grounds were spacious, and flat, with a nice lake, and two gorgeous barns. We had the option to do our wine tasting in an outdoor barn, or in their main barn, we opted to the latter. The large barn is beautiful and spacious, with some outdoor sitting off a deck. Sunset Hills offers two types of tastings, a Signature tasting for $12, or you can add chocolate to your tasting and pay $20. We opted for the Signature tasting. It offered 6 wines, some of them were too sweet for my taste. One of the offerings was a Rosé, two whites, two reds, and then a choice of a fruity Vidal Blanc or Port wine. My husband liked their 2017 Chardonnay, it was crisp and bright. I liked their 2017 Sunset White; lychee was prominent and it smelled wonderful. Sunset Hills offers an extensive selection of food options to accompany your wine. From breads, tapenades, spreads, gourmet cheeses, and charcuterie to chocolate and truffles. They serve your selection in a picnic style basket, encouraging you to order a bottle of wine and enjoy their vast grassy area. Although the wine was not my favorite, I have to say that I enjoyed Sunset Hills a lot. They offered live music and allowed outside food consumed in their grassy area. Many families were enjoying this winery. Kids having fun and running around the grounds, and families and friends enjoying the wine with a picnic. The music was a nice addition. We stayed to enjoy the music and ordered a bottle of their 2017 Chardonnay for $24. We recommend this wine. It was crisp and buttery and well enjoyed while listening to the live music Sunset Hills Vineyard offered.
Breaux Vineyards– Wow, how impressive this vineyard is! It is beautiful!!! You are welcomed by a gorgeous, yellow, Spanish Style looking hacienda, with an amazing patio and terrace. The views are excellent and the grounds are a massive 400+ acre. We rushed to enter the tasting room as we only had 45 minutes before closing time. The price for tasting was $15, a bit more than the other two wineries we previously visited, but it was totally worth the extra charge. The wines at Breaux were by far my favorite wines I tasted during this trip. They were bold, and delicious with wonderful aromas. Six selections were included in the tasting, 3 whites, including a Rosé, and 3 reds. From Breaux, my husband and I enjoyed the 2016 Madeline’s Chardonnay. I loved the 2017 Wild Fermented Meritage and of course the 2016 Malbec. I hated the fact that we arrived too late to enjoy a bottle of wine in their beautiful terrace. Bottles at Breaux ranged from $24-$39, and cheese, crackers, and meats are available for purchase, to enjoy with your wine. Kristen conducted our tasting; she was extremely knowledgeable and friendly. Out of all the staff we encountered in all three vineyard we visited; Kristen was by far the best experience we encountered.
As you can tell, we only visited three out of five vineyards from our list. Most vineyards open at 11-12 noon and close at 5-6 PM. We spend more time in each winery than we had anticipated, but we are glad we did, because we really enjoyed it. We regret not having enough time to enjoy a bottle of wine at Breaux, but this just gives us a reason to return. There are 37 more wineries to go, just in Loudoun County, and then the rest of Virginia. We enjoyed our wine tasting day trip so much; we are already planning our next visit. From Washington DC or surrounding area, wine tasting in Virginia is an excellent way to spend a great day. Some recommendations from this trip, pack a cooler with water, cheese, crackers, olives, jams, or whatever you enjoy your wine with. Some wineries do not permit outside food, but some do, so come prepared. If you are bringing the kids along, bring their bikes, toys, or a ball, as some wineries have plenty of grassy areas for the kids to run around and enjoy. Bring a blanket and a light jacket or sweater, even in the summer time, as it feels cooler as the afternoon falls. Also, check the website for each winery, as they offer plenty of events such as festivals, live music, pet’s days, and special tastings. Enjoy responsibly, and book a room in the area if needed. The towns of Purcellville and Bluemont are quaint and charming, we saw farms, ice cream shops, and plenty of restaurants options to enjoy. Good to note that Purcellville is also home to Catoctin Creek Distilling Company, offering tastings of rye Virginia bourbon, and gin. We also spotted a few breweries along the way. Make it a weekend getaway, and enjoy!