Because I’m one of the only five people listening to the radio on a Friday night, I recently won tickets to the Virginia Wine Festival from one of my favorite DC stations, Mix 107.3 (I used to commute from Western Maryland to DC for work, so the Jack Diamond Morning Show and I spent a lot of time together). I was already planning on going to the festival, so cue me screaming like a 13-year-old girl at a Taylor Swift concert when I found out I’d be drinking all day for free.
Now that Jonathan has been gone for a month, the adrenaline of getting everything ready for his deployment has dried up, and I’m starting to sink into that rut of I have to do this for at least eight more months. Which is admittedly pretty depressing. So I think Jonathan and I were both relieved to find out I’d have a weekend outside in the (hopefully) nice fall weather, drinking wine with friends. Because nothing takes your mind off A WAR ON TERROR like 60-some odd wineries pumping you full of reds and whites.
I headed out to The Plains, Virginia with my friends Martin (again), Curtis, and Brooke. It was a bit of a drive, but worth it for the view of the countryside (and because I forced everybody to listen to country music the whole way; Jonathan would be so proud). Later we met up with Martin and Curtis’s friend Steve, and his friend Brittany, and with our mutual friend Andrea who I have no pictures of (sorry, Andrea), but she was the only one brave enough to buy an entire case of wine at the end of the day.
We got there six minutes after the festival opened, and there were already lines formed at tasting tents. Virginians are serious about their wine. We set up our camp, and discovered that people were just leaving all their picnic shit and belongings hanging out everywhere while they went to taste wines, and nobody was worried about theft. Toto, we’re not in Los Angeles anymore.
Let the tastings begin.
The amount of wineries represented in the Great Meadow was pretty intimidating, but luckily there were some vendor tents set up to let the alcohol metabolize between tastings.
I was disappointed to learn that there was only one cheese vendor, so I didn’t feel bad about sampling every cheese from Country Pride Cheese House. Except for the bacon & cheddar. I’m only a few months post-vegetarianism; bacon is several years away.
By the middle of the day, the grounds were packed, so we were hopping from tent to tent based solely on line length. Some people we tasted with in the afternoon had mentioned (since I’m a fan of sweet wines), that there was a tent for Peaks of Otter Winery that had a great selection of fruit wines, and also a peppery wine that paired nicely with Cheese Whiz. Okay, crazy people. Whatever you say.
Peaks of Otter wasn’t necessarily my favorite overall winery of the day, but they definitely snagged my most-entertaining superlative. Not only did they actually spray a bit of Cheese Whiz on our fingers so we could get the full tequila-shot-like experience of the Cheeze Whiz-sip of wine-Cheese Whiz pairing, they also boasted a wine made with hot peppers called “Kiss the Devil.” Which sounded intimidating, but…it’s wine. How spicy can it be?
Other than the wine, my favorite part of the day was stopping by the ABUNDANCE of big-hat vendors at the festival. I’m not totally sure on the history that makes Virginia wines correlate with big hats, but I’m not complaining. I just wish I’d known ahead of time, because I have about twice as many big hats as there are appropriate occasions during the year to wear big hats.
Because we were all pretty sure a wine festival isn’t the appropriate place to get wasted, we took several food breaks throughout the day. The festival had a decent number of food tents set up, but we’d decided to do a picnic potluck. We may or may not have shared a bottle of wine during the first food break. Most of the tents offered to open a bottle of purchased wine for you right when you bought it, so it was difficult to resist.
I’ve been a Virginia resident for almost two years now, but I have to admit that this was my first real experience with Virginians in the masses. The verdict: a lot of Polo shirts and boat shoes, a few popped collars, and a whole lot of very friendly, happy, maybe drunk people.
And, of course, no American festival would be a true American festival without some little touches of patriotism.
By around 5:00pm I was exhausted, so basically I walked around sulking, refusing to taste anymore wines, and complaining, until Curtis recommended we head home before I start kicking people in the shins. In my defense, I was driving, so I’d stopped drinking several hours previously, and a wine festival is less fun when you can’t festival the wines anymore. Curtis, however, was in great spirits the whole day.
The car ride back was fairly sleepy, until Martin suggested I pull IMMEDIATELY OFF THE HIGHWAY so we could stop in Manassas for some Sweet Frog frozen yogurt. I then pulled off a three-lane merge in less than two seconds, because nothing can make me forget the safety of my passengers faster than frozen dairy products. (In case you’re wondering, I got a mix of cappuccino and Oreo flavored yogurt, topped with dark chocolate bark, some weird fruity shit Martin recommended that popped in my mouth like a Gusher, and granola. Sounds weird, maybe, but you’re going to have to trust me on this because I’ve had a lot of experience with frozen yogurt.)
The only real disappointment was that, despite my lack of 3G coverage during the day, by the time I got home I still had no sign of life from Jonathan. Then I think it was a combination of a day of wine and a mild sunburn mingling with the disappointment of not hearing from Jonathan that allowed me to fall asleep before 10:00pm, and continue to sleep for the next 11 hours. When I woke up, I had no hangover. But I did have an email from Jonathan explaining that he’d moved again, and that he was safe. It ended with, “I love you and I miss you and I want a nap.”
Which I think pretty well sums up things for both of us most of the time.