Explore the Loudoun Wine Trail

Analiese Kreutzer Staff Picks, Wine Issue 2017

Thinking about spending a day touring wineries and tasting some Virginia vintages? You don’t have to go far to take in some of the best. Northern Virginia is considered one of the state’s best wine regions, and of Virginia’s approximately 230 wineries, more than 40 of them reside in Loudoun County.

Like most Virginia wineries, the majority in Loudoun consist of small, family-owned operations, and much of their revenue derives from winery tours, tastings, and direct sales. To attract visitors, they often offer food and entertainment or tie-ins with local fairs and festivals. This makes a day in wine country a fun activity with local friends or a great change of pace from museums and monuments for out-of-town guests.

Loudoun County wineries are open from early spring to late fall and are organized into six clusters along the Loudoun Wine Trail. When planning an outing, pick your cluster and check the websites for the wineries you want to visit for their tasting room and tour hours. Consider your transportation. Decide whether someone in your group will serve as the designated driver or contact Reston Limousine or another local provider to transport you in style. Then relax and enjoy.

The Loudon Heights Cluster

If you want to take in some beautiful scenery while you sip your wine, head toward the northwestern part of the county, where the Loudoun Heights Cluster surrounds the tiny town of Hillsboro. This area is known for its rolling hills and lovely vistas. You might want to include on your visit Breaux Vineyards, one of the largest-producing vineyards in the state, Notaviva Vineyards, offering its handcrafted wines with special music pairings, and Maggie Malick Wine Caves.

The Waterford Cluster

If you enjoy Virginia history, the Waterford Cluster sits outside the National Historic Landmark village of Waterford, which was founded by Quakers in 1733 and remains virtually unchanged. The wineries here range from small handcrafted producers to larger vineyards offering a variety of wines. This cluster includes Sunset Hills Vineyards, housed in a renovated 140-year-old Amish barn with decks on two stories.

The Potomac Cluster

Take in a sampling of different wines, settings, and atmospheres in this eclectic cluster located between Route 15 and the Potomac River just north of Leesburg. The wineries here enjoy views of the river, the mountains, neighboring farms, and even lakes. In addition to the wineries, you’ll find antique shops and roadside stands along Route 15. If you like red wine, be sure to include a stop at Fabbioli Cellars to sample and pick up some of their high-quality reds.

The Mosby Cluster

John Mosby Highway, also known as Route 50, leads you through the Mosby Cluster, where wine country meets horse country. The wineries here near Aldie and Middleburg take you on a European tour. 50 West Vineyards focuses on producing wines in the classic French Bordeaux style; Chrysalis Vineyards specializes in unusual Spanish and French varietals, as well as the native Virginia grape Norton; and Quattro Goomba’s Winery produces Italian-style wines.

The Harmony Cluster

The Harmony Cluster, named after a nearby town that was originally called Harmony but is now known as Hamilton, contains Loudoun’s oldest operational winery, Willowcroft Farm Vineyards, founded in 1983. It’s also home to one of Loudoun’s largest, Stone Tower Winery. Take the trail through winding roads to the wineries and to the top of Catoctin Mountain. Cyclists can take a break at the Barns at Hamilton Station winery, which is accessible from the W&OD trail.

The Snickers Gap Cluster

On the western side of Loudoun County lies the Snickers Gap Cluster, named for a wind gap in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The smallest of the clusters, this one includes only four wineries that are open to the public. Of particular interest are Otium Cellars and North Gate Vineyard. Otium grows several German varietals, and North Gate is a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified winery.