Some people hit the beach one last time during Labor Day weekend. We hit the food festival. Northern Virginia hosted the first annual Epicurience festival in partnership with Saveur magazine to showcase the bazillion wineries, vineyards and other tasty delights of the region. So for all of you thinking about going next year, or Googling recaps in 2014 deciding to buy tickets or not, here's what we thought.
Epicurience had several events spread across Loudoun County, but we attended the main attraction: The Grand Tasting at Morven Park under a huge white tent. Morven is gorgeous (see the shots scattered throughout this post!). It's secluded, picturesque and a short drive from the airport and DC. The one downside? The house was closed for the event, which is a real shame. We would have loved to tour the mansion and the estate could have earned a ton of money. Then again, I get why you don't want wine drinkers in a historic house.
The tickets were pricey at about $95 for general admission with the VIP tickets at $175. General admission got you into the event and all of the tastings and demonstrations for your session (eg. 11-2 or 3-6 PM), but you had to park at a satellite location and be transported. It was very easy and I honestly can't imagine driving straight onto the property to be worth the VIP price.
Based on the experience, I'm not sure I would pay $95/ticket again. $75/ticket? Probably. There just wasn't enough to see and taste for the current price. Don't get me wrong, there was a giant tent's worth, but I really thought there could have been another component. Maybe a farmer's market with produce or flowers for sale, or a specific tasting tent for wine and chocolate. Part of it may have been the weather. No one wanted to linger. It was August in Virginia for goodness sake- humid and hot as anything!!! So move this event to fall and yes, I'll hang out on the lawn and listen to music, buy a bottle of wine and relax. But I wanted out of there at 2 PM and I definitely didn't want to buy all hot food from the food trucks. If they were selling local ice cream they would have made a killing.
Some of the vendors were great, some where mediocre. We loved chatting with the vineyard/winery employees. For example, the Tarara booth guy gave us the scoop on events at the winery, gave us tickets to the event and let us know about the new sparkling wine collection they were launching today. The fruit candy people...with a product that contained pretty much no fruit and a ton of artificial colors? Why is a vendor like that allowed into this event?!
What to wear and bring... Think summer vineyard, NOT beachwear. Bring a purse that is cross body or shoulder. You need your hands free. Don't bring water. They have sparkling and regular water available for free. Don't bring lawn chairs. There's seating available!
If you want to make a weekend of it...For other activities, stay at Salamander Resort for the full Loudoun County experience. Shop and antique in Middleburg and Leesburg. Go to vineyard with the free tickets vendors give you at the tasting!
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