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Some of the region’s best wineries are right in our backyard.  Just 25 miles from DC is Loudoun County, Virginia–home to 27 award-winning wineries and tasting rooms, more than any county in Virginia. Since I couldn’t try all 27 wineries in a day without being harshly judged, I visited 3.  The first being Corcoran Vineyards in Waterford.  It’s the only winery/brewery in Loudoun County, with a cozy tasting room that’s a 1750 restored log cabin.  There’s even a picnic area by a beautiful pond.

Monks BBQ serves Southern barbecue on-site every weekend and best of all, their barbecue sauces are made with Corcoran offerings, including Apple Wine, Slainte Stout and my favorite, Chipotle Raspberry Merlot.  Mandatory must-try: 2010 USB Port ($25) Aged in whiskey barrels, it is dark, sweet with black cherries and chocolate.

In Purcellville, Hillsborough Vineyards‘ sunny tasting room with expansive patio and koi ponds is a relaxing retreat from which to enjoy views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. They offer a Wine Club deal that’s a steal, with a commitment of only one wine a month.  I have more trouble committing to a long-distance carrier.  Mandatory must-try:  2010 Moonstone Late Harvest Viognier ($22) Full-bodied yet light, sweet, perfect for dessert or rich cheeses.

Also in Purcellville, Sunset Hills Vineyard is housed in a historic Amish barn that is enormous, lofty yet warm.  A charming stone pavilion overlooks breathtaking views of mountains and pastoral, old-world style farm grounds.  A wrap-around bar inside the restored barn provides plenty of elbow room for sipping wine. Mandatory must-try: The 2010 Sunset White ($22) Clean, creamy and luscious, it’s great with spicy foods like Thai and Indian.

Be warned.  There’s a lot of wine to taste, so grab a designated driver and make a day trip out of it.  Or better yet, find accommodations and stay the weekend.

Photo courtesy of Sunset Hills Vineyard.