Travel: Wine tasting in the hills of Virginia


Photos:  DC Spotlight Newspaper

For a temporary escape from the bustle and activity during the holiday season, a day trip to one of Virginia’s stunning wineries is well within reach near the D.C. metro area. Virginia is home to almost 200 wineries that feature the variety and vast subtleties of the region, while showcasing the beauty of the state.  Not only are Virginia’s wines gaining popularity and becoming renown around the country, but they consistently compete handily with California vintages, as well as with international wines.

Boxwood Winery A brief drive through scenic Middleburg will take the wine-seeker to Boxwood Winery, approximately fifty miles west of Washington D.C.  Currently, the Boxwood lineup features only reds grown and harvested in the Bordeaux tradition. Their 2010 Topiary is a blend of Cabernet Franc and Merlot with earthy undertones. The 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon will remain unblended to preserve the integrity of the flavor. A new addition to the Boxwood lineup, the Trellis, is an accessibleblend of Merlot and Malbec that could be paired with a meal or enjoyed alone. Rachel Martin, the executive vice president of Boxwood, explained that Boxwood’s endeavor is to remain committed to quality. She opted for a selective micro harvest, which involved a “painstaking” hand sorting of clean fruit. This resulted in a lower yield for the season, but the effects of which can be tasted in the quality of the wine. Boxwood faced an enormous challenge during the 2011 season. The ideal climate for grapes is a summer that is hot and dry, whereas 2011 featured heavy rains from hurricanes. With too much rain the berries can split, causing rot.  Boxwood’s vineyard uses only environmentally-approved materials, and their bottling and tasting rooms have an open, contemporary feel. Tours and tastings are by appointment, and visitors can request excursion information to set up a trip. Boxwood Winery Telephone:  540-687-8778

Sunset Hills Vineyard Sunset Hills Vineyard, located in Purcellville, Virginia in Loudoun County, has arustic atmosphere with rolling hills that showcase their vineyards.  Vines with clustered fruit and a 1870s-era Amish barn repurposed and restored for their tasting room create a scene comparable to Italy’s Tuscany. Additionally, the roofs of their tasting room and storage buildings are installed with 154 solar panels,providing 100% electrical self-sufficiency. Sunset Hills’ employs only manual labor to hand tend, hand pick, and hand sort the grapes. Spent grape skins from the pressing process are repurposed as fertilizer.

As a relatively young vineyard – opening in 2008 – they continually adapt to the variances between seasons in order to create the highest quality of wines. A sampling of past season’s offerings includes two whites, a rose, three reds, and a dessert wine. Highlights include the 2010 Chardonnay, an unblended white wine with hints of white flower, apple, and peach. The 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon is a medium-bodied red, which has been aged 18 months with hints of oak and a spicy finish. The dessert wine is a blend of late-harvested grapes, left longer on the vine to increase the residual sugar in the flavor.

The result is a sweet, refreshing finish, perfect for any meal. Sunset Hills also offers a light fare menu with hand-crafted Amish cheeses, French bread, and Italian imported salami and pepperoni. Visitors are allowed to bring their own food, though it must be kept to the designated picnic areas. Reservations are not required except in cases of groups larger than 8.

Sunset Hills Vineyard LLC      38295 Fremont Overlook Lane Purcellville, Virginia 540-882-4560 Hours of Operation:  Monday – Thursday  Noon – 5:00pm Friday – Sunday  Noon – 6:00pm

Hillsborough Vineyards 36716 Charles Town PikePurcellville, VA 20132 540.668.6216

Corcoran Brewery Corcoran Brewery 14635 Corkys Farm Lane Waterford,  VA  20197 Phone 540.882.9073 Open 12:00 to 5:00 pm Saturdays ONLY


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