Fido and Feline Welcome

Lots of areas market themselves based upon how pet-friendly they are. Locally, visit Loudoun, billed as “DC’s Wine County” has become quite active in touting the pet-friendly nature of what’s available here, too, listing dozens of trails, shopping areas, resorts, and popular destinations such as wineries that welcome dogs, and in some cases … cats. Yes … cats.

And, why not? People relate to each other through their animals. And, nothing feels better than having people comment on how gorgeous your dog is … or how they had the same kind of dog growing up. Dog and cat love creates good will between a business and its customers, too – especially in a place like Loudoun County, where barns, farms, and wide open spaces meet great places to stay, spend, get active, or just relax.

Visit Loudoun Media Manager Jennifer Buske-Sigal notes that both Salamander Resort and Spa and Lansdowne Resort are dog-friendly. At Salamander, certain rooms are outfitted for a doggie stay, complete with a dog bed, food and water bowls, organic treats, toys and waste bags. The resort also features a Yappy Hour, the profits from which are donated to the Middleburg Humane Foundation. Lansdowne offers what it calls a Pampered Pups Dog Friendly Package. And hundreds of places welcome dogs for shopping and for visiting.

For example, the Loudoun County Bed & Breakfast Guild profiles dozens of beautiful properties for a weekend stay, a casual brunch, special event, etc. Many of these are also dog friendly (see www.loudounbandb.com); and travel websites identify two dozen or more pet-friendly national chain hotels and motels in Loudoun, as well.

Destinations familiar to visitors and locals alike are also getting on the pet-friendly bandwagon. Great Country Farms has a new facility where dogs can run free. The half-acre area includes a doggie wash station and access to a pond – all that is required is a willing dog and the supervision of its owner. Oatlands Plantation has hosted many dog walks in combination with tours of its magnificent grounds.

Wineries are also more and more pet-friendly. Several with that distinction include three in Delaplane: Aspen Dale Winery, Barrel Oak Winery, and Three Fox Vineyards. One travel writer notes that miniature horses and goats also roam the Aspen Dale property. Three Fox Vineyards actually allows both dogs and cats, and has a monthly drawing for dog or cat of the month, complete with prizes. Breaux Vineyards (with its Dog Days events) and Northgate Vineyards – both near Purcellville, and Fabbioli Cellars and Stone Tower Winery near Leesburg are all in for the furry ones, too. Northgate promotes greyhound rescue with its Greys and Grapes events.

Another great Loudoun destination, 8 Chains North Winery near Waterford, boasts the first enclosed dog park in the county, and has gone so far as to enlist Fido in service to cats. On September 10 it will hold the 3rd Annual Wine and Walk to benefit the Loudoun Community Cat Coalition – a great day that includes not just wine, but music, trivia, vendors, a food truck, prizes, and more.

And then there is the dog-friendly LoCo Ale Trail, providing dog friendly hiking, and opportunities to sample local beers. Lots of local parks and family trails are pet-friendly, too, and they go to great lengths to welcome you, and keep both you and your pet safe. Seasoned dog walkers and hikers are told that it’s just as important to equip your pet as it is to equip yourself – with water, a leash, waste bags, basic medical supplies, foot pads if needed, etc. The Olde Izaak Walton Park in Leesburg features a spacious dog park, including a special area for small dogs. There are different rules, of course, for national parks, national forests, state parks and recreation areas, town parks, private trails, national battlefields, the C&O Canal, and the like. But information abounds on the websites for all of them. A good place to start is the website of the Appalachian Mountain Club, www.outdoors.com.

And, here’s a tip: Dog owners, including myself, are famous for fawning over their pets. When traveling with them, even if you’re just going for a walk through a park, take the basics with you, including the water, leash, etc. It’s also a really good idea to have a picture of your dog with you – on your phone or tucked in your wallet. This offers great piece of mind should Fido wander off, or you otherwise get separated. And, keep the number for Loudoun County Animal Services handy to report any lost pets – 703-777-0406. They can also direct you to the closest emergency vet, should that need arise. Enjoy!




