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I’ve been wanting a chance to get out of the city and see some fall foliage for awhile now. Therefore, seeing as how I had a three-day weekend I set about planning an out of town day trip for Z and I.

Initially the plan was to go hiking, so I started asking around for good recommendations. My friend Keri highly recommended Harper’s Ferry, WV for the hiking trails and historic town atmosphere. I went ahead and researched online and one link led to another and suddenly I was browsing the local wineries… our hiking extravaganza quickly took a different turn.

I came across two vineyards that caught my eye and it turns out they were just down the road from one another. How convenient!

It was settled: we would make the hour and a half drive to Northern Virginia for a day of wine tasting.


With the hurricane having passed through last week many of the leaves were off the trees, but we were met with a scenic fall drive nonetheless. Although cloudy at first the sun was fully shining by the time we arrived.

Notaviva Vineyards


Once I saw the website I was instantly intrigued by Notaviva Vineyards. The name “Notaviva” is a combination of two Italian words: Nota- music note and Viva- with life.  Each wine is created to be paired with not a food, but a type of music. Just as different genres bring about different emotions, they seek to do the same with their wines.

After driving down a dirt road we arrived at the vineyard.



The tasting room was a beautiful space.


The vineyard is owned by a husband and wife and not only is this the tasting room, but it is their home as well! That table that you see in the photo above is their dining room table. The kitchen below is their family kitchen.


The bedrooms are located on the bottom level of the house. I’ve got to say you’ve REALLY got to love people to have an arrangement like this.

The owners were actually featured on DIY Network’s “Dream House” and built the entire vineyard from scratch. I found the links to the episodes and will have to watch.

Our tasting included eight different wines, each with a fun story about how they got their name and what type of music it pairs best with. 028

One of the most interesting was the story behind their “Calor” white wine. The owner worked as a musical engineer for many famous artists, operating their sound systems during concerts. This particular wine was inspired by his time on tour with Julio Iglesias (no, not Enrique).

The description from their site says it best:

Like a summer night on South Beach, Calor evokes feelings of good times and good friends. Close your eyes, inhale the ocean breeze, feel the rhythm of the latin jazz, then enjoy a glass of Calor.
Best paired with hot sax.

Each wine had a similar fun description and I was sure to take adequate notes, starring the ones I really enjoyed.


Two fun facts I learned:

1) Wines prepared in oak barrels have more tropical flavor profiles than those prepared in steel (more citrus).  We were able to sample two wines, both made of the exact same ingredients but one made in oak and one in steel. The difference was quite noticeable and I preferred the less acidic, tropical flavors associated with oak.

2) “Residual Sugar” is a term that refers to the amount of sugar added in to the wine. As you can imagine, dry wines will have 0% residual sugar where as dessert wines can have as high as 15%.

The sugar can be added in three different ways. The first is to stop the actual fermentation process, preserving the natural sugars. The second is to go through the entire process and simply add in a sugar once the wine is fully formed. The third involves adding juice concentrate at the end instead of pure sugar.

I find all of it very interesting. There are so many variables that can be altered when creating a wine that by educating myself I hope to get a better understanding of what types of wine I enjoy.


Z and I had such a nice time. We came home with a bottle of their “Celtico” Chambourcin. A light red wine making for a good compromise between our tastes.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of our VA day-trip: Lunch at Magnolias at the Mill & 868 Vineyards….

Question of the day: What makes you buy a particular wine? Is it the region? The name? The label? The price?