Centerville Virginia’s Bull Run Regional Park attracts visitors from almost a hundred miles away due to its variety of events and annual activities. The Virginia Wine Festival is one of my favorites since more than 60 wine vendors travel to introduce themselves to you. Traveling to and from this event requires special attention, since nobody wants people drinking and driving. For those with designated drivers, you’ll get a reduced rate and a special wristband that shows you’ll be behind the wheel later. Everyone else can take advantage of the shuttle service that runs folks from the Vienna metro station, the Reston Limousine Bus. You can also hire your own car to pick you up.
Lodging near this event site is limited. There is a Hampton Inn & Suites about 18 minutes away. Search near the city of Manassas and you’ll find mostly motels. There’s also a Four Points by Sheraton near 66, also known as the impossible freeway because the traffic on it is almost always terrible, but there are rarely side street options. When using this route, always allow yourself plenty of travel time.
The festival is entirely on grass or gravel grounds, and the picnic tables are limited. Come prepared to stand on your feet for several hours or sit on the ground. Many attendees had blankets and chairs, but we didn’t want to carry that around all day. Several people brought their own coolers of food as well, which is fine, just no booze. However, they missed out some delicious barbecue, made to order crepes and real kettle corn. Bottles of water were around $2 each. Oh, and don’t buy your tickets ahead of time. That line was longer than the one we were in to buy them on site.
You might want to pack a lot of patience. This festival gets more popular every year and the wait to sample the wines can take up to 20 minutes for one vendor. We waited in several areas that were three rows deep. Try to stand sideways at the tasting table to allow for more people to receive pours. The line moves faster that way. Nobody was rushing us to drink our samples and move along, however. The mood was relaxed and everyone gets friendly after a couple of rounds of tastings.
We skipped Fox Meadow’s booth since we have been to their vineyards before. A couple of great surprises we found included Williamsburg Winery and Deer Creek’s Table Red. The wait for Barboursville is long, but totally worth the wait. First Colony and Philip Carter were surprisingly good as well. We didn’t get to try Chrysalis, but our friends enjoyed their selection of white wines. The industry here seems to have matured to the point where you can find a great Viognier or mulled wine two tents away from each other.
There’s a private food and wine tasting ticket that gives you access to classes and tables and chairs in the shade. Since they appeared to be covering the basics, we decided to skip this. If you really want the royal treatment, go for the V.I.P. passes that get you two gourmet catered meals, onstage seating for the entertainment performances, and the food and wine pairing lessons. Any bottles you buy can be picked up at the end of the day in the parking lot. Just be prepared to wait in line there too.