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Virginia wine country day trip

Hosting some friends from Washington state next month and want to plan a day trip to Virginia wine country. Any suggestions on specific wineries, touring itinerary, and lunch and or dinner spots. Open to picnic options too.

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  1. We did an 7-vineyard trip last weekend to western Loudon County. I was particularly impressed with HiddenCroft Vineyards. Their Vidal Blanc and Traminette were very good. Sunset Hills and Corcoran were also pretty good. Notaviva Vineyards wine's were ok but their descriptions were laughably pretentious and their lone tasting room attendant was obviously ready to go home. The only real dog in the bunch was Doukenie Winery - the wines were foul and the tasting room staff uneducated.

    For lunch, Magnolia's is really, really good. The fried green tomatoes were definitely something to write home about!

    1 Reply
    1. re: reiflame

      Great call on the fried green tomotoes at Magnolia's in Purcellville, We ate there a few weeks ago and that was the standout dish. Having enjoyed many fried green tomatoes in New Orleans and other southern locales, I know when they are good!

      Also, thanks for the tips on the western Loudoun wineries. I love living in a county with such a booming wine industry.

    2. I went to Chrysalis Vineyards last year. If you've got good weather, it's a beautiful place to roam around a bit. The tasting attendants were very helpful and professional. Of the 7 wines we tasted, the Vigonier was the standout, and overall better whites than reds.

      1 Reply
      1. re: weezycom

        I will second a visit to Chrysalis and the Viognier in particular.

      2. Check out Virginiawine.org. They are all listed with maps and descriptions. Makes it easy to plan a day trip visiting the many Va wineries.

        1. Naked Mountain has a beautiful tasting room, huge plate windows overlooking mountains and special events, like lunches and dinners that are made w/ local ingredients and paired with their wines. I've never been to an event but enjoy their tasting room. It's in Markham, off 66.

          We used to like J's Gourmet for picnic lunches and a casual lunch place in Front Royal. They've gone a little more upscale but I really want to try their restaurant. They have tasting menus and tapas. We stopped by on trips to the Shenandoah for hikes.

          http://jsgourmet.com/index.html

          1. We just had a lovely day in VA wine country a few weeks ago. We particularly liked Hillsborough winery -- fabulous view and a nice place to hang out with a bottle of wine. The wines offered in the tasting room were interesting and the person serving us was quite knowledgeable. Surprisingly, we prefered their red wines to their whites. Also enjoyed Naked Mountain; gorgeous views and the tasting room folks know their stuff. We had a very nice meal at Granville Farms. The breads are wonderful and the cold soups were amazing. All the ingredients were local and the produce came from their own garden. Not pretentious at all.

            Have a wonderful time!

            8 Replies
            1. re: Transplanted Texan

              I am a huge fan of La Grange and Pearmund which are sister vineyards. Just a warning though don't expect any wine in Virginia to be of the same caliber as most Washington State wines. There are definitely some drinkable wines to be found otherwise we wouldn't all have our favorites to share with you but I thought a warning was warented.

              1. re: italy531

                I am sorry, but I totally disagree with your assertion that Washington State wines are better. Virginia has some exceptional wines, and for such a new wine region the variety and depth of some of the wines available is quite astonishing.

                Take Barboursville- Octagon about a $40 some dollar bottle, but definitely worth it- this was even used at the Inauguration. I think this could og head to head with any Washington State wine. White Hall also has some excellent wines that would put many Washington State Wines to shame. Flying Fox has some incredible reds at very good prices that are exceptional for such a new winery- I believe it is only 2-3 years old.

                Jefferson Chardonnay is very good.

                Even Meteor is really good, and has great value, but it is in the Northern Neck.

                I think Ablemarle County and the surrounding region has some exceptional wines, but because they are small producers you need to be willing to pay for quality.

                There was a recent Washington Post article that may be useful to the OP, and you might find it interesting, as well: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/...

                Also the Washington Post's Food and Dining Section has a link to more wine articles- with a great many reviews of Virginia Wineries.

                Depending on how you want to do a tour, if you design something yourself I would go to Pearamund, Keswick Hall then Barboursville and have dinner at Palladio.

                1. re: ktmoomau

                  That article cracks me up - "VA wines come in third out of three, but only by a little!".

