Friday, August 28, 2009
Fall is harvest season, which means it's boom time for festivals. Events featuring concerts and seminars, as well as a convivial atmosphere perfect for socializing, are a great way to experience wineries and wines. Some of the highlights of the season:
Last Fridays at 951. Friday, 5-9 p.m. Bluemont Vineyard stays open late the last Friday of each month. Tonight, it coincides with the "All Originals Weekend," with local bands playing original music. Free admission; wine tastings and food are extra. 540-554-8439 or http://www.bluemontvineyard.com.
Uncorked. Saturday, noon to 6 p.m. This wine festival at Rockville Town Center brings in 10 bands and showcases Maryland wines from Boordy Vineyards, Bordeleau Winery, Elk Run Vineyards, Terrapin Station Winery and others. Free admission; wine tasting, $10. 240-314-8620 or http://www.rockvillemd.gov/events/uncorked.
Festivals at Berrywine Plantation and Linganore Winecellars. Gates open at 11 a.m. Saturday and Sunday; also Oct. 17-18. BYO blanket or lawn chair and picnic basket for an afternoon at the Mount Airy winery. This weekend, the theme is Swingin' Blues, with the Kelly Bell Band and the Nighthawks; in October, performers play vintage jazz. Taste any of the fruit and grape wines produced on-site, and take winery tours. Tickets are $15; ages 18-20, $10; 17 and younger, free. 410-795-6432 or http://www.linganorewines.com.
Herndon Labor Day Jazz & Wine Festival. Sept. 7, noon to 6 p.m. This small festival, hosted on the Town Green lot behind Herndon's Municipal Building, features unlimited tastings supplied by 10 wineries and performances by bands. $15 with tastings; $5 without; 12 and younger, free. 703-787-7300 or http://www.herndon-va.gov.
Commonwealth Cup Polo and the Wine Festival at The Plains. Sept. 12-13, 11 a.m.-7 p.m. This two-day festival at Great Meadow combines the 24th annual Commonwealth Cup polo match and a festival of Virginia wines. Expect unlimited tastings of 250 wines, fancy-hat contests, polo matches, tailgating and the Commonwealth Cup itself (it's held on the second day of the festival). Tasting tickets are $35 online and $40 at the gate; without tastings, $20 online, $25 at the gate; 10 and younger, free. 703-823-1868 or http://www.winefestivalattheplains.com.
Maryland Wine Festival. Sept. 19, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sept. 20, noon to 6 p.m. Sip the offerings from Maryland's wine industry; take tours of the Carroll County Farm Museum in Westminster, where the festival is held; and watch demonstrations by artisans. Tasting tickets are $20 in advance, $25 at the gate; designated-driver tickets are $20; ages 7 to 20 $5; 6 and younger, free. http://www.marylandwinefestival.org.
Victory in Wine Celebration. Sept. 19, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sept. 20, noon to 5 p.m. The co-founder and owner of Tarara Vineyards, the late Ralph J. "Whitie" Hubert, was a quarterback on the Catholic University football team, so there are more than a few references to the sport at Tarara. This festival celebrates the winery's signature red, Long Bomb, as well as the kickoff of football season. Expect: wine tastings, live music, a tailgate competition, quick tours of the vineyard. Tasting tickets, $15 in advance, $20 at the gate; without tastings, $8-$10; 12 and younger, free. 703-771-7100 or http://www.tarara.com.
Virginia Wine Festival. Sept. 19-20, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. This festival, at Bull Run Regional Park in Centreville, is one of the biggest in the area, with live music, vendors of crafts and foods and wineries from across the state (including Breaux, Tarara and Kluge Estate). Single-day tickets are $25 in advance, $30 at the gate; designated drivers and ages 12 to 20 $16, $22; ages 6 to 12 $5, $8; 5 and younger free. 540-745-3378 or http://www.across-the-way.com.
Norton Wine & Bluegrass Festival. Oct 3-4, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Chrysalis Vineyards pulls out all the stops to fete its signature grape, the Norton, an American species from which it makes many of its light-bodied reds. Hear bluegrass, shop for artisanal snack foods and crafts -- but be sure to stop and just take in the views, which are spectacular that time of year. $15 in advance, $20 per person at the door. 540-687-8222 or http://www.chrysaliswine.com.
Old Town Food and Wine Festival. Oct. 9-11, various times. This three-day event features Virginia wine and food pairings, seminars and "Sip'n Strolls," with tastings of Virginia wines in King Street galleries and shops. Tastings and admission to events, $35 in advance, $45 at the door; without tastings, $15. http://www.oldtownwinefestival.com.
The Shenandoah Valley Hot Air Balloon, Wine and Music Festival. Oct. 16, 4 to 8 p.m.; Oct. 17-18, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. This festival takes place in the countryside of Long Branch Historic House and Farm, just as the trees are alight with color. Expect wine tastings, children's activities, a car show and hot-air balloon launches at sunrise and sunset. Admission at the gate is $5-$15; wine tasting, $10; 12 and younger, free; advance tickets, $8-$32. 877-868-1811 or http://www.historiclongbranch.com.
The Loudoun Farm Color Tour. Oct. 17-18. Every year a dozen or so wineries take part in the self-guided tour of scenic farmland. Go for the views, but make winery-hopping part of your visit. http://www.loudounfarms.org.
Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyard's Grape Stomp. Oct. 17-18, noon to 5 p.m. The Montgomery County winery invites the public to stomp on grapes for prizes; winners get a glass of wine. Also on tap: live music and vendors. $12 in advance, $15 at the door; younger than 21, free. 301-605-0130 or http://www.smvwinery.com/purchase.htm.