Article by Jen Sigal
What better way to spend the holiday season than in Virginia’s famed wine country where historic towns are transformed into scenes right off a vintage postcard, cozy fireplaces abound and there is plenty of wine and craft beer to keep you warm and in good spirits as the winter season arrives. While staying at Lansdowne Resort & Spa, explore Loudoun’s bucolic landscape filled with horse farms, vineyards and historic homes. The winding, unpaved roads through the countryside will take you back to a simpler time and add to the experience as you make Loudoun your home for the holidays.
Celebrate the season in the romantic towns of Middleburg, Leesburg and Purcellville where old-fashioned lamps are adorned with ribbons and wreaths, windows are decorated and countless boutiques are filled with locally made gifts. During the first weekend in December, watch the iconic horses and hounds take to the streets of Middleburg for the annual hunt parade followed by hayrides, a progressive food and wine tour, artisan displays and more. Or listen to live music in Leesburg before the tree and menorah lighting.
History and Holidays
Not only do the quaint downtowns get decked out for the holidays, but the beautiful historic homes take people back in time to experience traditional holiday food, décor and more. At Morven Park, learn about early 20th century Christmas customs enjoyed by the home’s earlier owner, former Virginia Governor Westmoreland Davis. At Oatlands Historic House & Gardens, a National Trust historic site, enjoy candlelight tours and themed holiday teas throughout December.
Explore the National Sporting Library and Museum - a hidden gem in Middleburg that will feature a special exhibition on the horse in ancient Greek culture through January 14. Discover a collection of Greek vases and sculptures from the 8th through the 4th centuries BCE that explore the significance of the horse in ancient Greek myth, war, sport and competition.
Loudoun’s 40 wineries are just as inviting in the winter months as they are in the warm weather. Enjoy a chocolate and wine pairing before relaxing by the fireplace at 8 Chains North, bundle up and bring some vino outside to enjoy the fire pits at Stone Tower Winery or enjoy a cup of warm soup and the snow falling outside the glass windows that adorn the tasting room at Winery 32. Most of Loudoun’s wineries stay open year-round, inviting guests to try bold reds, unique varietals and surprising blends that pair well with seasonal dishes and make great gifts for hosts of holiday parties.
Beer, Cider and Spirits
Loudoun is at the forefront of the Virginia beer industry, where visitors get a distinct local taste at 23 breweries creating more than 200 unique brews at any given time. Home to the LoCo Ale Trail, Loudoun’s breweries will release a variety of fall and winter themed beers through the end of the year. To sample multiple great brews in one location, attend the LoCo Hangar Fest Nov. 11 at the private ProJet Corporate Hangar in Leesburg. There, sample from 18 breweries pouring 36 unique brews.
Besides wine and beer, Loudoun has an emerging cider and spirits scene. Visit the new tasting room for Mt. Defiance Cidery and Distillery or take a trip to Purcellville to Catoctin Creek Distillery- Loudoun’s first distillery since prohibition.
Loudoun prides itself on unique dining experiences where visitors can dine under the stars in a glass atrium on a farm or in a circa 1905 restored mill. Enjoy Coton & Rye at Lansdowne Resort & Spa for an evening then try one of Loudoun’s restaurants where chefs transform locally sourced ingredients into culinary masterpieces. Many of Loudoun’s chefs have received regional and national accolades including Chef Tarver King from the Restaurant at Patowmack Farm, who won Chef of the Year at the 2017 Rammy Awards, and The Conche’s Chef Santosh Tiptur-a world-renowned pastry chef who has appeared on various culinary competition programs on the Food Network.
To discover more great attractions and ways to celebrate the winter season and holidays in Loudoun, visit www.visitloudoun.org . Don’t forget to share your experience on social using #loveloudoun.