Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Expanding DC’s Wine Country to Include Fairfax

There was considerable attention paid to the controversy surrounding Paradise Springs Winery last year. I wrote about it a couple times, here and here. After months of delays and thousands of dollars in legal fees, Paradise Springs Winery was finally able to open its doors to the general public earlier this month – becoming the first winery to call Fairfax County home.

Caitlin and I visited Virginia’s newest winery during their soft opening several weeks ago. We were both impressed with the beautiful winery grounds that make you forget you are in Fairfax, the restored farmhouse that has been converted into tasting rooms on two levels (avoid the lower one if you are on the tall side), and the barn that features live music and a third tasting station.

As for the wines themselves, Caitlin and I did a full tasting in the farmhouse and each had a full glass in the barn. I was a fan of their 2008 Viognier and their 2008 Cabernet Franc. Considering that these are the white and red varietals, respectively, that work best in Virginia, it is no surprise that these are the two strongest offerings from Paradise Springs. The former was citrusy, mineraly and had a slight hint of slate to it while the Cabernet Franc was a darker, robust and rather jammy wine for a cab franc. With both wines falling within the mid-$20 range as a price-point, you are paying more than the wine is worth. Still, both are decent drinking wines. And if you open either of the bottles on site, the scenery, hospitality, live music and atmosphere will more than make up for it. Light fare such as bread, cheese and salami are available on site.

Overall, I was impressed with what I found at Paradise Springs. I was, of course, hoping that they would win their legal battle and be allowed to open. On another level, I was skeptical that a winery would be able to thrive in the suburban cluster that is Fairfax County, albeit a part of the county that still retains a rural, rustic feel to it. The level of support the winery is receiving from the community I witnessed during our visit was impressive. Paradise Springs was packed, and we were told it had been bustling all day. The wine itself, while a little overpriced, is a welcome - and much belated - addition to DC’s wine country.

Given that our visit was during one of their opening weekends, I was not surprised by the festive atmosphere, and am eager to visit again under more normal circumstances. My congratulations go out to Paradise Springs for their successful opening, and for paving the way for wineries to open in Fairfax County.

8 comments:

  1. It's very exciting to see Virginia's wine country expanding here in Northern Virginia, and we wish Paradise Springs success in their endeavor. One thing I would like to clarify is the statement that Fairfax County is part of "DC's Wine Country." "DC's Wine Country" is the registered tourism brand for Loudoun County, Virginia, and I wanted your readers to be clear about that. Thank you for your continuing coverage of Loudoun, and Virginia, wineries.

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