This past weekend I went out into the Northern Virginia countryside (not so country anymore, really) to taste what the Virginia wineries had to offer at Vintage Virginia 2013. Held at the Bull Run Special Events Center in Centerville, VA, this year’s wine festival hosted some 40 wineries along with an assortment of food and goods vendors.
First, let me say that my experience was a little different than most. Why? Well (he said sheepishly), because I decided to bike to the event. Ha!! Never having been out to the venue before, I placed my trust in an online maps program to get me there safely via bicycle. Unfortunately, the maps aren’t quite complete for bikers. By that I mean I discovered on my trek out that the directions I had were missing large chunks of the route. So what was slated to take me 1.5 hours in one direction took 3 as I wended my way through the streets of Northern Virginia looking for bicycle-friendly passages to get me to my destination.
Once I got there, though, I thoroughly enjoyed the event. It was well-planned. As this was the 32nd iteration, I suppose they’ve had the chance to work out all the kinks. For those who drove, there was ample parking with parking attendants helping people get to and from their spots in an organized fashion. Check-in was a snap, in part because I had purchased my ticket online and printed it at home. But the will-call and ticket purchase booths didn’t have extensive lines either. The wineries and vendors were located in tents, stalls and trucks (food trucks!) thoughtfully arranged across a hillside that overlooked a big stage where music acts entertained while festival-goers tasted, sampled, drank, ate, learned, and bought. They even had an awesome service allowing those who were buying in bulk (too much to carry around or through the festival grounds) to pick up their wine in a tent right in the parking area.
Of course, I didn’t get a chance to taste all the wines or even wines from all the wineries. Still, I did my best to get to as many as I could reasonably sample. It was great to see that the festival attracted a mix of old and new wineries – big and small. Prince Michel of Leon, VA was there along with Williamsburg Winery (sharing a very yummy pre-release Merlot) and Horton Vineyards, too. New to me were First Colony Winery (with two nice Chardonnays and a refreshing white blend called Zephry), Oak Crest Vineyards (using Symphony grapes to good effect in almost a Gewürtztraminer style and whose unexpectedly fun selection called Hot Jazz is fortified with jalapeno peppers), Rosemont Vineyards (with a red blend of note called Kilravock), Trump Winery (their Blanc de Blanc was by far the best sparkling wine I tasted that day) and Lake Anna Winery (whose Cab Franc and Claret were both enjoyable wines and whose staff I found to be among the most knowledgeable at the tasting tables).
Since I was there at Vintage Virginia under one humanpower and no horsepower, I wasn’t in a position to take advantage of the bulk buying service. Instead, I had to content myself with carrying away a mild sunburn along with just a couple of select bottles and the wine glass I was issued for my day of tasting. The glass was included in my entrance fee. I promise to share my thoughts on those two wines when I have the chance to pop the cork on each.
Again, I had a very good time at the festival. Kudos to everyone involved in putting Vintage Virginia 2013 together, and a special thanks to my fellow wine enthusiasts who kindly gave me plenty of clearance as they zipped past me on the road out of Bull Run Park. One last note: I got completely soaked in a summer rain shower on the way home. Well, it was a MEMORABLE day!!
Important: I am not a professional sommelier or wine connoisseur. See “About” for the full disclaimer.