Winter blues? How about winter reds and whites instead? Make plans to attend the 5th Annual Fauquier County People’s Choice Wine Competition at Airlie—a hotel, conference center and event venue located in Warrenton—on March 2.
More than 15 Fauquier County wineries will be showcasing their finest red, white and sweet wines to be judged by event attendees. There will be two sessions: one from noon to 2:30 p.m. and one from 3:30 to 6 p.m. Attendees will receive a complimentary wine glass with three tickets that can be used to vote for your favorite, red, white and sweet wines. Heavy hors d’oeuvres will also be served throughout the two sessions. Tickets will be available online at FauquierCounty.gov and Airlie.com. Tickets will not be sold at the door.
“Tickets are $40 each, and participants may taste as many samples from the wineries as they want during either of the two tasting times,” says Laura Torpy, tourism coordinator for the Fauquier County Department of Economy Development. “I generally like to tell people to pace themselves because you can drink a lot of wine in two and a half hours.”
At the end of the second tasting, all of the votes will be counted, and the top three reds, white and sweet wines will be awarded. “There are plenty of opportunities in the wine community to compete and be judged professionally,” says Torpy. “So, the wineries participating in our event specifically asked that we award a top three prize instead of first, second and third. They really just want to keep this fun and entertaining for everyone.”
Once you’ve attended one wine event, chances are good you’ll be hooked. “For a time of year that’s usually pretty dead for most tourism, this is a really great event to get you away from cabin fever,” says Miles Friedman, director of the Fauquier County Department of Economic Development. “We have people who come once, then put it on their calendars to come back every year.”
Planning to make a weekend of it? Perfect! Airlie has accommodations and offers a combination deal for people attending the wine event and staying overnight. For accommodations elsewhere in Fauquier County, the Fauquier County Department of Economic Development website can help you plan the perfect getaway.
If you’re not a wine buff, Fauquier County is still a fantastic place to visit any time of the year. For those who prefer other quaffs, there are microbreweries, a meadery and the region’s only kombucha bar (fermented, lightly effervescent, sweetened tea) that offers up to 18 different flavors on tap to help you toast to your good health.
The area is also home to one of the highest concentrations of big-name equestrian events around, including the Upperville Horse Show and the Upperville Colt & Horse Show—the oldest horse show in the United States. Or, if you’re more into the pageantry of steeplechase racing, the spring and fall Gold Cup events are filled with excitement and schmoozing opportunities. There’s also Twilight Polo and lots of other equestrian-themed events.
“We have some great B&Bs, some fantastic restaurants and lots of small towns and villages with really unique stores,” says Torpy. “It’s really a great destination, even if you’re only coming for the weekend. You can definitely do a lot in one weekend and feel like you’ve gotten away from everyday life.”
Looking to take it outside? There are plenty of parks and recreation areas including Appalachian Trail access via Sky Meadows State Park and the G.R. Thompson Wildlife Management Area. In addition, there are biking trials, Lake Brittle for fishing and boating, river tours, walking tours, golf and, of course, trail riding by horseback. History buffs will also enjoy the rich history of Civil War-era battlefields and sites.
Throughout the spring, summer and fall, there are plenty of farmers markets where you can pick up local produce. There are also some regular markets that specialize in local fruits, vegetables and meats. “Messick’s Farm Market in Bealeton is one great place to visit, as is Buckland Farm Market in New Baltimore,” says Torpy. “If you enjoy farm-to-table dining, pretty much every town and village in the county has at least one really interesting restaurant, if not more. And most offer all-local ingredients.”
And of course, if you can’t make it to the People’s Choice Wine Competition at Airlie in March, you can sample wines throughout the year at any of the 27 wineries in Fauquier County. Some of the most award-winning wines from Virginia come from this region.
So come take a deep breath. Fauquier County is waiting to take you away any time of the year.
For additional information about Fauquier County, including online brochures, romantic and relaxing getaway packages, food and wine packages, family-friendly packages, accommodations and events, visit their website at VisitFauquier.com. Or give them a call toll-free at 800-820-1021 to get personalized attention.
You can also stop by the Warrenton-Fauquier Visitor Center, which is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. except on major holidays. You can call the visitor center directly at 540-341-0988.