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1 of 3 Evenings in Loudoun Wine Country

Festivalgoers, starting with a wine glass for sampling spicy reds and fruity whites at Whitehall Manor on Sunday. (Catherine Cheney -- The Washington Post)

The weekend’s glorious, uncharacteristically cool July nights made the first D.C. Wine Country Food and Wine Festival a pretty nice place to be. It was sponsored by the Virginia Food and Wine Foundation and held at Whitehall Manor in Bluemont (Loudoun County), which afforded gracious porches and lots of green space for strolling and sipping.

According to organizers, the event came together in less than a year. After David Weinschel, the manor’s co-owner, took a trip to the area with some captains of the local food and wine industry, he says “we all got to talking and felt it was time for Virginia to get a reputation for being a place for people from D.C. to come and visit for good food and wine.” Members of the group exchanged e-mails and phone numbers; a few weeks later, they met at Weinschel’s Reston home and formed the Virginia Food and Wine Foundation, with the intention of getting a summer festival underway.

Reston Limo buses ran from downtown Washington and the West Falls Church Metro station (for a fee), and the hours were kept fairly short: 6 to 9 p.m on Friday and Saturday; 5 to 8 p.m. on Sunday, which is when I attended with a friend. About 600 to 700 folks attended on Friday and Sunday, and Saturday’s attendance was double that (1,200). Tickets were $30 per night, with special meal-related deals available.

If you've attended food and wine festivals, you know that the edible aspects can fall short (a scrap of bread? a Triscuit?). But we dined happily on a buffet of pulled pork sandwiches, tomato and cucumber salad, potato salad and broiled chicken. Then we headed out to swirl, sniff and spit and spend at stands from more than 20 local wineries.

Among the highlights (and keep in mind, I'm no Dave McIntyre):

* a 2007 malbec from Corcoran Vineyards of Waterford, Va. Its black-cherry and coffee aromas paired nicely with dark chocolate from local Chocolaterie Wanders.

* a 2007 Chardonnay Reserve from Willowcraft Farm Vineyards of Leesburg, which is supposed to taste great with buttery popcorn (wish some had been there).

* a 2008 Barrel Chardonnay and a 2007 Rosé from Dry Mill Vineyards & Winery in Leesburg. The chardonnay had a silky texture and crisp flavor, while the rosé seemed like it would pair well with strawberries.

I do wish that buffet had been closer to the wine tables, but at least it was a step up from crackers and slices of baguettes. And there was chocolate....

Organizers hope to make this an annual event. I suppose I looked like I was having an enjoyable time, because a videographer asked me to keep swirling the wine in my glass while he filmed. If you happen to see a preview video of next year's event, maybe you'll see me.

-- Catherine Cheney (Washington Post summer intern)

By The Food Section  |  July 13, 2009; 2:00 PM ET
Categories:  Wine  | Tags: Catherine Cheney, festivals, wine  
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Hi Catherine,

Thank you for your coverage of this weekend's Food and Wine Festival and Loudoun County's great wineries. Please send us your Twitter account name so we can reference you in the tweets to the followers of our LoudounWineries Twitter feed.

We've already tweeted your article out to our followers. Keep us posted as you write more and we'll gladly let everyone know.

Thanks again.


Posted by: LoudounWineries | July 13, 2009 11:52 PM | Report abuse

Shame restaurants in NOVA that promote themsleves as using local produce, meat, poultry, lamb etc do not have wine lists with more local wines on it. The recently opened Trummer's on main is big time offender. They go on and on about using local ingredients but their wines list and wine by the glass list only has a couple token VA wines. Shame they used a corporate developed wine list instead of inviting local wineries from MD, VA, MD etc
to show their products and develop a truly great local wine list.

Local wine makers need to do better job of promoting their wines

Posted by: omarthetentmaker | July 14, 2009 7:56 AM | Report abuse

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