Updated: Aug 8, 2019
One of the nicest, most relaxing ways to enjoy a wine is by having a picnic at a winery. With over 100 wineries in Northern Virginia, several Loudoun County wineries offer great opportunities to bring some food to accompany the wine.
Since this is a region close to home, we have enjoyed the opportunity to picnic at several of these wineries. In some cases, quite a few of their wines have won awards. These wineries also often offer live music and other events. Here, we’ll go over a few of our favorite Loudoun County wineries to have a picnic.
1. Casanel Vineyards and Winery
One of the prettiest Loudoun County wineries is Casanel Vineyards and Winery, in Leesburg. It’s family owned and operated by owners Casey and Nelson DeSouza; their daughter Anna is the general manager, and daughter Katie is the winemaker. The winery overlooks lush forests. It recently renovated its facilities and the historic stone barn on the premises, which is used for wine club events. Picnics are allowed outdoors.
A few of Casanel’s wines are named after family members. One red blend, the “Jose Rose,” is named after the vineyard manager. Some of its older wines have Portuguese names, in honor of Nelson’s native Brazil.
At our last visit, we tasted:
2016 Elianna, a light, estate gown Pinot Gris 😊😊
2016 Patricia Marie, a Pinot Gris aged in oak 😊😊
2016 Chardonnay 😊😊
2015 Petit Verdot 😊+
Jose Rose blend 😊
2016 K2 Red blend ½ 😊
Casanel also has some limited production wines not necessarily offered in the tastings, such as the Full Nelson, an estate grown Norton Port style red wine. The Norton grape, developed in Virginia, is America’s oldest native grape.
2. Doukénie Winery
Doukénie Winery, in Hillsboro, is one of the most serene Loudoun County wineries. It’s named after Doukénie Bacos, who immigrated from Greece as a teenager with her mandolin. This explains the Greek theme and mandolin-inspired musical events. The actual mandolin is proudly on display. It was Doukénie’s grandson, George Bazaco, who started the winery. Doukénie’s 94-year-old daughter, Hope, who I have met, is on the premises frequently.
The winery is beautiful, with an airy tasting room, outside patio, and deck overlooking a pond. There are tables available for outdoor picnics.
On our last visit, we tried
2015 Mandolin, a white blend 😊+
2016 Sauvignon Blanc 😊
2016 Chardonnay 😊+
2015 Cabernet Sauvignon 😊+
2015 Zeus 😊
2015 Vintner’s Reserve 😊
Hope’s Legacy, a dessert wine (served with dark chocolate, which really made the wine pop) 😊😊
2017 Rosé, the only Rosé the winery has produced, slightly bubbly ½ 😊
If you buy a bottle, you also get Hope’s homemade baklava, which she still makes daily.
The winery also offers other wines for sale, such as Merlot and Cabernet Franc. On prior visits we’ve also tried the Riesling and Pinot Grigio.
3. 8 Chains North Winery
One of the mellowest wineries we’ve been to for a picnic is 8 Chains North, in Waterford. It’s owner, Ben Renshaw, is also its winegrower. It allows picnics anywhere inside or out. We’ve picnicked out on the covered courtyard overlooking the vineyards and in front of the fireplace in the tasting room, a renovated barn.
Its local wines use a Loudoun County shaped logo on their labels; it also makes some wine with grapes from Washington State.
The wines are all dry. At our last visit, we tasted:
2017 Loco Vino wine blend 😊+
2017 Sauvignon Blanc 😊
2016 Chardonnay 😊+
2016 8 Chains North Merlot 😊
2016 8 Chains North Furnace Mountain Red, a blend 😊
2015 8 Chains North West Mourvèdre 😊+ These grapes happen to be from Washington State.
In past visits, we’ve also tried a Cabernet Sauvignon, a Syrah, and a Tempranillo.
4 North Gate Winery
North Gate, in Purcellville, is operated by Walsh Family Wine, which owns five wineries throughout Virginia. The tasting room is located at North Gate. Picnics are allowed outside on the patio.
On our last visit, we opted to taste the wine with a truffle pairing, which adds a nuance to the wines.
2016 Rkasiteli, a type of grape originally from the Republic of Georgia (these grapes came from Charlottesville, Va.) 😊
2016 Viognier, with a champagne truffle 😊😊
2015 Petti Manseng, a fuller bodied white 😊
2015 Meritage, with a cherry truffle ½ 😊
2015 Petit Verdot 😊
2017 Chambourcin, a lighter bodied red, tasted both at room temperature and chilled 😊
2017 100% apple wine, paired with a salted caramel truffle
A white ginger sangria, a combination of Petit Manseng, Viognier, and ginger
Note: the truffles in the tasting vary. We’ve also had pumpkin truffles and lavender truffles with the wine pairings. Other North Gate wines we’ve tried include its Mélange Mystere, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc.
Northern Virginia is coming into its own as a wine region. The winemakers here have to deal with very fickle weather, and don’t have some of the benefits of older wine regions, such as mature vines. But they’re doing a wonderful job.
For more information about Loudoun County’s wineries, check out the various winery clusters. You can also learn about Virginia Wines from the Virginia Wine Marketing Office, or organizations such as Virginia Wine Pass and Virginia Wine in my Pocket.
Have a winery you’d recommend? Send us a message at firstname.lastname@example.org. Always feel free to reach out to us with any questions or feedback.
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