1 of 3 Evenings in Loudoun Wine Country
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 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)
The Food Section
July 13, 2009; 2:00 PM ET
Categories: Wine | Tags: Catherine Cheney, festivals, wine
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