One of the many things I love about living in DC, and the East Coast in general, is the easy access to all sorts of destinations – within driving distance of several big cities and beaches as well as a plethora of cute, small towns nestled in the country or in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Last year, Tom and I randomly booked a trip to Winchester, VA to do some hiking and explore a new town. Shortly beforehand, my grandfather passed away. We almost didn’t go on the trip, but decided a getaway might be helpful.
For that trip, we focused on rest and relaxation – dining at Butcher’s Station (and eating some of the best carrots of my life) and One Block West (which is sadly now closed) and meandering around the outside mall downtown looking at the preserved historical sites.
But the best part of that trip was 8-mile hike we took in Front Royal (the Signal Knob trail, I believe).
Nothing is quite as healing for me as is nature. Now when I think of that trip to Winchester, I think of feeling at peace for the first time after the passing of someone very important to me.
Lately, most of my time in nature also includes being at a winery – either the one I work at or one of the 200+ others in Virginia. But with views like this, I’m not upset about it.This past weekend, we decided to return to Winchester for an overnight trip to drive around the countryside, exploring wineries and taking in the scenery.
Barns at Hamilton Station
We left DC early in the morning and after a quick stop for caffeine and pastries at King Street Coffee in Leesburg, we began our day of tasting in Loudoun County (I love my Loudoun wineries) at the Barns at Hamilton Station Vineyard, on the recommendation of several of my customers at Maggie’s.
I loved the rustic barn where they do their tastings – it’s over 100 years old!Our server was very nice and informative and walked us through a great selection of wines. Most of their vines are grown on leased land in Charlottesville, due to a lack of land. I was surprised to see a Shiraz on the list, not incredibly common as its own varietal in Virginia. I especially enjoyed their Rose and their 1910 port-style wine, leaving with the former since I have few occasions to enjoy dessert wines at home.
Our next stop was Delaplane Cellars.The views here were just incredible, and the wine was great too. Tom and I tasted in shifts, since dogs aren’t allowed in the tasting room (neither are children). We’ve done this a few times with Ashton in tow and it’s kind of fun to get together at the end and compare notes. We both agreed that all four wines were delicious, with a standout in the bold, balanced, silky Williams Gap red blend.
Glen Manor Vineyards
Next up was Glen Manor Vineyards, a venerable establishment I’ve seen praised all over the Internet. Several Glen Manor wines are also served at one of my favorite DC restaurants, Dino’s Grotto. I was very excited to hear about the property and taste the wines first hand. They did not disappoint, from the crisp and clean Sauvignon Blanc (the first Virginia Sauv Blanc I’ve had thus far, though I know of several wineries that will be releasing their own versions very soon) to the dry yet fruit-filled rose, to the soft and supple T Ruth red and even to the off-dry Petite Manseng I was not expecting to like at all, but did, very very much.
Despite Glen Manor’s auspicious reputation, they still have a very laid-back and humble vibe. Several people came in and were known on a first name basis, and we were treated like old friends by our welcoming tasting associated.
Our taster, who is married to the fourth generation farmer of the land, gave us a lot history and emphasized that the Glen Manor philosophy is that all wine making is done in the vineyards, with nothing added to the wines once the grapes come off the vines. The steep sloping hills, visible from the tasting room windows, allow for optimal drainage and ideal growing conditions even in more challenging years.
Tom and I shared a glass of rose on the lawn to take in the view, while Ashton made new doggie friends.
We ended the day at Rappahannock Cellars for some much needed sustenance and another great tasting, which we shared.Four wineries in one day is definitely pushing it (sharing tastings and asking for smaller pours is always a good idea for longevity), but we really wanted to check off some places we’ve been dying to try.
I wish we’d had more time to spend on this trip, but even one day is enough for a great getaway.