Loudoun County, Virginia is full of wineries, breweries and great places to dine at — Photo courtesy of Bill Hatch/Zephaniah Farm Vineyard
A longtime agricultural region and a growing tech and commercial hub, Virginia’s Loudoun County has a food and drink scene that’s packed with flavor.
Twenty-five miles from our nation’s capital, Loudoun County is known as “D.C.’s Wine Country” with more than 40 wineries and tasting rooms surrounded by sweeping hills and farmland. Beer drinkers will find many breweries and fans of cider and spirits can order a glass at area makers.
With dining out, Loudoun County restaurants provide a relaxed morning start or a fun evening with options involving heritage cuisines, common fare or creative dishes.
The Conche - Leesburg
The Conche puts an interesting dining perspective on chocolate — Photo courtesy of Rey Lopez
Your sweet tooth will enjoy Sunday brunch, dinner or happy hour at this chocolatey-themed restaurant at the Village of Leesburg, led by chef and owner Santosh Tiptur. Named after the machine that is used in manufacturing chocolate, The Conche serves various traces of chocolate in some dishes and drinks and makes it a key ingredient in dessert selections.
Along with a boutique selling eye-catching artisan confections, a chocolate lab holds classes teaching children and adults how to make sweets and treats.
Wheatland Spring Farm + Brewery - Waterford
For their beers, Wheatland Spring Farm + Brewery grows and harvests grains and produce — Photo courtesy of Michele Herrmann
A farm might not first come to mind as a spot for sipping on a beer, but this 30-acre farm and brewery run by Bonnie and John Branding is the place to do so. Prior to purchasing their farmland, the Brandings lived in Germany for five years, where they became familiar with farm breweries and were inspired to start one after moving back to the U.S.
Applying the concept of land beer at their circa 1832 farm, the couple grows grains, herbs and produce – and sources craft malt from other farms – and applies them in making beers at their brewhouse within a century-old barn. Known for their farmhouse ales, recent releases include Harvest 2020, with estate honey, and Carter’s, a dry Irish stout.
Shoe’s Cup & Cork - Leesburg
Shoe's Cup & Cork is located where a shoe repair shop once was — Photo courtesy of Michele Herrmann
Prior to having Shoe’s Cup & Cork, this 19th-century building once held, among other tenants, a shoe repair shop. It not only inspired this cozy eatery’s name but also its footwear-related decor and repurposed fixtures along the lower-level cafe. You can also see it in the exterior neon sign.
The venue also has a Secret Garden and bocce court, plus an upstairs Poker Room reflecting the heyday of the 1920s and 1930s. Shoe’s Cup and Cork offers weekday breakfast, lunch and dinner and weekend brunch. Consider the bacon, cheddar cheese and egg-based Hunter Scramble or the veggie version, the Gatherer Scramble.
SideBar - Leesburg
SideBar is part coffee shop, restaurant and cocktail bar — Photo courtesy of SideBar
This one-stop shop provides customers with everything they’re looking for – from first thing in the morning (coffee) to the start of the night (cocktails) and everything in-between (meals). And its title is a nod to the nearby courthouse, referencing when lawyers and judges break from proceedings to chat privately.
On the first floor, the SideBar restaurant is a classic American bistro that provides lunch, brunch, kids and late night menus. Upstairs, Night Shift has its own vibe and cocktails; among them, the Dealer’s Choice is a made-to-order drink that’s crafted from your personal likes and dislikes. And SideBar Coffee can keep caffeine levels going.
Sunset Hills Vineyard - Purcellville
Sunset Hills Vineyard uses solar panels as an energy source — Photo courtesy of Michele Herrmann
Mike and Diane Canney bought this post-Civil War era farm in 1999 and opened a tasting room inside a 150-year-old Amish barn in 2008. With views of the Blue Ridge and Short Hill Mountain, and 10 varietals grown across five different farms, Sunset Hills Vineyard draws power from 245 installed solar panels, practices environmentally-friendly methods for land care and has four electric car charging stations that customers can use.
