(Updated at 2:05 p.m. on 9/13/2023) The Commonwealth of Virginia will take center stage at Tysons Corner Center this Saturday (Sept. 16).
The first annual Celebrate Virginia festival will enliven the Plaza at Tysons Corner Center from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. with beer and wine tastings as well as live entertainment, an artisan market and a mural painted in real time.
“We are excited to bring the community together at our inaugural Celebrate Virginia event, which highlights everything that makes our home state special,” said Jesse Benites, the director of property management for the mall’s owner, Macerich. “We will be showcasing small Virginia-based businesses, artists, and talent and are thrilled with the support and collaboration from our public officials and community partners.”
Some of those officials are slated to make appearances, including Rep. Gerry Connolly, Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay, and representatives of the county’s police and fire departments and George Mason University.
Organized in partnership with Visit Fairfax — Fairfax County’s official destination marketing agency — and the Virginia Tourism Corporation (VTC), Celebrate Virginia will be generally open to the public and free to attend.
The only exception is the V.I.P. Wine and Wellness Tent, which requires $40 tickets. The tent will offer tastings from eight different Virginia wineries and access to a pop-up from the five-star resort and spa Salamander Middleburg, where attendees can create a personalized aromatherapy oil.
Proceeds from the ticket sales will go to the Merrifield-based nonprofit Food for Others.
As for the free attractions, there will be beer tastings from five breweries, including Chantilly’s Strange Fruit Brewing, Smartmouth Brewing from Hampton Roads and Brother Craft Brewing from Harrisonburg.
The musical line-up will feature:
- 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. — DanYko (Alexandria)
- 1-2:30 p.m. — Tejas & Felix (Fairfax City)
- 3-4 p.m. — Zac Quintana & Shawn Cody (Manassas)
The Artisan Makers Market will be similarly stacked with vendors based in Virginia, including many in Fairfax County:
- Inner Loop Coffee Roasters (Falls Church)
- Mother Cluster’s (Fairfax)
- Snugabutter (Annandale)
- Nordic Knot (Reston)
- River Sea Chocolates (Chantilly)
- The Humble Hustle Company (Roanoke)
- Trupti’s Craft: Quilling Gifts (Fairfax)
- Alyssa Mae Crafts (Tysons)
Throughout the day, visitors can also help paint a community mural with Loudoun-based artist Kevin Bednarz, whose work mixes street art, graphics and “original styles,” according to Tysons Corner Center.
“The design will be pre-sketched, and event attendees will be able to paint and bring the mural to life throughout the event,” the mall said. “The final product will be a large piece painted by the community to be exhibited within the shopping center.”
There will also be a “Spin the Tysons Wheel” with limited edition “Virginia is for Shopping Lovers” custom shirts, beanie hats, picnic blankets and other merchandise as the prizes.
“Virginia’s artisan, craft beer, and wine industries have become important drivers of Virginia’s tourism economy, making the Commonwealth an ideal destination for travelers who are seeking authentic, experiential attractions,” VTC Director of Communications Andrew Cothern said. “This event will provide an excellent locally made experience of everything Virginia has to offer firsthand.”
Visit Fairfax President and CEO Barry Biggar said in a statement that the agency is “thrilled” to help celebrate “talented artisans, makers and musicians” from Fairfax County and across the state.
Organizers hope Celebrate Virginia will become a recurring occasion. It will likely return annually to Tysons Corner Center, which was the “brainchild behind this event,” according to a Visit Fairfax spokesperson.
“We hope residents and visitors alike will come out to see what this amazing destination is all about and even take home a unique piece of Virginia,” Biggar said.
Grand Cata recently made a grand entrance at the Mosaic District.
The D.C.-based Latin American wine bar and store opened the doors of its first Virginia location on July 18, according to an Instagram post.
