There are many, many wineries in the state of Virginia. So many, in fact, that the state is divided into nine wine regions (not to mention nearby West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania,and North Carolina, which all also have tons of wineries). Zeroing in on just the Northern Virginia region, where I currently live, there are 88 wineries officially listed with VirginiaWine.org. Many of these are in Loudoun County, an hours’ drive from Washington DC or from Harper’s Ferry.
Wineries are a fun weekend or vacation activity because it doesn’t really matter which season you visit. Enjoy the flowering trees in the spring, or sit outside late into the evening in the summer months and look at the full grapes on the vines. In the fall, spectacular vistas await as the leaves change colors across the region, and in the winter, snow covers the hills and many wineries have fire pits or braziers outside, or cheery fireplaces burning inside. So really, you can’t go wrong with planning a winery visit.
Zephaniah Farm Vineyard
In my quest to visit every winery in the state (okay not really but it sure would be fun!), I decided to do tastings at three wineries near me. I started with Zephaniah Farm Winery, in the late fall. Chris and I met up with my friend and mentor Sandra and her husband, and we went to Zephaniah Farm on a cold and windy fall day. After admiring the exterior of the 1820s farmhouse, we went inside and had our pick of four rooms in which to do our tasting. At Zephaniah, recently named by Travel and Leisure as one of the top 25 wineries in the country, they believe in seated tastings, giving it a relaxed and homey feel. The four of us sampled several wines, all of which were, of course, delicious, and also met the owners and heard their story about the land and the farmhouse, both of which have been in their families for several decades. They showed us the original deed that was signed by Lord Fairfax -lots of fascinating Virginia history there! As a librarian, I fully approve of the old card catalog in their library, now used to store bottles of wine. My favorite at Zephaniah was the Three Captains Red, named after three military members of the family. You can visit Zephaniah on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays (and federal holiday Mondays). In addition to their farmhouse, they also have a beautiful timbered barn for events.
Stone Tower Winery
A much bigger operation, with sweeping views of the Shenandoah Mountains, Stone Tower Winery encompasses 300 acres and several large event buildings, as well as tons of patio space to take in the amazing view. It is located on Hogback Mountain, just outside of Leesburg (two miles from Zephaniah Farm Vineyard). On the day my friend Leslie and I visited, it was cool weather outside, but some braziers were turned on and people were sharing bottles and blankets on the patio, as well as in both of the huge tasting rooms. One tasting room is set up more like a restaurant, with two floors, and you can purchase a variety of breads, cheese, meats, and spreads. The other tasting area, at the far end of the patio, is a repurposed barn, and has a homier feel and comfortable couches. In addition they have a beautiful wedding venue. On weekends they offer other events such as live music, yoga, and estate tours. My favorite at that tasting was their 2015 Viognier, with a faint honeysuckle flavor.
Chris and I visited Quattro Goomba’s Winery and Brewery on a Saturday evening, in part because they have live music on the weekends, making it a really fun venue to hang out at. Located about five miles south of Stone Tower, this winery and craft brewery is close to the Prince William County border. In addition to wine and beer, QG also offers delicious chocolate truffles, sandwiches and fries, and pizza- oh my goodness, the pizza was amazing (we had pepperoni, jalapeno, and white Goomba sauce on ours and it was fantastic). Of the wines, my favorite, surprisingly, was the 2015 Sorelle, a sweet but not sickly sweet white wine. Of the craft brews, Chris liked the dark “Dim Wit”, a black Belgian wheat beer, while Lena and Shay, our tablemates, liked the Fruit Wheat beer, made with mangos and passionfruit. Since it was winter, we stayed inside the main buildings, but they have a beautiful back porch area with a fantastic view over the gently rolling hills.
Of course, these are just a few of the wineries in the area. Some others that are still on my list are:
Fabbioli Cellars (near the Potomac River and Harper’s Ferry)
Casanel Vineyards (fun events such as board games and murder mysteries!)
The Winery at La Grange (a beautiful 1790s manor house)
Paradise Springs (one of the only wineries in Fairfax County)
Bluemont Vineyard (with a great view of the mountains)
What is your favorite Virginia winery? Tell me about it in the comments!