Thursday, June 16, 2011

VA Wine Country "Budget" Trips

Right off the bat: No B&Bs will be featured. There are plenty of websites and travel guides devoted to B&Bs. B&Bs work fine for couples and families. But two straight guys who are really into Virginia wine, staying at a B&B? The implications...

So what's a male VAVINO head to do? Just visit the wineries in Northern and Central VA that can be experienced in one day? That means severely limiting your time at the wineries due to driving distances.

We've compiled a list of a few reasonable motels (not hotels) in various Virginia wine hot spots, to help fellow wine lovers with the challenge. (And there are plenty of couples and families who don't dig B&Bs as well, so they may be thankful for such a list).

These motels (some border the hotel classification, but that could be pushing it) have hosted the blogmasters more than once. And we've gotten to know their home towns quite well through the years.

Front Royal:
Front Royal is becoming the hub of the northwestern Virginia wine territory. Excellent wineries on all sides of the town, and Front Royal is close enough to DC to make the drive in 2 hours, but far enough from DC to feel like you're really getting away from it all.

Suggested Motels: Quality Inn Skyline Drive. This motel will take you back to the mid 70s. Rooms are small, all exterior entrances, walls are a bit thin, but the prices are right, even in the middle of peak seasons (summer and fall). And after a day of wineries, you'll be too buzzed to really care. Plus they have a nice pool and a large picnic area, with grills available to guests. Extra bonus: Walking distance to downtown Front Royal, and a host of interesting restaurants.

For a more modern experience, try the Holiday Inn right off I-66. This is a newer hotel, built after Holiday Inn reinvented itself to compete with the Hiltons, Hyatts and Westins of the world. Interior corridors, closer to modern shopping centers, quite upscale, and fairly expensive in all months except January.

Must-see wineries around Front Royal:
Glen Manor Vineyards
Chester Gap Cellars
Fox Meadow Winery
Rappahannock Vineyards
Desert Rose Ranch and Winery
Chateau O'Brien at Northpoint

Woodstock, VA:
Woodstock is located right off I-81, in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley, and is close to George Washington National Forest and several fine wineries. The town is quaint and pure Americana. We recommend the Comfort Inn. It's your typical Comfort Inn, clean and comfortable and affordable, with a Taco Bell in walking distance, which hits the spot after a day of partaking......

Great wineries near Woodstock:
North Mountain Vineyard
Wolf Gap Vineyard
Cave Ridge Vineyard
Shenandoah Vineyards
Wisteria Farm Winery

Located between Charlottesville and Staunton, Waynesboro is the perfect launching pad to wineries as well as both Skyline Drive and the Blue Ridge Parkway. The Quality Inn near downtown is the perfect place to hang your hat. A coffee kiosk exists in the parking lot next door for those mornings after a day of winery hopping.....and KFC is a 10 minute drive away. Fried chicken and wine? YES!

Winery escapes near Waynesboro:
Pollak Vineyards
Afton Mountain Vineyards
Barren Ridge Vineyards
Veritas Vineyard
King Family Vineyards
Flying Fox Vineyard

Natural Bridge area:
Further down I-81, there is a motel perched up on a mountainside that will take you back to when Three Dog Night, America and Jim Croce ruled the airwaves. The rooms haven't been upgraded much since then, but the spot is utterly charming. A family-owned and operated motel with a good restaurant right down the hill: The Wattstull Inn. The famous Natural Bridge and the historic town of Lexington is close by.

Wineries to visit near Natural Bridge:
Rockbridge Vineyard
Lexington Valley Vineyard
Blue Ridge Vineyard
Virginia Mountain Vineyards

These are some spots nestled in the mountains of Virginia that are worth a long weekend or two. More suggestions to come.......

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