In case you needed an excuse to drink more wine, join us on District Fray’s social distancing-approved wine trail. We’ve rounded up five wineries in the DMV that will appeal to all sorts of wine appreciators. Each review of the selected wineries serves to give readers an overview of why we think you should go to said winery, and which wine was our favorite. Whether you’re an aficionado yearning to learn more, a sweet wine lover, a newbie to the wine world or just looking to get out of the city for a day, these local wineries promise to give you a top-notch experience.
For The Wine Nerds
About an hour outside of the city, hidden in the historic town of Middleburg, Virginia, Washingtonians will find Greenhill Winery and Vineyards. When patrons cruise up the long driveway, they may have trouble keeping their eyes on the road as they take in the beautiful vines and hillside surrounding them. The vineyard sits on a sizable 120 acres, though only about 30 or so are under vine. The rest of the space is occupied by Greenhill’s working farm, where cute white cattle and strong polo horses graze.
Though the farm is beautiful, the main draw to the winery is not its views. Guests of Greenhill are treated to an experience promising not just good wine at a nice setting, but the ability to learn as much about wine as they want.
“Our mission is to connect with people, have an actual conversation about wine [and] share our enthusiasm for how we create wine – all the way through the process to sharing the product with people so they understand everything that goes into that bottle and enjoy it at the same time,” says Jed Gray, Greenhill Winery and Vineyards’ general manager. “We do a lot of little things to make sure that comes out in our everyday existence.”
Tasting room guests are free to ask as many questions as they like of the staff about how the wine is made, what the blend is, how the vintage compares to other vintages and so on. Gray ensures that all staff are well-educated on wine and the winemaking process so they can converse with guests instead of merely reading off prewritten tasting notes. This depth of knowledge is refreshing for someone who has a background in wine and wants to know more than simply what tasting notes we’re supposed to be getting from a wine.
Barrel Club members receive an even more in-depth look at what goes into Greenhill’s wines: the opportunity to taste wines straight out of the barrel as they age, partake in blending classes and simply have a much more comprehensive understanding of the winemaking process. As the name suggests, they are able to take home a barrel once it has been retired. My wine nerd needs were met and then some. I plan on visiting again this fall for more great wine and great education.
Favorite Wine: 2019 Viognier
This wine is aged in stainless steel and showcases a light floral bouquet of orange blossom that leads into an expressive palate and offers notes of stone fruit and clementines with a bright acidic finish.
Learn more about Greenhill Winery and Vineyards at www.experiencegreenhill.com, or follow them on Instagram and Twitter @greenhillwine. Open Monday to Thursday noon to 6 p.m., and Friday to Sunday noon to 7 p.m. 23595 Winery Ln. Middleburg, VA.
Best Picnic Spot
For the past six years, Two Twisted Posts has brought fresh wines to Loudoun County, Virginia. Though the vineyard is small – 15 acres in total – it produces some mighty fine wines. Before they even had a tasting room, owner Theresa Robertson won the gold medal and earned a spot in the Governor’s Case for her 2012 chardonnay in the 2014 Virginia Governor’s Cup. This was the first time in 18 years that a white wine won gold in the Governor’s Cup.
Winemakers who win the Governor’s Cup must have some sort of tasting room, so when Robertson won the award, she scrambled to set something up. She ended up selling cases upon cases of her award-winning chardonnay under a tent on the side of the road, with a brick-and-mortar tasting room set up soon after.
Now when you visit Two Twisted Posts, you can drive alongside some of the vines to the red barn that acts as the winery’s tasting room. When you step out of your car, you’ll be greeted by the vineyard dog Arizona. She is quiet and friendly, and a wonderful drinking companion. In light of the pandemic, tastings are held outside under the covered patio of the barn. There are also multiple picnic tables and plenty of grassy spots to set up a picnic.
Two Twisted Posts is relaxed and serene, encompassed by neighboring farms and forests. In addition to Arizona joining you on your visit, you can sometimes expect other furry friends such as deer to wander past your picnic spot. Two Twisted Posts is kid- and pet-friendly, so the whole family can enjoy a day at the winery.
