If one thing is for certain, it is that northern Virginia is best enjoyed on foot. Our favourite itineraries include retracing the steps of soldiers in Manassas National Battlefield Park, strolling the manicured grounds of Morven Park and perusing King Street boutiques in Alexandria. Admittedly, after a busy day of touring we know that long vacation days can turn ambitious walking feet into tired ones. May we suggest kicking back at a local brewery or winery? Refresh with a glass of craft beer or a chilled white wine cocktail while rubbing elbows with passionate proprietors. (Or maybe you find the time to do it in the middle of the day - who are we to judge?) With a growing craft beer culture and many longstanding wineries, beer and wine enthusiasts in Virginia's Cultural Region will need especially little convincing to enjoy a refreshing beverage. Traveling with the family? Many of the wineries invite pets and picnickers. More of a beer fan? Farm breweries in the region are generating buzz with unique and local ingredients. (Pun intended!) Whichever pour you prefer, there are no shortage of either in northern Virginia. Here are 12 wineries and breweries we love.
Lost Rhino Brewing Company
About: With a goal of bringing the best of the west to the east, founders Matt and Favio wanted to make their brew personal and community friendly. They focus on the details such as cultivating yeast in-house to ensure a consistent, high-quality beverage. (How's that for quality control?) In addition to being a green-power partner and hosting community events, the brewery actively supports the protection of rhinos in the wild.
8 Chains North Winery
8 Chains North Winery
About: This family-owned winery was originally located north of Leesburg before moving to a renovated barn in Waterford in 2010. The vineyard visible from the barn holds only a small portion of the grapes used in the winery's overall production. The lawn off the patio is suitable for kids to play on and your leashed pups are welcome to join you as well. The tasting room at 8 Chains is decorated with the artwork of local artists and if you want to take a little part of Virginia home with you, pieces are available for sale.
About: 32 peach trees line the road to the 32 acres of farmland that were planted on the owners’ 32nd wedding anniversary. How could the winery be named anything except Winery 32? Weekend tastings are accompanied by a menu selection, and the winery permits guests to bring their own picnic. The remarkable label design is done by the couple’s daughter and each is a work of art.
Prince William & Manassas
BadWolf Brewing Company
Bad Wolf Brewing Company
About: Co-owners Sarah and Jeremy Meyers decided to start a company so that Jeremy could live his passion for brewing. The one-barrel-brewery is low-key and friendly, inviting customers to bring their own food to supplement the popcorn it serves. The business has plans to open another location but until then, enjoy what’s on tap today because it will probably be different tomorrow.
Tin Cannon Brewing Company
About: We get the sense that brewers Aaron Ludwig and John Hilkert do not care to colour within the lines. Tin Cannon Brewing Company lives in a space where traditional meets innovative. Of course the menu sports classics like IPA and pale ale but it's the seasonal offerings that will really tantalize the taste buds. If you’re feeling up to it, ask if they have any experimentals they are willing to serve but beware – these could be anything as they often take suggestions from pub regulars.
The Winery at La Grange
The WInery at La Grange
About: The farmland that The Winery at La Grange sits on was acquired in the 1600s by an enthusiastic group of wine-lovers. Their vision was to bring quality wine to the county. The manor on the property dates back to 1790 and has since been restored. In case you were wondering, yes there are resident ghosts. Enjoy your wine without fear however, as these spirits are gentle and don’t mind visitors. The tasting room is open daily and the winery does not mind if you bring your own picnic. Hours: noon - 6:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 8:00 p.m. close Fridays and Saturdays, and 7:00 p.m. close on Sundays.
Fairfax County CVB
Mad Fox Brewing Company
Location: Falls Church
About: At this excellent gastropub, it’s as much about the food as it is about the beer. The menu includes dishes crafted from locally sourced meats and produce, while the beer has been winning awards since the pub launched in 2010. Tour the brewery on the first Saturday of every month or just show up at the pub and enquire about the weekly special.
Forge Brew Works
About: Forge Brew Works endeavours to honour the hard working ethos America was built on. Celebrating tradition and craftsmanship, they create high quality, small batch beer. The flagship beers on the menu provide customers with perennial favorites while the specialty beers are something of an adventure. These are experimental brews that are made in limited quantities and once they’re gone, they don’t come back. Tours are by reservation only but the tasting room is open five afternoons a week.
Paradise Springs Winery
Paradise Springs Winery
About: In 1716 the land that Paradise Springs Winery sits on was granted to a Clifton family. For 300 years it has been passed on through the generations. Talk about legacy. The idea of opening a winery on the property germinated for nearly 20 years before its foundation in 2007, and opening its doors for business in 2010. Today, Paradise Springs produces over 10 varietals and hosts live music events throughout the summer. The tasting room is open daily but tours of the winery are only available on weekends. Tour highlights include a visit to an early 1800s log cabin and an overview of the production area.
The Winery at Bull Run
About: The Winery at Bull Run has the proud distinction of being the closest vineyard to Washington DC. Its farmhouse was built in the 1860s when the Hickox family moved from Georgia to Centreville. The current owner continues tradition, incorporating the past into the present. How so? The story of winemaking in America starts in Virginia, and The Winery lives and breathes the same techniques practiced in the 1800s. This includes winemaking with as little electricity as possible. So tell us, are you ready to step back in time and sample a glass of Norton?
Arlington and Alexandria
Capitol City Brewing Company
About: Capitol City Brewing Company opened its doors in 1992, becoming the first brewpub in the capitol since prohibition. Its Arlington location proudly lives this storied legacy, celebrating the freedom to drink beer. They strive to produce great brews by using only the highest-quality hops, fresh yeast and select malt. Brewing in-house means the beer on tap is as fresh as a few hours old when poured. Tours are provided on request and give visitors a glimpse into the brewing process. Capitol City's menu has been designed to complement the flavour of the brews and if you aren’t sure what you want to eat, ask your server what goes best with your beer.
Port City Brewing Company
About: With an excellent location near Old Town Alexandria, Port City Brewing Co. has attracted a loyal following. Keep a sharp eye peeled for the pineapple that indicates the brewery is open. (Fun!) Hours of operation are weekday afternoons and weekends. Facility tours are available, check the website for details.
Have you ever visited northern Virginia? Do you have a favourite brewery or vineyard? We want to know! Leave us a comment below.