Loudoun, VA

Provided by Visit Loudoun

Loudoun, VA

Forty years ago, in the fall of 1984, a man named Lew Parker harvested grapes from vines he’d planted years earlier and barreled them in a tumbledown wood barn on his farm in Loudoun County, Virginia. It was his third attempt to make wine. “I’d spoken to every expert I could find and everything they told me was wrong,” Parker recalls. “They had no idea that what works in California or France wouldn’t work in Virginia. Loudoun is just different.” 

Third time’s a charm. 

The resulting bottle – a 1984 Riesling, Loudoun’s first wine – went on to win multiple awards and heralded the start of Parker’s Willowcroft Farm Vineyards, a charming winery still operating today. 

More than that, Parker’s bottle transformed a county. 

Loudoun, VA

Drive 25 miles west of Washington, DC into Loudoun today and you’re entering DC’s Wine Country®. Loudoun now has more than 50 wineries and tasting rooms in stunning settings from river-crossed valleys to mountain slopes. Taking experimental cues from Lew, our acclaimed winemakers produce everything from Albariño, Bordeaux and Chardonnay to Norton, Tannat, Viognier and so much more.

But there’s a lot more to Loudoun than fine wines. 

We are what you might call a split personality.  

The eastern half of the county, closer to DC, is hip and urban – home to Dulles International Airport and something called the Internet. Yes, 70% of the world’s Internet traffic flows through the sprawling data centers of our modern suburbs, Ashburn and Sterling. Alongside them, catering to tech titans and DC contractors are fine dining restaurants, craft breweries and entertainment complexes. 

Out west, meanwhile, is the other half: green, fertile farmland rising up to the Blue Ridge Mountains, a famous 13-mile stretch of the Appalachian Trail along its crest. You’ll find dozens of those wineries but also family-run farms, craft breweries, artisanal distilleries, museum-piece 18th Century villages and more miles of dirt road than any other county in Virginia. We may be the home of the Internet but drive those dirt roads and it’s not uncommon to get stuck behind a horse or a chicken and find yourself without a cellphone signal.

Fusing these urban and rural worlds meanwhile is an elegant small-town sophistication. 

County-seat Leesburg, founded in 1758, is a fashionable burg with a downtown buzzing with urban beer halls, cocktail bars, farm-to-table restaurants, craft coffee shops and chic boutiques. You’ll also find historic mansions, public gardens, contemporary art and the home-turned-museum of General George C. Marshall who drafted the Marshall Plan. 

Head south and Middleburg, founded in 1728, is America’s Horse and Hunt Capital, home to The National Sporting Library & Museum, the nation’s leading resource on outdoors and equestrian pursuits. Each December horses and hounds lead the glittering Christmas in Middleburg parade through town while on the northern outskirts, equine-themed spa resort Salamander Middleburg hosts the star-studded Middleburg Film Festival each fall, a major Oscar trail stop. 

Wine, tech, history, horses and movie stars? Loudoun really is just different.