A few weeks ago, my blog squad—Ashlee, Laura, Jenn, Kristyn, and Monica—and I headed out to Loudoun County for a fun day of wine tasting! Though it’s no Napa, Virginia has a ton of amazing wineries and it seems like every season more and more vineyards pop up. Loudoun is about an hour drive away from DC, so it makes for a perfect day trip whether you’re a local or visiting.
I went to college in Charlottesville, which is where my passion for wine tasting really began, and I love that I now get to share this ~hobby with my real world friends as well. When I first started the blog, I had a ton of vineyard reviews up on TOT, but recently made them private since the photography was no longer up to my standards. However, you can see my recent Virginia vineyard reviews here—I’m making it a to-do list item for myself to get to some new vineyards in 2019 so I will report back in future posts!
On this recent winery day, we hit up two vineyards—our first stop was at Zephaniah Farm Vineyard, which was a new-to-me winery, and our second stop was Greenhill, which is one of my favorite wineries in the area. We had the best time and it was one of those days that made me so grateful I sat down nearly five years ago and started a blog—otherwise, I would have missed this day (and so many days like it!) and these friends.
To kick the morning off, Jenn invited us all over for breakfast tacos and mimosas. It was the best way to “prime before painting” and so thoughtful for her to cook a delicious meal for all of us. We then were ready to hit up the first stop of the day, Zephaniah Farm Vineyard!
When we drove up, I seriously felt like we were in the movie The Holiday—the property is so stunning and the main house is 200 years old! For parties of six or more, a reservation is required. Our tasting, which was a reasonable $15 for six wines, was held in the main house, but there’s a newly-built tasting room next door to allow for more people. Bonnie, one of the owners and wine makers lead our tasting, and she was wonderful. We all sat around our table chatting and she would bring the next pour in when we were all ready to move on. She also gave us a sample of the amazing mulled wine they make. Even if you don’t try it, they sell the spices used in it for $5 so you can make it at home.
While we were there, she recommended two really cool products to us. The first is this Menu Wine Breather Carafe—it decants a bottle of wine in under three minutes! Simply put the decanter on top of the bottle of wine and flip it over! You can then serve it right out of the carafe or or flip it back over once it’s done and pour the aerated wine back into the bottle and serve from the original bottle. As an added bonus, it’s a great party trick.
The second product she recommended was the ArT wine preserver spray. Ever find yourself in a situation where you just want one glass of wine, but don’t want to waste the whole bottle? Simply spray this preserver spray into the bottle and recork! It takes the air out of the bottle and makes your wine last longer. As someone who lives alone and enjoys a quality glass of wine every now and then, I can’t recommend this one enough.
I loved our time at Zephaniah Farm Vineyard, and definitely want to return again soon. I also want to note that no outside food is allowed and that this vineyard is definitely one where you’re going to want to take your time. So if you’re hungry or in a rush, save this one for when you can take your time and savor the wine.
Our second stop of the day was to Greenhill Winery & Vineyards. Another popular place, I would recommend making a reservation here if you want to come on the weekend or on a holiday. Greenhill’s old tasting room was turned into a cute Farm Store when their new tasting room was complete a few years ago. Their new tasting room has an indoor area and a multi-level outdoor space. Outside food is allowed outdoors, but not indoors—but food is available for purchase at both places.
The tasting includes six wines and is also $15. They even gave me a special pour since it was my birthday—so definitely let them know if you’re celebrating something.
While you’re at the vineyard, definitely stop into the Farm Store. They have all sorts of local Middleburg (the town near the winery!) wares and these amazing candles called Yup! Candles, that I track down each Christmas made by a Virginia shop. They take old wine bottles from different vineyards, cut off the top of the bottle, and pour the most amazing smelling soy candles into them. I found them at Stone Tower last year, too, and you can buy them online here. They are so reasonably priced ($20/each!) and burn for so long. My favorite scent is a seasonal scent called Mistletoe—I love it so much that I bought two while at Greenhill so that I can enjoy it all season long.
As I mentioned, Greenhill allows outside food in their outdoor areas, and we packed a spread! We had all sorts of cheeses, fruits, meats, dips, and Kristyn was so thoughtful and picked up a cookie cake for my birthday. Since it was still a mild November day, we sat outside, and it was so nice to enjoy our picnic lunch during our tasting.
For the items we needed to keep cold, we packed them up in our various SCOUT Bag Coolers. Not only are they easier to carry than hard coolers, they fold up so when you’re not using them, they are very easy to store—which is especially clutch for all of us small apartment dwellers! Monica gave me one for my birthday and it has already come in handy!
The wineries, of course, are not metro accessible and since none of us have cars in the city, you may think it’d be impossible for us to enjoy Virginia vineyards. Think again!
If you’re like us and in need of an easy way to get to the wineries for a day, I can’t recommend DCA Car enough. They pick you up at your designated location (in our case, Jenn’s apartment!), drop you off at your selected wineries, and then are ready to chauffeur you back home at the end of the day. Our driver, Alex, was awesome and so hospitable during our day and his suburban comfortably accommodated all six of us. Hiring a driver is always cheaper than a DUI and when split among friends or family, is a really reasonable way to enjoy Virginia wine country as safely as possible!
(A special thanks to our friends over at DCA Car for complimentary transportation in exchange for promotion! While they provided the car service en gratis, we paid for all our tastings, and this post is in no way sponsored by either vineyard we visited.)
I seriously had the best day with some of my best friends—and I can’t wait until we get a spring winery day on the books! Don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions about the wineries we went to or DCA Car—I’d be more than happy to help.