April 10, 2009

Rediscover Virginia and Maryland Wine Country

Your next trip to American “Europe”

(Naked Mountain winery, Virginia)

There is a very unflattering stereotype about the wineries that are not located in Napa or Sonoma valleys of the northern California, and it is that all other wines are just bad.

Well, yes, I’ve lived in San Francisco, and I’ve done my share of wine tasting and wine tours in Napa and Sonoma valleys. While I did like the valleys for their lavish wineries, beautiful bed & breakfast places, and very good selection of red wines, in particular – I changed my mind when I discovered Virginia and Maryland wineries last year.

(Wolf Creek winery)

I never excluded the fact that there were other regions in the country that produced high quality wines. As I contemplated my visits to local Virginia wineries, I stumbled over a TV segment on TV5Monde (a French TV channel) last year that proved me right in my forming opinion about Virginia and Maryland wineries. How can one double-guess a true French who speaks highly of the wines in Virginia? You just can’t. One listens and watches mesmerized that there is something of high quality next door to your home – and I mean – Virginia vineyards.

This was after we made a round of trips to the local wineries when I’ve seen that TV segment, but it made me feel good about our choices of the wineries to visit and recommend to friends and family in Maryland and Virginia.

It happened that we visited Loudoun Valley Vineyards, which have emerged 25 years ago, and become the leading Virginia producers of vinifera and ‘New World’ grape wines. During your visit, not only you see the owners of the vineyards walking around and pocking their faces to see if the visitors are tipsy and happy, but they also make sure that the European selection of cheese and bread baskets are available on site to accompany the wines we choose to open right there and then – out on the grass, overlooking the vineyards, and Blue Ridge and Cacoctin mountains.

(Loudoun Valley Vineyards, Virginia)

They even distribute an informative newsletter that comes to your email to announce special events, romantic wine tasting activities, and family activities pertained to the wineries and the surrounding area.

Maryland Wineries

While Virginia wines are known here and abroad, Maryland wines are not as known, but that’s the whole thrill of it – to see and explore the areas that are so little spoken off, but the discovery of which changes a complete outlook on the local wines.

Berrywine Plantations and Linganore Winecellars is a product of a German-Swiss couple, who bought land some 30 years ago, planted grapes, gave birth to kids, who then grew up and become the next wine-makers who never left the family winery land, because it’s that good and worthy to stay to make it in history.

Berrywine Plantations/Linganore Winecellars is nested on more than 200 acres and produces more semi sweet grape, honey and pure fruit wines that I’ve ever tasted in my life: from raspberry, pear, blackberry to strawberry wine, which came from their German-Swiss winemaking heritage. They are light and delicious, and plenty to go around.

Moreover, the vineyards offer more than wine tasting; they host jazz and reggae events, which only add a nice worldly touch to its friendly and wholesome atmosphere.

And these two wineries are just among the many wineries out there in Virginia and Maryland that offer cozy ‘European’ bed & breakfast-at-a-winery experience, highlighted the presence of the winemakers and their family members on the site. Check out my next story on this year’s 34th Virginia Wine Festival that will take place on September 19-20 in Centreville, VA.

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