Just 25 miles from the hustle and bustle of Washington, D.C., Virginia's Loudoun County
welcomes visitors to savor the breath-taking byways, visit family-owned vineyards and stroll through quaint, colonial towns. Loudoun County is strategically divided into five winery clusters, loosely based on regional locations and is home to 33 wineries and counting, with over 450 acres under vine. From top notch restaurants, to tree-top zip lines, wine-themed biking excursions to Civil War sites, Loudoun County has plenty to offer wine lovers, day-trippers and thrill-seekers in a historic, scenic setting.
Doukénie, meaning "duchess" in Greek, is named after the winery owner's grandmother who immigrated from Greece in 1919 with a courageous spirit and steady determination. That same determination has led Doukénie to drive for quality wines, memorable events and a growing wine club membership. The estate maintains 18 acres under vine and a healthy respect for both the soil structure and individual grape varieties. Burgundy-born winemaker, Sébastien Marquet, produces 4,500 cases of wine for Doukénie a year, with many presenting an international influence. From Friday Night Bistros, showcasing hand-made pizzas on the decks overlooking the vineyards, to the annual super scenic wine country half marathon that starts and
finishes at Doukénie (complete with live music and a collection of neighboring wineries to welcome finishers back to the barn) along with yearly Greek and Italian-themed wine festivals, Doukénie keeps things hopping for its visitors, wine club members and dedicated staff.
Likely one of the most romantic stops along the Loudoun County wine trail, the Goodstone Inn brings luxury accommodations both big and small to the heart of Middleburg, Virginia. With four well-appointed guest rooms clustered around the central carriage house and five charming cottages dotting the property, the Goodstone Inn offers a unique mix of privacy and peregrination. Miles of hiking and biking trails surround the over 250 acre estate with a full-service spa, a dazzling outdoor pool overlooking perfect pastures, and a working farm (complete with gourmet gardens) all well captured by the prominent vistas of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
With a beautiful blend of traditional English and French Country decor vying for attention, the quaint resort exudes elegance and ambiance, luxury and leisure, French-inspired, gourmet delicacies and good old-fashioned, homemade cookies all seamlessly wrapped into one rich wine country hideaway. The Goodstone's unique, historic atmosphere simultaneously charms those in search of both Loudoun's up and coming wine scene and Virginia's well-established horse country hunts, steeplechases and shows. While beckoning food and wine connoisseurs, experienced equestrians and D.C.'s declared day-trippers looking to escape the stress of the city, the Goodstone Inn and Restaurant offers gracious hospitality, rich epicurean cuisine and an impressive wine menu all delivered in a spectacular setting.
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For those that prefer biking to driving between wineries, the Trails End Cycling company, located in the heart of Purcellville, can show you Virginia's vineyards via the beauty of the backroads. Most bike tours are around 20 miles roundtrip and include two winery stops along with a gourmet picnic lunch packed just for you from their neighbor across the street, Magnolias at the Mill. Winding roads, scenic stops and spectacular wine await those that prefer to burn a few calories before imbibing in the region's wine. If you are up to the challenge, check out the Trails End Cycling adventure packages.
Image Courtesy of Harper's Ferry Adventure
Adventure-loving oenophiles will find a heady mix of full throttle adventure from zip-lining to white water rafting and tubing to refined, wine tasting in one action-packed, gourmet-driven excursion with Harpers Ferry Adventure. Located about an hour from D.C., where the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers converge, Harpers Ferry Adventure is host to an ambitious medley of high-octane outdoor pursuits and regularly partners with nearby Notaviva Vineyards
for wine-themed mergers. In the "zip line and sip wine" package, guests are welcomed to a hilltop overlooking the Potomac River where seven zip lines (some towering up to 40 feet and running over 400 feet) and one sky bridge await. Friendly and experienced staff show you the ropes, check equipment and enthusiastically send you down a series of zips for a unique two hour, top-of-the-treeline trek. After the thrill of the line, Notaviva Vineyards welcomes visitors to unwind with a casual wine tasting experience at their remarkable, family-farmed winery. Harpers Ferry Adventure is open daily during the summer with restricted winter operational hours. Reservations are encouraged.
The lively personality of Mom's Apple Pie proprietor, Avis Renshaw, finds full energetic expression in her sweet and sassy farm-fresh, fruit pies. From the melt-in-your-mouth delicious Butter Pecan Apple Crumb Pie, with a baked brown sugar and butter crumb topping covering a generous portion of locally grown apples to my personal favorite the Virginia Blackberry Pie, with plump, juicy berries sourced from Renshaw's family farm, Mom's Apple Pie Company over delivers on several fronts. Minimal sugar, not an ounce of preservative and everything is made from scratch, with local harvest dates driving the seasonal baking calendar, these pies are a living culinary legacy in Loudoun County. With two stores in Loudoun, one in Leesburg and one in Occoquan, and
options for next day shipping - there's no reason to slave over fresh fruit pies again!
Magnolia's at the Mill
Centrally located in Purcellville, Magnolia's at the Mill is perched as the perfect dining hub for exploring the region's five wine-themed clusters. Owned by brothers, Kevin and Shawn Malone, Magnolia's at the Mill, as the creative name hints, is housed in a restored, turn of the century mill which welcomes patrons with a rustic charm and colonial elegance. A slew of local, Loudoun County wines (and even extending out to Virginia's Monticello Wine Trail
) grace the extensive wine list, revealing Magnolia's dual focus of offering an outstanding, seasonal, locally-sourced menu, while educating guests with a solid palate primer of Virginia wines. A gorgeous outdoor patio and historic indoor seating offer plenty of dandy dining options; while the seasonally-inspired dishes embrace the Southern spirit, there's a decided flare of Old World enthusiasm in the mix. Fried green tomatoes, soft shell crab salad, pork belly sliders and ale braised pork shank entice the appetite and keep visitors and locals alike coming back to Magnolias time and again.
Breaux Vineyards is one of the larger Loudoun County wineries, with over 100 acres under vine and close to 20 different grape varieties in the ground. With a popular wine club, stunning vineyards, exceptional wines and two annual wine festivals with Key West and Cajun themes that bring fans from near and far, Breaux Vineyards takes their selection of 2012 "Best of Virginia" seriously with first-class wine, creative events and the added, personal perk of being family-owned and operated.
Loudoun County Visitor's Center
For those history buffs visiting Loudoun County's wine scene, you can shake up your winery tastings and tours with some serious Civil War sites. From the 1861 Battle of Ball's Bluff to perhaps the region's most notorious Civil War hero, Col. John Singleton Mosby, the "Gray Ghost of the Confederacy," infamous for his swift raids and cunning ability to circumvent Union forces under the cover of night, Loudoun County brings the battles, the people and the places to life through seasonal events and day-tripping itineraries.
Phone: 800-752-6118 ext. 11
As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with complimentary travel for the purpose of reviewing the region and the event. While it has not influenced this review, About.com believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest. For more information, see our ethics policy.