On Friday, October 13 the Loudoun Wineries Association hosted the third annual Loudoun Wine Awards Banquet at Lansdowne Resort. A friend of mine had attended the awards last year and suggested we join them this year. I happened to mention this to a couple other members of the squad and before you know it we had entire table! So 10 of us got all gussied up for a night on the town at a fancy-pants event. We clean up real nice, who knew?!?!
The banquet started at 6pm with the ‘Grand Tasting’, so seeing as we couldn’t possibly bear to miss out on anything with ‘Grand’ and/or ‘Tasting’ in the title, we arrived promptly at 6pm to check in, get our pictures taken and pick up our crystal souvenir glass. After all that was over, the real fun began. We turned the corner into the main ballroom at Lansdowne and found 14 wineries set up to pour samples! FOURTEEN WINERIES ALL IN ONE PLACE!!! It was almost too much to handle, but luckily we’re professionals so we gathered our wits and got to the business at hand. We quickly ran into the friend that had suggested we attend. Did I mention that our table didn’t include her group? No, well yeah, in total we had two tables between us and 20 people. Sounds fun, doesn’t it? It was!
We started making our way around the tasting area, stopping to taste some wines and visit with people we knew. Turns out we knew a lot of people there. Guess that happens when you’re a ‘professional’ wino! The Grand Tasting consisted of 14 of the award-winning wineries each showing off two of their best wines. A total of 28 wines to taste. Whoa. The Gold Medal winning participating wineries included; 868 Estate Vineyards, Breaux Vineyards, Doukenie Winery (woohoo we’re members here!), Fabbiolli Cellars, Sunset Hills Vineyard, The Wine Reserve at Waterford, and Zephaniah Vineyards. The Silver Medal winning participating wineries included; 50 West Vineyards, Bluemont Vineyard, Cana Vineyards and Winery, Greenhill Winery and Vineyards, Hillsborough Vineyards, North Gate Vineyard (our first and longest membership, go team!), The Vineyards and Winery at Lost Creek (members here too!), and Willowcroft Winery. Phew, that’s a lot of wineries. But luckily we’re pros so we were up to the challenge. We covered a good bit of ground and tasted some amazing wines before dinner.
A few of our group went to get a couple of bottles of wine as the rest of us found our way to the table so that we could be ready to practice our paying attention skills as the awards ceremony began. First up was all the awards for best in class wines. Best Hybrid White went to 868 Estate Vineyards for their 2016 Petillant Naturel. That sounds fancy doesn’t it? Next up was Best Vinifera White which went to Sunset Hills Vineyard for its 2016 Viognier. Best Chardonnay was 868 Estate Vineyards 2015 Chardonnay. Best Rose went to Breaux Vineyards for their 2016 Rose. Now on to the reds, my favorite part! Best Vinifera Red was awarded to Fabbiolli Cellars 2013 Tannat. Best Cab Franc went to Fabbiolli Cellars 2014 Cabernet Franc Reserve. And the last best in class was Best Bordeaux Red Blend which went to Sunset Hills Vineyard for their 2013 Mosaic. I’ve tasted many of these wines and they were all good. But there are some I haven’t tasted so my to-do list just got a bit longer.
After the last best in class was awarded it was time for dinner! We’d never had the opportunity to attend a banquet at Lansdowne resort and I have to say I was impressed. They do a really nice job. We started with a Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette Salad with Walnuts and Goat Cheese Mousse, that was light and simply delicious. The dressing was perfect. As we were working on our salads, our friend Mark Fedor from North Gate came over to drop off some ‘extra’ wine leftover from the tastings. Not sure I’m familiar with the concept of ‘extra’ wine but hey, if it’s someone elses I like it! Next up was the main course of Seared Chicken Breast and Herb Roasted Salmon with Jasmine Rice and Seasonal Vegetables. Again delicious. AND…the added bonus was that several of our squad don’t eat seafood so I was gifted with lots of extra salmon. SCORE! For dessert we were treated to a lovely Vanilla Bavarian Honey Layered Cake. Overall the dinner was delicious and everyone thoroughly enjoyed it.
As we were finishing up dinner the emcee once again took the stage to start the presentations of the BIG awards. We did our best to pay attention, although with all the wine, food, wine, friends, wine, conversation, wine, it was becoming increasingly difficult. Luckily our ‘official’ photographer/social media maven took pictures of all the winners as they were announced. First up was Wine Ambassador of the Year which went to Sarah Davis from Lost Creek Winery. Next came Wine Grower of the Year which was awarded to Mitch and Betsy Russ from Russ Mountain Vineyards. Winemaker of the Year went to Nate Walsh of Walsh Family Wines. And the last award of the night, the Chairmans Grand Award, presented by Loudoun County Board of Supervisors Chair Phyllis Randall, went to Sunset Hills Vineyard for their 2016 Viognier. Woohoo, way to go award winners!!!!!
It was a fabulous evening. Wonderful friends and family, great food in a beautiful setting, delicious wines, and an opportunity to support the Loudoun Wine community that we love. Oh yeah, the numerous bottles of ‘extra’ wine Mark brought over were a nice touch too, yes there were several more after that first one. We’ll definitely be attending the wine awards again next year! And we have lots of new places and wines to try out now, so we’d better get on it….
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