                  Let's face it, VA still has a ways to go and it's not helped by the vintners that still insist on growing riesling and pinot noir in an area totally unsuited for it. It would also help if they'd each stick to a limited number of grapes instead of trying to grow 15+ different varietals.

                  Also, WA has decent wine in the $10-15 price point. I don't think Virginia even HAS wine priced that low yet, let alone wine worth drinking.

                  1. re: reiflame

                    Have you ever had White Hall wines? They are in that price point and many are very good. I particularly like the Breakheart Red priced at $10.

                    Flying Fox has a Cab Franc from 2006 that is $15 that is a bit young right now, but in another year should be a very nice bottle as that year was the drought so the grapes were very strong. They also have a Trio at $17 that is good.

                    Cardinal Point has some good wines in that price. Jefferson Chardonnay is only $17.95, and they have. Kluge Estate's Ablemarle Simply Red is $14, Williamsburg Wineries Cabernet Sauvignan is $16. AND a lot of these places have sold out of some of their more affordable good wine because they are small producers and demand is high, like at White Fences- who also has a new affordable line not listed on their website.

                    And really I would rather have quality wine then bulk wine at lower prices. If you want to pay $10-15 for the majority of your wines, you want a large scale producer with less attention to detail. I am glad that they have nicer bottles that show a lot of character and will gladly pay more for better quality.

                    1. re: ktmoomau

                      There are plenty of WA wines under $15 that are not mass produced and personality-less. If you haven't found any, you haven't looked.

                      Of all the wines you listed above, only 2 are below $15, which is a price point that many wine drinkers will use when purchasing - I didn't pick that arbitrarily.

                      Washington and Oregon have way more friendly soil and climate for wine producing - Virginia's fighting a huge uphill battle. They've also got a longer established wine industry. My point is only this - VA wines have come a long way even in the last 5 years, but they still have a long way to go before you'll find them nation-wide.

                      1. re: reiflame

                        Virginia's climate is much more similar to the wine growing regions in Spain, France and Italy than Washington State, had you said California, I would agree with you- much better climate than both. The soil of course is dependent on each grower as PH levels vary so much from sod to sod.

                        They may not be as popular yet, but that doesn't mean they aren't just as good in quality. A more established industry means they can distribute better and market better, it doesn't have anything to do with the taste.

                        Yes many wine drinkers want bottles below $15, but that doesn't mean that wine is better, and mine was just an example of a few wineries as I have only been to a handful and didn't want to reccommend wines I hadn't tried. And many places sell out early of their brands.

                        I don't think Jefferson's Eden is fighting an uphill battle in wine growing.

                        I would put Barboursville Octagon up against any similar Washington State Wine, or White Hall's 2006 Cuvee Du Champs. etc etc...

                        But I will end this discussion here. You obviously think that being able to buy something with good value nationwide is your preference and that is fine it isn't mine. But I am also the person who came home from Spain with a whole duffel bag of Jean Leon and was even willing to sacrafice red wine ruined clothes just to get it here, because it is hard to find in this area and was lovely.

                        1. re: ktmoomau

                          My collection of Premier Cru Burgs begs to differ with you.

                          Maybe you just like really simple, fruit forward wines.

                          1. re: reiflame

                            To end on a convivial note- because I am not one generally to be harsh just opinionated, I thought this would make you laugh. A friend of mine who reads chow, but doesn't post sent me this, "tell them the only good "wine" to come out of washington state was the grunge music of the early 90s out of seattle."

                            So hope it makes you laugh too.

            2. Chester Gap Cellars, just outside of Front Royal and not far up the road from several other wineries, makes really good wine. After recent spins through several wineries this was the best of the bunch quality-wise. The viogniers, cabernet francs and merlots, were all the best wines we tasted all day at four wineries.

              The tasting room isn't as well appointed as others, but there is a fantastic view from the winery, looking down the eastern slope of the Blue Ridge into the piedmont. We chatted with the owner/winemaker and it was clear he really cared about making the best wines he could make given the soil and climate conditions at his vineyard. That's why he makes just a few labels compared to the dozen or so you find at some other wineries.

              I think the wines we bought were all in the $10-20 range.