The Notebook was surprised and pleased to encounter not one, not two, not three, but four new tasting rooms in “DC’s Wine Country” (Loudoun County) over the past few months (and there is fifth new tasting room opening soon.) These elegant new spaces prove that the popularity of the Virginia wine scene is no passing fad.
Breaux has been a mainstay on the VAVINO scene for years, and despite their popularity (consistently rated as one of the state’s best wineries offering the finest wines), their tasting room was almost always crammed, and the wait for a tasting could sometimes take 20 minutes (the exception, of course, was if you visited on a Wednesday afternoon around 2 PM.) The owners blueprinted the new tasting building (and adjacent events building) several years ago. They wanted to make them perfect. And did they ever.
The tasting building is bright and airy, offering plenty of room to spread out, regardless of how busy they are. This is the way a tasting building should be; wood dominates in the tasting room, for maximum sound absorption. A host in the tasting room sends guests to spots at the tasting bar that are available, or about to become available.
New tasting building at Breaux:
Under construction (July 2014):
Another major improvement is the patio in the back, affording visitors with breathtaking views of the Blue Ridge foothills. And this patio is “21 and over” and “no dogs!” We love kids, we love dogs…but sometimes you want to escape them. For families with kids (or dogs), there are plenty of other options for you.
The décor tastefully incorporates the owners’ Louisiana Cajun heritage. With so many new wineries popping up all over the county (including one which opened a mere quarter mile from Breaux several years ago), it is refreshing to see an established winery take such measures to improve the experience for their guests. The original tasting room is still used for spillover and smaller group events.
Breaux has always been a long-time friend, and with these improvements, they will reclaim their spot as our go-to winery in northern Loudoun County for out-of-state guests interested in the best of what Virginia wine and wineries have to offer.
Cardamon Family Vineyards and Two Twisted Posts Winery:
These wineries (a stone’s throw away from each other along Harper’s Ferry Road) have only been open for a little over a year, and previously tastings were conducted in tents near their gravel parking lots, quite close to the main highway. We visited their new tasting buildings recently, and they’re both special, and definitely different from one another.
Cardamon’s tasting bar hugs one side of an intimate, living room-style tasting room, and the view of the foothills so close to the house makes one believe he’s in Wise County, not Loudoun County. It seemed as if the entire family was behind the tasting bar the afternoon we visited, and the family made you feel like you were sipping great wine among long-time friends. And as usual, Chuck's salsa and wine pairings were a treat.
Two Twisted Posts’ tasting room is a bit more industrial in feel than Cardamon's; think Sonoma County instead of Wise County. Their story is interesting—they won a Governor’s Cup for their slightly oaked, extremely delicious Chardonnay two years ago. However, they had not finished their tasting building yet, and in order to accept the Governor’s Cup, a requirement of the winery is to offer tastings to the general public. They set up their tent and complied. We loved this location from the minute we set foot and were greeted by owner Theresa Robertson, a charming and witty host who entertained us with stories about her family history and their new adventure.
Zephaniah Farm Vineyard:
Further south in Loudoun County, in the “Harmony Cluster,” lays another perennial Notebook favorite. Zephaniah still conducts their tastings inside their 19th Century house, as the sit-down intimacy of this experience is adored by many. However, a chalet-like tasting building was erected up the hill, with a spectacular view of the surrounding woods and meadows. The owners invite all guests to visit the tasting room and relax, either inside the wood-dominated building (constructed primarily for special events and weddings), or on the porch (appointed with rocking chairs, to give it a truly Southern feel). And this could be the only winery in the state with a swimming pool near the tasting building. Where the owners take Nestea (or maybe chardonnay) plunges after hot days of working in the vineyards?
The new tasting "chalet" at Zephaniah Farm Vineyard:
Finally, we were intrigued by the new circular building on the grounds of Fabbioli Cellars….we understand that their new tasting building will be opening soon. So expect a “Part 2” to this Notebook entry in the next few months.