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Let’s Talk About Loudoun County Wine
Though it may still be considered an emerging wine region in the United States, the state of Virginia has a deep history in the tradition of making wine. From Thomas Jefferson’s failed attempts at viticulture during his time at Monticello to the current eno-tourism that is blooming in the state, Virginia, just like many regions around the world, has experienced numerous peaks and valleys when it comes to producing wine successfully over hundreds of years. Although, anyone can see when you visit that it appears the state is absolutely on the right path toward expansion.
In 2020, the Virginia wine industry celebrated its 38th Governor’s Cup Competition, where over 500 wines from around the state were entered to be judged by 19 accomplished industry professionals, including internationally renowned individuals such as Steven Spurrier and Bartholomew Broadbent. The result is that various wines are awarded medals, but only the top 12 are chosen to comprise the Governor’s Cup Case, and one wine is awarded the overall winner. This year’s top winner was a wine that many would argue is “very Virginia.” A hybrid grape within a niche within an emerging region, the 2020 Governor’s Cup was awarded to 868 Estate Vineyard’s 2017 Vidal Blanc Passito, made by winemaker Carl DiManno.
As usual, many of the winning wines in the “case” were from the central Virginia AVA of Monticello, which is centered around Jefferson’s famous home area, but the top wine from 868 Estate Vineyards is from a region to the north in Loudoun County.
Let’s talk about Loudoun County, Virginia.
Visiting Loudoun County
Loudoun County is a beautiful Northern Virginia county that is home to one of the largest towns in Virginia, Leesburg, and the major international airport in the Washington, D.C. area, Dulles International Airport. Leesburg is only 33 miles Northwest of Washington, D.C., making this area extremely accessible by international and domestic air travel, as well as to visitors and locals in the Washington, D.C. metro area as a common commuter region for our Nation’s Capital. Therefore, getting out to visit the wineries and other attractions in Loudoun for #Winetravelers is fairly easy. You can get updates on flight deals as they arise here.
Accommodations and Attractions
Loudoun County is full of history and wine, so there is no shortage of stunning locations and welcoming wineries. Almost everywhere you look, there is a historical marker or something to learn about the very beginnings of our country. Even many of the places to rest after a long day of wine tasting, hiking, or other engaging activities have historical significance, so don’t be afraid to ask your hosts for the story.
As in many regions, there are different types of accommodations from quaint bed and breakfasts to larger resorts, depending on what kind of experience you want when you visit. For a quaint, historical weekend in wine country, a great place to call home base is the town of Middleburg.
Red Fox Inn & Tavern
Middleburg, Virginia was established in 1787 and is the center of horse and hunting culture in the state. For a real historical treat, make sure to book your room at the Red Fox Inn & Tavern located in the middle of town. The original tavern was built in 1728 and was a favorite resting place for historical icons like John F. Kennedy and his wife, Jacqueline, as well as Elizabeth Taylor and many others throughout history. When you walk inside, the tavern looks largely untouched over hundreds of years with low ceilings, wooden floors, and comforting fireplaces. Guests can choose to stay in one of the five rooms in the main building, or an adjacent structure away from the original tavern. The tavern’s wine list contains several pages of Virginia wineries, so guests truly have the opportunity to taste local in this historical spot.
Salamander Resort and Spa
If you’d prefer a more modern resort, you don’t have to go far to enjoy the luxurious accommodations of the Salamander Resort and Spa just up the road from the center of Middleburg. A full-service resort, Salamander offers guests a well-rounded experience of dining, activities, relaxation, with modern Virginia horse-country style. This resort is truly an experience in itself and can be a wonderful escape from the hustle and bustle of the big city. Large groups and weddings are welcomed, and in true resort fashion, Salamander staff can assist with planning wine country day excursions from the property.
Landsowne Resort and Spa
For a similar experience further north in the Leesburg area of Loudoun, the Lansdowne Resort and Spa, situated right on the Potomac River, boasts a golfer’s dream with three courses totaling 45 holes designed by Greg Norman and Robert Trent Jones Jr. For those who desire full-resort and group amenities, Lansdowne is a perfect place for curated experiences and package deals including health and wellness and Virginia vineyard exploration.
Though the option exists to be pampered in wine country, there are also many smaller bed and breakfast-style accommodations to be found in this part of the world. Take the time to decide what kind of experience you’d like for your wine country weekend.
