We’ve had a great time over the past few months, visiting various Virginia wineries as I work at updating the Handy Guide (2016 edition soon to be released!). And as always, part of why I love doing this is not just discovering (or re-discovering) really lovely wines and great winemakers but also just being out in nature and marveling at just how beautiful Virginia is. My roots are in Tennessee, but the deepest roots are in Virginia. I love my home state!
So I thought I’d share with you some photos from our winery excursions this year. As Afton Mountain Vineyards likes to say, “Grapes don’t grow in ugly places.” Very true.
In fact, let’s start with Afton Mountain, which we visited back in late March. Now February and March were pretty cold here in Virginia, with unexpected late snow over and over again. So we had a late spring. But still, I think you can see from the views here that this would be absolutely stunning when the trees start to leaf out and summer turns everything green.
One of our favorite local wineries is Linden Vineyards, out off Interstate 66 just before Front Royal. The owner isn’t crazy about the big crowds that can sometimes overwhelm wineries in Northern Virginia and around Charlottesville so there are restrictions on how large a group can be (namely: 4 people). And not everyone is crazy about that. But it makes for a very zen experience which we love. This photo is a little abstract but I like it because it transports me to the deck at Linden and the quiet of the mountain and the blue of the sky above or the green of the trellis over the deck.
Some of our wineries are huge — I mean, H-U-G-E. Think lots of visitors, definitely.
Even so, this large winery, Stone Tower, is way out in the country, surrounded by farms and cows who really, I mean really, would like to know just who you think you are to disturb their peace and tranquility. These cows lived right across the street from the winery you see above. And they were seriously unhappy about all the cars and SUVs going in and out of the gravel road to the winery. (By the way, an SUV or four-wheel drive is almost a must to visit wineries in Virginia. Not all roads are paved.)
Others are pretty small, like the one in the photo below which opened just this summer. Now, what’s very special about this particular winery is that it is owned by one of the founding fathers of Virginia wine and winemaking, Gabriele Rausse. Gabriele helped get Barbousville Vineyards started back in the 1970s (winemaking is now under the guidance of Luca Paschina) and he serves as an advisor and mentor to countless winemakers across the state. His wines are super. He finally opened a tasting room on his property and, as you can see, it’s secluded and intimate. Perfect. (He was even there, in the tasting room, when we visited!)
Of course, being on the Atlantic Coast also means getting our share of hurricanes and tropical storms, like the one that barreled through last weekend. When we visited Cedar Creek Winery last Sunday, the weather was all drizzly and the sky all full of smoky fog. But it was lovely standing on the deck and looking out onto the vineyards, all the same.
Several wineries also are horse farms, which isn’t all that surprising in Virginia. Today, we visited Otium Cellars, home of Goose Creek Farms and a stable of 19 Hanoverian show horses. (We got to see several while we were there.) But since this is about views, here’s the view as we left the winery.
And now I’ll leave you with a view from one of our favorites wineries, King Family, west of Charlottesville. We happened to come by not long ago for a club pickup on one of their Sunday polo days. And we had a blast, even though I haven’t been on a horse since I was ten years old.
If you happen to be in our lovely state, please consider visiting a winery. You’ll be glad you did!