Columbus Day weekend was the perfect opportunity for my parents to come visit us for a couple days, but also for us to take advantage of October being Virginia Wine Month. Both of our families still reside in Upstate NY, so long weekends are normally when they come to visit. As Al said, I do enjoy wine, so it should come as no surprise that this was the first thing we had planned.
It was easy to choose Paradise Springs Winery as our destination for a variety of reasons, starting with its close proximity to Washington, DC. Paradise Springs is located minutes from the Town of Clifton, off of several winding roads that lead you to the front cottage that remains on the property. When we arrived we were greeted by Kirk Wiles, one of the owners of the winery, who then walked us into the tasting room. I met Kirk, along with his mother Jane and brother Drew, back when they were originally going through their approval process with Fairfax County. I’m always interested in bumping into him to see what new things they are going to try. For those unfamiliar with the tasting room, it is set toward the back of the property and resembles a large wooden barn.
The main level has a glass enclosed barrel room on the opposite side of the tasting table, in addition to several tables that are always packed with patrons of the winery. If you’ve been to Paradise Springs in the past you know they really cater to the customer and groups of any size. There are several seating options from small tables on the new patio out front to the larger, often enclosed, back deck that features music in the afternoons.
For a fairly young winery in a fast growing region, Paradise Springs has certainly had no shortage of good wine. Their 2009 Chardonnay won top honors in Virginia with the Governor’s Cup, while several other wines of theirs have taken gold medals at a variety of competitions in the region. After completing a tasting of about 8 new wines including a Petit Manseng, Dry Rose, and a Melange, we selected not only a great new 2012 Chardonnay, but also a red pepper and gouda soup that made for a wonderful pairing on the back deck. For those considering joining a wine club, this winery should be on your short list.
In addition to great events, they continue to try new things including the most recent sparkling wine (which is one of Al’s favorites), that for the time being is only available to wine club members.
Virginia is making some great wines and more so in recent years, this is one winery that has also capitalized on the entire experience making people desire repeat visits.
After Paradise Springs, we made a couple more turns down the winding roads and wound up in the small-historic Town of Clifton. We were only planning a quick stop but figured a detour to the local wine shop was a must. If you haven’t been to the Town of Clifton it’s time to go. Take advantage of the fall weather and the changing leaves as you drive to the winery and then through this small town.
The Clifton Wine Shopand Tasting Room was offering free tastings on two Spanish wines in which we partook. Beyond the wine, this shop offered a wonderful selection of both Octoberfest and pumpkin beers, many of which I’ve never heard. The only thing I wish this shop had more of was Virginia wine. Outside of the port style wine from Paradise Springs, Swagger, I didn’t see a single bottle. I can understand not wanting to carry the same selection of Virginia bottles that other nearby shops boast, but there are certainly some wonderful Virginia wines that are less frequent to shops that would be a nice addition. All in all, the shop fits the wonderful small town of Clifton, adding to the charm. Though we didn’t stop this time, there is a wonderful restaurant, Trummers, located just across the street and over the railroad tracks that everyone should try.
Get on the road and enjoy a bit of October.