August 2, 2012 | Wine & Food Pairings, Wine Country Travel | Wendy Van Diver
Touring Northern Virginia with First Lady Maureen McDonnell (part 4)
No wonder Loudoun County is known as D.C.’s wine country. It is located just 35 miles west of Washington, D.C., which is about how long it takes me to get to the nearest Target from my home in Santa Barbara! But it shouldn’t just belong to D.C. There are two international airports in Loudoun, making it easy to get to for lots of other people, too. Our FLITE Tour Day #2 with Virginia’s First Lady Maureen McDonnell was devoted to discovering the wines of Loudoun County.
After another magnificent breakfast at Red Fox Inn (this time I indulged in an omelet with caramelized onions and roasted red peppers), I checked out and typed the address of Lansdowne Resort in Leesburg and enjoyed a beautiful morning’s drive through the countryside. Lansdowne Resort is a top notch conference resort, so it was an ideal place to convene with the group who would be accompanying Mrs. McDonnell that day. Most of the people were new, and we introduced ourselves as we boarded the bus.
We began our tour day with a sunset: Sunset Hills Vineyard in Purcellville. We were greeted by Owners Diane and Mike Canney who toured us through the magnificently restored historic barn that serves as the winery and tasting room. It was quickly apparent that the Canneys are dedicated to authenticity as well as sustainability. Winemaker and Vineyard Manager Nate Walsh fielded questions in the barrel room and then it was time to take our places the tasting bar. After all, it WAS nearly noon! We enjoyed four offerings from the Sunset Hills portfolio, each paired with a succulent pairing from Fusions Cuisine in Ashburn. There was the pretty 2011 Viognier paired with lobster beurre blanc, roasted cherry tomatoes and crisp shallots; the 2011 Sunset White (a rounded Vidal Blanc… a real standout for me) paired with braised pork carnitas, citrus mashed yucca with Mojo drizzle; the multiple-award winning 2009 Cabernet Franc paired with grilled veal and pork terrine, grilled leek, roasted Shitake caps, and wild mushroom reduction; and a surprise—the soon to be released 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon.
Little did we know that Sunset Hills was just whetting our appetites. After a short drive, we arrived at Corcoran Vineyards in Waterford for a Loudoun County country-style lunch. Owners Lori and Jim Corcoran met us as we arrived and showed us to the winery building where a giant spread was waiting. I strolled through the buffet line heaping my plate as though I’d been working in the vineyards all morning with pulled pork, chicken, beef brisket, coleslaw, oh my… and three kinds of barbecue sauce!! Lori who is the winemaker, guided us through a wonderful tasting as we ate. She started with her 2010 Apple Wine, which I found to be delightfully crisp and perfect with the chicken and pork. We also tasted the 2010 Rosé made from Chambourcin, the 2010 fruity Amber Creek Chambourcin, the silky 2010 Petit Verdot and when it was time for dessert, Lori introduced her friend Kay Poterba owner of Shugar Shugar. Did Kay have a treat in store for us! She had created three mini-cupcakes to complete our feast. The first was a lemon flavored confection made with Lori’s Cello wine. I sampled the 2008 Cello (a spirited sweet wine made from Petit Manseng grapes and fortified with lemon zest) with nibbles of cupcake. Delightful! While I did, I noticed that several of my co-feasters were practically weeping over the deliciousness of Kay’s chocolate cupcake. I waited patiently for a light pour of the 2010 USB (Corcoran’s version of Port wine) to sample one. I’m not kidding… the cupcake had a little pool of soft caramel inside it. And the wine was equally divine.
I felt like I’d had a complete Thanksgiving dinner by the time I left the table. But wait. Just like on Thanksgiving, there was more! Jim invited us next door to the brewery, where we sampled his ales. I wasn’t able to go through a whole tasting, but I really enjoyed the Round Hill Root Beer, spiced with sarsaparilla, licorice, yucca, malanga, and ginger roots, wintergreen, and vanilla beans.
Jim gave us all Corcoran Brewing Company glasses to take home, and those of us who didn’t have far to travel were also offered a growler of their favorite brew.
Beer tasting at Corcoran Brewing Company
I really appreciated the graciousness of our hosts at Sunset Hills Vineyard and Corcoran Vineyards. I also appreciated the fact that our bus was very comfortable, because it was time for another afternoon nap!