Venturing South!

By now you might have noticed that I believe it’s very important to have a good reason for roaming the countryside in search of wine, you can’t just be wandering about all willy-nilly, it just wouldn’t do. However it’s not hard to find a good reason as acceptable reasons might include; celebrations (real or made up), birthdays, holidays, breathing, waking up, existing, and observing days that end in y. Our reason for gathering the gang and taking the show on the road this time was actually a really good one…a charter member of the squad got a new job a few weeks ago. Woohoo way to go Petunia! So naturally we needed to celebrate and what better way to do that than to hit up a favorite spot for lunch and check out some new wineries along the way? Honestly we were also celebrating her ability to remain in the squad…no free rides lady get a job or you’re out! LOL!

Stop one was our favorite authentic english pub, Hunters Head Tavern in Upperville. It’s set in a cabin built in the 1750’s and still retains the original fireplaces, exterior walls, and of course the resident ghosts. They serve up some great hearty lunch entrees. Favorites among our group include the burgers, both turkey and beef, chicken pot pie, bubble and squeak, shepherds pie, fish and chips, and open face pot roast sandwich. And of course side orders of the sweet potato biscuits all around. As usual lunch was great and we enjoyed our time eating and laughing by the fire.

Next up was a place we’d been wanting to check out, Arterra Wines in Delaplane. It’s a bit of a way off the main road and honestly we weren’t exactly sure where we were headed, but the drive was pretty. Once we arrived we were greeted by a beautiful A-frame building set upon the top of a hill. The tasting room is roomy and boasts fantastic views. The winery is also home to Hawkmoth Arts and the back wall is lined with absolutely gorgeous ceramic, glass, and carved wine barrel artwork. Our tasting was done by the owner/winemaker, Jason, and he talked with us at length about his process. Jason has a background in horticulture and believes that the vineyard is ‘where the magic begins.’ He’s not a fan of additives, but instead focuses his efforts on growing the grapes and then letting them do their natural thing as they become wine. Tastings are $10 and you get to choose 5 wines. Naturally I chose the four reds, plus threw in a sweet one just for kicks. I really enjoyed the wines, they were all very clean with a nice finish. We got a bottle of Petit Verdot and a Cab Franc, and a bottle of apple wine and found a table to hang out for a bit. I’m not going to go into too much detail on Arterra because I’m planning to write a ‘winery spotlight’ about them in the coming weeks so stay tuned…

We’d decided to try something different this time out so we hit up Cobbler Mountain Cellars next to do a tasting of some hard ciders. We were greeted by yet another long windy driveway that makes you wonder where exactly it is you’re headed. But we soon ended up at another cute little A-frame building. Once inside we were quickly welcomed and gathered around the bar. Our tasting was done by Doug, and boy was he fun! We had a great time with him and we tried soooo many hard ciders I honestly lost track. What I do remember though is that this is real cider, at least its what I think of when I think of cider. It’s all got a nice apple taste and a clean finish. I especially enjoyed the Pomegranate, Original Honey, and Blackberry Hop. And yes, we went home with some cider so that we can finish our research at a later time. I definitely recommend checking out Cobbler Mountain. You can either visit their tasting room or find them at local events and markets all around the area.

At this point we were all getting a little hungry so we asked around for a dinner recommendation and El Agave Mexican in The Plains was suggested. We’re always up for Mexican so we figured we’d give it a try. It’s a small unassuming place on the side of the road and we almost drove right by it. Once we entered though we could tell this was going to be a great place for a good meal. Our waiter was fun and funny, joking around with us and making us feel at home. It was basic Mexican fare, all prepared fresh and delicious. We really enjoyed our meal and it gave us the strength to hit up one more winery before calling it a day!

Our last stop was the Winery at La Grange in Haymarket. It’s one of the bigger wineries in the area but most of us had never been. The tasting room is in the manor house of the historic La Grange farm. Oh, and it’s apparently haunted too. Must have been a theme for the day. The tasting room was very busy, probably at least partly because it was almost 7pm and most wineries close at 5 or 6, with La Grange being one of the very few open until 9. Despite the busyness, we were quickly greeted by Clay who offered to do our tasting. At this point there were only five of us still in the game as the other four had thrown in the towel. so they went to find somewhere to sit. Amateurs. Anyway, they offer two tasting options which basically boil down to whites or reds. We all went with the reds of course. We tried a 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon, 2014 Merlot, 2015 Meritage, 2014 Zinfandel, and a Cabernet Franc Reserve. All the wines were good, the standout for me was the Cab Franc Reserve, I think it was my favorite.

After we finished our tasting we decided everyone was ready to call it a day. We had an awesome time out as usual. And we really enjoyed all the new spots we’d found and definitely plan to go back soon. I highly recommend you check these places out, the itinerary makes for a nice day out and gives you a great sampling of what the area has to offer. Wherever you go just be sure to bring friends and family along and enjoy the ride!

Drink up,

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