We’ve been participating in the Loudoun Farm Tours for several years now and this year’s Spring tour was no exception! For those of you who have no idea what the farm tour is here’s a quick overview; each Spring and Fall Loudoun County hosts a farm tour and invites local agri-businesses such as farms, wineries, breweries, farm stands, local stores, etc. to participate. The participating businesses schedule special events, food, demonstrations and such just for the event. The county puts out a nifty little map that details all the participating locations and what they do and any special stuff they’ve got going on. Then the really cool part is you take the map, which is available basically anywhere as well as online, and find places that sound cool and plan a route and hit the road to see the beauty that is Loudoun County! Isn’t that just the coolest?
So yeah, the farm tour has all our favorite things; food, wine, beer, and friends. As the cool kids would say ‘we’re down with it.’ At least I think that’s what they’d say, honestly I have no idea. But on to the tour…
First stop…Cardamon Family Vineyards! We’d never been to Cardamon but it’s been on the list for a while. So glad today was the day, what a pretty little property and intimate tasting room. The tasting room is technically an addition onto the end of the family home (this is after all called a family vineyard and they mean it), with seating to enjoy a glass in what was once the sunroom. In talking with Ana, the Owner/Winer (awesome title by the way), we learned that the tasting room addition was built about 3 1/2 years ago because they ran out of space in tasting ‘tent’ they started with in the parking lot when they opened in 2011. Good problem to have. Cardamon is a small ‘micro-winery’ producing only about 600 to 700 cases a year. In staying true to their family vineyards name, many of the wines are named after their children and grandchildren. Are you ready for the best part…Ana’s husband, Chuck is a chef and makes fresh salsas each weekend that are paired with the wines as part of your tasting! I didn’t catch Chuck’s title but I’m guess its ‘Owner/Winer/Salsaer.’ Or after the tasting maybe just ‘Salsa Genius.’
Ana did our tasting of five wines and four salsas. We started with the whites; RKATZ (100% Rkatsitelli) paired with ‘Tomatango” salsa, GIA (50% Rkatsitelli/50% Chardonnay) paired with “BeeG Girl” salsa, Duesili (blend of Vidal Blanc & Seyval Blanc) paired with “SoCal Chunks” salsa. Then the reds; Bella (100% Merlot) paired with “Punkin’s Berry Good”, and finally Wild River Red (red blend with blackberry & elderberry) which is a sweet red made by Above Ground Winery. The wines and salsas were all amazing. And what’s even more interesting is the salsas change week to week. They are made in small batches for that weekend only. They have so many different salsas that they’ve published a book with over 90 recipes. You can purchase both the current weekends salsas and the book when you visit. They also just recently started serving a nice selection of street tacos. We didn’t get to try the tacos, but that’s ok it’s a great reason to come back soon.
We had a great time hanging out with Ana. She and Chuck are clearly dedicated to what they do and that shows in the quality of their wine and salsa. We had a lot more stops to make on the tour, but before we left we made sure to buy a bottle of Duesili and the salsa it was paired with, Punkin’s Berry Good, to go. Others in our squad bought a couple bottles of the Wild River Red and some salsa too. If you haven’t experienced Cardamon yet, I highly recommend it. They are open Saturday and Sunday only from April through Thanksgiving. Oh, and they’ve got a really cool sink in the restroom, make sure to check it out while you’re there!
On to stop #2: 868 Estate Vineyards This is another place I’d never been but has been on the list for some time. For farm tour weekend they were hosting a farm market on the lawn along with live music and food. We arrived at a little after noon and the place was already hopping. 868 is huge. They have a large tasting room and expansive outdoor spaces with beautiful views of the rolling countryside.
Once inside we were greeted by Abby and did a standard tasting which included six wines. We tried three whites: 2015 Riesling, 2014 Viognier, and 2015 Chardonel; a 2015 Rose of Cab Franc; and two reds: 2015 Altezza and 2015 Cab Franc. My favorite of the whites was the Chardonel, I also really enjoyed the Riesling. Both reds were nice medium bodied wines and very drinkable. After the tasting we ventured outside to look around at the farm market and see what was going on. There were lots of arts and crafts, food items, and other interesting things to see. We decided to have lunch there and ended up with pulled pork, chicken sandwich, veggie burger, and hot dogs. All of the food was very fresh and tasty, and the portions were huge! Of course we needed some wine to wash it down with so we bought a bottle of the Altezza and settled in for a nice lunch while we listened to the music.
868 Estate Vineyards is open Wednesday through Sunday. We did the standard tasting, but they also offer a Truffle Tasting which has the wines paired with handmade chocolate truffles and an Elevated Tasting which pairs the wine with small bites. Definitely want to try both of those tastings on future visits. 868 also features the Grandale Vintners Table restaurant which is open Friday through Sunday. Another place to put on the list to try sometime soon!
Next up, stop #3: Edgegrove Farm! Established in 1746 as the Potts family homestead, Edgegrove Farm is one of the oldest farms in Loudoun County. In 2013 the Shreffler family purchased the property and moved there from Falls Church to begin their new lives as Loudoun farmers. They operate the farm in a truly sustainable manner, allowing their animals plenty of space to roam, and feeding them only high quality food with no hormones, antibiotics, etc. Vegetables and fruits are grown without saturating them in chemicals. Edgegrove offers several popular CSA’s as well as a full selection of Heritage Pork products.
When we arrived the parking lot was full. The sun had finally started to make an appearance and it was turning into a beautiful day. There were people wandering around the beautiful property checking out the animals and there were tons of kids running in the yard playing. We walked back to take a look at the goat pasture and were greeted by a sheep dog that was obviously taking her job very seriously and barking her head off. She was clearly upset that her humans weren’t heeding her warnings about these strangers but nevertheless she persisted. Next up was a visit to the nice new modern barn that housed a puppy in one room, and a baby goat in another. I’m guessing the rest of the animals were out in a field doing whatever it is animals do all day. A helpful kid walked up and said ‘don’t touch the baby goat’ then ran off. Good advice kid, as the mama goat didn’t look like she’d be too happy if we did touch her baby. She was delivering some serious side-eye. We walked by the stand where they were selling food made from their fresh pork and produce then over to see the chickens. There were free range chickens everywhere, they clearly took the free range thing seriously. A couple of us walked over to see some baby chickens in a pen. They were in that awkward teenage chicken stage and a little disheveled looking, but I’m sure they’ll turn out fine. We spent maybe an hour or so enjoying the property and watching the animals do their thing. We’d only made it through three of our six planned stops though, so we decided to hit the road.
Well, this ends the first half of our 2017 Loudoun Spring Farm Tour extravaganzapalooza. Check back soon for the second half of our tour which included another winery, two more farms, a delicious snack, a not delicious drink, oh and a peacock attack.
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To be continued…..