1. Get a taste of reds, whites and blues
Special wine month events often include (or center around) live music. The 5th Annual Blues Festival at Mountain Cove Vineyards brings electric and acoustic blues performers together Oct. 4. Blue Ridge Vineyards hosts a bluegrass festival on that same day. The Norton Wine and Bluegrass Festival is celebrated at Chrysalis Vineyards on Oct. 4 and 5.
2. Hang out with the dogs at Chateau Morrisette
When you visit this lovely winery on the Blue Ridge Parkway, youll likely be greeted by the resident celebrity, a friendly black labrador retriever. The black lab also graces the labels of some of the wines. On Oct. 11, revel at the Black Dog Wine and Beach Music Festival at the winerys special events pavilion. Have dinner at the restaurant and enjoy the luxuriant tasting room and gift shop while youre there.
3. Spend an evening under the stars
Virginia Mountain Vineyards offers clear skies and an unobstructed view of the constellations, weather permitting, on the evenings of Oct. 17 and 18. An astronomy expert will be on hand to show celestial points of interest and telescopes will be set up in the vineyard for stargazing. Wine tastings are offered as well. The Milky Way awaits you.
4. Raise a glass of Virginia wine with George Washington
Sounds of happiness ring out over the Potomac River each year at the Fall Wine Festival and Sunset Tour at Mount Vernon. Sixteen Virginia wineries will be present to offer tastings. You can enjoy live jazz, tour the rarely-opened cellar vaults where the Father of our Country stashed his private reserve and Meet George Washington himself on the piazza of Mount Vernon. Oct. 3 – 5.
5. Let your spirit soar with the wind
Wine is known to elevate the spirits and so do hot air balloons. Historic Long Branch plantation brings them both together at its annual Hot Air Balloon and Wine Festival, Oct. 18 and 19. Seventeen Virginia wineries offer samplings and sales along with food and craft vendors, childrens activities and live music.
6. Pick a city and enjoy a festival
Some of Virginias coolest towns host wine festivals in October. The Fredericksburg Area Wine Festival brings together Virginia wineries, food, arts and crafts and entertainment Oct. 4 and 5. Wine and cuisine are highlighted at Taste of Culpeper on Oct. 12. More than 30 Virginia wineries will be present Oct. 18 and 19 at Norfolks Town Point Virginia Wine Festival. The historic town of Orange hosts the Pick of the Piedmont Fall Wine Festival on Oct. 25.
7. Spend the night at a winery
Several of Virginias wineries offer overnight accommodations. From the splendid new Wedmore Place boutique hotel at the Williamsburg Winery to Sharp Rock Winerys bed & breakfast cottages to the 1804 Inn suites at Barboursville, youll find just the right place to snuggle in with a glass of Virginia wine.
8. Enjoy a perfect meal
Whats better than pairing delicious Virginia wine with great food right at the winery? Barboursville Winery is home to the outstanding Palladio restaurant, serving fine Italian cuisine. Chateau Morrisette Winerys restaurant offers not only superb dining but gorgeous views as well. The Gabriel Archer Tavern at Williamsburg Winery has an outdoor terrace where you can dine under a canopy of wisteria. Kluge Estate Winerys Farm Shop is filled with delectable goodies that you can take with you for a picnic.
9. Walk in Thomas Jeffersons footsteps
Thomas Jeffersons dream of a thriving wine industry has taken root in his very own backyard along the Monticello Wine Trail, connecting together 22 wineries in the Charlottesville region. The trail is the ultimate trip for wine and history lovers, with world heritage landmarks such as Monticello and Jefferson Vineyards flourishing on the land where TJ himself grew grapes.
10. Enjoy a private moment
Three Fox Vineyards has the cure for the hustle and bustle blues. Theyve placed a single table with chairs atop a high hill at their winery and call it Table In The Sky. Its the best seat in the house and offers lovely views of the Crooked Run Valley. While youre there be sure to drink a toast to Mother Nature.
11. Go to camp
Ever wonder what wines go best with different types of foods? How does wine enhance a meal? For the ultimate in fun and learning, enlist in Food and Wine Camp at Lansdowne Resort. Your camp counselor is Mary Watson-Delauder, one of Americas favorite sommeliers. Mary takes a totally new approach to wine appreciation, making wine accessible to all who are interested. Shes even been known to pair wine with Twinkies.
12. Go spelunking for your favorite wine
In Virginia, down under doesnt refer to Australia. It means wine caves. Tarara Winerys 6,000-foot winemakers cave provides the best environment for wine storage and tasting. Valhalla Vineyards made their own wine cave 60 feet underground – and found a statue of Buddha in the process.
13. Add some spice
Think wine has to be made out of grapes? You name it (almost) and Peaks of Otter Winery makes wine out of it. Apples, apricots, blackberries, blueberries, cherries, peaches, plums, pineapples, elderberries and strawberries are just some of the edibles fermented and bottled there – and it is rumored that a tomato wine is on the way. For a special kick try Kiss the Devil, a wine made from chili peppers!
14. Say I do to Virginia wines
One of Virginias newest wineries is Potomac Point, and it has a special feature. Extending upward from the main building is the Proposal Tower, a private room at the top of a winding staircase just big enough for two. Rentable for $50 an hour, its the perfect place to pop the question – and a cork!
15. Taste something totally different
One of the legendary wines of ancient Greece is retsina, a wine famous (or infamous) for its pine resin flavor. Louis Papadopoulos of Mediterranean Cellars may be the only winemaker in America making a commercial version of this famous wine. Stop by and try a sip and you may be pleasantly amazed. Dont be surprised if several bottles come home with you.
16. Hit the trail to wine adventure
Select one of Virginias regional wine trails as a road to adventure. Pick a weekend and hit the road.
17. Shop till you drop
Many of Virginias wineries have wonderful gift shops with wine racks, stemware, glass tags and other wine accessories. Many gift shops carry apparel customized with the winerys logo. You can also find gourmet food goodies to go with your wine or that perfect gift for a friend back home.
18. Create your own Virginia winery getaway
Virginias wineries reach across the state, making it easy to create your own winery getaway. Pick a location from which you can visit six or eight wineries in a couple of days, find a romantic bed and breakfast or country inn and just relax. Add some shopping and perhaps a scenic drive.
19. Customize your private stock
A few Virginia wineries, such as AmRhein Wine Cellars and Pearmund Cellars, offer a service sure to be the envy of your friends – custom labeling. Order bottles of wine with your own private label on them. You can even have your picture on your label. When your friends marvel at your private stock and ask how you came by it, merely assume an air of sophistication and say My Virginia winemaker keeps these in stock for me.
20. Visit them all
Can it be done? Can you possibly visit all of the more than 130 Virginia wineries during Virginia Wine Month? Thats an average of about 4.2 per day – and remember, youre going to be tempted to stay at each one of them for longer than youll have time for. Could you be the
first? Remember, if you are tasting, get a designated driver.