Can it get any better than illumined leaves, chilly evenings and harvest season on farm and vineyard alike? Actually, it can. Hunt country’s got some fabulous fests on tap this fall, so gather up a tasting (or riding) crew and get yourself out of town. Here are our top picks:
13th Annual Taste of Rappahannock Festival Sept. 11, 6 p.m. Belle Meade Schoolhouse, 2 Belle Meade Lane, Sperryville 540-987-3322 Tickets $150, table sponsorships available
They do it for the kids. Rappahannock County’s students have always been the primary beneficiaries of the region’s decade-old festival, this year more than ever. Students will feature prominently throughout the evening, from serving hors d’oeuvres to providing a little night music. Meanwhile, guests can count on a solid night of socializing and a chance to bid on a week-long stay at Burgundy’s Le Silence farmhouse. Feel like staying stateside? Raise your bid paddle for a VIP tour of Sperryville’s Copper Fox distillery, a trip to Cancun or a theater weekend in downtown D.C., among others.
National Sporting Library and Museum Polo Benefit Sept. 19, 12:30 p.m. Llangollen, Upperville 540-687-5053, www.nsl.org Tickets $100, table sponsorships available
Baseball might be America’s pastime, but in hunt country, polo reigns supreme. Rub shoulders with the region’s equestrian elite at the Virginia International Polo Club’s benefit for the the National Sporting Library in Middleburg. In the English garden party tradition, a luncheon will take place at the International Polo Club pavilion, followed by a silent auction and polo match featuring prominent players from Argentina, Chile, and the United States. A vintage silver trophy, donated by Jacqueline B. Mars (of candy bar fame), will be awarded to the winning team — and will be on display at the library throughout the year. Don’t pass up this quintessential snapshot of life in the country.
The Commonwealth Cup of Polo 25th Anniversary Sept. 12, 1 to 6 p.m. Great Meadow, 5089 Old Tavern Road, The Plains 703-823-1868 Admission $30, purchasable online at www.commonwealthcup.net
This rousing and spirited international polo tradition pits the US against the Brits in an afternoon of good fun for a good cause. Consider it a double-hitter: the Commonwealth Cup and The Wine Festival at The Plains pair up for one spectacular weekend key benefit match for raising vital funds that support projects for British and American servicemen and women all over the world. Guests will enjoy tastings of over 275 of Virginia wines, fine art and gourmet cuisine prepared by regional chefs. Activities also include wine and cooking demonstrations on the Viking stage, fancy hat and tailgate contests, and a carriage-drawn champagne divot stomp at halftime.
Second Annual Rappahannock County Farm Tour Sept. 25-26, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. 12018 Lee Highway, Sperryville 540-675-5330 Admission $5
Weekend tour-goers will experience personally what the “Buy Fresh/Buy Local” movement is all about during the 2nd Annual Rappahannock County Farm Tour Weekend. More than 20 Rappahannock farms, orchards, and wineries – as well as farm-to-table student programs and environmental organizations – will participate in this self-guided, countywide, family-friendly farm tour. Tour-goers can pick up tour maps, buy local products, and listen to presentations at the “All Things Rappahannock” farmers market at The Link in Sperryville, which also will serve as the starting point for the tour.
Chrysalis Vineyards’ 10th Annual Wine and Bluegrass Festival Oct. 2 and 3, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. 23876 Champe Ford Road, Middleburg 540-687-8222 Admission $20 at the door, $15 in advance
A long-time apologist for the uniquely American grape at which even hardened oenophiles can no longer turn their noses, Chrysalis is pairing up some of their latest bottles of Norton with another old-time Virginia favorite — bluegrass. Get out of the city and head west to Middleburg for a weekend of tastings (including Chrysalis’ recently debuted 2009 Norton), artisanal chocolate and cheese and the music of Jackass Flats and Hickory Ridge.