Great Day Trips 2011: Virginia Wineries

Go out I-66 to Fauquier County and you’ll pass sweet-smelling clover, red barns—and some excellent vineyards

A wall of windows at Delaplane Cellars looks out over pastoral Blue Ridge views. Photograph by Erik Uecke; Illustrations by Alli Arnold

Delaplane Cellars
2187 Winchester Rd., Delaplane; 540-592-7210

Delaplane Cellars is creating lots of buzz among wine travelers.

The tasting room is airy and elegant, with light oak floors and floor-to-ceiling windows that frame the Blue Ridge view. At the polished black walnut bar, you’ll sample current offerings (tasting fee $5 to $8) including Springlot, a classic Bordeaux blend with notes of black cherry and plum, and Cinq, a five-varietal bottling.

Pick up some of the winery’s local cheese and “cellar bread” and settle in at a window table. Or head outside and unpack your own picnic on the stone patio or at one of the shady tables on the hill. Don’t worry about crowds spoiling the tranquility; Delaplane doesn’t accept buses, limos, or groups of more than six.

Co-owner Jim Dolphin leads tours of the cellar and vineyard Saturday at 11:30 (reservations recommended); a tasting and tour is $15. For those who’d rather come later, the winery features weekly Sunset Saturdays with live music from 4:30 to 8:30.

Vintage Ridge Vineyard
8517 Maidstone Rd., Rectortown; 540-364-3371

Visitors are surprised when they stumble onto Vintage Ridge Vineyard. There’s no gift shop, no tasting bar. Instead, the friendly Vintage Ridge is built for hospitality: Sit, relax, eat, stay.

Take a seat at a teak table on the covered patio and opt for the Premier Pairing ($18), an unhurried discovery of five very different wines, with foods chosen to bring out the best in each. Pairings may include generous pours of a rich, smoky Syrah served with grilled onion-and-bacon crostini or a spicy Cabernet Franc with Manchego cheese and plum chutney. Don’t miss the pairing of Late Harvest Vidal Blanc with an assortment of tiny sweets.

Down-to-earth owners Bill and Vicki Edmands are nearly always pouring; tell Bill you’re unschooled in winetasting and he’s likely to give you a quick lesson.

Open weekends only. A basic tasting, without food, is $10.

Barrel Oak Winery
3623 Grove La., Delaplane ; 540-364-6402

Everybody and everything’s welcome at Barrel Oak, a sprawling winery overlooking I-66 that packs in hundreds of people, Frisbees, and picnics. Even families with kids show up at this rollicking venue where dogs are welcome, including in the tasting room.

Your first stop is one of four tasting bars. It’s a tough choice: Three are inside the bright and spacious barn; one is outside on the patio with mountain views. You can sample just reds or just whites ($6) or both ($10).

Pick out a picnic table on the grass, pop a cork, and spend a lazy afternoon. If you visit on a Friday, linger into the evening, when the winery stays open until 9 and, in fall and winter, the fire pits come out. Groups are welcome; eight or more should call for a tasting reservation.

One note: For those who go winetasting with a dog in tow, pets are also welcome at Delaplane Cellars’ outdoor picnic tables but not at Vintage Ridge.


Gray Ghost Vineyards
14706 Lee Hwy., Amissville; 540-937-4869
Start at this venerable winery for a private tour and tasting ($5 without glass, $10 with glass, reservations required).

Narmada Winery
43 Narmada La., Amissville; 540-937-8215
Enjoy samosas, biryani, and other Indian snacks that pair beautifully with the wine. A group tasting is $10 a person (or $13 to keep the glass); call in advance for six or more people.

Gadino Cellars
92 Schoolhouse Rd., Washington; 540-987-9292
Finish with a private tasting ($6, reserve a week ahead) on the deck at Gadino, where you can challenge friends to bocce.

Café Indigo
3 River La., Sperryville; 540-987-8770
You might stop for dinner at this new restaurant, which features local food and winemaker dinners.


Hillsborough Vineyards

36716 Charles Town Pike, Purcellville; 540-668-6216
Start off a day trip for two at the picture-perfect Hillsborough Vineyards, where weekend tastings are relaxed affairs, held at your own table in the Country French lounge.

Notaviva Vineyards
13274 Sagle Rd., Purcellville; 540-668-6756
A few miles down the road, the rocking chairs on the porch at Notaviva beckon. Notaviva is known for its musical talent on weekends. If the date goes really well, you’ll be glad that Notaviva is also known for weddings.

Magnolias at the Mill

198 N. 21st St., Purcellville; 540-338-9800
Dinner on the parkside patio is a romantic way to end the day.

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Nancy Bauer

Nancy Bauer is founder of the popular Facebook group, Virginia Wine Love, and the website