Tasting room manager Casey Luther tells me that weekdays are the best time to visit for a more intimate setting. Weekends tend to draw in crowds, though everyone is respectful of social distancing guidelines. Every other Saturday beginning at 2 p.m., you can experience live music during your trip to Two Twisted Posts. Listen to local bands and musicians as you sip on a crisp summer white or try the winery’s peach sangria for added fun. Luther suggests calling ahead on the weekends to secure your spot.
Favorite Wine: Don’t Call Me a Cab blend
This fruity, slightly spiced red is the perfect pair for any grilled dishes you bring to your picnic. With a lighter body than other reds, you can chill this wine if you need something cool and refreshing on hotter days. This blend of cabernet sauvignon, chambourcin, chardonel and petit verdot was initially made with grapes from a particularly difficult harvest in 2011, then aged in American and French oak barrels. Robertson was pleasantly surprised by just how good the wine was, as the vintage was poor for the region overall. Cases of the original blend sold out immediately, and the subsequent remakes of that blend continue to be one of their most popular wines.
Learn more about Two Twisted Posts Winery by visiting www.twotwistedposts.com, or follow
them on Instagram and Twitter @ttpwinery. Open Thursday through Monday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
12944 Harpers Ferry Rd. Purcellville, VA.
For Sweet Wine Lovers
Linganore Winecellars in Mt. Airy, Maryland has been making easy drinking wines for the past 48 years. The family-run business started out with just six acres under vine but has grown to cover almost 80 acres with 18 different grape varietals. With their sizable acreage and diverse grape varietals, Linganore has a long wine list. As of publishing, Linganore offers 33 different wines for customers to enjoy on the vineyard grounds or to take home. These wines are also extremely affordable, with an average price of $15 per bottle, making it easy to try multiple wines.
Customers can either purchase a bottle or two to sip at the picnic tables set up around the vineyard or partake in a tasting flight. There are three different tastings you can choose to partake in: an all-dry wine tasting, an all-sweet wine tasting, or a blend of both dry and sweet wines. When I visited, I selected the latter tasting.
The flight included eight wines, starting with a crisp white and ending with a sweet sangria. For my palate in particular, the tasting began wading into sweeter territory after the third wine. The dry wines were good, but the off-dry and sweet wines were definitely what stood out the most to me. The floral bouquets intermingled with citrus and honey on the palate of the sweet white wines, and the reds were light-bodied and easy to drink. The sangria was dangerously sweet, making it easy to drink almost a full bottle by yourself if you aren’t careful.
Many wineries have a smaller selection of sweet wines, making it difficult for sweet wine lovers to find something they like if they’re out at a tasting with friends. Linganore caters to all palate preferences, but sweet wine drinkers will find a safe haven at this winery. As an added bonus, if you visit the winery with a friend or partner who is not a fan of wine or want to just have a full day of drinking, Linganore has a brewery onsite as well.
Favorite Wine: Traminette
This semi-sweet white wine has strong floral notes on the nose, with ripe pear and honeyed spice on the palate. Pair this wine with spicy Thai food to make your taste buds sing, or just drink it by itself outside on a nice day.
Learn more about Linganore Winecellars at www.linganorewines.com, or follow them on Instagram and Facebook @linganorewincellars. Open Monday to Thursday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Friday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sunday 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. 13601 Glissans Mill Rd. Mt. Airy, MD.
Oasis Away From the City
Rocklands Farm started as a family-owned working farm 10 years ago that specialized in fresh vegetables and meat products. Shortly thereafter, the family decided to start experimenting with winemaking, fermenting barrels in the basement of the home on the farm. In 2014, Rocklands officially opened their winery and tasting room for business. Now, Washingtonians love to take the fairly short drive out to Poolesville, Maryland for a glass of wine on the quiet farm grounds.
Rocklands staff are big believers in what the French call “terroir,” the idea that the grapes of a wine have a distinctive taste based on where in the world they are grown. With this in mind, Rocklands wines are made as naturally as possible, using no additives or herbicides in addition to practicing organic growing methods. Currently only 10 of the farm’s acres are under vine, but the supplementary grapes all come from other local growers, as Rocklands is dedicated to using only Maryland fruit.
