Need a good excuse for a summer day trip? Here are three wine-focused reasons to hop in the car.
Case Open: Early Mountain Vineyards has officially opened for business after a renovation and rechristening. The former Sweely Estate winery in Madison County, just off U.S. 29 north of Charlottesville, was purchased last year by Steve and Jean Case of AOL fame. Under Jean Case’s stewardship, the winery is now releasing its first bottles and welcoming visitors for lunch and tastings.
And not just Early Mountain wines will be available. Case is showcasing “the best of Virginia” in an effort to promote the state’s wine industry as a whole.
“Our goal is to champion and celebrate the best Virginia has to offer — a virtual Virginia wine tour under one roof,” she writes on the winery’s blog. “We’ll also feature ‘eat local’ offerings from surrounding farms — charcuterie, cheeses, sweets and more — to complement our wines and showcase the premium quality of Virginia-grown food.”
Yield for Wine: Those visiting the Northern Neck may have an easier time finding wineries with some newly installed signage. Todd Haymore, Virginia’s secretary of agriculture and forestry, unveiled new signs heralding the Northern Neck-George Washington Birthplace American Viticultural Area (AVA), one of six official AVAs in Virginia.
Similar signs were posted in April welcoming visitors to the Monticello AVA near Charlottesville, and others are planned for the Eastern Shore AVA, Shenandoah AVA and the Northern Virginia wine region (which doesn’t have official status yet).
The signs are funded by the federal Transportation Enhancement Program and the Commonwealth Transportation Board.
Country Wine: Loudoun County styles itself as “D.C.’s Wine Country,” and the town of Purcellville wants in on the action. Purcellville, located in the heart of Loudoun’s farm and wine country northwest of Leesburg, will host its first food and wine festival on Saturday, July 21. Six wineries are currently signed on to participate — including Fabbioli Cellars, 8 Chains North and North Gate — but more will probably join in. Details are available on the Web site.