Last weekend Gabe and I went to visit a couple of the Virginia wineries that are only an hour from where we live. There are over 250 wineries in the state, and the number is growing ever year! Unfortunately, there are only so many hours in the day so we were able to see four. I had no idea how absolutely beautiful the state of Virginia is, but let me tell you it has something to offer everyone. The further out of the city you go, the more you immerse yourself in the great countryside of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Vast green lands, small towns and family owned farms will leave you speechless.
We stayed at a B&B owned by one of the wineries we visited, The Inn at Vineyards Crossing. It was our first experience at a bed and breakfast and we loved the homey feel of the creaking floors and soft conversation down the hall like we were staying at an old friends. Throughout the day classical music played softly in the house as guests came and went to their activities. The welcoming house manager, Tammy, offered us a glass of wine from the local winery and to put our bags down and kick our feet up in one of the sitting rooms when we walked in. Both of which we gladly accepted. I forgot to take pictures of our room, but it was a corner room with views of the side and back yard. It was perfect the following morning when we could pull open the shades and enjoy sun streaming in while we laid in bed until breakfast.
A portion of the house was very old and historic built in the 1700s when it served as the local post office. The doors photographed are the original doors from when it was first in use. While this room is very different from the sitting room when you first walk in the house, the antique surroundings were just as inviting and interesting.
The four vineyards we visited were Philip Carter Winery, Winding Road Cellars, Desert Rose Ranch & Winery, and Barrel Oak Winery. Each had their own unique personality and something different to offer.
Philip Carter was our first introduction to Virginia wine and offered a special picnic basket with cheese, sausage, crackers, and two glasses of wine that we could enjoy anywhere on the grounds. After our quick tour and tasting, we took ours right in front of the Cabernet Franc grapes and enjoyed the view and the gorgeous weather. The vineyard is rich in history and it’s current owner takes great care in honoring the past, while making progress with current technologies (and marketing strategies). This vineyard’s owner also owns the B&B we stayed at just down the road, and was gracious and welcoming to everyone who wanted to meet him.
Winding Hill Cellars is Philip Carter’s neighbor, so we didn’t have to go far to find our next gem. It looks like a little house down a winding dirt road, but we found out soon enough it is an excellent winery celebrating it’s 3rd anniversary, owned by a couple who started making wine in their basement. The wife of the wine maker was pouring our wines for the tasting and told us she never saw herself being a farmer, but loved their life with the vineyard.
Don’t you just want to sit out here with a group of friends with a glass (or two) of rose?
We brought home a bottle from this vineyard called ‘Tribute’ that is a red blend. I love the note on the back of the bottle.
It was about mid afternoon and we needed to get some food in our stomachs before continuing on. In true countryside form, the closest place nearby was about 9 miles down the road at a little country store, that also served as a gas station. We ordered a couple of sandwiches and enjoyed the view before heading off to our next stop.
As I mentioned before, each winery had it’s own personality and the Desert Rose Ranch & Winery was much more lively than the two previous vineyards and lived up to the ‘ranch’ aspect of the name. There was a live musician playing the BEST country music oldies that had this Florida raised girl singing and dancing. The woman serving our wine tasting had red cowgirl boots and the sweetest Virginia accent. Folks from near and far were outwardly enjoying themselves listening to the music and enjoying the atmosphere.
The man who owns the vineyard was in the CIA for 31 years, and named a bottle of their Chambourcin red R.E.D for “Retired and Extremely Dangerous”. We took a bottle of that home too.
If Philip Carter Winery is the popular kid, Winding Road Cellar is the quiet one, Desert Rose is the southern belle, then Barrel Oak is the party animal. Our last winery, Barrel Oak, was quite a jolt at the end of the day. We pulled up to a lawn full of groups of friends, families, kids running around, and dogs roaming and a large estate right in the middle of it all. Inside the estate was no different than outside, with folks from near and far enjoying wine tasting and picnics. We cozied up at the bar (by cozy I mean squeezed where we could) and their wine choices were just as vast as their property. We chose the tasting of mostly reds, and enjoyed the rest of our time at a picnic table taking in the surroundings and people watching.
Back at the B&B the next morning, coffee was brewing and breakfast was cooking. So we took in our last of the peace and quiet out on the porch before eating with the other guests of the Inn. At breakfast, everyone eats together only furthering the feeling of staying with friends. There were four other couples that were outgoing and friendly, and we all exchanged stories of the vineyards we visited during our stay. We also gave tips on ones we hit that others didn’t, and vice versa, taking a note of ones we need to come back to visit. And we will definitely be back to visit!
I got in touch with my inner farm girl out in Hume, Virginia, and I would recommend a similar trip to anyone. I couldn’t help but gasp around every corner at just how beautiful it was, and the hospitality and kindness of the people was heartwarming. We are having so much fun exploring all that Virginia has to offer. I can’t wait to plan our next adventure.