Virginia vineyard hopping

When my friends Erin and Matt got married in September, they’d accounted for most things leading up to the big day — but not Hurricane Irene, who made her debut on the East Coast the very day we were due to celebrate Erin’s bachelorette party. As torrential rains kicked off a month-long battle with rain and flash flooding in the D.C. area, we were forced to change our plans and reschedule our Virginia vineyard hop for this past weekend.

So Erin wasn’t a bachelorette any longer, but we still had an awesome time partying with a married lady! The rain held off long enough for us to get some great photos of the Shenandoah Valley as we sailed around in our giant Hummer limousine. Just being in a “party vehicle” took me straight back to high school prom, and Rifat and I were in charge of the music — which further made it feel like high school prom. We “threw our hands up in the air sometimes” and generally reenacted our all-stops-pulled dancing from Erin and Matt’s wedding. Just as I’m not much of a singer, I also struggle to not embarrass myself while “dancing.” But it’s nice to know people who will just . . . let you be dumb and not laugh at you. (Thanks, Rifat!)

Our first stop was Sunset Hills Vineyard in Purcellville, Va. — the location of which I’ve only learned while writing this post. With plenty of wine flowing in the limo and an hour’s drive in some direction, we arrived at the gorgeous and expansive barn with nary a clue where we’d wound up. Sunset Hills was in a beautiful spot and their wines were delicious — some crisp; others robust. The renovated barn where we had our tasting featured great natural light and high ceilings, and the staff was very friendly. They had no trouble telling us what was awesome and delicious.

And after sampling almost a dozen of their products, I was feeling super delicious myself.

From Sunset Hills it was off to Bluemont Vineyard, a picturesque spot that boasts an elevation of almost 1,000 feet above sea level. On a clear day, our host told us, you can actually see the Washington Monument on the horizon! I was thrilled to see pumpkins and other fall decor out front when we arrived, though I wish the leaves had been a little more vibrant. It’s still very summer-like in our corner of the world.

Bluemont’s wines were definitively less sweet than Sunset Hills, which meant I liked them less — but the staff was very accommodating, and Bluemont’s view of the vineyard and valleys below was incredible. Hanging out on their veranda would be an awesome way to spend the day . . . provided its not drizzly, gray and pouring rain. But even then, it was pretty breathtaking.

Our final stop was Breaux Vineyards, which was the busiest and loudest of the three destinations. Though we were traveling with a large group ourselves (nine women), the tasting room was buzzing with activity, chatter and a guitarist struggling to be heard above the good-natured din.

By the time we reached Breaux, we’d collectively consumed quite a bit of drink — so, you know, we weren’t quite as enthusiastic as we were when we got to Sunset Hills, say. Still, another beautiful stop with delicious beverages. I sampled as much as my tender stomach would allow and spent the rest of the time chatting. I did so much chatting, in fact, that I really didn’t take any photos here!

Our limo was waiting to whisk us all home like the little Chardonnay Cinderellas we were, and I walked away with a vast knowledge of what I do like (sweet whites) and don’t like (bitter reds), which is useful when you’re 26 and would like to not look like a total idiot as you attempt to swallow some disgusting drink you’ve ordered because you don’t know what distinguishes a beverage you like from one that makes you gag. Wine tasting made me feel very pinkies-out-fancy, you know? Like I wasn’t a frizzy-haired writer from suburbia.

Although that’s exactly what I was. And am.

It’s fun to step outside yourself sometimes — to do something different, let go and relax. Time with girlfriends really is restorative for the soul, and I headed home full of wine, photos and memories.

Have you ever been to a wine tasting or gone vineyard hopping? Are you a wine fan — or more the margarita type? Do you dig whites more than reds, or am all alone with my sweet wine fandom (or, heaven forbid, dessert wine?)


19 thoughts on “Virginia vineyard hopping

  1. You guys are so cute, and I can’t imagine a cooler outing than girlfriends and wineries. My husband and I are winos so we have been to Napa/Sonoma quite a few times. The last time was with our friends who own a wine store, so we were “trade” on that trip, which I won’t even go into except to say that we were treated like royalty and got into places we’d never been allowed to visit before.

  2. This looks like so much fun. ‘Chardonnay Cinderellas’– that made me laugh. I love wine… So much that I’m, uh, getting married at a vineyard. I’ve done tastings on Long Island, the Finger Lakes, Sonoma, and Provence but I still don’t consider myself knowledgeable enough. There’s just so much to learn in the wine world! I guess that means more tasting! 😉 I didn’t know there was a wine trail in Virginia… (brain turning…thinking…how quickly can I get to Virginia?)

  3. What beautiful pictures, so fall-esque! I have taken quite a few wine tasting trips, and I love doing it! But I have to admit the wine I’ve had in Virginia was not my favorite! LOL On the other hand, the fall scenery in Va. is outstanding, and I am wishing right now I could be there to enjoy it!

  4. Sounds like such a fun day and you got some wonderful photos. I’ve never been to a wine tasting. I’m actually the only wine drinker in my group of friends, the rest are pretty much beer guys.

  5. I’ve been to all three of those places, and Bluemont is my favorite VA winery! I’ve spent many lovely afternoons on that porch! I had my birthday festivities last there too!

  6. I love all these photos and that’s a great photo of you–love the white jacket! I always have a blast on wine trails. We always do the Brandywine Valley Wine Trail…it’s so much fun! I love wine tastings, especially in the fall. It’s the perfect weather for it!

  7. Meg that looks SOOOO fun! We have a vineyard in the town where I grow up. I love going out there. The whole process is fascinating. I had no idea you could do that in little ole’ Ohio 🙂

  8. That looks like so much fun, the perfect bachelorette event! Since moving to the DC area, going on a VA wine tour has been on my to do list! Fall is probably a good time to go too, I need to make it out there soon!

  9. what a bummer about the hurricane raining on your plans! i’m glad you guys got together and had the party anyway. 🙂 wine tastings sound like fun in theory, but i’m not a drinker at all so it’s all lost on me. i did go with a friend to the cape may vineyard but i was more interested in the cheese platter. lol. typical.

  10. What a fun bachelorette party! Going to a winery is pretty high on my to-do list. I’m a huge fan of red wine! I used to drink sweeter whites until I went to Spain and drank some Spanish reds and now I pretty much only drink red wine! Besides a good Spanish Rioja I love Merlot!

  11. I’m more of a margarita gal (on the rocks, with salt), but I live in a major wine producing area, so I may have been wine tasting a time or two. Or three. But it looks like you all had way more fun!

  12. Such a great idea to hit some vineyards with a bunch of girlfriends. You went to some beautiful spots and it looks like you girls had a lot of fun! I love wine,,,reds are my favorite but I like sweet wones a lot too, dry whites are my least favorite but still okay. I agree that having some knowledge of wine comes in handy occasionally!

  13. i’ve never been to a vineyard, but it looks like so much fun! i’m not a huge fan of wine though so i don’t know how i would feel going to one of them. one of my friend is slowly trying to convert me to a wine drinker though and i’m more a fan of white than red.

  14. Looks like you all had a great time on the VA vineyard hop. I did one of those in Williamsburg with my college friends – we had gone back to our alma mater for a girls weekend. Another group did one out on the Long Island wineries – we all headed out on a party bus from the city – really classy!

    My favorite place to vineyard hop was in Stellenbosch in South Africa.

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