Last Updated on October 9, 2020 by Maggie McKneely
Read on for a list of the best wineries near Leesburg VA! *Updated October 2020*
Best Wineries Near Leesburg VA
Short History of Virginia Wine
Before I list some of the best wineries near Leesburg, VA, I want to give a short history of Virginia wine. “Short” because when compared to wine-making in other places around the world, and even compared to the American west coast, Virginia’s history of winemaking is very short.
That’s not for lack of trying or desire though. Wine was supposed to be one of Virginia’s main exports in colonial days. When the settlers first came to Jamestown, each man was required to plant and tend at least 10 grapevines. But they couldn’t get them to grow. The European varietals kept being destroyed by pests and disease. With the wild success of tobacco, interest in Virginia wine-making eventually died.
Thomas Jefferson, francophile that he was, wanted Virginia to have as great a wine-making legacy as France. He tried to cultivate Bordeaux grapes on his land at Monticello, in the hopes of one day realizing the promise of Virginia fine wines. Over 30 years, he never successfully produced a single bottle of Virginia wine. 100 miles northeast, George Washington had the same abysmal results with his European vines at Mount Vernon.
By the late 1800s, wine made from Native American grapes were actually doing well on the international stage, with a bottle of Virginia Norton winning “best of all red wines” at the Vienna World Fair in 1873. But then, Prohibition brought all attempts to improve Virginia’s wine crop to a halt. By the 1940s, there were only 15 acres of planted grapes in the entire state.
In the late-1950s, some experimental plantings showed promise, and in 1970 six new wineries opened up. By 1995, there were 46 wineries in Virginia. Ten years later, that number was up to 107. Today, in 2018, there are over 300 wineries, making Virginia the 5th largest wine-producing state in the U.S. (only behind CA, OR, WA, and NY). Classic Virginian stubbornness and persistence lives on today in the success of the Virginia wine industry.
Best Wineries Near Leesburg, VA
Leesburg, VA is the last city west of Washington, DC before you leave the metro area and hit the Virginia countryside. It’s also the gateway to the Northern Virginia wine region. There are some fabulous wineries further west in Loudoun, but most day-trippers from DC don’t want to go too far past Leesburg. So I’ve put together a list of the best wineries near Leesburg, VA. All of these are within 10 minutes of downtown Leesburg.
Related: Read this to learn what NOT to do at a wine tasting!
- Willowcroft makes this list partly due to its seniority – operating since 1984, it’s the oldest winery in Loudoun County. But Willowcroft is one of the best wineries near Leesburg, VA for other reasons too.
- The tasting room is in a historic barn built in the 1870s. The rustic setting is unusual for wineries in this part of Virginia, but it’s refreshing. Situated atop Catoctin Ridge, the views from the picnic area are lovely, and its backroad location makes you feel like you’re much farther from civilization than you really are.
- The wine: Willowcroft grows twelve varieties of grapes – the five Bordeaux grapes and six white grapes. Though I’m typically a red wine girl, Willowcroft’s whites are delightful. Their Vidal Blanc is the perfect sit-on-your-porch summer sipping wine.
- Visiting info: Tasting room is open Thurs-Sun, 11 am-5:30 pm. Tastings are $10 for 8 wines – though my mom and I went just before they closed one time and they ended up giving us 14 wines. We left pretty happy 😉
- Just 10 minutes from town, The Barns at Hamilton Station is one of the best wineries near Leesburg, VA. This winery is a quintessential example of the beauty of rural Loudoun County. The winery is located on 11 rolling acres of a dairy farm, and the tasting room itself is housed in a 100+-year-old, refurbished dairy barn.
- The winery’s vibe is elegant without being pretentious. It’s the perfect place to have a casual picnic out on the yard, or a quiet sip at one of the old wood farm tables in the Barns’ beautifully rustic tasting room.
