We’ve only been living in Washington, DC a few months, but any city can feel oppressive after awhile. It’s great to escape to the peaceful countryside, especially if you can drink delicious wines along the way. And while we own a car, drinking and driving can spell bad news. We recently visited the three beautiful Shenandoah Valley wineries on a comfortable bus tour. Here’s our review of a Virginia winery tour from DC with Sourced Adventures!
Pickup with Sourced Adventures Wine Tour from DC
We boarded the coach bus at 9am from Union Station. They do a second pickup from the North Face shop in Georgetown before leaving town for the Shenandoah Valley wineries. Air conditioning on the bus worked great and there was a bathroom on board, definitely important when alcohol is involved!
Rappahannock Cellars was founded in 1999 and is located in the beautiful rolling hills of Huntly, Virginia. When we exited the highway and began driving along small winding roads, we were struck with how green the landscape was. Flashbacks of our days living in Ireland immediately came to mind.
Rappahannock Cellars is a beautiful place, with delicious wine and a friendly staff. We were given a wine making tour of the facilities while staff simultaneously continued the tasting. We learned a lot, including the cost of oak barrels and how many times they can be used for wines like chardonnays. The barrels run upwards of $800 a piece and can only be used once or twice for oaky chardonnays, which is why those wines cost more.
Of the 8 wines we tasted at Rappahannock Cellars, two of are favourites are their 2016 Fizzy Rose and 2015 Meritage. The Fizzy Rose is a blend of Viognier, Vidal and Merlot grapes infused with CO2. It’s a really smooth and refreshing wine, especially on a hot summer’s day. The Meritage is a flavorful blend of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot and Melot aged for 11 months in French and American Oak.
Desert Rose Winery
Desert Rose Winery was the second winery we visited, and is just a few miles from Rappahannock Cellars. This is the most rustic of the three wineries and another beautiful property. Desert Rose Winery is ran by Bob and Linda, a husband and wife team who traveled around the world for work. They eventually settled down and opened a horse ranch, then vineyard to sell grapes to nearby wineries, including Rappahannock Cellars, and finally a winery of their own.
Linda poured the tastings as Bob described the wines and regaled us with interesting stories. After trying 8 wines, we were given a choice of three different gourmet sandwich lunch boxes. Bell and I took our food outside, found a table overlooking the lovely venue and enjoyed lunch over a tasty glass of wine.
Blue Valley Vineyard and Winery
Blue Valley Vineyard and Winery was the third and final stop of the Virginia Wine Tour from DC with Sourced Adventures. The property sits atop a hill with wonderful views of the vineyard and Shenandoah Valley all around. This winery offers the most picturesque views of the three wineries, so don’t arrive too tipsy if you want to snap some beautiful photos to share on social media!
Unlike the first two wineries, we opted not to do a full tasting at Blue Valley Vineyard and Winery. Instead, we just tasted a couple wines and purchased by the glass. We didn’t want to continue mixing wines after having already done 16 tastings at the first two wineries. It’s wonderful to just enjoy a glass outside with fantastic views all around. A lot of people on our tour did another full tasting making making their way to the outdoor and indoor terraces.
During our visit there was a live band playing on one of their two sizeable outdoor terraces. This was a fantastic place to end a really fun day. With such a stunning property, it’s no surprise that Blue Valley Winery also hosts weddings. We did not want to return to DC!
During the tasting we met a friendly Latvian woman who was traveling with her mother. While her mother didn’t speak English, her daughter told us that she is 85 years old and still teaching in the Riga area! We also enjoyed great conversations with fellow tour participants from Kentucky, Utah and some others living in the DC area.
How Do Virginia Wineries Compare with World Famous Wine Regions?
We’re not wine experts, but we’ve been to several other great wine regions including Sonoma Valley California, Saint Emilion in the Bordeaux region of France and Yarra Valley outside Melbourne, Australia. If you enjoy wineries, you’ll have a great time on this tour. You’ll drink some excellent wine and the scenery is beautiful and relaxing.
Pros of the Virginia Wine Tour from DC with Sourced Adventures
– Delicious wines
– Met fun & interesting people from around the world
– No stress about drinking and driving
– Comfortable bus with good a/c, bathroom and TV playing movies
Con: Does not Cater to Dietary Restrictions
Our only issue with this Virginia Winery Tour from DC was that they did not offer any allergy friendly lunch option (Bell has a gluten allergy). The lunch option includes a meat or vegetarian boxed lunch, neither of which is gluten or dairy allergy friendly. Our suggestion to the tour operators is that this choice covers all the bases. Make it a vegan sandwich on gluten free bread, with accompaniments that everyone can eat. If you have a gluten allergy you may want to pack a lunch like Bell did.
Cost and Additional Details for the Virginia Wine Tour from DC with Sourced Adventures
The Virginia Wine Tour from DC costs $100 and includes a boxed lunch (gourmet sandwich, cookie and potato chips) and a full tasting at Desert Rose Winery. You also receive two complimentary wine glasses. Tastings at Rappahannock Cellars and Blue Valley Vineyard are extra. The tour starts at 9am and we were dropped back off in DC just after 6pm.
Sourced Adventures offers similar day trips out of Boston, New York and San Francisco. They also offer a few cool and affordable international tours, including the Northern Lights in Iceland this winter!
Book a Sourced Adventures Tour using promo code WANDER10 for 10% off any of their tours via that link! Check out all the fun and exciting tours they have to offer!