The slogan has it all wrong. Virginia is for WINE AND FOOD lovers!
Last Fall, the hubs and I took a jaunt down to Loudoun County, Virginia to check out the wine scene for our anniversary. We are wine enthusiasts, but our somewhat annual pilgrimages to Napa/Sonoma have been put on hiatus until I can handle leaving wee man for more than two nights. You would have thought the toddler years would have inspired long trips away from home, but no. (It was close, though!)
My cousin got married in Virginia when I was seven months pregnant with our little guy, and on the way there we noticed a ton of signs for wine trails and instantly knew we had to visit. Four years later, while searching for a not-so-distant-but-new-to-us anniversary destination, I remembered this area of Virginia and starting doing research. Less than a week later, we were booked, and I could not have been happier with the experience (and eager to do it again in Fall 2018).
Where to Stay
I’m a big believer that if you’re spending money on a trip, spend them in the right places — food and lodging. In my mind, there is no better place to stay than The Salamander Resort in Middleburg, Virginia. Our room was incredible, the location was in walking distance to downtown Middleburg and the staff was beyond incredible.
We did have a minor issue in that our room door was left open while we were out…twice. We contacted the front desk to alert them of the situation and they responded with giving us a small credit towards our room. We really just wanted to advise them of the issue so that (1) it would stop and (2) it wouldn’t happen to others. The fact that they responded with such courtesy was a lovely gesture and a testament to their customer service.
Where to Eat
The food was good everywhere. Seriously, everywhere. There were no bad meals on this trip, but here’s a rundown.
Roots 657 :: Our first meal in the area. We had driven quite a ways and were STARVING by the time we got to this restaurant, but it still may be my favorite meal on the trip — so much so that I had the same exact thing for breakfast on the drive home!! Roots 657 is in Leesburg, VA and has THE MOST AMAZING BRISKET SANDWICH ON EARTH. Hands down. No question. On a jalapeno-cheddar roll no less. Part of me wants to drive several hours just to get one now. IT IS INCREDIBLE. Go, go, go, go, go (but good luck making a left out of there — oof!).
The Goodstone Inn :: I want to start off by saying the food was incredible! It honestly was. However, the restaurant was hard to find (especially in the dark), there was a wedding there that night making parking impossible, the dining room was pretty dated and the ambiance was honestly not amazing. It was definitely one of those nights where you walk in saying, “This better be worth it!”…and it was. Cocktails were also pretty special here.
Red Fox Inn & Tavern :: Walked here from our hotel for brunch on our only full day in the area. When brunching at the Red Fox, you get the fried chicken. It is divine!!
Harrimans Virginia Piedmont Grill :: Sadly, no photos from this one, but the Grill is a fabulous restaurant conveniently located in The Salamander Resort. We are a sucker for a tasting menu, so we couldn’t resist the many course option with their amazing offerings. The food was incredible, but something was going on that night that delayed each course by a considerable amount of time. You could tell the staff felt bad about it – they came over constantly to apologize and check on us – but it was a VERY long evening (3+ hours). Eager to go back one day and give it another go.
What to Do
As I mentioned earlier, we were on this trip for the wine, and this area of Virginia did not disappoint. We stopped at the following wineries along the way.
Zephaniah Farm Vineyard :: Our first stop. Loved their cozy atmosphere (we did a tasting in their library), the lovely owners who stopped by to chat and the great wine — we left with a few bottles!
Stone Tower Winery :: Beautiful venue and an especially fun place to visit if you’re in a large group. Their tasting room is tremendous, and they have a beautiful outdoor seating area. We walked away with a few bottles of this wine, as well.
Chrysalis Vineyards :: At first, I was not overly impressed. We waited an eternity for the tasting and everything seemed a bit unorganized. Once we finally got settled, we enjoyed the tasting and the beautiful view they had in an outdoor area.
Greenhill Winery :: An amazing tasting experience! Beautiful wines and a nice snack menu that included cheese and baguettes. A must-stop along the wine trail.
Quattro Goomba’s Brewery :: By this point, we were looking for a bit of a palette cleanser from all the wine, so we took some down time with college football and beer! I am by no means a beer expert (or much of an expert on anything, really!), but I thought it was pretty good. I will say this — the place was PACKED! They had an amazing outdoor area as well, where people can picnic or just hang out.
50 West Vineyard :: I loved this place!!! Great tasting, live music, beautiful outdoor space and the best rose of our trip. We left with lots of wine for ourselves and some to take home as gifts. It was a great way to finish our Virginia wine tasting experience.
If you live in the Northeast/Mid-Atlantic region and love wine, you must, must, must visit Loudoun County, Virginia. I still miss Napa, and am dying to try out Willamette Valley, Oregon someday, but this is a wonderful experience you won’t regret (and won’t have to fly across the country for!). Cheers!