The modest, 910-square-foot space is located next to B-Side in the former Poke Bar at 8298 Glass Alley, Suite 100. It includes a counter bar and table where visitors can drink wine and eat food, along with shelves of wine for retail sale and a market with sauces and other pantry items.
“We are so happy to be part of the @mosaicdistrict community and we are ready for you,” the business said in a social media post last week.
Started as a retail shop in downtown D.C. in 2016, Grand Cata was founded to fill what founders Pedro Rodríguez and Julio Robledo saw as a gap in the region’s wine market for options from Latin America.
The Mosaic District store is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday. It’s closed on Monday.
Tenants still to come to the Merrifield neighborhood are Pottery Barn, the beach-inspired clothing store Faherty and the ice cream shop Mimi’s Homemade. In addition, farmers market operator FreshMarket announced last week that it will expand onto Strawberry Lane starting this Sunday (Aug. 6).
The Mosaic District’s Sip and Stroll map may soon get a new stop.
Grand Cata, a D.C.-based Latin American wine bar and market, is expanding to Virginia for the first time with a new store in the Merrifield neighborhood.
Located in the former Poke Bar at 8298 Glass Alley, Suite 100, next to B Side, the venue is on track to open early this summer, with construction about 60 to 70% complete, according to Grand Cata co-founder and CEO Pedro Rodríguez.
“We look forward to opening our first expansion to the Virginia market, and hopefully, people enjoy what we do,” Rodríguez told FFXnow.
After initially meeting as workers at a media development nonprofit, Rodríguez and Grand Cata President Julio Robledo bonded over a shared passion for wine, but after coming to D.C. from Puerto Rico and Chile, respectively, they noticed a lack of Latin America wines in local stores.
Grand Cata was created to fill that gap, launching as a retail shop in D.C.’s Shaw neighborhood on March 15, 2016.
Listed among the top wine retailers in the country by outlets like Wine Enthusiast and VinePair, the business has become a hot spot for not just buying and tasting wine and spirits, but also learning about the history and cultures of the region where the drinks originated.
Now, Rodríguez and Robledo are eager to bring their wine and knowledge to a new audience across the Potomac River.
“We have a really well-established identity here in the capital,” Rodríguez said. “In the more affluent, wealthy area of Virginia, it’s got Fairfax County and McLean, Falls Church, easy access. A lot of fun neighbors are in the mix there, so it’s a destination.”
Like the La Cosecha location, the new Grand Cata will have a wine bar, retail shop and market with sauces, spices and other pantry items. Since Virginia doesn’t allow alcohol-only service, it will also sell food, such as sandwiches and charcuterie boards.
Rodríguez says the menu will be simple and intimate in keeping with the space, which is just 908 square feet in size, per a permit from Fairfax County. Featured wines will include selections from Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Mexico, Bolivia, and even Spain and Portugal.
“The best way to get to know the wines we feature is to taste them,” Rodríguez said. “So, people are going to have the opportunity to taste them with us and get to know them, and hopefully they like them and buy them and come back.”
Several Fairfax County restaurants are joining in Spring Wine Fling — a nearly two-week stretch of wine and dinner specials on offer around the region.
The special is set to run from Monday, March 20 through Friday, March 31.
Across Maryland, D.C. and Northern Virginia, restaurants will offer a $55 dinner with an appetizer, entree and two one pairings. Each restaurant has their own selection of wine pairings with certain entrees.
In Fairfax County, participating locations include:
- Alta Strada Mosaic (2911 District Avenue)
- Circa at The Boro (1675 Silver Hill Drive)
- Hamrock’s Restaurant (3950 Chain Bridge Road)
- Matchbox McLean (1340 Chain Bridge Road) and Matchbox Reston (1900 Reston Metro Plaza)
The event is being organized by the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington (RAMW), the trade organization that also puts on the region’s biannual Restaurant Week.
A full list of participating locations can be found on the Spring Wine Fling website.
Photo via Alta Strada Mosaic/Facebook