Photo by PoPville flickr user Faucetini
Kristi Green grew up in Frederick, Maryland and loves above all else art, writing, and wine (and her dog, Ginger). She works at a Wine bar on U St and is the author of the blog DC Wineaux.
I KNOW YOU’RE “AFRAID OF VIRGINIA” BUT THESE WINERIES ARE WORTH THE TRIP
As an employee of the U St/Shaw Neighborhood, I am highly familiar with the Virginia-phobes ’round these parts. These people avoid traveling to Virginia at all costs, as if the world suddenly ends when you cross the borders of DC–well, ladies and gentleman, there’s a reason to be brave–great Virginia wineries.
Until more recent years “good” Virginia wine was thought to be sort of a joke–thanks to some really talented, well educated winemakers this is no longer the case. Not only are Virginia producers making great wines but they offer the urban public a nearby opportunity to experience winemaking first hand.
Vint Hill Winery in Vint Hill, Virginia (between Gainesville and Warrenton) is a reasonably young winery that produces wines using hand selected grapes from Washington State, California, and Virginia. The winemakers at Vint Hill, Chris Pearmund, DJ Leffin, and Seth Chambers are one of the most decorated teams in the business–between the three of them there’s well over thirty years of experience and education.
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The tasting and teaching room at Vint Hill is open Fridays and Saturdays 11am to 6pm–during these hours, also, clients who have chosen to make their own wine with the team at the winery may stop in to taste their wine mid-production. Here, patrons purchase materials and are assisted in the winemaking process from berry to bottle. Each patron of this particular program makes one barrel–a yield of about 300 bottles–of their own custom wine.
For a relaxed, family-friendly (even dog-friendly) winery experience, visit Barrel Oak Winery in Delaplane, Virginia. The winemakers, Rick Tagg and Sharon Roeder, opened Barrel Oak in 2008 with a staff of brilliant wine lovers. At this green winery, a geothermal heating and cooling system is used throughout the tasting area and production house–additionally, BOW employs the use of low energy lighting and insulation panels in order to help save the environment that has given them so much.
Estate varietals (grapes they grow and bottle there) produced at BOW include seyval blank, merlot, petit veridot, merlot, viognier, and chardonnay. The tasting and touring areas of BOW are open daily 11am to 6pm–on weekends, if you happen to arrive early, you’ll find a complimentary newspaper and fresh coffee waiting for you. Later in the day on weekends, there’s live music on the property.
Linden Vineyards is my favorite winery in Virginia–its beautiful, quiet setting on top of the Blue Ridge Mountains is an ideal escape from long days in the city. Additionally, Linden produces the best Virginia wine I’ve tasted to date. The winemakers at Linden Vineyards are Jim Law and Shary Avenius–who also live on the land. All grapes used in their wines are grown on the Blue Ridge Mountains and in the surrounding valleys–notable Linden wines include: 2007 Hardscrabble Red (cab sav, merlot, cab franc, petit veridot, carmenere), 2008 Hardscrabble Chardonnay, and the 2005 Late Harvest Vidal.
During the winter season the tasting room at Linden Vineyards is open weekends 11am to 5pm. In the spring and fall (April through November) Linden is open to the public Wednesday through Sunday 11am to 5pm. This winery is for the calm, quiet wine drinker. Linden does not permit groups larger than six and the winemakers remind the public that at 5pm, it once again becomes their home.