I was surprised as anyone when WineMaker publisher Brad Ring selected Virginia for the 2014 WineMaker Magazine Conference. I live in Sonoma County, which is, of course, wine country. I'll let that extend to Napa, maybe Monterey and Santa Barbara. Even Oregon and Washington have a shot. But Leesburg, Virginia? Yes! And other points south, too.
Marty and I flew to Dulles International from San Francisco without high expectations for the wine experience. We knew we would enjoy the conference and the Lansdowne Resort looked terrific online, but we felt we were leaving the "wine consciousness" behind as we flew away from the Bay Area. We were wrong. There is a strong and rising attention being paid to wine, including local wine, everywhere we went in the southeast.
Even though wine may have been made in Virginia since Thomas Jefferson's days at Monticello, the current surge of interest is still young. Enthusiasm exceeds local production so far. At the resort itself, we made our first acquaintance with the local wine and the enthusiasm. Deciding on a light supper to help bridge the time zone gap, Marty and I sat on the outside terrace of Lansdowne's golf course pub. To go with a small flatbread pizza and some cheesy grits with tasso ham and a poached egg, we wanted a white wine. On the list was Willowcroft Riesling from Loudon County, Virginia. Slightly off-dry, it was a delicious well-made wine and just the treat we were looking for after a long day of travel. It was grown and made just a few miles from the resort.