Northern Virginia’s Loudoun County hosts the perfect escape for an autumnal weekend getaway, offering golden hills, local apple tarts, and wine tastings so exquisite that Bacchus himself would go back for seconds.
Growing up in Northern Virginia, I fell in love with the local high school’s Homecoming Harvest Parade, crisp walks home from school, and the smell of cold air on a Halloween night. It wasn’t until recently that I learned Virginia was more than just a state with perfect weather for trick-or-treating; it was also a cornucopia of local food and wine.
Start your Saturday morning off at the Purcellville Community Market. As you walk beneath canopies of green leaves, you’ll find free-range eggs, raw milk, fresh produce, and Chef Eloy’s Kickin’ Salsa. Pick up a cup of coffee from Loco Joe’s booth, and indulge in an early morning exploration of some of Northern Virginia’s finest local food vendors.
With caffeine in your system and a spring in your step, make your way over to Breaux Family Vineyard for a relaxed wine tasting or a glass on the terrace. The winemaking began as a hobby in the corner of the property’s 1750’s Log Cabin, and has since blossomed into one of Virginia’s most highly recognized vineyards. Aged in French, American, and Hungarian Oak barrels, the wine from Breaux is deeply complex and delightful. Be sure to taste the Cabernet Franc; it’s rich earthiness offers hints of cherry cola.
As the sun begins to merge with the horizon, take the time to drive up to Patowmack Farms Restaurant for a special treat in organic and local cuisine. Chef Tarver King believes in using only the finest and freshest seasonal and local ingredients, while implementing sustainable environmental practices in order to give back to the land. Most ingredients are grown on-site or purchased from local food artisans, ensuring that diners experience the highest levels of Virginia flavor. The restaurant itself feels like a fairyland; visitors dine under the stars as they enjoy dishes such as scallop gnocchi, Guinea hen breast with a nasturtium purée, and aged cheddar churro in a rosemary and cardamom syrup. This is the kind of meal that nourishes the soul, as well as the body.
The next day, wake up in luxurious high thread count cotton sheets as the scent of freshly-brewed coffee begins to waft through the air. As you make your way out of bed, the hardwood floor is just chilly enough to make your robe feel extra cozy. At Stone Manor Bed and Breakfast, the owners believe in upscale comfort and relaxed luxury. Spend your morning with a stack of essential oils in one of the deluxe bathing suites, or head down to breakfast for a morning treat of homemade jams, fresh eggs, and grain-filled breads.
After breakfast, explore more of Stone Manor’s property and indulge in an on-site wine tasting. You’ll love the “Best of Loudoun Tasting,” which allows for a sampling of Northern Virginia’s finest wines.
In the afternoon, stretch your legs and take a trek around the streets of downtown Purcellville. There you’ll find specialized bakeries and cooking stores, antique shops, and Magnolia’s at the Mill. Magnolia’s offers an extensive lunch menu, with a focus on combining hospitality and local flavor. Enjoy the fall breeze on the outdoor patio as you sample house favorites such as the Tuscan kale salad, lobster brick oven pizza, and pumpkin cheesecake.
After your stomach has been satisfied, make the short walk over to Catoctin Creek Distillery. Catoctin, meaning “place of many deer,” is Loudoun County’s first legal distillery since prohibition. Becky and Scott Harris will take you on a brief tour of the distillery, followed by an interactive tasting of some of Catoctin’s finest Rye Whiskey, Gin, and Brandy. For an extra drop of Virginia flavor, take home a small jug of Whiskey Maple Syrup – your pancakes will thank you.