Q&A Blog Series: Melanated Queens of the #VAWine Scene
Wine and love – what more could a girl ask for? This week, I want to introduce you all to Sierra Hilliard. She’s all about traveling to Virginia wineries and sharing her adventures with lots of #LoveVA sign stops along the way.
Sierra probably doesn’t even know this (until now) but many years ago when I first joined Instagram to post my Virginia wine adventures, Sierra was the very first woman of color I stumbled across on the social
platform who was doing the same thing. I had to do a double take and say to myself “wait, there’s someone else who looks like me and loves Virginia wines and is posting about it too?” – this was quite rare to see at the time. But, thankfully, we’ve come a long way and Virginia is doing a much greater job at marketing the wine industry to more diverse audiences.
In 2017, we had somewhat of a surprise meetup while both visiting the newly opened Wine Reserve at Waterford. It was so awesome to finally meet in person. While there, we also connected on both our passions around the #LoveVA LoveWorks signage campaigns. Sierra has visited just about every single one. So, if you’re ever trying to find a sign near you for that perfect photo opportunity, just follower her for some inspiration.
It’s probably due time that she and I connect at another winery soon. In the meantime, get to know more about Sierra in today’s post and be sure to follow her as she ventures out to hit that 200 wineries mark and more of those LoveWorks signs, too.
Sierra Hilliard, Virginia Wine Lover IG @vawino.sierra
Question: What led you to become interested in visiting Virginia wineries/wine and sharing your experiences?
Answer: I started drinking wine when I turned 21 – you know legal age and all – but at the time I wasn’t into all of the different styles and vintages. I would simply choose one that looked good or had a nice bottle, and I tried it. But, about five years ago I entered a contest through the County of Spotsylvania Government that my mother told me about. I can’t actually remember what I needed to do for the contest, but the winner was to receive a wine pass to enjoy tastings at five Spotsylvania, Virginia area wineries. I won the contest and my wine adventures started right then and there! Since then, I have been to 177 Virginia wineries and that list is growing. I certainly have had times where I didn’t get to taste for a season or so because of other life activities, but I do believe visiting 177 across Virginia in the last four years is a great accomplishment. And, as you will see by my Instagram feed, I am also on a mission to visit every Virginia “Love” sign along the way.
Question: Do you have a preferred Virginia wine varietal or style of wine? If so, what is it and why? If not, just tell us your favorite Virginia wine these days!
Answer: I honestly do not have a preferred Virginia wine varietal. I like both red and white wine, it all just depends on the notes. But if I had to choose one (even though Norton is considered the true Virginia grape) I would go with Petit Manseng. I love the notes in this wine. You get everything from mango to honeysuckle. It’s delicious and grows so well here. Of course, there are different wines around the state that are a “must have” like Red Spark from Casanel Vineyards and Effingham Manor‘s Rosé (a must add to any Rosé wine lovers collection). Byrd Cellars, which is not often spoke of, has pretty good wines as well.
Question: Now for the tough question! If you have out of town guests who want you to take them to a Virginia winery for the day, where would you take them and why?
Answer: Oh boy, yes this is a tough question! With visiting 177 Virginia wineries I have come across so many that I loved for different reasons, from the wine selection to great customer service. But a couple that I would definitely visit with guests would be Breaux Vineyards and Casanel Vineyards in Loudoun County or Old House Vineyards located in Culpeper, Va. Old House is a winery, distillery and brewery so you couldn’t go wrong with taking guests there with all they have to choose from (there’s also a Love sign on the property so you can check that one off of your list if you’re trying lol).
But of course, there are many other wineries across Virginia that are great as well in their own way. Simply put, there truly is a Virginia winery experience for everyone, no matter what their palate is or their interests such as ambiance, views, and other fun additions like entertainment, food trucks and novelties like wine slushies. I can’t wait to continue visiting more wineries throughout the state while making a few stops to say “hi” and pick up wine at some of my favorites. *** Thanks so much to Sierra for her time and participation in this blog series! #Cheers!