“We want to capture a snapshot of where the grapes are grown and what they taste like for the consumer, and really show what Maryland wine can be,” Shawn Eubank, co-founder, COO, and vice president of sales and marketing at Rocklands, tells me over a glass of crisp white wine.
This lush, organic farm paradise is only a 45-minute drive from the city, an easy trip out of town when you need a breath of fresh air and a glass of good wine. The winery is always striving to push the envelope further and provide more for their customers.
“We’re curious people with an endless appetite,” Eubank states.
In addition to wine, Rocklands currently has three hard ciders ready for the fall season. They use their own apples and some local fruit to blend fun, funky and refreshing ciders sure to please any cider fan. My favorite was the Partnership cider: a dry, unfiltered, traditional method sparkling cider made from apples, blackberries and raspberries from local orchards.
Of course, their wine is amazing as well. Sip a refreshing white or full red under the cover of the red barn or at a picnic table near the vines and inquire about how the wine is made. Wine club members even get to partake in barrel tastings and vineyard tours in the fall, truly bringing them into the winemaking experience.
“We love to educate and share information about the winemaking process with our guests,” Eubank says. “We want to create an experience for them.”
Rocklands delivers on this promise. While there, I felt far from all responsibilities and cares with only my interview reminding me that I was truly visiting for work and not pleasure. It would be easy to spend a large part of your day letting the hours go by as you soak in your surroundings and drink a great glass of Maryland wine.
Favorite Wine: Anna’s Rosé
This rosé, named after the owner’s wife, is a light-bodied, crisp wine with hints of dark berries on the nose. The palate offers a bouquet of violet and strawberry, with an acidic and dry finish.
Learn about Rocklands Farm Winery at www.rocklandsfarmmd.com, and stay up-to-date with them by following their Instagram and Facebook @rocklandsfarm. Open Wednesday to Sunday, noon to 6 p.m. 14531 Montevideo Rd. Poolesville, MD.
High Quality View + Wine
Delaplane Cellars has long been a favorite spot for Washingtonians. The vineyard opened in 2007, and immediately drew in crowds thanks to its views. As soon as you pull into the driveway, you will be struck by the mountains in the distance framing the vines and tasting room before you. Delaplane is located on Lost Mountain in Fauquier County, Virginia, overlooking the historic Crooked Run Valley. When sitting on the winery’s brand-new deck, you will be savoring the view as well as the wine in front of you.
“We want guests to have an elevated experience with high-quality tastings and high-quality wine,” Delaplane’s Angelo Tanner says. “It’s about people enjoying themselves, and so we strive to provide a premiere experience.”
Tanner is quite new to the wine scene, joining Delaplane last year when former wine club members bought the vineyard. Tanner tells me the current owners loved the wine so much, they wanted to take a chance in the business for themselves. Their first year has been tough, with the pandemic changing how staff can interact with customers, but the team has put the work in to make the guest experience seamless. While Tanner and the owners are still learning the ropes, they are dedicated to providing a full Delaplane experience to every guest.
“This lifestyle is all in,” he says. “You have to put all you have into it.”
This dedication is evident in the quality of the wine served at Delaplane. This year, two red wines won the gold in the Virginia Governor’s Cup: the 2017 Williams Gap and 2017 Rusticity. Though you can take these award-winning wines home to enjoy, I think they taste much better when paired with the show-stopping views of the vineyard.
With its elevated experience and elevated views, I would suggest leaving the kids and pets at home for a superior date at this beautiful vineyard. If you’re planning a weekend of wine tasting, make a reservation ahead of time to ensure you get to enjoy the views and the wines Delaplane has to offer.
Favorite Wine: 2019 Duet
This Merlot-based blend showcases ripe cherry flavors with hints of vanilla and baking spices from the oak aging. This wine is velvety smooth, easy to pair with and easy to drink. No matter what your palate is, this wine will wow you.
Learn more about Delaplane Cellars at www.delaplanecellars.com, and follow them on Instagram and Facebook @delaplanecellars to stay up-to-date. Open Monday to Thursday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday noon to 6 p.m. 2187 Winchester Rd. Delaplane, VA.
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