2017 Alternative Merlot
Slater Run Vineyards
Slater Run winemaker Katell Griaud produced a pair of identical 2017 merlots except for one tweak. The Classic includes added sulfites—in this case, sulfur dioxide, a common winemaking preservation additive that some people blame for headaches and other ailments—and the Alternative bottling has none.
The SRV Alt series is part of the Virginia Winemakers Research Exchange, a program where winemakers share data on oenological experiments. The reds are sampled blind and side-by-side in the Upperville tasting room and winery. (Are there more detectable notes of raspberry, black cherry and plum in the natural wine? Yes.) As ideal early fall reds—very young (bottled in December 2017) and made with no oak—these two could be served with a slight chill on a warm September day. // 1500 Crenshaw Road, Upperville; 9030 John S. Mosby Highway, Upperville; slaterrun.com
The Asian drink and dessert market is a tight one in Northern Virginia. To stand out, Iron Ice sells its fruity drinks in plastic pouches, allowing mix and match combinations of blueberry, strawberry, peach, mango and lychee juices with soda, lemonades and teas and a variety of fruit chunks and juice poppers. // 13814-D Braddock Road, Centreville; ironicecompany.com
Leesburg Medicine Man
The Wine Kitchen
After a decade on King Street, the Wine Kitchen added spirits to its drinks menu. The early star is an Old Fashioned mixed with Catoctin Creek Roundstone Rye, house bitters made with toasted cardamom and simple syrup infused with Palo Santo, an aromatic wood considered to have mystical powers and used in cleansing rituals. The result is a drink with a woodsy warmth brightened with citrus.
And for its 10th anniversary, the restaurant is partnering with Ketterman’s Jewelers for a giveaway. In each Diamond Flight of sparkling wine there will either be a quarter-carat diamond or a cubic zirconia. Through the fall, two guests will win a real rock. // 7 S. King St., Leesburg; thewinekitchen.com
Twin Spires Kolsch
Dragon Hops Brewing
The sauvignon blanc of beer, Kolsch is an unfussy, clean, light German ale—it’s “hard to hide imperfections,” says brewer Mitch Pilchuk—and one of the trending styles of 2018. The version at the new Dragon Hops brewery, set to be one of four signature brews, uses Galena hops from brewery owner Marilla Coryell’s farm and hop processing facility in nearby Philomont. // 130 E. Main St., Purcellville; dragonhopsbrewing.com