Our Founding Father President Washington and his wife Martha opened their lovely Mount Vernon Estate this weekend for their annual Spring Wine Festival & Sunset Tour. Friday night was the perfect evening for a celebration of Virginia wine with a fruit and cheese picnic overlooking the Potomac River.

President Washington opened the evening from the piazza with a toast to what has been 200+ years in the making in our home state of Virginia, the burgeoning wine industry, now over 200 wineries strong. Seventeen wineries were on hand under the big tent to pour for the crowd…AmRhein Wine Cellars, Barboursville Winery, Barrel Oak Winery, Chester Gap Cellars, DelFosse Winery, Desert Rose Winery, Fabbioli Cellars, Fox Meadow Winery, Gray Ghost Vineyards, Hiddencroft Vineyards, Horton Vineyards, James River Cellars, Philip Carter Winery, Prince Michel Winery, Rockbridge Vineyard, Veritas Vineyard & Winery and Wintergreen Winery.

Guests also had the chance to see Washington’s rarely open basement and root cellar where wine was stored (not quite as impressive as Thomas Jefferson’s ;) ).

I sipped some of my favorites as we hung out on the lawn for the evening…Veritas Winery Rosé and Sauvignon Blanc, Horton Vineyards Sparkling Viognier (Virginia’s official grape) and even had a chance to taste Barboursville Vineyards new 2011 Vermentino!

Fun new wine discovery of the evening was the only one-year old Desert Rose Ranch & Winery attending their first Virginia tasting event with a few of their wines like Hitch Hollow 2010 and Ole Moo Moo 2010. Very promising wines! And the folks couldn’t be nicer. They grew up on a large cattle ranch in the high desert country of Eastern Oregon where homemade wine making was part of their family tradition. I really look forward to getting down to Hume to visit them.

Cheers to wonderful Virginia wine evening with old and new friends!