A few weeks ago I got a text from my husband asking if I was interested in going to a wine festival at Mount Vernon. Confused, I immediately called him. A wine festival at a historical landmark? He must have meant something else. But sure enough, there is an annual wine festival out on George Washington’s lawn. With a group of coworkers interested in making a night of it, and shockingly affordable tickets, we decided to attend.
I’ve been to Mount Vernon before, but never at night. I felt like we were in on an enormous secret as the tour busses full of students pulled out, and the adult wine enthusiasts pulled in. So many things were the same as always, and yet, you could tell something special was about to happen. When we arrived the sun hadn’t yet set, and there were still the telltale signs that this is, indeed, a tourist attraction. There were volunteers playing old-timey tunes on the piccolo, and as we walked towards the lawn people stopped to read the plaques explaining the various buildings on the estate.
When we finally reached the backside of our first president’s home, I was actually quite taken aback! The first thing that always takes your breath away is the view. The backside of Mount Vernon features an absolutely enormous porch. Rocking chairs are set up so visitors can relax and contemplate what it must have been like to walk out your backdoor and see this beautiful view each day.
What is truly remarkable is that, with the exception of a fence and a small boat or two, the natural vista is not much changed from what Martha and George must have seen. No buildings have been erected, no telephone poles obscure the skyline. Truly, you can actually imagine what it was like to call this place home.
An enormous tent had been erected on the lawn, and I was struck by the sheer size. I sincerely hope George and Martha took the opportunity to entertain out here as often as they could (the tour guides always like to remind you that George was hardly ever home, spending the majority of his time off fighting wars), because this is a great place for an outdoor party!
I like to get festive with my clothes, so when going to a Founding Father’s abode, it seems only right that I break out the puffed sleeves. Don’t you think?
We headed inside the tent where dozens of local wineries had come out to offer tastes of their latest and greatest. While the wine itself was fantastic, what I actually loved most was how excited these winemakers were about their craft. Some were very highbrow, quizzing the guests about what they could taste, while others were so very down to earth. My personal favorite was a sassy little old lady who openly told us that “our cherry wine doesn’t taste good on its own, but if you cut it with some Sprite Zero, it’s delicious!” I like a lady that isn’t afraid to be honest, don’t you?
We sampled for about an hour and a half, before finally buying a bottle of our unrivaled favorite of the night and heading back out to the lawn. Upon the recommendation of a friend who had been before, James and I brought a blanket to sit on. We spread it out on the grass, bought some kettle corn as a late night snack to go with the Viognier, and relaxed as the sun set.
As we did, I was once again struck by where we actually were. We sat in almost complete darkness, no street lights for miles, so we had to listen closely to the words our friends spoke, not being able to see their faces as they talked. The crickets created a true orchestra with the cicadas, and I wondered if Martha used to sit out here and just listen.
Or perhaps she simply stared up at the night sky, wondering if George was going to come home soon. Maybe she enjoyed some wine herself as she sat out here. Either way, it was truly a night to remember. We will most definitely be going back next year!