For Craft Beverage Lovers
With almost 300 wineries scattered across seven different American Viticultural Areas Virginia continues to be the 5th largest wine producing region in the U.S. The sheer number isn’t what stands out to those who know great wine. The 400-year history behind the vines, the unforgettable experiences, the awe-inspiring scenery, the incredible food matched with a glass, and of course, the world-class quality that you taste in a Virginia bottle makes it easy to see why Virginia is for Wine Lovers.
Virginia also provides convenient access to its wine regions. Joining the many wine trails across Virginia is the Southwest Virginia Wine Trail. The trail includes all wineries in Southwest Virginia’s 19 county footprint.
Loudoun County, known as DC’s Wine Country, created the LoCo Wine Pass. With more than 40 wineries in Loudoun County, more than any other region in Virginia, it’s hard to choose which ones to visit during a weekend trip or for a day. The passport offers exclusive perks to more than 22 wineries, helping you narrow the field, just a drop.
The craft beer industry in Virginia has also grown quickly from just a handful of breweries a couple of years ago to more than 200 now, with more opening this year and next. Existing breweries, like Hardywood Park Craft Brewery and Starr Hill Brewing, are already expanding, and big brands, like Stone Brewing and Deschutes Brewing Company are making Virginia their east coast home.
One of Virginia’s most well-known brands, Devils Backbone, recently opened an Outpost Tap Room & Kitchen on a beautiful hillside in Lexington and houses the custom-built brewery, with fast-casual dining, and outdoor beer garden. Also in Lexington, Heliptrope Brewery will open in the downtown in 2019. Heliotrope is a farmhouse-style brewery committed to the production of small-batch, artisan ales and lagers, utilizing Virginia malt, farm-fresh produce, and their own house culture of locally foraged, native Rockbridge County microflora. Now that’s a Virginia-only craft beer!
Virginia’s Beer Trails offer a convenient and fun way to discover several breweries within a few miles of each other. Here’s just a sampling of trails:
- The Southwest Virginia Mountain Brew Trail includes all breweries in the 19 county footprint.
- The Shenandoah Valley Beerwerks Trail features 13 craft breweries in Staunton, Augusta County, Waynesboro, Rockbridge, and Harrisonburg.
- The Richmond Beer Trail is quickly becoming a major craft beer-drinkers destination. With more than 30 craft breweries and additions on the way, it’s clear why the Wall Street Journal said Richmond “is home to one of the region’s fastest growing beer scenes.”
- The Fairfax County Breweries Official Field Guide helps you navigate your way around the brews. Pick up a copy of your passport-like Field Guide at any of the participating county breweries or at the Fairfax County Visitor Center – collect all the stamps and win a prize!
- The LoCo Ale Trail continues to expand, with seven new breweries this year.
Virginia is the sixth-largest apple-producing state by acreage in the United States, and cider is a rich part of the Commonwealth’s heritage. Virginia cider styles vary from dry to sweet, still to sparkling, simple to complex. Numerous new cideries are opening in 2019 including Ditchley Cidery, outside of Kilmarnock, the first cidery in Virginia’s Northern Neck. Ditchley has roughly 60 varieties of apples grown on 15 acres and offers a Cider Club and a Meat/Charcuterie Club.
The first batch of whiskey was distilled in Virginia in 1620, making The Commonwealth the Birthplace of American Spirits. (We also note, Kentucky became the acknowledged home of bourbon when Kentucky was still part of Virginia. So we ask, is it not truly ALL Virginia Bourbon??) In fact, George Washington went on to be the biggest producer of Virginia whiskey during his time, producing more than 11,000 gallons in 1798 alone. To honor these roots, George Washington’s Rye Whiskey was recently named the Official State Spirit of Virginia. The unaged whiskey is produced just twice a year using the same recipe and 18th century methods as in Washington’s day and can only be purchased at George Washington’s Mount Vernon.
Today, distilleries span across the Commonwealth; from the mountains to the shores, and the hills and the hollers, with more than 70 distilleries making some of the finest spirits in the United States, and proudly holding titles of the “World’s Best Bourbon” and the “Best American Single Malt Whisky” as rated by the “World Whiskies Awards”, presented by Whisky Magazine!
Another craft beverage making a comeback in Virginia is mead, one of the most historic fermented drinks found on Earth. It has the creativity of craft beer and the elegance of wine, but is in a category all its own. The Silver Hand Meadery in Williamsburg offers daily honey tastings and mead flights. Other meaderies are popping up all over the state as the historic drink makes a resurgence.
Trails are not the only unique way to experience why Virginia is for Craft Beverage Lovers. We feature some fun and captivating ways to experience more than just a taste of Virginia craft. Check out just a few of our unique combinations:
- The luxurious Salamander Resort & Spa has found another way to embrace Loudoun County’s horse country. On Fridays and Saturdays enjoy cocktails alongside the miniature horse Cupcake who visits the resort’s living room. Salamander is has also created packaged picnics for guests to order and take while they explore the local wine country.
- The Winery at Bull Run, located next to Manassas National Battlefield Park, offers history and tasting tours. Enjoy a multi-wine tasting as you walk around the historic property and learn about the famous Battles of Bull Run and see relics found on property by the winery owners.
- Orange County’s newest winery, Hammerstone Cellars was named after owners discovered, during vine planting, archaic artifacts dating back to 2500 BC, one of those artifacts discovered was a “hammerstone”. Thus Hammerstone Cellars was born.
- Hiddencroft Vineyards in Lovettsville, VA also offers a progressive history and wine tour. Owner Clyde Housel spent countless hours restoring various 19th-century buildings that surround the tasting room in order to open them to visitors. The special weekend tour includes food and wine pairings in each of the buildings, which range from a circa 1850s Summer Kitchen to a Springhouse where wine is chilled in fresh flowing spring water.
- Wine is typically paired with cheese or chocolate but at Notaviva Vineyards in Purcellville the owners pair their wines with music. With the help of augmented reality technology, guests can use a special app to scan the wine label and listen to the corresponding music.
- The Bike Lane, a popular bike retailer in Reston, has a new location and some new offerings coming in 2019. The storefront, located just off the Washington & Old Dominion Trail, for easy riding access, has added a nanobrewery to its operations, along with locally roasted coffee. The bike shop will also feature food trucks on weekends.
- Travel to Franklin County, the “Moonshine Capital of the World” and inspiration for the 2012 movie “Lawless” for a little Appalachian ‘Shine’. Virginia’s Blue Ridge and in particular Franklin County VA – referred to by many as The Wettest County in the World – is known worldwide for its colorful distilling and moonshining tradition. You’ll learn more about this history with a visit to Twin Creeks Distillery in Rocky Mount, but more importantly, you’ll taste the history with every sip. Did you know that it was running moonshine that birthed the U.S. racing industry?