The Bounty of Loudoun County: Virginia Viticulture
Twenty-five years ago, the idea that the Commonwealth of Virginia might rival some of the more established wine regions of the United States would have seemed laughable - to most.
Most, but not all - for the 20th-century winemakers who planted grapes in the state of Virginia well knew that wine has been produced in Virginia since the 17th century.
Currently ranked number eight in the nation for grape production, Virginia boasts more than 200 wineries across the state, including Loudoun County's clusters of thirty plus boutique wineries sprinkled across its horsey hills.
For those who might have forgotten, Loudoun County is the heart of hunt country, a county that includes Leesburg, Middleburg, and The Plains, as well as Foxcroft School and the soon to open luxury resort Salamander Resort & Spa.
Arguably, the wealthiest county in the United States, Loudoun County, thanks to its proximity to D.C. (and, therefore, power and prestige) has long been a tony area - and the maturation of its wine industry has helped make Loudoun County an increasingly popular travel and tourist destination.
Oenophiles are increasingly drawn to a region marked by horse farms, bucolic countryside, stone fences, winding roads, and historic estates - and wine that has achieved a national reputation.
A recent luncheon at New York’s Per Se restaurant highlighted some of the bounty of Loudoun County, including wines from Boxwood Winery, Tarara Winery, Fabbioli Cellars, and Doukenie Winery.
Thomas Keller’s critically-acclaimed restaurant overlooking Central Park provided a lovely setting for wines loaded with autumnal richness and complexity. The Tarara Neveah White 2012, served during the reception, had a nose full of Asian pear, anise, and persimmon with a nicely round palate packed with spices.
Wines paired with the luncheon included Doukenie Winery’s Sauvignon Blanc 2011, redolent of grapefruit, citrus, and chamomile - and a fitting complement to Keller’s crispy Anson Mills golden polenta served with compressed English cucumber, heirloom radishes, and San Marzano tomato marmalade.
Boxwood Winery Topiary 2010, a blend of Cabernet Franc and Merlot, is elegantly evocative of Bordeaux with its complex nose of tobacco and pepper - and a hint of molasses, as if to evoke its Commonwealth of Virginia origins.
With wines like these, it becomes increasingly evident that Virginia viticulture is a force to be reckoned with.
The next time you’re heading to D.C. or in search of a wine road trip, think about a visit to "DC’s Wine Country," Loudoun County.