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More Than Wine: 9 Unique Winery Experiences Around DC

With wineries now offering everything from disc golf to spooky houses, there's adventure for everyone.

VIEWS FOR MILES: Chester Gap Cellars. Photograph courtesy of Chester Gap Cellars.
Best Wineries Guide

About Best Wineries Guide

Chilly fall days are perfect for gathering at wineries. Here are some of our favorite wineries to visit this fall.

Best Wineries to Stay Active

Where to: Try Ballroom Dancing

Photograph courtesy of Briedé Family Vineyards.

Briedé Family Vineyards | Winchester

Every second Saturday of the month, Briedé hosts a one-hour ballroom-dance class in its open-air pavilion. A glass of wine and a charcuterie box for two are included in the cost. 6 to 7 pm; $35 a person; reserve by the Wednesday before.

Good to know: No partner? Solo dancers welcome.

Miles from DC: 82. (Map it)


Where to: Play Disc Golf

Photograph by HRAUN/E+/Getty Images.

Little Washington Winery | Washington, VA

Little Washington Winery is just off the third tee of Jenkins Mountain Disc Golf, a free 18-hole course that recently hosted its first Professional Disc Golf Association Tournament. Guests can hike the hilly 55 acres with or without a Frisbee and enjoy panoramic views of the Blue Ridge. The course ends at Skyline Brewery.

Good to know: Dave Henrickson, whose parents own the winery and brewery, manages the course and offers instructional clinics.

Miles from DC: 71. (Map it)


Where to: Walk a Vineyard


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868 Estate Vineyards | Hillsboro

Start your visit with a walk through the 120 acres of fields and vineyards surrounding this Virginia winery. It’s a rare treat: Most wineries don’t allow guests in the vineyards. Then get cozy with a warm mug of mulled wine around one of six unreserved fire pits.

Good to know: On the day after Thanksgiving, you can walk to the top of the winery’s namesake 868-foot hill and be rewarded with housemade chocolate truffles at the annual “Walk Off Your Wobble!” day.

Miles from DC: 51. (Map it)


Where to: Take a Scenic Hike

Chester Gap Cellars | Front Royal

Trail signs at the tasting room mark the start of the three-quarter-mile Chester Gap Waterfall Trail. The moderately challenging hike winds through woods and vine-yards to a two-story spring-fed waterfall cascading down a rock wall—the headwaters of the Rappahannock River. Back at the winery, enjoy views from one of the highest tasting rooms in Virginia, at 1,300 feet.

Good to know: You can stay overnight at Chester Gap’s Idle Hour, a three-­bedroom house with hot tub, fire pit, gas grill, and spectacular views from the deck.

Miles from DC: 73. (Map it)


Five More Favorite Winery Experiences

ONE VINE DAY: Big Cork Vineyards. Photograph courtesy of Big Cork Vineyards.


Best for Fall Colors

Photograph courtesy of Windridge Vineyards.

Windridge Vineyards | Darnestown

Fall foliage goes on for miles at this vineyard, from the yellows that ring the tasting room out toward the oranges and reds glowing up the slope of Maryland’s Sugarloaf Mountain. For an extra splash of color, settle in next to a fire pit and toast the sunset.

Good to know: Make a free online reservation to get the space of your choice—tasting room, patio, picnic table, or an Adirondack chair for two on the lawn. You can also book a tasting (20 minutes, five wines, $22).

Miles from DC: 26. (Map it)


Best Wine-and-Food Pairings

Fabbioli Cellars | Leesburg

The real magic of wine re­veals itself when paired with the right foods, so Fabbioli Cellars gave up standard tastings in favor of wine-and-food pairings with a fun theme each month. October’s is Hocus Pocus, six wines paired with seasonal bites ($20). The staff goes all out for Halloween—decorating, creating themed glasses and T-shirts, even bringing in a tarot reader.

Good to know: Twenty fire pits coax guests to linger.

Miles from DC: 44. (Map it)


Best Halloween Experience

Granite Heights Winery | Warrenton

Luke Kilyk is a lawyer, wine­-maker, and co-owner of Granite Heights with his wife, Toni, a doctor who manages the vineyards. But their true passion is creating seriously spooky houses. Last year, they did that with Haunted Tastings, a tour of their property with stops for wine and shivery stories. Haunted Tastings returns October 21 to 22 and 28 to 29. The $35 tickets (buy online) include six wines, two food pairings; you must be 21 or over.

Good to know: The Cabernet Franc is blood-red and scary-good.

Miles from DC: 54. (Map it)


Best for a Midweek Outing

The Winery at Sunshine Ridge Farm | Gainesville

Great views, no kids, and longer hours (until 6 pm Sunday through Thursday; until 9 Friday and Saturday) make this newcomer a good choice for a relaxing midweek getaway. The private 770-acre Lake Manassas—which you can’t otherwise visit unless you live there—surrounds the winery on three sides. Choose a flight ($12 for four) from the something-for-everyone wine list, which ranges from a slightly sweet Riesling to a smoky Meritage. There’s even a pub-style brewery.

Good to know: Stay late for Trivia Night, every other Tuesday from 7 to 9. No outside food.

Miles from DC: 40. (Map it)


Most Stylish

Photograph courtesy of Big Cork Vineyards.

Big Cork Vineyards | Rohrersville

The modern minimalist tasting room at Big Cork, a half-hour drive west of Frederick, is buzzy and fun. White walls meet a painted black ceiling, under-­counter angular white leather couches offset molded acrylic chairs, and stools crafted to look like big corks pull it all together. Outside, the views of distant mountains are six layers deep in some directions.

Good to know: Tastings by appointment only ($16). Private tastings available on weekends (minimum six guests, $26 each).

Miles from DC: 68. (Map it)

This article appears in the October 2022 issue of Washingtonian.

Nancy Bauer

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