My parents and I drove to Woodbridge, VA on Sunday to spend the day with my sister. She recently moved out of my parents' house in Harrisonburg and has created the beginnings of a great life for herself in NOVA. Go Erika!
She was totally the hostess with the mostest on Sunday :) After treating us to lunch at her place, she threw us in the car, and off we went to a local vineyard she'd been stalking called Potomac Point. Northern Virginia is chock full of wineries, but this one had caught her eye for its romantic Italian architecture. (This photo page may take a minute to upload, but skip over the wedding photos and scroll to the bottom for best winery photos).
It was a remarkable building. Huge inside with a tasting bar in the center of the main room so that guests can be served from all four sides. Lounge with a formal fireplace and oversized couches for sipping a glass. We purchased the Premier wine tasting for $10 each, and from that we were able to sample about 10 wines. None of them bowled us over, so we didn't feel compelled to buy anything. But my family loves hunting down new wineries and tasting the day away.
In addition to wine, they sold flavored olive oils by Stella Cadente, winner of the Best in Show at the Oils of the World Competition. (I volunteer to be a judge there!). They serve the oils in huge steel canteens, the equivalent of a Gatorade cooler except for olive oil. Mom and dad treated E and I to a 4-oz olive oil of our choice, so I chose the Blood Orange olive oil. It reminded me of my first blood orange at the farmers market in Mission Bay, San Diego four years ago on a trip with my sister.
We moved from Potomac Point to the waterfront town of Occoquan, a place Erika had encountered during a search for a local post office. Oddly enough, mom had seen an article about this town in Southern Living six years ago when I first moved to Baltimore, and she tore it out and gave it to me for a day trip suggestion. And here we were!
We rolled into town at 3:30pm on a rainy Sunday, so the stores that were still open weren't exactly busy. But the town is precious. It's basically one main street that sits smack dab on top of the Potomac River. Houses are all clapboard and look like water homes. I had taken a post-wine nap on the 10-minute ride from the vineyard to Occoquan, so we caffeinated ourselves at The Coffee Shop of Occoquan. Besides an eager Irishman dressed in a plaid kilt two days before St. Patrick's Day, the place was normal.
Across the street, Mom's Apple Pie Company was calling our name. This place is so charming! It's got a great big welcoming porch and screen doors that were open. Can I digress and tell you how much I love screen doors? I've told Joe that no matter how modern our house is, it must have at least one screen door, preferably in the kitchen, that can slam as people run in and out. The sound of a screen door slamming brings back so many childhood memories in South Carolina. People behind a screen door are approachable - it means you don't need a solid barrier between yourself and the rest of the world. Just something to keep the mosquitoes out.
We ventured down Main St. to yet another wine tasting - oh darn! - at Tastefully Yours gourmet foods. An Italian winemaker fron northern Italy, Walter Lodali, was in the store greeting tasters as they sampled his wines. His halting English sounded fabulous, and when I asked him to take me back to Italy with him after his U.S. tour, he stuck out his elbow and escorted me right out the front door! See ya! The store owner shouted after me, "They don't have any heirs to the vineyard, so he does need a wife!" Hmm, Italian wine heir. What to do, what to do. Joe would understand if I fell for his brethren. Right? I'm telling you, when I get to Italy, there's a very strong change I may not be returning.
Erika, dad and I each left the store with at least one bottle of the Lodali wine. After sampling Virginia wines and then Italian wines within two hours of each other, the difference in quality was absolutely incredible. I won't even begin to try to put words to it. It was a joke, really.
Great planning, sis! When can we do it again?