- The wine: You can’t go wrong with the wines here – the Barns was awarded the Governor’s Cup in 2017, the highest accolade in Virginia’s wine industry. Winemaker Michael Shaps specializes in French-style wines with a uniquely Virginian flair. For warm weather, I particularly love the Cascina, a white blend of Viognier, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, and Petit Manseng.
- Visiting info: Tasting room open 7 days a week, 11-5:30. Tastings are $15 for 6 wines.
- Zephaniah Farm recently made Travel + Leisure’s list of the top 25 wineries in America, so, naturally, it’s clearly one of the best wineries near Leesburg VA.
- The charm of this place is that it’s truly a hidden gem. It’s completely overlooked by tourists in favor of its super-crowded neighbor Stone Tower, but that’s why Zephaniah is worth visiting. There are no tour buses filled with drunk bachelorettes here; the family is singularly focused on producing quality wine and establishing relationships with their guests. The Hatch family has owned the property since 1950, and today operate the tasting room in the living room of their c.1820 house. A visit here is sort of like going over to your friend’s house and sharing a few glasses of wine by the fire.
- The wine: Cabernet Franc and Chambourcin are the stars here, and the pair make a stellar blend in the Three Captains.
- Visiting info: Open Fri-Sun, 12-5:30. Tastings are $10.
- If you like food paired with your wine tasting, Fabbioli is where you need to go. Fabbioli’s signature trait is that they pair each wine tasting with a selection of gourmet snacks. The menu changes each month, so even if you’ve been before, it’s worth going again to taste the latest food offerings. This month, they’re pairing their Chardonnay with Lemon Goat Cheese, Lemon Pear Marmalade on a Stone Wheat Cracker, which I definitely need to try!
- The wine: Fabbioli specializes in fruit wines, which are honestly just not my thing. But they might be yours! For those like me who shy away from the sweet stuff, their Paco Rojo is a lovely, easy-drinking red wine that I highly recommend. And their Raspberry Merlot, odd as it sounds, is incredible paired with a dark chocolate truffle.
- Visiting info: Open 7 days a week from 11-5. A 7-wine tasting, snacks included, is $15.
- Last but not least, 8 Chains North is the place to go if you are looking for a laid-back, small-time but high-quality farm winery. Owner Ben Renshaw grows and cultivates the grapes, and also works as the operation’s winemaker. Everything is kept in-house, and that attention to detail shows in their excellent wines.
- The property has an outdoor covered patio overlooking the nearby fields, a perfect spot to enjoy your cheese and wine. The rustic-chic tasting room has a large fireplace, wood furnishings, and lots of cozy places to settle with a bottle of vino.
- The wine: All wines here are made in the French style. For the white lovers, you can’t go wrong with their Sauvignon Blanc. The Furnace Mountain Red is their signature Bordeaux blend and it’s a crowd-pleaser.
- Visiting info: Open Thurs-Mon from 12-6; reservations are required for Saturday and Sunday. Tastings are $10 for 6 wines.
There are many more than just five, but in my opinion, these are the best wineries near Leesburg, VA that you should try next time you’re in the area!
Have you been to any of these? What did you think?
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*Disclaimer: I do have a few criteria for every vineyard that I recommend. Just because a winery doesn’t make it on to one of my lists doesn’t mean it doesn’t meet these, but every winery I do feature does.
- First, they have to grow their own grapes. The majority of Virginia wineries do have their own vineyards, so I choose not to feature those that import grapes from other states. I understand that there are reasons and circumstances for doing so and I’m not saying it’s not a legitimate practice! But I’m all about supporting local products and truly Virginian wine. If I want a California Chardonnay, I’ll go to the store and get one. I don’t expect to buy one from a Virginia winery.
- Second, they have to actually have good wine. That’s the most basic job of a winery. The winery may have an amazing restaurant, gorgeous landscaping, awesome events, but if they don’t produce drinkable wine, that’s a problem. Now, I’m extremely lenient on this point; you may think I’ve listed some wineries that don’t meet this criterion. But if I went to their tasting room and found at least one wine that I would be willing to drink with my cheese plate, then they have at least one drinkable wine in my book.