Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Wining and Beering on Route 151

By now, everyone with even a passing interest in the Virginia wine scene knows that Charlottesville is Virginia's Napa. When visiting the home of the Cavaliers, it's best to select a trail or "loop" that maximizes your winery hopping, and minimizes your searching, as the wineries are not exactly next to each other. Route 151 is a Virginia highway that runs immediately south of Charlottesville. And in addition to wineries, this highway offers a beer trail as well.

Wine or craft beer - what's a boozer to do? Find a DD and thrust yourself into Nelson County. To get there, make your way to U.S. highway 250, which runs parallel with I-64. Near Crozet (a small town between Charlottesville and Waynesboro), you'll find the first stop: King Family Vineyards. This is one of the area's original vineyards, and is featured quite prominently in the documentary on the Virginia wine scene, "Vintage: The Winemaker's Year." And King Family is the only Virginia winery with its own polo field. It's a little too cold for polo now, but make a note for when spring arrives.

Further west on highway 250, you'll arrive at a right turn for one of our very favorites in the state, and also featured in the "The Winemaker's Year": Pollak Vineyards. This is a great year-round spot, with a roaring fireplace that the owners encourage visitors to tend to. And the wine is superb.

Two wineries, and you haven't even hit State Highway 151 yet! You can get to 151 two ways: An immediate turn off route 250, or keep driving on highway 250 towards Waynesboro and make the left turn onto state route 6 (give your GPS a real workout). State route 6 will take you past Afton Mountain Vineyards, which boasts one of the best views in the state and a new Mediterranean styled tasting building. Further down the road, Veritas Vineyard is another featured in "The Winemaker's Year," and is well known throughout the state due their presence at festivals.

About two miles past Veritas, state route 6 crosses 151. Keep going straight on route 6 (confused yet?) and hit Cardinal Point Vineyards, which their marketing material claims as "the most unpretentious winery in the state." The metal building tasting room is certainly proof of that. They don't have a lot of indoor seating options but their wine is unique enough (especially the whites) that you should stop for a tasting.

Follow the signs back to route 6 and take the left turn onto state highway 151. Finally you're on the highway this blog entry is named for. And with good reason - you will be driving for about 10 miles before arriving at the next stop: Flying Fox Vineyard, which will be on the right side. Try the Trio, their award-winning red blend.

Eventually routes 151 and routes 6 (which share the road between Cardinal Point and the next winery stop--Hilltop Berry Farm and Winery) split. Hilltop Berry Farm makes fruit wines and mead. Definitely a unique option on the 151 trail and the fruit wines are priced lower than grape wines, so you can load up on them. Not every wine is sweet - enjoy their generous tastings and pick a few for the road.

The final winery stop is further south on 151, towards Wintergreen Resort. The winery is aptly named Wintergreen Winery, and like Afton Mountain Vineyards, expanded recently. Their Black Rock Chardonnay is one of the best chards in the state.

Presuming you are not seeing stars by now (especially if you visited all aforementioned wineries), you will be ready for the beer experience. You passed the beer spots on the way down to Wintergreen. All three of them are unique and offer flights of beer, food, and cozy atmospheres--really, one notch above your basic sports bar, but the views and the friendly people compensate for the sports bar thing.

Devil's Backbone, Wild Wolf and Blue Mountain are the brewpubs, and all are along highway 151. And after Blue Mountain, the northernmost brewpub, if you have the time, you can even visit Starr Hill's facility in nearby Crozet.

We've been saying "too many wineries, not enough time" for years. Now we can add "too many wineries and breweries, and not enough days." To make this trek, we suggest a B&B or hotel stay in nearby Charlottesville, Ivy (home of the Boar's Head Inn) or Waynesboro.

King Family Vineyards
Pollak Vineyards
Afton Mountain Vineyards
Veritas Vineyard
Cardinal Point Vineyard
Flying Fox Vineyard
Hilltop Berry Farm & Winery
Wintergreen Winery

Devil's Backbone Brewery
Wild Wolf Brewing
Blue Mountain Brewery

No comments:

Post a Comment