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USA Today’s Readers’ Choice Awards named this winery’s tasting room the best in the country. (Image: Courtesy Early Mountain Vineyards)
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6 sip-worthy wineries to spend National Wine Day

Okay sure, for some of us, every day is wine day. But there is actually an official holiday. May 25 is National Wine Day, and lucky for us, it falls on a Saturday this year. Woo hoo! Here are six spots hosting events to celebrate--or even just to celebrate the weekend--as well as some tips to consider before heading out.

Tarara Winery

A long-time fixture on the NOVA wine scene, this Leesburg producer is celebrating its 30th anniversary that entire weekend. On Saturday at 9 a.m. they’ll be organizing the National Wine 5K and 10K, followed at 10:30 a.m. with a VIP Cave Tour and Tasting, a Riedel tasting at 12:30 p.m. and a History of Tarara Tasting at 3:30 p.m. Concert gates open at 5 p.m. for a pop rock concert from The Reflex starting at 6 p.m.. Tickets are $10-$20 and are available through their website.

Greenhill Winery & Vineyards

Spend a lovely afternoon at this adults-only Middleburg winery. The tasting room is open on May 25 from noon until 7 p.m. Wine tastings cost $14 per person; a few of the standouts are their savory syrah-based rosé (think pink peppercorns and olives on top of juicy watermelon), a quaffable seyval blanc and Superstition, a blend of cabernet franc, merlot and tannat that touts notes of wild cherries and blackberries and a touch of baking spice. Charcuterie platters are available for purchase, or you can bring in food and enjoy it in the outside areas. And if you can’t make it there on Saturday, Sharif Music will be providing tunes on Sunday from 2-5 p.m.

Early Mountain Vineyards

USA Today’s Readers’ Choice Awards named this winery’s tasting room the best in the country. So if you haven’t yet been to this gorgeous property, now’s the time. The Madison winery and vineyards will be open 11 a.m. - 6 p.m. that day, and from 1-4 p.m. local singer/songwriter Two Wishes will be performing. Snag a space at their tasting bar for a sampling of their current wine releases ($12); $18 gets you 9 pours of their top tipples and a take-home glass. Even more fun are their ever-changing flights, which feature tastes not only from their cellar but other wineries around the state: Cool & Crisp highlights bottles from Early Mountain and Jefferson Vineyards, while Tantalizing Tannins lets you sample wines from Early Mountain, Ankida Ridge and Cross Keys; flights range in price from $20 to $22. If you find yourself not ready to leave at the end of the day, stay overnight in a cottage on the property.

Slater Run Vineyards

Though the actual winery is slated to open this spring in Upperville (and trust us, it’s going to be an amazing property!) you can still visit the tasting room (and sip on the patio) at their facility down the road. And their wines are stunning, thanks in part to winemaker Katell Griaud, who hails from Southwest France and has a keen sensibility of how to deftly combine French techniques and history with Virginia terroir, from a patio-pounding pinot gris to a strawberry-tinged rosé and even two pet-nats. A tasting of their selections is $12 and you can also order cheese, charcuterie, olives and bread to nibble on as you sip.

Paradise Springs Winery

This Clifton winery is celebrating National Wine Day...with beer. Solace Brewing Company will be serving pints of their brew starting at noon. To pair with it, grab a Rocklands pulled pork sandwich, coleslaw and potato salad for $12.99. If you would rather have grapes instead of grain, $15 gets you a 20-minute tasting of a flight of their wines; $20 gets you an etched take-home glass too. Jazz, gospel and blues band Paschal Jam will be performing from 2-6 p.m.

868 Estate Vineyards

Test your knowledge of useless info during the Hillsboro winery’s trivia night on May 25 from 5:30 - 8 p.m. Bring your own team or join up with one there. Sign ups start at 5:30 p.m. and admission is free; you can even pre-order a charcuterie tray for a little brain food and the winery will throw in a few chocolate truffles. Beforehand, try one of their tastings: standard (six wines), premier (six wines and charcuterie/cheese board), chocolate truffles (six wines and four truffles) or elevated (six wines, five bites from the chef).

Tips before heading out for a winery jaunt:

  • Check the website or call ahead to find out the winery’s policy for groups. A party larger than six or eight can overwhelm a small tasting bar.
  • Also find out if a winery welcomes kids. Some spots are adults only, others are family friendly and still others have separate spots outside and inside for adults with and without children.
  • Ask if you are permitted to bring in outside food. Some wineries don’t allow it at all while others are okay with you toting a cooler or picnic basket as long as you remain in their outdoor space. (Note that you are never allowed to bring your own alcohol, though.)
  • If you are planning on hanging out outside, bring a picnic blanket, cooler for water and to keep wine cold, acrylic glasses if you like, and glass stakes to keep stemware from spilling.
  • Have fun and interact! Snap a group photo, then put the phones away and soak in the scenery, sniff and sip the wine and relish time with good friends.
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