I’m no Virginia aficionado, but when Jess and Bryan invited Zander and me out to Fairfax for wine tasting, I was incredulous. Knowing Jess’s wine expertise, however, we quickly agreed.
I’m so glad we did because not only did we have an incredible time getting to know J&B better (they’re a beautiful couple, to boot!), the wine was fabulous and affordable.
After fighting traffic on US-50, Zander only occasionally holding back from screaming obscenities, we made our way to the quaint town of Clifton, VA. Jess discovered Clifton’s annual wine festival online and pitched it as a perfect precursor to visiting a conveniently-located nearby winery.
Clifton is a trip back to another time, complete with a general store, an ice cream depot and an old train car. Set in the midst of rolling hills, it’s as picturesque a town as it gets. The entire town is center is two blocks, and the festival occupies a full one of them.
For $22/person, we tasted more than 30 wines from 10 Virginia wineries, some well known like Philip Carter and others emerging, such as Little Washington Winery. Some wines were undoubtedly better than others, a few were allowed to warm a little too much for taste in the blazing 100 degree sunshine, but overall we enjoyed the experience and many of the wines. We even scored a few coupons for free wine tastings at some of the individual wineries!
We left Clifton and meandered the two winding miles to Paradise Springs winery, local to Jess and Bryan and one of their favorites.
It delivered. Paradise Springs won’t make your jaw drop with relentless vine-covered hills, but it will put you at ease and relax you with a sprawling open-air deck, live music and a wine list to suit any palette. The tasting is a great deal – for $10/person you sip 10 wines, keep your glass and learn about each from the knowledgeable staff.
2011 Sommet Blanc (Jess keeps bottles of this in her personal wine fridge – she highly recommends it!)
2011 Chardonnay (my personal favorite and one we gave to Zander’s mom with great reception)
2010 Meritage (delicious with steak, as we discovered at dinner!)
We completed our day lazily lounging on Jess and Bryan’s beautiful back porch, grilling, enjoying more wine and each other’s company. I left tipsy and fell asleep before the car door was barely shut.
It was an incredible Saturday spent in the sun with friends and stellar vino for $32/person. I’m already looking forward to the 2013 Clifton wine festival to do it all again, this time with a trip to the ice cream depot.