Winetraveler Tip: While you’re passing through Leesburg, make sure to stop in and grab a bite to eat at The Wine Kitchen. A charming new American-style restaurant, The Wine Kitchen in Downtown Leesburg is the perfect place for weary wine travelers to relax and refuel with dishes like crispy Brussels Sprouts, burger melts, meat and cheese plates, and house-made pasta. There are wine-pairing options, flights, and tastes of international varieties and Virginia winery favorites. Tasting notes are providing with your pours! It’s perfect Southern Hospitality at The Wine Kitchen.
Wineries & Breweries to Visit in Loudoun County
Loudoun County is home to over 40 wineries, the most of any other county in Virginia. While we won’t list them all here, you can find a full list on the Visit Loudoun site.
Here are a few of mention to visit on your next trip to Loudoun County.
14001 Harpers Ferry Rd, Purcellville, VA 20132
The 2020 Governor’s Cup-winning winery is right here in Loudoun Country and offers guests a welcoming experience full of art, music, and wine. When you visit 868, you have the opportunity to explore the property, and there are entertainment options for the whole family. Turn off the power button on your phone, unwind, and enjoy an art show, a musical performance during “Loco Musicians Festival,” a meal at The Grill at 868, or simply a fabulous tasting of one of the state’s best wines. Check the website for the full event schedule and to plan your visit.
39025 John Mosby Highway Middleburg, VA 20117
Chrysalis’ owner, Jennifer McCloud, is a pioneer in Virginia winemaking. Her winery is at the forefront of Virginia wine experimentation and has been a leading winery in the area for many years. Try a Virginia Albariño, Nebbiolo, or a traditional American Norton wine during your visit to the beautiful modern tasting room. Chrysalis has the largest Norton vineyards in the country, as well as fresh farm products and a creamery making fantastic cheese. There is a full Virginia wine country experience to be had when you visit this innovative winery and farm outside of Middleburg.
23595 Winery Ln, Middleburg, VA 20117
Greenhill Winery is a wine club member’s dream spot. With several cozy rooms complete with a wine locker room for members, Greenhill has a lot to offer those who want a little something extra for their tasting experience. As far as the wines, Greenhill produces some of Virginia’s signature varietal wines such as Chambourcin, classic Chardonnay, and Cabernet Franc as well as blends like a Meritage (Bordeaux-style blend). If you want a real treat, ask for the Blanc de Blancs for an exciting Virginia bubbly made in the traditional method.
18755 Foggy Bottom Road, Bluemont, VA 20135
18701 Foggy Bottom Road, Bluemont, VA 20135
For those who like views, Bluemont Vineyards and the adjacent Dirt Farm Brewing are must-see sights in Loudoun County. At over 1,000 feet above sea level, the property where the brewery is located boasts views that stretch all the way to DC on the clearest of days. Both the winery and the brewery are owned by the same family who is now in multiple generations of leadership on site.
The quaint cottage where Dirt Farm Brewing is housed is an old home that was once a private hunter’s lodge, but now it’s a friendly brewery with plenty of space for groups to taste seasonal and signature brews along with a kitchen for those who come hungry.
Whether you’re a wine lover or a beer drinker, Bluemont Vineyards and Dirt Farm Brewing have you covered on both, as well as hosting events, weddings, and other activities depending on the time of year. If you want a more encompassing experience, both sites offer a small guest house for an overnight stay.
16031 Hillsboro Road, Purcellville VA 20132
Tasting Walsh Family Wines can be somewhat of a spiritual experience if you love great wine made with passion and love. Winemaker Nate Walsh, and his wife, Sarah, are the couple behind the wines and the vines, and through Nate’s winemaking and Sarah’s extensive experience in the industry from the fine dining and business side, the two make a powerful combination. When tasting their wines, you’ll get a glimpse into the very best that can be made in Virginia from single vineyard sites, experimentation, and traditional varieties. Not only does the couple make beautiful wines that maintain the integrity of classic varietal wines such as Merlot and Petit Manseng, but also look for exciting wines like “Plataeau,” which is a Cabernet Franc pétillant naturel (or pét-nat) rosé, and their inky but elegant Tannat.
Visiting Loudoun County, Virginia is a history and wine lover’s dream. With many places to see and lots of wine to taste, the area is certainly not lacking in opportunities to learn while growing your palate. When you visit, you’ll be greeted with hospitality and authenticity, and plenty of delicious food and wine. Though close to major airports and thoroughfares, Loudoun County is worlds away from the big city and is the perfect escape into Virginia’s wine country.