The couple also gives supports various charities. In 2021, Diane Canney created a HOPE Quilt, in recognition of the doctors, nurses and emergency personnel lost to COVID-19.
10 of the best things to eat and drink in Virginia's Hunt and Wine Country
10 of the best things to eat and drink in Virginia's Hunt and Wine Country
Zephaniah Farm Vineyard - Leesburg
Zephaniah Farm Vineyard is run by the Hatch family — Photo courtesy of Bill Hatch/Zephaniah Farm Vineyard
Amid the current pandemic, owners Bill and Bonnie Hatch moved their wine tastings at their working farm and winery to their timber frame barn and adjacent patio; prior, they were conducted within their circa 1819 home. Having worked on this land since 1950, the Hatch family started planting grapes in 2002 to keep their former dairy farm going, and now grow 14 varieties including cabernet franc, merlot and chardonel.
Their business is named for Bill’s great-grandfather, Zephaniah Jefferson Hatch, who built and owned the Monticello Steamboat Company in the late 1800s. Their wine list extends to white table and off-dry wines, red wines and an intentional rose.
Mt. Defiance - Middleburg
Mt. Defiance develops handcrafted hard cider and small-batch distilled spirits — Photo courtesy of Mt. Defiance
With their Cider Barn and Distillery located in close proximity to each other, Mt. Defiance is collectively known for its handcrafted hard cider and small-batch distilled spirits. At their Cider Barn, order a glass of their on-draft ciders, sweet vermouth, and pommeau or cider flights.
At the distillery, staff prepare mini-cocktail flights and specialty drinks with their spirits, ranging from cassis liqueur, amaretto and bourbon to smoked whiskey, apple brandy and agave. Their Absinthe Superieure is presented in the traditional French style.
The Wine Kitchen - Leesburg
The Wine Kitchen Leesburg sources ingredients from Loudoun County farms — Photo courtesy of The Wine Kitchen Leesburg
In historic downtown Leesburg, this Italian-inspired restaurant and wine bar obtains ingredients from area farms and producers to create seasonal food and cocktails menus. According to owner Jason Miller, its locale makes it “right at the edge of the agricultural area of Loudoun County” but still located east enough to attract diners.
Inspired by the notion that “all good house parties end up in the kitchen,” wines can be ordered by the glass or as a three-choice flight from a list of global and local selections. The Wine Kitchen offers lunch, dinner, Sunday brunch and happy hour servings; a second location is in Frederick, Maryland.
Sense of Thai St - Ashburn
Chumphon pad thai is a popular dish at Sense of Thai St — Photo courtesy of Sense of Thai St.
Based at One Loudoun, a major mixed-use complex, Sense of Thai St prepares southern Thai cuisine and Thai street food. Owned by chef Porntipa Pattanamekar, who is from the southern Thai province of Chumphon, this restaurant is noted for dishes based on her grandmother’s recipes.
Try the Chumphon pad thai, which includes shrimp, jumbo crab and sweet radish; PAT pad thai, with a roast pork shoulder and thin rice noodles; or street fried rice. Beverage director and general manager Jeremy Ross stirs up excellent cocktails as well.
Crooked Run Fermentation - Sterling and Leesburg
Crooked Run Fermentation is known for their beers, but they are venturing into other alcoholic beverages, too — Photo courtesy of Michele Herrmann
Co-founders Jake Endres and Lee Rogan opened their first location in Leesburg in 2013 as a small operating brewery, but their business volume has poured over since then. A second spot in Sterling, with a biergarten and two eateries – the taqueria Senor Ramon and Daybreak Kitchen & Biscuit Co. – happened four years later.
While craft beers with traditional and experimental flavorings – for example, the Toastmaster is a fruity French toast creation – remain a priority, Crooked Run Fermentation has been edging into developing cider, seltzer and wine, too; limited edition rosé and merlot piquette were released in May 2021.