Once America’s Favorite Drink – Hard Cider Is Back

By David Williams

Completing a journey begun when the first English settlers arrived in Virginia carrying apple saplings with their few belongings, hard cider has returned to Loudoun County where, as in most of the nation, it once held sway as America’s favorite alcoholic drink. With the opening of Corcoran’s Cidery at the Corcoran Vineyards off the Berlin Pike on July 5 and the opening on August 1 of Mt. Defiance Cidery and Distillery in the heart of Middleburg, Loudoun has a new product to boast of.

Jim and Lori Corcoran already run a successful winery at their farm vineyard. They recently moved a brewery business away from the farm into a brewery and tasting room on Hirst Road in Purcellville. The new cidery is housed in the space which previously housed the brewery. Lori expects to produce 150 barrels at 55 gallons each in the first year of operation. The cider is made from seven different varieties of apple grown near Winchester. They will start off with four types, a basic off-dry cider, a sweeter variety, one aged in bourbon barrels and one with some fruity addition like pear or berries. The cider will be served on tap, and sold in kegs or 22 oz bottles. The alcoholic content of the Corcoran’s light, gluten –free drink is about the same as beer, five percent.

In Middleburg, finishing touches are being made to the Mt. Defiance cidery and distilling business. Owner Marc Chretian wanted an elegant locale for what he hopes will be a pure dry cider close to the famous cidres of Normandy, France, which are bottled and enjoyed like champagne. Chretian says his ciders will not be quite like champagne but will have “a little effervesence that dances on your palate” and about 6 percent alcohol. Cider will be in several styles, one basic dry farmhouse, one aged in bourbon barrels and one flavored with ingredients such as ginger or blueberry. They are also planning to distill apple brandy, dark rum and a true Absinthe, now safe and totally legal which should be available in time for Halloween.

These new businesses will add to what is a growing enterprise in rural Loudoun, attracting tourists and enhancing the county’s reputation. Modern cideries already exist throughout Virginia. Winchester Ciderworks had a booth at the Purcellville Wine and Food festival in July. The line of people patiently waiting to taste this new product was one of the longest at the event. North of Loudoun, in Burkittsville, Md., Distillery Lane Ciderworks is establishing a reputation for brewing especially elegant ciders. Diane Flynt of Foggy Ridge ciders in the southwest corner of the state has been one of the pioneers in Virginia. All of this is part of a revival of a drink not yet widely known in the U.S.

But cider once was America’s favorite drink, more popular than beer. John Adams said he drank a tankard every morning. Bacon’s Rebellion in Virginia in 1676 was blamed at the time by a leading politician on cider: “All plantations flowing with syder, soe unripe drank by our licentious inhabitants, that they allow no tyme for its fermentation but in their braines.” A popular ditty of the day from Maryland boasted, “Our fires are wood/Our houses are good,/Our diet sawney and hominy/Drink, juice of the apple/Tobacco’s our staple/Gloria Tibi Domine!”

Why hard cider ceased to be so popular is a mystery still debated. (See http:mason.gmu.edu/~drwillia/cider). Prohibition certainly did a number on most alcoholic drinks, but cider alone failed to recover its prior popularity, until recently. That it has now returned to Loudoun County is something to be heralded.

ciderpics




Hard Cider Is Back In Loudoun

– By Dave Williams

Completing a journey begun when the first English settlers arrived in Virginia carrying apple saplings with their few belongings, hard cider has returned to Loudoun County where, as in most of the nation, it once held sway as America’s favorite alcoholic drink.

Loudoun is not the first county in Virginia to see the return of this once popular favorite, but with the opening of Corcoran’s Cidery at the Corcoran Vineyards off the Berlin Pike just above Waterford on July 5 and the imminent opening of Mt Defiance Cidery and Distillery in the heart of Middleburg next to Southern States, Loudoun has a new product to boast about.

Jim and Lori Corcoran already run a successful winery and tasting room at their farm vineyard. They recently moved a brewery business away from the farm into a brewery and tasting room on Hirst Rd in Purcellville. The new Cidery is housed in the space which previously housed the brewery and is complemented by a new BBQ business for the enjoyment of lunch on the site. Lori expects to produce 150 barrells at 55 gallons each in the first year of operation. The cider is made from 7 different varieties of apple grown near Winchester. They will start off with 4 types, a basic off-dry cider, a sweeter variety, one aged in bourbon barrels, and one with some fruity addition like pear or berries. The Cider will be served on tap, and sold in kegs or 22 oz bottles. The alcoholic content of the Corcoran.s light, gluten –free drink is about the same as beer, 5%.

