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Thanks to my good friends Emily and Patten, I scored two free tickets to the 9th Annual Norton Wine and Bluegrass Festival at Chrysalis Vineyards over the weekend. (It’s always nice to have smart friends who win trivia contests and then can’t use their prizes because they have travel plans during the same weekend.) The ride out there alone was lovely enough, and then it turned out to be a perfect fall day to enjoy a little fresh air and sunshine.

For those of you DC-ers who haven’t ventured down Rt. 50 to this gorgeous area, I highly recommend you get yourself out there before the weather turns nasty. I hopped in the car with my friend Kate, who came to keep me company and partake in some boozy goodness, and we barely even noticed the ride because it was so unusually traffic-less and pleasant.

We started by wandering around the vendor tent, which had everything from beautiful jewelry to wooden furniture and housewares made out of re-purposed wine barrels from Wingo Wine Works–think gorgeous curves and deep purple tones–to gourmet chocolates and wine pairings from Chocolaterie Wanders (the cinnamon chocolate was to die for) to fantastic olive oils and vinegars from All Things Olive, who happen to also be at the Kensington Farmers’ Market on Saturday mornings.

Then, we hopped in on a 9-wine tasting session featuring the vineyard’s trademark grape, the Norton. They started us off with their 2008 Viognier, a white with peachy undertones, then moved right into two rosés and a full palette of reds. Although I actually liked several of the wines we tasted, I was surprised that my favorite ended up being their Sarah’s Patio Red. I’m not usually a sweet wine type of gal, but this “white masquerading as a red,” as Linda, our guide, referred to it, had a hint of cherry sweetness without being overpowering. It sort of tasted like sangria, actually–perfect for a warm October day hanging out on the grass and listening to a bunch of guys playing bluegrass. We each bought a bottle and snagged a glass, then hunkered down on the lawn with some brie and rosemary crackers to take in the sun.