October is Virginia Wine Month!


Many wine regions of the world are known for a signature grape: California for Cabernet Sauvignon, Oregon for Pinot Noir, Argentina for Malbec, South Africa for Pinotage and so on. So, what is Loudoun – rapidly establishing itself as a powerhouse of Mid-Atlantic viticulture – known for? What is the Loudoun grape?


Well, the answer is not yet clear – and therein lies the appeal.


“Loudoun is unique because a consumer gets to discover so many varieties in such a small space,” said Neil Wavra, celebrated chef-restaurateur (Field & Main in Marshall) who recently oversaw the judging of the 2023 Loudoun Wine Awards.. “It’s a young industry so Loudoun winemakers are always experimenting, trying new things. It’s very exciting.”

Indeed, of the 15 categories judged for the awards, (a highlight of Virginia Wine Month, with winners announced at a gala dinner at Lansdowne Resort on October 20) varietals ran from Albariño to Petit Verdot to Viognier with hybrids, blends, rosé, Cabernet Franc, Red Vinifera and more in between.


Of course, variety of grapes and winemaking styles is not the only unique appeal of Loudoun wine.


“The combination of history, quality crafted wines, small towns and high-tech industry make for a dynamic experience for visitors and residents,” said Doug Fabbioli of Fabbioli Cellars, regarded by many as The Godfather of Loudoun wine.



Fabbioli does more than make fine wine at the property he founded 20 years ago. He is the founder of the New Ag School, an agribusiness incubator that trains and mentors agri-business students in everything from viticulture to conservation to running a B&B. As for the grape varietal he says to keep an eye on? “Look for Tannat to gain in prominence in Loudoun.”

The connection between the wine industry, local farms and restaurants is another part of Loudoun’s appeal. Locally made farm cheeses and cured meats are sold in many tasting rooms, local chefs do winery dinners (especially in the fall) and more restaurants are adding Loudoun wines to menus. All of which makes the industry more creative, profitable and self-sustaining. 


Talking creativity, you can see this literally on some Loudoun wine labels. At Bluemont Station Brewery & Winery co-owner David Weinschel, an avid art collector, commissioned the work of local fine artist Kevin Chadwick for the Vidal Blanc and Cabernet Franc Estate Reserve labels.


The latter is a classic charcoal-style graphic of the winery’s historic main building, while the Vidal Blanc is a colorful Art Deco illustration of a woman with a bunch of red grapes for hair, grape vines for a barrette. Since introducing the unique labels earlier this year, Weinschel says bottle sales have soared.


We agree. 


“If there is an art to winemaking, why not let the label be the canvas,” Weinschel said




Don’t forget to enjoy the variety, creativity - and artistry - of Loudoun wine this Virginia Wine Month.