In Middleburg, finishing touches are being made to a very visible cidery and distilling business in the middle of town. Owner Marc Chretian wanted an elegant locale for what he hopes will be a elegant cider close to the famous cidres of Normandy, France, which are bottled and enjoyed like champagne. For now the apple juice being fermented is shipped down from Vermont. Some of the cider will be distilled into apple bandy. Cider will be in several styles, their basic dry farmhouse, one in bourbon barrels, and one flavored with ingredients such as ginger or blueberry. They are also planning to make a true Absinthe, now safe and totally legal.

These new businesses will add to what is a growing rural enterprise in Western Loudoun, attracting tourists and enhancing the county’s reputation for modern cuisine, But Cider once was America’s favorite drink and more popular than beer. John Adams said he drank a tankard every morning. Bacon’s Rebellion in Virginia in 1676 was blamed at the time by a leading politicians on cider: “All plantations flowing with syder, soe unripe drank by our licentious inhabitants, that they allow no tyme for its
fermentation but in their braines.”

A popular ditty of the day from Maryland boasted
Our fires are wood
Our houses are good,
Our diet sawney and hominy
Drink, juice of the apple
Tobacco’s our staple
Gloria Tibi Domine!

Why hard cider ceased to be so popular is a mystery still debated. (See http:mason.gmu.edu/~drwillia for example) But that it has now returned to Loudoun County is something to be heralded.




Virginia Wines Earn Six Gold Medals at International Wine Competition

Northern Virginia wines fare well with 21 medals

Three Virginia wineries, Barboursville Vineyards, Trump Winery, and Narmada Winery, took home a total of six gold medals at the 2013 San Francisco International Wine Competition.

Barboursville Vineyards received two gold medals (2010 Premium Bourdeaux Blend and 2011 Cabernet Franc) and one bronze medal (2010 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve). Trump Winery received two gold medals (2012 Viognier and 2008 Blanc de Blanc Brut) and a silver medal (2008 Premium Borudeax Blend). Narmada Winery received two gold medals (2011 Viognier and 2010 Chambourcin, Reflection). In all, Virginia wines earned 43 medals: six gold, 14 silver and 23 bronze. A total of seven Northern Virginia Wineries (Breaux, Crushed Cellars, Gray Ghost, Lost Creek, Narmada, Paradise Springs and Philip Carter took home a total of 21 medals)

“In the last year or two I have been extremely impressed with the huge advances in quality being made by Virginia wines. In my own tastings and at the San Francisco International Wine Competition, wines from Virginia have been consistently among the best. In blind tastings, as evidenced by the stellar showing of [newcomer] Narmada and [well-established] Barboursville, the best wines compare favorably with the best of California and other western regions,” said competition organizer and leading wine critic Anthony Dias Blue.

The San Francisco International Wine Competition is the largest and most respected international competition in the United States. Celebrating its 33rd year, the 2013 Competition was held at the distinguished Hotel Nikko in the heart of downtown San Francisco on June 14,15, and 16. 4539 wines were judged this year from 29 states and 30 countries by 52 of the wine industry’s best palates.

The rapid growth of Virginia’s vibrant wine industry has made it one of the fastest growing agricultural sectors in the state. In 1979, there were only six wineries in Virginia. Today, there are over 380 vineyards that cultivate over 3,000 acres of grapes and over 200 wineries in Virginia. The state’s wine industry’s growth is escalating as fast as the state’s advancements in wine quality and reputation. For a complete list of winners and further information about events, tours and tastings, please visit the Virginia Wine Marketing Office’s website at http://www.virginiawine.org/ or call 1?804?344?8200.




