Monday, April 19, 2010

Springing Back into Virginia’s Wineries

Recently, I have been asking a lot of people about Virginia wines and as I mentioned in a previous post, the reputation of Virginia wines continues to grow. The word has made it out to some California wineries that Virginia is not just making alcohol-laden grape juice anymore. And as this article points out, California is slowly but surely accepting its Eastern cousin as a producer of quality wine. Even the staid, old school publications like Travel and Leisure have sung the praises of Virginia wine country.

But enough of lead-in on how great Virginia wines are. I wouldn’t have started this blog unless I thought Virginia produced some good, albeit underrated, wines. And, of course, Virginia wineries are easy to get to from Washington, DC. Thanks to Caitlin organizing a wine tour for a group she plans a lot of events for, we got to three Virginia wineries recently, got to taste many different offerings and generally had a great time. Each winery will have its own entry – as there were some complaints that the last post on the Charleston Wine and Food Festival was way too long. I agree, so here is an overview, followed by individual posts in the coming days.

We visited three different wineries with a group of about 50 people. Starting with Paradise Springs Winery in Fairfax, VA. I have written about them in the past, and am glad that the winery continues to do well and play host to many people on the weekends. In fact, they are doing so well that they have to turn away some groups. It is well worth it to call in advance and pay them a visit. The land, the history and the wines make the quick trip to this winery well worth it.

Next on our itinerary was Notaviva Vineyards. Their motto is: “Wine Paired with Music. Pour. Listen. Believe.” My PR antennae are not quite sure what it is we are being asked to believe in…wine? I love how they emphasize pairing music with wine. Wine is supposed to be a sensory experience that incorporates sight, smell and taste. Why not add sound to enhance the experience? It helps that the staff is one of the friendliest and enthusiastic around. I got the sense that everybody working at Notaviva really loves what they do, where they do it, and how they do it. Being surrounded all day with friendly people, good wine and great music is not the worst job in the world. It helps that all this wine and music and friendliness is offered up to visitors in a space that was featured on HGTV’s Dream Home series.

The final winery that we visited was Hiddencroft Vineyards. Hiddencroft prides itself on being the “northernmost winery in Virginia.” This was my first time to this winery, and I enjoyed it. The owner was very knowledgeable, and you could tell that she took great pride in the wine that she produced – and got excited telling others about it. The grounds and the winery itself are beautiful. The inside could use a bit of help aesthetically. The best way to describe the inside is “winery dorm room chic.” There was plenty going on, but no real rhyme or reason to it. I like to think it is because they put more of their effort and energy into the wines that they make rather than their surroundings, and that could be the taste after trying some of their wines.

Click here to View Larger Map, and see where the three wineries are located!

But you will have to check back to find out more about Hiddencroft’s wines, as well as those from Notaviva and Paradise Springs. Hopefully this overview will give you some ideas on what to do next time you have a free weekend and the desire to get out to some of the region’s wineries.

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