In 2017, The Barns at Hamilton Station Vineyards won the prestigious Governor’s Cup for the best wine in Virginia, the first Loudoun winery to claim the award. At that same ceremony, Breaux Vineyards and Sunset Hills Vineyard won gold medals for their wine. Loudoun wine was no longer the plucky upstart on the Virginia wine scene, it had arrived. Fast forward to this year’s Governor’s Cup though and it’s not just a select handful of Loudoun wineries picking up a few wins. Twenty-seven Loudoun wines from 16 wineries won gold at the awards, dominating the scene. What’s more, in the eight years since that inaugural win for The Barns at Hamiton Station, two other wineries have taken the state’s top honor.


As Loudoun celebrates the 40th anniversary of its wine industry this year, what are some of the most award-winning wineries and what other accolades are Loudoun wineries picking up?

While The Barns won top honors in 2017, this year the winery won four golds at the Governor’s Cup – 2020 Cabernet Franc, 2020 Petit Verdot, 2021 Cabernet Franc and 2022 Viognier – with mostly estate-grown grapes. In 2020, 868 Estate Vineyards became the second Loudoun winner of the Governor’s Cup, the Vidal Blanc Passito 2017 dessert wine beating out more than 530 entrants from 105 Virginia wineries. It was also the first time a Loudoun-based winemaker, Carl DiManno, won the prize.


868 Estate Wine


Breaux Vineyards is no stranger to awards. The winery came away with three golds this year, with the 2019 The Fog Nebbiolo Reserve making the Governor’s Cup Case – a collection of the 12 highest-ranked wines in the competition. But Breaux has won national accolades, too. The winery’s 2016 Madeline’s Chardonnay scooped gold at the San Francisco International in 2016, arguably the most prestigious wine award in the nation, while a 2007 Cabernet Franc hit gold at the 2012 Riverside International, now known as Dan Berger’s International Wine Competition.



In 2022 meanwhile, Melanie Natoli of Cana Vineyards and Winery of Middleburg became the second female winemaker in Virginia to win the Governor’s Cup. The winning wine? A perfectly balanced 2019 Unité Reserve red blend. To give you an idea of the variety of grapes and styles Loudoun is known for, a 2022 Albariño from Natoli, a white Spanish-origin grape, won a gold at this year’s Governor’s Cup.



Speaking of Albariño, October One Vineyards’ 2022 Albariño made the case.


October One Wine


Other Loudoun wineries to win multiple golds this year were Sunset Hills Vineyard (2021 Mosaic, 2022 Chardonnay, 2022 Viognier); Carriage House Wineworks (2020 Barouche, 2021 Petit Verdot); Endhardt Vineyards (2020 Fervor Red, 2022 Sauvignon Blanc Upper Block); Hillsborough Winery, Brewery & Vineyard (2021 Cabernet Sauvignon, 2021 Petit Verdot) and Three Creeks Winery (2020 Cabernet Sauvignon, 2022 Muscat Ottonel). It's more than just awards Loudoun wines win, but accolades and star ratings too.



Boxwood Estate Winery in Middleburg scored an incredible 93-point rating from James Suckling for its Reserve 2015, which is available in magnums. Four other Boxwood wines scored 92 points. Earlier this year four wines from The Vineyards and Winery at Lost Creek were rated as Outstanding by Suckling. Two of them – the Merlot dominant 2020 Allure Bordeaux Blend and the 2021 Petit Verdot scored 93. “Polished but powerful… super well balanced and mouthwatering…” Suckling wrote of the latter.



Awards are not everything, but for a region that’s rightly becoming famous for variety, innovation and experimentation, it’s also being recognized for its high quality wines.


High praise indeed.