Places to See Near Washington, DC: The Wine Country

Virginia Wine Country

The wine country around Washington DC and the surrounding Baltimore and Virginia areas is the fifth largest wine-producing region in the United States. There are literally dozens of wineries ranging from the Eastern Shore to northern Virginia and nearly 300 wineries in the Commonwealth of Virginia alone.

Next time you’re in Washington DC, there’s no better way to compliment your exploration of the city than with a beautiful tour of our wine country.

 

History

Winemaking has been a focus in the area for over three hundred years, despite early problems with growing and quality.  The native grapes just didn’t work for making drinkable alcoholic beverages.  

 

The Experimenters

Early efforts in Virginia and Maryland, despite economic encouragement, had very little success because of the differences in the native soil from that in Europe as well as the difficulty in transporting, planting and cultivating non-native vines.

The settlers persevered, however, because of wine’s potential as an easily-shipped cash crop that could be sold in the colonies and even in England.  There was a law passed in Virginia in 1619 requiring every settler to plant grape vines imported from France.  

.Thomas Jefferson, one of the most active tinkerers in America and a wine expert, labored to establish significant vineyards in Virginia in partnership with other notables, including George Washington.  

Unfortunately, only one of these other efforts succeeded,- producing a claret exported to Britain in the late 17th century because of continuing issues with the imported vines’ not adapting to American soil.

After many attempts, some hybrid vines were developed in Virginia and Maryland that worked well, but the Civil War, Prohibition, and the Depression led to the abandonment of those efforts.  

From the 1960’s through the early 80’s, efforts were made, but the final success came from the work of an Italian firm, headed by Gianni Zonin, that finally established a vine that would prosper in the local soil.  Mr. Zonin shared his methods and even the exact vine he creates.  That led to a literal explosion of successful vineyards throughout Virginia and Maryland, giving birth to the beautiful wine country we enjoy today.

 

Today

Nowadays, the wines produced in the Virginia/Maryland region have improved to the point where they have been favorably compared to some of the best California labels.

The beautiful countryside and close proximity to DC make the vineyards attractive points to visit for locals and tourists alike.  The vineyards operate in much the same way as those in California, providing tours, tastings, and amenities. Wine country tours are very popular for visits and events ranging from bachelorette parties to family celebrations or just for fun.

Many travel and vintners recommend that visitors hire professional drivers, like those from a highly-rated chauffeur service, to take them to and from the various wineries.   That way all the time at the various locations can be spent enjoying the location and the amenities – food and wine – without concerns of driving, gas, or parking.

Two of the most eclectic wineries in the wine country are part of an exclusive wine tour from Culdesac Chauffeur.  Tours are available for any size group for any occasion – including “just for fun.” Guests on our tours determine where they wish to be picked up for a fabulous visit to some of the best scenery and wine in the area.

 

Vint Hill Winery

Vint Hill Winery

Vint Hill has a great history. The property was originally the site of a secret decryption facility run during World War II to break down German codes.  That history is honored by some areas within the facility.

Culdesac visitors can count on a welcome including a glass of wine and cheese at Vint Hill.  They will also get some great information on both local and California wines during their visit from an expert “Urban Winery” wine docent.

 

 

Pearmund Cellars

Pearmund Cellars is in a beautiful setting – which also allows the winery to use geothermal energy.  

Pearmund Cellars

It's 30 acres includes 15 acres of vines, at one time growing a variety of wines but now dedicated to chardonnay. However, the facility makes a broad spectrum of wines, all from locally sourced grapes, and has won numerous awards for many of them.

Culdesac guests will be greeted with a half-glass of the justly famed Chardonnay produced from vines on the property.  After a tour, participants will have a chance to taste 5 different wines.  

During the tour, guest enjoy beverages and a box lunch (ham and cheese sandwich or vegan alternative, kettle chips, fresh fruit, cookies and bottled water) from the Covert Café’ – a local shop. Following the tour, guests can head to the retail section, where wine can be purchased to go – all Culdesac clients receive an exclusive 20% off VIP discount at the wineries should they choose to purchase some wine to go.

Then back to the original pick up location with wonderful souvenirs - memories, pictures – and of course, some great wine! Next time you’re in DC, consider booking a tour of the beautiful wine country. And if you’re not the wine type, perhaps consider an aerial helicopter tour or a guided tour of Washington DC’s beautiful monuments.