Virginia has the fifth highest number of wine producers in the nation. It is a state with a growing reputation for exceptional wine, and home to the oldest native North American varietal, the Norton grape. Maybe because it is a state “for lovers” or just that its good vino flows so freely, but locals are passionate about wine. Over the course of a year the area is host to over 20 festivals devoted just to this nectar of the gods, and summertime seems to always kick off the season.
This weekend is the annual Vintage Virginia Wine Festival where attendees have the opportunity to sample over 300 state wines. The festivities take place at Bull Run Park in Centreville, but if you don’t have the chance to get out to the event, there are a handful of great places to spend an afternoon of wine tasting right here in Arlington.
In one camp are two local wine shops, both with extensive selections of wine to purchase and regular tasting events in store. In the other are a couple of notable wine bars that have ample choices for wine by the glass along with nibbly bites to savor alongside.
The Curious Grape
4056 Campbell Avenue, Arlington, VA (703) 671-8700
A charming shop in the Shirlington area of Arlington, The Curious Grape not only carries a rotating selection of unusual, well-priced wine but also features an impressive line of gourmet cheese and chocolate. Their tasting bar pours from 2-3 wines daily and special monthly events include sampling of particular regions and varietals.
4508 Lee Highway, Arlington, VA (703) 525-0990
An Arlington landmark for wine, this neighborhood shop prides itself on developing personal relationships with its wine makers. Along with an extensive selection of bottles for purchase, the store also hosts wine and cheese tastings Friday and Saturday evenings.
Grand Cru Wine Bar and Cafe
4401 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, VA (703) 243-7900
With many notable wines by the glass, flight tastings, and a European inspired menu, Grand Cru’s alfresco courtyard is a great summer spot to contemplate varietal nuances. Their featured tapas along with occasional complimentary tastings add to this Ballston favorite.
Twisted Vines Bottleshop and Bistro
2803 Columbia Pike, Arlington, VA (571) 482-8581
Twisted Vines is a welcome addition to the burgeoning Columbia Pike and its small plate entrees are often well paired to the selection of at least 20 wines by the glass. The adjoining bottleshop offers all wine at retail price with the option to enjoy in house and cork to take home.
<As previously published by Molly Zemek on June 2, 2010 in the Arlington Food Examiner.>