Sixteen award-winning Virginia wineries will bring their best vintages to Mount Vernon Estate this weekend for the annual Wine Festival and Sunset Tour. The event celebrates the history of wine making in the Old Dominion, coupled with exclusive evening tours of the Mansion's seldom visited wine cellar.
"Visitors can bring a blanket and relax on the Mansion's east lawn, as they sample the wines and enjoy a visit from Gen. Washington, along with blues music by Bruce Evan and the Solid Senders," said Rebecca Ryser, media relations, Mount Vernon Estate.
Mount Vernon's Wine Festival and Sunset Tour will be held Friday, Saturday and Sunday; October 1, 2 and 3; from 6-9 p.m. Tickets are $25 per person and can be purchased at Mount Vernon's Main Gate or through Ticketmaster at 703-573-SEAT or online at www.ticketmaster.com.
To accompany the tasting, fruit and cheese boxes will be available by advance purchase at $22 each, according to Ryser. For those wanting more substantial fare, there will be hot and cold food and desserts, including baguettes, gourmet sandwiches, and specialty sweets from the Mount Vernon Inn and Firehook Bakery.
The Mansion will be open for candlelight tours. "This includes a tour of the wine cellar, which is the only time it is open throughout the year," said Stephanie Brown, marketing director, Mount Vernon Estate.
HISTORIC INTERPRETERS WILL discuss Washington's attempts at creating a vineyard and highlight various wine-related items inside the Mansion, such as Washington's spirits case. "It's all very casual, with bring-your-own seating," she said.
There is a large tent at one end of the east lawn for the wineries and the music at the other end. Capacity each night is limited to 1,500. As of Monday, tickets for Saturday night were sold out, but they were still available for Friday and Sunday nights.
Due to construction for the new education/museum center, entrance to the estate is through a temporary gate, near the regular Texas Gate, with a walkway directly to the Mansion, Brown said. Parking will be in the estate's regular parking lots off the circle.
Throughout each evening, wine samples and sales will be available from the following Virginia wineries: Afton Mountain Vineyards, Breaux Vineyards, Ingleside Plantations Vineyards, Shenandoah Vineyards, Swedenburg Estate Vineyards, Gray Ghost Vineyards, Valhalla Vineyards, Willowcroft Farm Vineyards, Tomahawk Mill Winery, Chrysalis Vineyards, Farfelu Vineyards, Gabriele Rausse Winery, Unicorn Winery, Keswick Vineyards & Winery, Hartwood Winery and Oasis Winery.
Cases of wine purchased at the Festival can be transported by wine valets to The Shops for easy pickup. The Shops at Mount Vernon will remain open until 9:30 each evening for those who wish to purchase souvenirs of their visit to the Festival and the estate.
The Festival takes place regardless of weather. Designated drivers will receive free sodas. "All proceeds benefit the ongoing preservation and restoration of the estate and its educational programs," Ryser said.