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Fall for Virginia Wine Country

After a very busy spring, I finally had the opportunity to visit several wineries situated east and south of where I live in Fairfax. Most of these wineries are over 2 hours away — Am I crazy?

Virginia wine country tourism

Red Fox Inn in historic Middleburg was Anthony’s base of operations for this weekend in Virginia wine country. Courtesy photo.

By the time I get to those out of the way spots in Virginia and begin tasting, I have pretty limited time to actually enjoy each winery, not to mention needing to be able to drive home safely afterwards.  Let me just add that driving 2+ hours to visit two or three wineries, at least to me, seems like a hassle.  Like not enough juice for the squeeze.  I’m sure there are plenty of you out there that agree with me. What I do want to point out is what options you have when visiting Virginia’s wine country. There are some pretty affordable B&B’s smack dab in the center of some of Virginia’s most popular wine clusters, starting with Middleburg.

For those who are unaware of what Middleburg is all about and what it has to offer, allow me to open your eyes to one of Northern Virginia’s hidden gems. Located in the foothills of the Bull Run and Blue Ridge Mountains, Middleburg is a small town, established in the late 1700s, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The town has a population of about 600 people. Middleburg, in the early 1900s, earned the moniker of “ The Nation’s Horse and Hunt Capital.” Now, however, this small town’s greatest gem is the Red Fox Inn.

The Inn is not only the oldest building in Middleburg but also the oldest operating inn in the country. Offering so much history, this town is home to some excellent restaurants and bistros, as well as an assortment of quaint boutiques and art galleries.

When researching bed and breakfast spots to spend in this gorgeous town this fall, I would like to say it was a no brainer to go with the Red Fox Inn. Given the historic background and ideal location in town (it is located on the main drag of Washington Street in downtown Middleburg), The Red Fox Inn offers sixteenrooms with prices ranging from $175 to $395 per night. The restaurant on property provides a rustic yet elegant feel and probably one of the best country brunches I have ever experienced.

Virginia wine tourism

Briar Patch Bed and Breakfast in Middleburg, VA features wholesome country appeal. Photo by A. Marocco.

However, your choices don’t end there.  There are other noteworthy locations such as Briar Patch Bed and Breakfast and the Middleburg Country Inn, which also provide some wholesome country appeal.

Seeking the centralized location to all of the charm of the town however, made the Red Fox Inn the right choice. The dining experience at the Red Fox Inn is among the top places to eat in the area with an extensive menu and great atmosphere.

Some other notable dining locations are the Good Stone Inn which offers an extensive winelist including Virginia wines in a very romantic setting, serving American fare with a touch of European class. Another choice is the The French Hound that offers French bistro cuisine in a cozy location just off of Washington Street.  And last, but certainly not least, Julien’s Cafe Restaurant.  It’s another French restaurant and wine bar located right on Washington Street. Looking for a cup of coffee or dessert, Cuppa Giddyup will give you some motivation for the day ahead while Scruffy’s Ice Cream Parlor can provide you with a tasty post dinner treat with classic ice cream selections.

What many do not realize is what this town has to offer as far as wine is concerned.  Right in downtown Middleburg, on Washington Street, doubling as an art gallery is a satellite tasting room for Barrel Oak Winery. Barrel Oak is an award winning winery that was recently mentioned as the top Family Friendly Winery in the world. They offer some decent wine selections, specifically their BOWHaus Red which is an off dry blend of Merlot, Cab Franc, Syrah, and Malbec. A very unique blend for the area and very intense flavors. Also be sure to try their Barrel Chardonnay and Chocolate Lab, Barrel Oak’s Port style Chambourcin infused with cocoa nibs.

“Boxwood” by Boxwood Estate is an outstanding example of wine produced in the Middleburg AVA.

The selection of wine doesn’t end there, with Boxwood Winery, recently reviewed on my blog [and here as well! – ed.], located on the outskirts of town, as well as Swedenburg Estate Vineyard and Chrysalis Vineyards.

Chrysalis is one of the largest Norton producers on the east coast and produces some very good sweet wines. Chrysalis allows you access to their grills and picnic areas.  They also offer a small light fare menu inside the tasting room. Some notable wines to check out at Chrysalis would be the Reserve Chardonnay, Sarah’s Patio Red, Norton Estate Bottled, Papillon and the Norton Locksley Reserve. Most of those selections are between $15 and $25 with the exception of the Papillon and Locksley Reserve which come in around $35.

The other notable winery in the area is Swedenburg. The last time I visited Swedenburg it was very cold, so they had a delicious mulled wine on the tasting menu. Other notables are the Riesling, Chardonnay and the C’est La Vie (Rose) which all come in around the 20 dollar mark. This cluster of wineries are all within a mile or two of the center of town.

Looking for more of the vineyard experience? Within half an hour you can be in the middle of the Fauquier Wine Trail.  There you can taste the likes of Delaplane Cellars, Naked Mountain, Barrel Oak (the actual vineyard), and Piedmont Vineyards.

Virginia winery Delaplane Cellars

Anthony recommends Delaplane CINQ2 after his tasting there earlier this year. Photo by A. Marocco

Delaplane Cellars offers some phenomenal wines, specifically the CINQ2, which is superb. The vineyard itself sits high up on the hillside with a gorgeous view from the tasting room and live music on the weekends. Naked Mountain makes an excellent rosé by the name of ‘Make Me Blush’ which is perfect for those warmer days. During the winter months, you can stop by on weekends for a roaring fire and some lasagna to pair with their varieties as well.

Barrel Oak is as family and pet friendly as they come. They offer live music and plenty of space to taste, not to mention an excellent cheese platter and often times a BBQ truck on the lawn of the property. BOWHaus Red and Pulled Pork BBQ, it really doesn’t get much better than that. Lastly, Piedmont Vineyards is really close to Boxwood and makes probably the BEST Chardonnay in all of Virginia. It’s not a looker and doesn’t have much to offer in terms of food, but well worth the trip to grab a bottle of Chardonnay if that is a varietal that appeals to you.

After all of the winery visits and tastings, restaurants, and boutique shopping, you may come back home a changed person and a very relaxed one at that. Middleburg offers that reprieve which many of you may be craving and is only a stone’s throw from downtown Washington, DC and the surrounding suburbs.

Anthony Marocco blogs at Virginia Pour House.

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