Vintage Ridge (8517 Maidstone Road, Delaplane, Virginia 20144)
Region: Northern Virginia
Food: No outside food, but offers a variety of meats, cheeses, dips, and chutneys. If you don’t get the nuts, well…you’re nuts or you’re deathly allergic. Premiere tastings with food and wine pairings are offered the first Saturday and Sunday of the month.
Family Friendly: Kids are allowed and there is outdoor space for them to run around on a nice day, but if the weather’s bad, then you may want to hold off on bringing the little ones since space can be limited inside the tasting room.
Groups: It seems like they accommodate limo buses, but definitely call ahead before you show up. Reservations are required for groups of 7 or more people. When I was there, there was a group of about 15 bachelorettes set up at a table inside the tasting room with more than enough room for other groups. They also rent out the space for events.
Highlights: Beautiful back patio, spiced pecans, and monthly food and wine pairing
As my little car slowly ascends the hill to Vintage Ridge and I hear the crunch of the gravel beneath my tires, I get excited. It is one of my favorite wineries and this being my third trip, I know why I’m looking forward to my tasting experience. From the outside, the rustic wooden tasting room with its pitched metal roof looks like it could have once been a working stable, but once you enter through its massive doors, you realize it’s all about the wine. I walk right past the bar and sit at one of their tables. One of the things that makes Vintage Ridge unique is you can either do your tasting standing up at the bar or you can seat yourself at one of their tables and they’ll come to you to do a private tasting.
My husband, Jon, and I are soon greeted by our guide and he runs us through the day’s agenda: a slightly sweet Aperitif followed by three head-to-head rounds – seven wines in all. I definitely have favorites, but when it comes to wine tastings I try to keep an open mind. In this case, I’m pleasantly surprised by the 2010 Merlot which is definitely on the fruitier side. Jon finds his favorite with the 2010 Syrah which while still on the berrier side, is more subdued than the Merlot. Our wine guide shares that one of the owners enjoys drinking the Syrah with pizza – I like her style. Vintage Ridge also does slightly sweet wines, which I’m not usually a fan of, but their 2011 Summer Night with about 2% residual sugar (dessert wine is usually 6% or more) and tropical goodness seems to be a hit as I see several bottles being brought around to other tables. As the name suggests, I could see it becoming even more popular as the weather heats up.
Mid-tasting, I order some of the homemade spiced pecans that are just the right mix of salty and sweet with a kick of cayenne. In the past, I’ve ordered their meat and cheese platter complete with chutneys and the spiced pecans and it had all of the tastes and textures to complement all of the wines. When it comes to food, Vintage Ridge does the typical wine noshes (meats, cheese, dips, etc.) justice, but on the first weekend of every month, they do their Premier Tasting which includes seven wines with tasty food pairings. I’m noticing more wineries are doing variations on the food and wine pairing experience and for anyone who wants to kick their wine tasting up a notch, it’s a great way to detect the nuances of the wines and can make what you’re tasting more memorable. It’s hard to forget the perfect pairing.
After wrapping up our tasting, Jon and I order our favorites and make our way outside to the large covered patio and sip away the afternoon. Vintage Ridge is definitely a convenient escape.