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Posted at 6:00 AM ET, 06/ 4/2010

Spend a day in the (wine) country

By Lavanya Ramanathan

It's no easy feat to plan a day trip to local wineries. There are dozens of them, extending across Northern Virginia all the way to the West Virginia line, and that's not even counting the handful in Frederick County.

Some are dog-friendly. Others allow picnicking or have areas for children to play. And some simply excel at wines.

Need a hand deciding which is for you? Don't leave without checking out this guide to the top area wineries. If you're a wine vet, you'll find a few newer tasting rooms in the mix. If you're a newbie, the best way to learn about the local wine scene is to visit a few on the list (and ask a lot of questions while you're tasting).

Another great way to get your first taste? Attend a wine festival.

This weekend brings Vintage Virginia, where 50 wineries from across the state will be pouring their specialties -- which for many local winemaking enterprises means whites such as Viognier and, in the reds category, Cabernet Franc.

On June 19, Breaux Vineyards celebrates its annual Cajun Festival and Crawfish Boil, with live music from the Dixie Power Trio and others, and hayrides through the vineyard, tastings and vendors. Kids are welcome, and tickets, which you can buy here, are $10-$15.

Notaviva Vineyards in Purcellville is celebrating its second anniversary on June 26 with a special music-and-wine pairing (the owners are former music engineers). Tasters get to sample five wines while listening to several musical clips. Then the crowd votes on which style of music best complemented each wine. Tickets, which can be purchased here, are $35 and include hors d'oeuvres.

And finally, I'm really intrigued by Tarara's Paddle, Wine & Concert series, for which the winery teamed up with River & Trail Outfitters. Guests meet at Tarara and head out on a canoe or kayak trip on the Potomac; a few hours later, everyone returns for a self-guided tour of the winery and tastings (it's BYO snacks, however). The night ends with a concert at the winery's Shadow Lake. The next outing is slated for June 19 (can you say Father's Day?); tickets hover at about $80 a person and can be reserved here.
-- Lavanya Ramanathan

By Lavanya Ramanathan  | June 4, 2010; 6:00 AM ET
Categories:  Misc.  
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