by Sherrie Bakshi

It’s the first day of October, and fall seems to have announced its arrival. The clouds have rolled in, there is a sense a crispness in the air and the leaves are already changing.

It’s hard to imagine that just one month ago, the sun was shining, and I along with a fellow friend was enjoying a daily excursion through Northern Virginia’s wine country!

Many people associate Barboursville (near Charlottesville) with Virginia Wine Country. So, you may be surprised of the number of wineries just outside the nation’s capital. The region is bustling with some beautiful wineries–all with very unique personalities. The growing popularity of the region’s wines have helped create Washington D.C. first ever Wine Week (October 15-22, 2011).

Well, on this particular day, my friend Aimee, and I decided to adventure to a few wineries off of Route 15 (Exit 23 off of I-66). There are a lot of wineries in this area (aka Fauquier County).


Our first stop was Aspen Dale Winery. Upon entering the gates, you are greeted by beautiful vines of grapes. At the end of the road, is the tasting room (formerly a barn). There, we were greeted by Shay, the winery’s owner and winemaker.

“It’s a very busy day here,” she says, “So, I am actually helping out with the tastings.”

“What a treat,” I thought to myself. How often do you find yourself spending time with the winemaker? The folks at Aspen Dale Winery pair food with their wine tastings. Each of their wines is paired with a different type of cheese, chocolate or sausage. It’s such an experience, and one that I truly enjoyed. The most unique one was the pairing of the winery’s signature red’s Rockawalkin’ paired with a piece of goat cheese and chocolate.

“Take a sip of the wine,” Shay says, “Then take a bite of the goat cheese followed by the chocolate, it’s tiramisu in your mouth!” She was so right!

Though I thoroughly enjoyed tasting all the wines, my favorite was Sarah’s Chapeau. Perfect additions to my growing wine collection.

We couldn’t leave though before taking in the ambience. We ordered a cheese and dessert plate with our glasses of wines, and enjoyed live music for a couple of hours. It was not your typical day at the barn.

But, our day did not end there!


Just a mile or so down from Aspen Dale Winery is Delaplane Cellars. We didn’t realize it until we entered the gates that we were about to experience something completely different from the last winery.

The tasting room reminded me of an old plantation home, but upon entrance, it’s a totally different experience from the rustic style Aspen Dale. The tasting room is a bustling wine bar and restaurant with high ceilings, huge windows that overlook the vineyards and a huge bar for tasting. Did I mention the view?

The tasting includes five of the winery’s signature wines. While, we didn’t spend so much time at the winery, we did take time to do a wine tasting, enjoy the scene, and purchase a couple of bottles for our collections.


By far, one of my favorite wineries is Chateau O’Brien also on Route 15. I was first introduced to the winery through an organization I am involved with called
The Reading Connection
. Upon first tasting the Chateau’s wines at the organization’s annual event, I fell in love. So, I thought it was about time to adventure to Chateau O’Brien. Owned by Howard and Debbie O’Brien, the winery is a must go to place if you are planning a wine excursion through Northern Virginia.

Chateau O’Brien offers a wide selection of red, white and rose wines, but it also offers an apple wine, which is amazing and truly perfect for this time of year. And, though, I loved the apple wine, I fell in love with the Northpoint Rose (it was the perfect day for it). Served at the perfect temperature, the wine was refreshing and absolutely delicious.

Once we completed our wine tasting, we purchased a bottle of the Rose (surprise!), and made our way to the outside patio where we took in the breathtaking view of the winery’s vineyards. There is something so relaxing about gazing out at green pastures and vines, and enjoying a glass of wine with friends.

Northern Virginia is full of some fabulous wineries. When you are living and working in a bustling city like Washington D.C., getting away for a few hours to the region’s wine country is the perfect afternoon getaway!

Plan your wine trip and Wine Week at these sites:

Aspen Dale Winery

Delaplane Cellars

Chateau O’Brien

DC Wine Week

* * * *

Sherrie Bakshi is a freelance writer and publicist. In 2004, she founded STYLEE Public Relations with fellow writer and publicist Vladia Jurcova in Charleston, South Carolina.