On February 1, 2011, Linganore Winecellars' staff members celebrated with a barrel tasting. They had just finalized the winery's transition to operating on strictly sustainable wind power.
Founded in 1971 by the Aellen family, Linganore has since expanded in every way, from its grape selection to new bottling rooms to a renovation of the offices in the 19th-century barn on the grounds. Today, the sustainable winery stocks more wines than ever before, with its award-winning selection including traditional grape varietals, fruit wines, and specialty bottles. The idyllic winery routinely hosts events as well, with concerts, tastings, and tours taking place 361 days out of the year, granting the grapes four days to just hang out.
If there's one word to describe the success of Willowcroft Farm Vineyards, it's persistence. Owner and winemaker Lew Parker planted the first vines on what is now Willowcroft's home vineyard in 1980, but they didn't grow. They died. Doubt about the feasibility of the project came from everywhere, including the Virginia Extension Service. Lew planted anyway, and in 1981 he grew his first cabernet sauvignon, riesling, and chardonnay grapes. Today, through Lew's hard work and horticultural innovation, Willowcroft bottles 14 different varietals from reds such as the merlot and cabernet franc to whites such as the chardonnay or muscat-ottonel.
Willowcroft's wines maintain a crisp, clean flavor due to the winery's sustainable dry farming, and have garnered a litany of awards since their first vintages in 1984. However, the wine isn't the only draw to the winery. Located atop Catoctin Ridge, panoramic views unfurl from the winery's open terraces, where visitors can enjoy cheese and wine purchased onsite.
A log cabin tucked between the Potomac and a dense blue grove of pines might seem more likely to dispense moonshine than merlot. But seen up close, the rustic timbers hold as much outright elegance as backwoods charm. In the summer, oenophiles nibble cheese and crackers to pair with sips of fruity whites, dry, robust reds, and sweet wines on the evergreen-scented veranda. In the winter, a roaring fire keeps things toasty while guests trade bites of fondue. The vintners ascribe to a philosophy of experimentation, tweaking their blends, methods, and California Raisin impressions based on customer feedback. The winery completes the picture of Arcadian bliss with a gift shop and gallery stocked by local artists.
Though many vintners refer to their winemaking techniques as "old country," those of the Loews are older than most. The family's first forays into the drinkable craft began in the 19th century, in an area of the Austro-Hungarian Empire known as Galicia, now part of Ukraine. There, they brewed honey wines and distributed them throughout Europe. The Loews continued in the business well into the 20th century, but their enterprise was disrupted by the outbreak of World War II. The Loew name wouldn't appear on another bottle until nearly a half-century later, in a vineyard an ocean away.
The modern iteration of Loew Vineyards was established in 1982, and today stretches across 37 lush acres in Frederick County. Here, the gravelly soil sprouts flavorful grapes ideal for both red and white wines. The Loews tend to the vines throughout the year, harvesting the grapes in the fall and pruning them and fitting leaves with tiny mittens in the winter. Their crops are transformed into more than a dozen varieties of wine, ranging from the citrus-y, semi-sweet Serendipity to a balanced Cabernet Franc. The family even bottles a honey wine in a nod to their European past.
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Like a United Nations of varietals, some of the world’s tastiest wines from countries such as Argentina, Chile, Italy, and France are well-represented within Jackie’s Wine Bar. Connoisseurs savor the unique notes of each pour while investigating the black-framed pictures on Jackie’s coffee-colored walls and the shelves of wine bottles that vie for attention behind the bar by wearing chic designer labels. On Thursday evenings, free salsa lessons invite patrons to set down their glasses and grab their dance partner’s hand; Saturday nights feature live bands that serve dulcet melodies as aromatic bouquets serenade olfactory receptors. Fresh air courses through Jackie’s outdoor patio, where visitors can alternate between sips of wine or beer and bites of sandwiches, desserts, and appetizers.
If there's anything that matches The Winery at Bull Run's owners' passion for wine, it might be their passion for American history. Knowing the land’s proximity to historic battles, before breaking ground on their new winery the owners teamed up with Civil War excavators to salvage hundreds of bullets, buttons, and breastplates that laid dormant underneath the winery’s Centreville soil since the 1860s.
While sipping on award-winning red and white wines in the tasting room, guests can look over display cases full of artifacts and listen to stories of the farmland's historic past. During warmer months, guests are welcome to relax on the outdoor stone ruins, whose waist-high walls and stone fireplace are all that remain from the original 19th-century estate house.