Notaviva Vineyards Launches Concertino Wine Bar

Notaviva Vineyards, a Loudoun County farm winery, announces the expansion of its retail operation with the opening of the Concertino Wine Tasting and Listening Room in Berryville, Virginia. Visible from heavily traveled Route 7 on the western edge of town, across from the Clarke County fairgrounds, Concertino will be easily accessible by east-­?west commuters as well as tourists.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for Notaviva Vineyards,” says Stephen Mackey, co-­?founder and wine composer. “Expanding westward brings us closer to the relatively untapped wine markets of neighboring Clarke County, Winchester and the Interstate 81 corridor. With our globally unique brand identity of pairing wine and music, we also intend to nurture the vast array of musical talent from Washington, D.C. to the Shenandoah Valley.”

Concertino will offer tastings of Notaviva wines as well as flights of Virginia wines. “Visitors to Concertino will have the opportunity to enjoy a Notaviva tasting, or they may choose from our monthly selection of wine flights. For example, a viognier flight might include the Notaviva ‘Vincerò’ as well as others from Loudoun and Clarke counties. A cabernet franc flight might pair the Notaviva ‘Cantabile’ with one from the Monticello AVA and another from the Shenandoah Valley AVA. By demonstrating the superb quality of Virginia wines as well as illustrating the differences in regional terroir, we believe we can both educate our customers as well as foster camaraderie within our industry.”

Concertino will also provide regional musicians a new venue to bring their music to a wider audience. “In addition to expanding our winery presence, we are also expanding our creative agency, Mesh Multimedia. The space above Concertino will house a video and recording studio, editing suite, and board room. As Notaviva continues to develop new media initiatives, Concertino will become a key aspect of those capabilities.”
Co-­?founder and COO Shannon Mackey adds, “Clarke County has welcomed us with open arms. Clarke Economic Developer, Jesse Russell, was a pleasure to work with, and several local businesses have kindly reached out with words of welcome. I am confident we can bring the relationships we have forged in Loudoun together with those awaiting us in Clarke and Frederick counties, for the mutual benefit of all.”
?
Launched in 2008, Notaviva Vineyards’ unique brand identity of pairing wine and music has garnered international attention. With an intense focus on the customer experience based on gracious hospitality and superb wines, Notaviva has grown from producing 500 cases of its 2007 vintage to over 3,000 cases this coming harvest. Stephen currently sits on the boards of the Loudoun Chamber of Commerce and the Virginia Wine Council, and is also a member of the Loudoun Economic Development Commission and the Rural Economic Development Council. In addition, he is the president of the Loudoun Wineries Association.

Concertino is currently scheduled for an August 11 grand opening in preparation for the Clarke County fair, which runs from August 12 through the 18. Concertino will be located at 1025 West Main Street, Berryville, VA 26611. More information can be found at www.ConcertinoWineBar.com.




868 Estate Vineyards Tasting Room Opens at Grandale Farm

Sunday, May 20 marked the grand opening of the newest addition to Loudoun County’s wine industry: 868 Estate Vineyards has opened at Grandale Farm along with an elegant new Tasting Room.

The Tasting Room displays several paintings by local artists. Peter Deliso, one of the co-owners, explained, “We have an art program here at the vineyard. We have three artists showing right now that regularly show at the Torpedo Factory,” referring to the well-known gallery on Alexandria, Virginia’s waterfront. “We’ll bring in new artists throughout the season,” he went on to explain, “and we’ll have a couple of art shows.”

The art program at 868 Estate Vineyards is an extension of Grandale’s ongoing support of the arts in Loudoun County. The picturesque estate has hosted several dinner theater productions by Run Rabbit Run Theater, with a unique, outdoor production of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream slated for July.

The play will be presented in the beautifully landscaped area just outside the Tasting Room, flanked by a rustic barn which is a beautiful example of Loudoun’s characteristic 18th century stone masonry. Lined with blooming flowers and mature shade trees, it’s easy to see how this will be the perfect setting for the classic romantic comedy.

And then, of course, there’s the wine.

Ten and a half acres of Grandale Farm have recently been planted with 868 Estate Vineyards’ grape vines. The vines consist of several varietals including Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Chardonel. This is just the beginning. Winemaker Carl DiManno has big plans for the vineyard. Identifying himself as a “disciple” of noted viticulturist Lucy Norton, who teaches high-density planting, DiManno expects the vineyard to ultimately boast 1900 vines per acre across 30 to 35 acres of the property.

