About Best Wineries Guide
Chilly fall days are perfect for gathering at wineries. Here are some of our favorite wineries to visit this fall.
Wineries With the Best Food
More places are adding upscale dining, specialty pizza, and Sunday brunch. One is even making its own cheese.
The Best Winery for Fine Dining
EagleTree Farm Vineyards | Leesburg
In a way-down-a-gravel-road location is this vineyard and restaurant run by Lori McKeever and Jeffrey Judge, who owned McKeever’s Pub in McLean for 40 years. Judge, a classically trained chef, serves a small rotating menu that recently included savory chicken curry, filet mignon with potato gratin, fresh mushroom soup with a classic grilled cheese, and a crowd-favorite brick-oven pizza made with white pear, caramelized onion, and white garlic sauce. Just want to relax over a glass of wine? That’s fine, too.
Good to know: The rich 2015 Merlot is a highlight. No outside food.
Miles from DC: 46. (Map it)
The Best Winery for Sunday Brunch
Stone Tower Winery | Leesburg
Sunday brunch is typically a members-only event at luxe-rustic Stone Tower, but here’s a tip: Booking a 30-minute Cellar Tour ($35 a person) gets you access to the members’ Tower View Tasting Room for the day, so after your tour, stay for brunch. Choose among more than a dozen entrées, including steak tartare from Roseda Farms Black Angus beef raised two hours away, eggs Benedict, and PEI mussels, plus sweet options such as French toast brightened with vanilla Chardonnay syrup.
Good to know: More-casual fare is available in the family-friendly Harvest Barn tasting room. No outside food.
Miles from DC: 42. (Map it)
The Best Winery If You Love Good Cheese
Chrysalis Vineyards | Middleburg
Chrysalis owner Jenni McCloud has always had big goals. She brought the Albariño grape to Virginia, planted the largest Norton vineyard in the world, and now makes Locksley Farmstead Cheese—11 kinds, with milk from her own cows. Try a scheduled winetasting (Saturday and Sunday; $20), then order a charcuterie platter ($24) with your choice of three cheeses.
Good to know: The cheeses are also used in some of the housemade sandwiches, salads, and pizzas. No outside food.
Miles from DC: 37. (Map it)
The Best Winery for Pizza Lovers
Quattro Goombas Winery | Aldie
Wineries have gotten serious about their pizza, and Quattro Goombas, just off Route 50 a few miles from Middleburg, may have started it all. Pans of Sicilian-style pie come with a light, crunchy crust and a choice of eight toppings; a whole tray is $20 for eight square slices (half tray $10, two slices $6).
Good to know: Beyond pizza, appetizers include a large handmade meatball with marinara, plus subs such as the Goomba Grinder. No outside food.
Miles from DC: 37. (Map it)
Award Winners and Other Standout Wines
There’s only one rule when it comes to choosing wine: Drink what you like. Here’s a sampling of award winners and crowd pleasers.
Best for Winning Wines
Cana Vineyards | Middleburg
Winemaker Melanie Natoli’s 2019 Unité Reserve beat out more than 600 wines to take Virginia’s top prize this year. Sadly, it’s sold out, but you can book a guided tasting for a full sample of her excellent wines ($24 for six) or grab a flight ($12 for three) to enjoy on the expansive deck, patio, or lawn. Head to the second floor if you prefer an adults-only visit.
Good to know: Natoli’s 2019 Le Mariage—a Bordeaux-style blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Merlot, Petit Verdot, and Cabernet Franc—was a top-12 wine in the same competition, and at press time was still available ($48).
Miles from DC: 38. (Map it)
Best If You Love Sweet Wines
Port of Leonardtown Winery | Leonardtown
Winemaker Lauren Zimmerman won one of Maryland’s biggest wine competitions last year with a dry wine—her 2021 VS White, a blend of Viognier, Albariño, and Chardonnay. But her sweet wines dominate the tasting menu at this winery in Southern Maryland. Try the new McIntosh Run, made from local apples.
Good to know: The winery is in Port of Leonardtown Park, which has walking paths, a picnic pavilion, and a kayak launch that runs into Breton Bay.
Miles from DC: 54. (Map it)
Best for Holiday Sparkling
Rappahannock Cellars | Huntly
Sparkling is the fastest-growing wine in the US, and local wineries are scrambling to add it to their menus. Virginia’s Rappahannock Cellars is way ahead: At its tasting room near Shenandoah National Park, it sells eight, including a citrusy, traditional-method Chardonnay, a semidry rosé, and even a sparkling red made from Cabernet Franc.
Good to know: You can sip all that bubbly wine by a fire pit or on the adults-only rooftop patio.
Miles from DC: 65. (Map it)
Wineries With More Than Just Wine
Some of the most interesting taste experiments are happening in wine-adjacent industries: hard cider, mead, and beer. Here are some spots where you can sample all three.
Where to: Sip Some Cider
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Wild Hare Cider | Multiple locations
Cideries have exploded in Virginia, growing from a handful a decade ago to nearly 50, including wineries that have nudged their way into cider. Wild Hare makes an experimental cider every week; Revel, a cinnamon-and-spice blend, was a recent dabble.
Good to know: The small, locally owned chain has locations in Leesburg, Middleburg, Warrenton, and Fredericksburg, all housed in historic pubs or “cabins” for tasting and carryout.
Miles from DC: 35 (Leesburg, the closest). (Map it)
Where to: Drink Mead
Saga Meadery | Front Royal
Leaf-peeping on Skyline Drive? Finish your day with a tasting of rich, mellow mead. Saga Meadery—doesn’t the name conjure castles, fog, and logs on the fire?—opened just a few months into the Covid chaos. Its sweet and spicy Puffs Sweet Heat draws raves, but if the weather’s chilly, you might prefer the allspice and cloves of Winter Cheer.
Good to know: Winter Cheer and Sunburst Citrus both took gold medals in this year’s Governor’s Cup competition.
Miles from DC: 69. (Map it)
Best Wine/Beer/Cider Mash-Up
Notaviva Farm Brewery & Winery | Purcellville
As wineries try to mitigate the risks of unpredictable grape-growing seasons, it’s more common to see housemade hard cider or craft beer on the tasting menu. Notaviva has taken that idea and run with it. The adults-only spot typically brews eight seasonal styles of beer, pear and spiced-apple ciders, and hard seltzers. Wines are also available in 1.5-liter eco-friendly pouches to enjoy on the go.
Good to know: Notaviva is near Harpers Ferry, for those planning a day trip.
Miles from DC: 55. (Map it)
This article appears in the October 2022 issue of Washingtonian.