A Wine Day with Cocktail Chaser

Before I dabbled aimlessly in cocktails, I dabbled aimlessly in wine. While the complexities of the wine world prevented me from being a sommelier or your annoying friend who reads a lot of wine blogs and knows everything, I still enjoy the stuff particularly since it’s associated with fancy restaurants and beautiful outdoor settings.  Some of my favorite trips in the past few years include the Napa Valley, a.k.a. Heaven on Earth, and our very own wine region in Virginia.

So, to celebrate the warmer weather and the holiday weekend, we headed out to the Leesburg area and hit several wineries, two of which were recommended on Allison Marriott’s helpful blog (look her up at bonvivantdc.com and @districtwino).  The first was Stone Tower Winery, a newer outpost which you can find at the end of a mile-long country road that is a ton of fun to drive in a compact car 🙂   After a bumby ride, we headed into the very homey tasting barn where the super helpful Joellen walked us through four selections — apparently next week they are rolling out a few new varietals, so we only got four.  The wines were all drinkable particularly the “Blanc de Blancs” (I’m a sucker for sparklers).  Although we were a little disappointed with the limited selection, the stunning grounds and fun facility more than made up for it.  We will definitely be back later in the summer.

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Next up was Tarara, which is hidden away in a scenic wooded area that features a wonderful pond great for picnics.  The tasting was fine — we really liked the unrefined red and grabbed a bottle of it for only $15, which is a steal.

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The highlight of the day was out next stop, Fabbioli.  The tasting room has a comfortable, no frills atmosphere that included a nice shaded patio area.  Katie walked us through a great series of wines and food accompaniments that took the usual wine tasting format to the next level.  I’m not a fan of reds, so the fact that we walked out of here with four bottles of the dark stuff is a testament to Fabbioli’s quality.  The standout to me was the raspberry merlot — I was very reticent because 1) merlot and 2) fruit wine, but this was amazing.  All I wanted to do was head home with a bottle and buy a pound of dark chocolate and make a mess of myself.

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Of course, me being me, I couldn’t let an early summer drinking day go without some cocktails.  For dinner we headed to PIzza Vinoteca in Arlington. I worry about this place a bit because it often seems empty, which is a shame because they have a wide range of wines and cocktails and some delicious flatbread pizzas.  For fun I ordered the La Dolce Vita, which brings vodka, rose syrup, cardamom, and lemon.  It was a perfect summer drink, light, smooth, icy, and packed a real punch.  The rose petal was also a nice touch.

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My last stop was Red Rocks in Arlington to watch my New York Rangers lose — I ordered the Basil Lemonade since it includes two of my favorite things – basil and lemonade. I’m a big fan of Red Rocks (they have an impressive beer list) and could basil eat by the cup, but this was a little too much, with the basil overpowering everything else.  Probably best to skip this one, unless your predilection for basil is off the charts.

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