In the meanwhile, oenophiles who visit 868’s Tasting Room can choose from among seven wines created by DiManno from grapes grown at Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyard, where DiManno had been plying his craft before becoming the winemaker for 868.

Stand-outs from the currently available wines include the Liberty Pinot Grigio, a crisp, refreshing wine which features notes of grapefruit and apple; Independence Rosé of Merlot, a surprisingly flavorful rosé; Church Creek Cabernet Franc, a peppery red; and Declaration Meritage, a fat, beefy wine with a deep red color.

The Meritage, Carl DiManno told me, is his favorite. “2007 was an outstanding year,” he said, “It was clear and dry throughout the harvest season, and produced nice and balanced wines.”

Visitors to the 868 Estate Vineyards Tasting Room can enjoy a complete tasting for $8, and then perhaps purchase a bottle to enjoy on the patio with light fare from the Grandale Restaurant. Or visit the Grandale Restaurant dining room for a complete meal.

Visitors are also invited to explore the grounds. A short, 10 or 15 minute walk will take you to the top of the mountain overlooking the vineyard. This rise marks the highest elevation in the valley at 868 feet.

Grandale Farm and 868 Estate Vineyards are located at 14001 Harpers Ferry Road. Visit 868estatevineyards.com for more information.




First Loudoun Distillery Since Prohibition Wins Innovation Award

Catoctin Creek Distilling Company has been named a Silver-level certified green business and awarded the Innovation Award in the 2011 Green Business Challenge.

“We are thrilled by this,” says Scott Harris, Vice President and General Manager at Catoctin Creek. “The Green Business Challenge affirms our commitment to sustainable practices, while producing the finest rye whisky, gin, and brandy in the area … we are simultaneously preserving our environment and saving big on energy and waste expenses.”

Catoctin Creek Distilling Company recycles all by-products of their whisky production process. Waste alcohol is recycled into fuel-grade ethanol for blending into gasoline, and the spent rye mash is given away freely to local farms as a nutritious and organic-certified cattle feed.

The Green Business Challenge is a partnership between the Loudoun County Government and the Chamber of Commerce to encourage Loudoun businesses to adopt environmentally sound business practices.

Catoctin Creek Distilling Company is the first distillery in Loudoun County Virginia since before prohibition. Certified organic and kosher, Catoctin Creek produces high quality spirits and liqueurs: rye whisky and gin from organic sources, brandy from Virginia wines, and seasonal specialty liqueurs. For more information, contact Catoctin creek at www.catoctincreek.com or 37251C East Richardson Lane, Purcellville, VA 20132. or call 540-751-8404.




Celebrate Winter at Bluemont

Come on out to share a glass of wine with Celtic music and friends on Saturday, December 18 from 1:00 – 5:00 p.m. at Bluemont Vineyards. Bottles of local wine and a gift shop will be available for last minute shopping if your Santa chores are not completely done by that point.

Gina, Ray, Mike and Stuart will be playing Celtic tunes for your enjoyment, and of course, there will be a few songs to celebrate the Winter Solstice and Christmas. For more information, call Gina Faber at 540-338-2574.




Tarara Winery Making an Old Winery New Again with Artisan Wines

It has been 21 years since Tarara Winery first opened its doors as one of the pioneer wineries in Loudoun County. Since its grand opening, much has changed in Loudoun and in the whole wine industry world. Many wineries want to rest on the idea of being one of the first, and want to continue to make wine as they always have. At Tarara Winery that is where things are different.

The first 20 years at Tarara Winery gave a great foundation for what they are able to do today. For twenty years Tarara Winery acted as a favorite for many wine styles and some fabulous events. In 2007, the team at Tarara Winery decided to take those loyal patrons that had visited for 20 years and offer them some new angles to their winery. Tarara Winery has since then been remodeling itself to be new again.

