by September 13, 2012 at 10:00 am 1,737 0


Virginia’s vineyards are the perfect escape for a fall weekend. (Rachel Nania)

From Rachel Nania. Check out her blog, Sear, Simmer & Stir. Follow Nania on Twitter @rnania, email her at rachel[AT]

As beautiful as DC is in the fall, it’s also the perfect time of year to get out of the city and take in some fresh air and scenery in the surrounding area. And the best part? You don’t have to travel far to achieve a relaxing, seasonal weekend. Plenty of festive fall fun is right around the corner (err, actually down the highway), just waiting to be discovered!

Visit Virginia’s Vineyards

These days, wine country isn’t just limited to Sonoma and Napa. Virginia vineyards are producing some award-winning wines, and the scenery at most wineries are definitely something to write home about! Here are some of my favorite spots (most are anywhere from 40 to 120 minutes outside of the city):

  • Veritas Vineyard, Afton VA. Just outside of Charlottesville, this vineyard is nestled in the mountains and has an amazing view of the countryside. The tasting room is warm and cozy, with leather couches, wooden beams and a roaring fire.
  • Barboursville Vineyards, Barboursville, VA. Also outside of Charlottesville, this vineyard produces one of the best Chardonnays. Just ask the Obamas – They’ve served it at quite a few important dinners.
  • Sunset Hills Vineyard, Loudoun County VA. This vineyard definitely has a party deck and plenty of outdoor seating. On weekends, take in the fall outdoor weather with your favorite wine and some live music in the pavillion.
  • Chateau O’Brien, Markham, VA. Don’t let the Irish last name fool you, Chateau O’Brien turns out some seriously good wines. Sip your choice on the deck overlooking the mountains. Yes, you are only 50 miles outside of DC… but you feel worlds away.

Nearby Quaint Towns

Spend a day (or a whole weekend) exploring shops, restaurants and culture at a nearby small town. Here are just a few ideas:

  • Middleburg, VA: Beautiful country estates, manicured acres of grass, horse stables, vineyards and a small main street overflowing with local shops and eateries… What’s not to love? Ladies and gentlemen, this is all within an hour of the city.
  • Staunton, VA: While it is a bit of a hike (about two-and-a-half hours), Staunton is  well worth the journey. Nestled in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, Staunton has a small town feel with an incredibly hip shopping, food and music scene.
  • Charlottesville, VA: Technically, Charlottesville is not a small town, but it is definitely one of my favorite weekend escapes. Shop boutiques and local artists on the Downtown Mall, hike Old Rag Mountain or sample some suds at Blue Mountain Brewery.

Festive Fall Activities

It’s just about primetime for apple picking, pumpkin patches and hayrides! Here are a few local spots to hit when you need to soak up all of fall.

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by March 29, 2012 at 3:00 pm 1,307 0

Alejandra, Owens, wine

The Pasos Robles local wine tour is April 10-13. (Alejandra Owens)

By Michelle Lancaster. You can follow her and let her know your news on Twitter @MichLancaster. Email her at michellel[AT]

Palomar Hotel will host the Paso Robles Grand Tasting Event on April 11, as part of the increasingly prominent California wine area’s national coming out party. The tasting will run from 7  to 9:30 pm and includes 150-plus wines from more than 30 wineries.

That’s a lot of wine for an eminently reasonable price of $60. The full tour runs April 10-13 and includes tastings at wine stores such as Bell’s and Cork Wine Bar on Friday, April 13.

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