Escaping the City for a Winery Tour
In September of 2019, my younger sister, had moved all the way up to Pennsylvania to be a research assistant for Penn State in pursuit of her career path into Psychology. Now my sister and I really didn't get along much until she graduated highschool. We are six years apart, and I always found her to be too emotional and soft growing up, so I took it upon myself to try and toughen her up. She usually just took that as me bullying her, but she will tell you today, now that we are best friends, that it benefited her personal growth. My parents had lived in Columbia since we moved there from Texas when I was five years old. I had stayed pretty close to home when I went off to college, starting out in Charlotte and then moving to Charleston. My parents had gotten accustom to all their kids being within a quick driving distance, so when my sister graduated from USC and told us she was moving to PA, you can imagine how big of a deal that was. I made it a priority to visit when I could, help her with flights back home, and make sure we still got time to hang out and catch up on our lives.
I ventured up to Washington DC that fall so we could go to a Lizzo concert, which was AMAZING by the way (RIP to the packed out concert days pre-covid).
I have never been a fan of big cities, and DC was no different to me, after we were done with the concert night we wanted to find something to do other than touring the bustling city. We decided to check out some wineries in the area, because I knew that Northern states were plush with them all over. We set out with a plan to go to three or four, which ended up turning into just two, but they were definitely great picks.
We started out at Two Twisted Posts Winery in Western Loudoun County, Virginia. We pulled up to a large red barn looking building, with a porch wrapping around the back of it. We could see a fire pit and lounge chairs to the left, and knew it would be a perfect spot to sit back and enjoy some wine.
It was not a bustling winery when we got there, just a few customers inside along with the tasting room attendant. We were also impressed to find out that it was owned by one of the few female winemakers in Virginia, which is always a plus for us to see some female empowerment! We tasted a few wines, of which I fell in love with their semi sweet red blend, Don't Call Me A Cab. They also had a white and red sangria for sale, which both were delicious. I settled on the white peach sangria, and we made our way outside to enjoy the rest of our wine.
After our first stop, we realized that we were never going to make it to all of our wineries on our list in the one day. That is a lesson I learned very early on in my winery tours -- don't try to pack too many in in one day. From my experience, it turns into such a relaxing experience, that you want to take your time taking in the scenery, enjoying the company your with, and the wine. The planned one hour stop turns into a couple hours quickly. Also make sure to stay hydrated or the wine will catch up to you quicker than you expect! After we had tried all the wines we wanted to at Two Twisted Posts Winery, we packed up our souvenir glasses and headed to our next stop, not far away.
Next we went to Notaviva Vineyards. We pulled up and I was amazed by the landscaping of the vineyard. There was a beautiful home with wrap around porch sitting on acres upon acres of vineyard. Lawn chairs and picnic tables were scattered across the grounds, and I knew we would end up spending the rest of the day there.
Inside there was a huge bar area with a small kitchen behind it, located in front of a dining room. There was a loft style top floor that overlooked the main tasting room level, along with huge picturesque windows overlooking the property with people seated in cozy lazy boy chairs. The tasting room bartender greeted us with smiles as we found a empty spot at the bar. She handed us our tasting sheet, and began telling us about some of the history of the vineyard. I was astonished to find out that the husband and wife who owned the property, actually lived in the downstairs level of the house with their family. She told us, that's how you know they are so passionate about the winery, because it literally operates out of their home. I thought it was such a smart idea, to kill two birds with one beautiful home.
What stuck out to me about Notaviva's wines, was that they were all named after music. Each wine is paired with a musical genre, pulling from the owners musical background. My favorite wine was the Back Dat Glass Up White Wine, not so much because I enjoyed the wine itself (I'm not a huge white wine fan) but because of the catchy name! And to top it all off, they also produced their own cider. We watched as the cans were being sealed up as we were sitting there, and of course had to try some as well after we were finished with the wines. We tried both the Five & Dime Spiced Apple Cider and the I Melt With You Pear Cider, which were phenomenal. Not overly sweet but packed with that fresh fruit flavor.
The owner, Stephen Mackey, overheard me talking about my winery owning dreams and suggested I read his book, Dream Build Believe love, wine, music and the founding of Notaviva Vineyards. He told me that starting a vineyard is not an easy task by any means, you have to love it, and you have to be ready to spend a lot of money and all your time. I still haven't gotten through the whole book, but from what I have read so far, he was not exaggerating. I ended up getting a signed copy of his book for free with well wishes on my future wine endeavors.
We ordered some of our favorites on a cute little flight board and proceeded to find a nice spot out on the lawn, and you know we were having a great time, because as we sat down with our tastings, my sister proceeded to knock the whole tray over on herself and the ground! So after she went in to get them refilled, we sat for a few more hours, snacking on copious amounts of salami and fresh baked baguettes, sipping away. We ended up having entirely too much wine and cider to have to travel back about an hour and a half to the hotel in DC. The owners were nice enough to offer for us to hang out on their lawn as long as we needed to wind back down. And just like that, they began shutting down the winery for the night, so they could take back their home to themselves.
An excerpt from Stephen's book sticks with me as I start venturing out on my own in the wine world. "This book was written to show others the way, to prove that you are capable of rising to whatever challenges you might place upon yourselves. To let you know it is alright to be afraid; it is not alright to accept fear. To let you know it is alright to fail; it is not alright to accept failure." I have been repeating that quote alot in my head as I stumble around, trying to catch my bearings in this industry.