The first change that was made was that they worked harder at understanding their vineyards and what grows well in each of the vineyards they are partnered with. With this knowledge they have changed their wine line up to include classic varietals that are showing the best qualities and working to define the vineyard. This started Tarara Winery’s Vineyard Designate wine series that showcases the best vineyards. Some of the standout vineyards and wine that are starting to get released are Nevaeh Red and White, Tranquility Red, and Honah Lee Red and White. Nevaeh Red is a blend using Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot in varying quantities per year, and the Nevaeh White is a charming blend of Viognier and Chardonnay with some Pinot Gris in select vintages. Tranquility Red is a powerful blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Tannat coming from a steep slope just outside of Purcellville. Lastly, the Honah Lee White is dominated by Viognier but some vintages will also be blended with Rousanne, Petit Manseng and Chardonnay, and from the high elevation steep south west facing slope in Orange, VA, the red is a rustic and massive blend of Petit Verdot and Tannat with Pinotage sometimes making an appearance. Ultimately the idea is to recognize some of the best vineyard sites in Virginia and showcase them with Tarara’s minimalist but precise winemaking style.

Although there will not be many wines at Tarara created for their variety, but rather the vineyard, there will still be some added selections to showcase Virginia as a whole. The blended wines simply mean that the wine may have come from multiple vineyards to show top varietals in Virginia or unique styles. The Cabernet Franc, Three Vineyards Chardonnay and Viognier are expressions of how the grape variety can do all over the Commonwealth.

Long Bomb and Charval are unique blends crafted to showcase a style and please many palates. The Long Bomb is a tribute wine Tarara Winery’s founder Whitie Hubert who always went for the big play. It is crafted to be big, bold, complex and approachable, much like Whitie and normally contains Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Tannat and Petit Verdot. The Charval is their aromatic crisp blend that is equally suited to enjoy any day of the week by blending Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, and Viognier into s slightly off-dry, but crisp palate.

In 2010 Tarara Winery also released their newest luxury line of wines called the Commonwealth Collection. The wines include CasaNoVA, SuperNoVA, and TerraNoVA and are Tarara’s benchmark wines for showcasing terroir in Northern Virginia. These wines have already been sold out and were rebottled August 2010. The winery is now accepting requests to be added to the waiting list for an allocation of the 2009
vintage, being first showcased as barrel samples on October 10, 2010.

All of these changes with the wines have come in a full package with the winery’s new philosophy. Gone are the days of large festivals with face paintings and dunk tanks. Tarara Winery has strived to create only events that best showcase the finest vintages. Their Fine Vine … Just Say Viognier is a celebration of Viognier in Virginia. It is a five-course affair using all local and seasonal ingredients by local chefs paired with 5 of Virginia finest Viogniers, selected by an elite panel of wine writers and sommelier surrounding the DC metro area. Tarara
Winery also has continued their Toast to the Tunes Summer concert series where one can enjoy a bottle of Tarara’s most recent wines with the smooth sounds of local artists. The concerts occur every Saturday evening from the start of June until the first weekend of October
to kick off Virginia Wine Month.

With all of these changes Tarara Winery has also completely re-modeled its brand to best represent their ideas and their wine. The wines are showcased in elegant, yet simple wrap labels and an unassuming screw top closure. Their thought is that it is all about what is inside
the bottle that counts. The labels do showcase a striking piece of art painted by Martha Hubert that will change with each vintage. The art and wine seem to pair each other so well, and at Tarara they like to say they are “Artisan Wines.” With the launch of Tarara’s new brand and their new website that will be online.

Be sure to get online and check their website: www.tarara.com to see the latest happenings.




Spring Farm Tour on Tap

April 24, 2009

Farms and vineyards throughout Loudoun County will open their gates especially wide on May 16 and 17 to welcome visitors on the Spring Farm Tour. The self-guided driving tour allows people to experience the best of Loudoun’s rural economy: tour a winery, pick strawberries, listen to music, lunch on local foods, and buy seedlings.

Brochures with maps for the Spring Farm Tour are available at Loudoun County libraries and community centers, the Heritage Farm Museum, and the Loudoun Convention and Visitors Association in Leesburg. To have a brochure mailed to you, e-mail info@LoudounFarms.org or call the Loudoun County Department of Economic Development at 703-777-0426. Detailed tour information as well as an interactive map can be found at www.LoudounFarms.org.