Virginia is for wines, lovers and wine lovers. A day adventure can give you a taste of at least three wineries, possibly four if you’re ambitious. Grab a group of like minded adventurers, plenty of food pairings like cheeses, cured meats and crusty baguettes -think open face sandwiches on good bread, crostini, crackers, fruits of all kinds, honey, jams and whatever else strikes your fancy. I tend to over pack on food. Book your stretch limo, because you know, that’s the only way to travel in style and really, no one wants to drive.
In this particular route, you’re traveling through northern Virginia in Loudon and Madison counties. Start at the Barns at Hamilton Station Vineyards, have lunch at Creeks Edge and finish your day at Fabbioli Cellars. Plan to spend at least two hours at each location, three for lunch; the plan is about an hour to taste and then an hour for whatever wine you want to enjoy. You’ll also want about 30 minutes of drive time between locations. It’s worth starting the day a bit early so you aren’t rushed and competing with other, less driven, groups. MUST.TASTE.ALL.THE.WINE.
If you can get to the Barns at Hamilton Station by 11:30, you’re in a good place. Their location is intimate and the passion is reflected in the quality of their wines. Try to do the full tasting if they don’t have another event that day, you won’t be disappointed or overwhelmed. I’m a red lover, even during warmer weather; a glass of the cabernet franc on the patio after the tasting is a must. It’s a medium bodied fruity wine with a subtle peppery finish, and will go well with the brie and salami you brought along. I prefer drier whites, but was delightfully pleased with the Chardonnay. Perhaps it’s the tartness of its apple and pear notes or that it’s a really dry Chardonnay but I really liked it. Mild cheddars go well, think the cheddar cheese crust in a fresh baked apple pie. It’s pretty magical.
Creek’s Edge is a gorgeous venue. The tasting room can accommodate large groups and they host local musicians. Taste first, the purchase drinks for lunch, try their Vidal Blanc and cucumber sangria if you want something to cleanse the palate after all your tastings. There is plenty of room inside and their patio is expansive for nicer weather days.
If you stick with the standard tasting, pay special attention to the Rose of Sangiovese. Roses are experiencing a renaissance and breaking stereotypes today as a grown up wine with their drier palate cleansing tastes. It goes with just about any thing and is delightful mildly chilled. In case you haven’t noticed, I also prefer wines on the drier side. Creek’s Edge has many options, and in their extended tasting don’t miss the 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine has a full and lingering finish with undertones of black cherries and tobacco — it’s reminiscent of some of the Washington Oregon wines I grew up with. If you like cabs this isn’t one to be missed.
Finishing your day at Fabbioli will give you another shot at a dry rose, chardonnay and a fun pear wine, Una Pera. Local pears are crushed through an apple crusher and then cold pressed in stainless steel. Imagine a mixture of fresh orchard pears, spring flowers, and nutmeg. It’s crisp and mildly sweet, excellent for a before-dinner-cook-out drink.
If you’ve made it this far, you deserve a gold star. Make yourself a Virginia Wine passport and plan your next trip!