Let us be clear: This is not an excuse to avoid the picturesque, alluring vineyards of D.C.'s Wine Country. But beyond the wineries themselves, several local lounges and restaurants deserve recognition for the role they play in promoting Loudoun vin. The Times-Mirror highlights four spots in Loudoun where you can imbibe juice grown just a dozen miles away.
Gold Cup Wine Bar at Salamander Resort
While Salamander Resort and Spa, Sheila Johnson's mesmerizing creation in Middleburg, has seen no shortage of publicity in its first year, what too often goes overlooked are the amenities the lovely lodge offers those not staying the night.
There's the spa – a haven of relaxation providing more than a dozen treatments, manicures, pedicures and a full-service salon – and an upscale eatery, Harrimans.
But since this page isn't devoted to massages or exfoliating or, you know, full meals, let's talk about Salamander's Gold Cup Wine Bar.
One of my finest delights upon first visiting Salamander was the fact that the wine buyers and bar curators did more than pay lip service to the local wine industry. Gold Cup's list offers several Loudoun wines, both by-the-glass and by-the-bottle, including palate pleasers from Chrysalis, Breaux, Boxwood, Otium and North Gate.
A more luxurious sipping experience cannot be found in Loudoun.
Drink a red: Boxwood Trellis '11 (blend)
Drink a white: North Gate Chardonnay
|Gold Cup Wine Bar at Salamander Resort|
Mike Carroll at Leesburg Vintner has been stocking local wines for more than a decade, long before the phrase “D.C.'s Wine Country” was implanted in the minds of Northern Virginians.
Yet it wasn't until this year that patrons of Carroll's retail shop could comfortably savor his selections within the walls of the historic downtown Leesburg structure.
In 2013 Carroll installed a gorgeous wooden bar with six bar stools for customers to stop and relax with a glass (or bottle ... we're not judging). Additionally, there's a corner-window high top where a couple can pair local vin with people-watching.
Of the spots listed here, if you're looking for variety Leesburg Vintner is the place to go; Carroll carries many of Loudoun's well-known producers, as well as some of the top wines from various regions throughout the commonwealth.
Drink a red: Carroll Vineyards Chambourcin '12
Drink a white: Fabbioli Cellars Chardonnay '12
Magnolias at the Mill
Local restauranteur Kevin Malone has relentlessly supported local vintners by placing an array of Loudoun vin on an already dynamite wine list, both at Magnolias in Purcellville and sister restaurant Tuscarora Mill in Leesburg.
Both spots are Loudoun staples, but when it comes to wine drinking, the edge goes to Magnolias – primarily because its bar is about twice the size of Tuscarora's. The wine catalog at all of Malone's eateries are respective of local grape artists, with each serving about a dozen local reds and whites.
And let us not forget “Virginia Uncorked,” still one of the best wine promos this devoted wine advocate has ever seen. Per Uncorked, you can purchase any bottle of Virginia wine, bring it to Magnolias or Tuscarora Mill that night and enjoy with dinner, corkage-fee free.
Drink a red: Willowcroft Merlot '07 (by the bottle only)
Drink a white: Sunset Hills Rose '12
Clyde's Willow Creek Farm
|Magnolias at the Mill|
While Clyde's Willow Creek Farm – with what I imagine holds considerable resources, knowing the restaurant group's locations – could perhaps find space for a few more Loudoun wines, the restaurant should be commended for placing 10 Virginia wines on the list, three of which are from Loudoun.
Considering Clyde's would almost certainly thrive without serving any local wines, management seems to go out of its way to be part of the Loudoun community, even hosting wine dinners featuring local producers.
The anchor of the Broadlands restaurant scene, Clyde's has several bars within its mammoth, rustic compound. (Full disclosure: I don't actually know how many bars there are at Clyde's; I seem to find a new one with each visit.) Regardless of where you land, the service will be attentive, and you can snag a glass produced within 30 miles of where you'll be sitting.
Drink a red: Tarara Cabernet Franc '11
Drink a white: Bluemont Petit Manseng '12
|Clyde's Willow Creek Farm|
Check out recent Wine Wednesdays below:
-"Mulling through the holidays" -- Dec. 4
-"Oz Clarke dazzles Virginia Wine Summit crowd" -- Nov. 6
-"A quarter-century of Virginia Wine Month" -- Oct. 2