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Posted at 5:59 PM ET, 09/20/2006

Our Cups Overfloweth

By Julia Beizer

The Virginia Wine gods are shining down upon us over the next few weekends with a slew of festivals. If you ever wanted to learn a thing or two about regional wine, now is the time to take to the vineyard.

Tarara Winery, one of the closest wineries to Washington, is hosting its annual Great Grape Wine Festival this weekend. As with any big wine festival, expect music, munchies, craft vendors, tours and tastings of the vineyard's finest. What sets this festival apart? I'd have to say that the grape-stomping competition takes the cake. Kids and adults alike can make like Lucille Ball and crush wine grapes with their bare feet. A boozy spin around the vineyard's lake in a paddleboat doesn't sound like a bad way to end the afternoon either.

Road-trippers might also check out the Savor the Valley Wine, Food and Craft Festival, taking place at Shenandoah Caverns. It'll take a little longer to get out there, sure, but this festival offers wine tastings from four vineyards in the Shenandoah region. Added bonus: vintage Corvettes and motorcycles will be on display on Saturday and Sunday (respectively). This festival seems to be the most kid-friendly of the bunch; it offers hayrides and puppet shows.

The Virginia Wine Festival is on tap Sept. 30-Oct. 1, and that really is the mother of all area wine fests. More than 55 wineries will be there offering up samples of their goods. There is a shuttle from the Vienna Metro Station, but I was a little sorry to see it's going for $25. That's the cost of the admission to the festival. I'm all for designated drivers -- just wish it was a little cheaper. If you want to knock $5 off the price, Success in the City is offering a coach service for $20. (Even though that group is all about successful "divas," dudes will also be allowed on the coach).

The Mount Vernon Fall Wine Festival and Sunset Tour takes place on the estate's rolling lawn over the Columbus Day weekend (Oct. 6-8). Visitors can check out George Washington's wine-making cellars during this event and can also taste samples from 16 wineries. Better get your tickets soon -- Saturday night is already sold out.

And lest we be accused of forgetting the wineries to the north, jazz bands and vineyards take over Sotterly Plantation in the Riverside Winefest over the Columbus Day weekend as well.

These big wine fests are really only the tip of the iceberg. Here's a list of wine events in the area, and we'll keep adding to it as the season continues.

While festivals and events are a great way to break into the wine-tasting game, just going to the vineyard is a great, not-so-crowded way to really learn about regional grapes. Wine-lovers, got any advice for wannabe oenophiles during this season of festivals? Wines to look out for? Vineyards that are worth the drive? Let us know in the comments field below.


By Julia Beizer  | September 20, 2006; 5:59 PM ET
Categories:  Misc.  
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are there any wine-tasting classes in DC? metro-accessible, preferably?

Posted by: oeno-newbie | September 25, 2006 10:28 PM | Report abuse

Hey newbie -- It may not be as formal as a class, but I'd check out Fritz's blog post from a few weeks ago if you're looking to break into the wine-tasting game:

Wine-tasting events/classes are rarely cheap, but I'd check out and for class and tasting information. The Smithsonian Associates Program offers the occasional wine event, too.

Posted by: Julia | September 26, 2006 5:29 PM | Report abuse

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