Saturday, February 8, 2014

In Praise of Fireplaces and Firepits

In the midst of a cold and snowy/icy winter, there is no better place than a Virginia winery with a tasting room (or patio) warmed by a fire. A real fire. Although we wholly approve of gas fireplaces in wineries where real fire could pose a hazard (such as a tasting room inside a restored old wood barn), nothing beats the romance and mellow vibe delivered by a real fire. The ex Boy Scouts in us love visiting a winery where a fireplace or firepit is raging. We tend to the fire, keep it going, so the staff can dedicate itself to the pouring and serving of other visitors. Several years ago, we posted the blog "if we could build a winery, they would come," and a real fireplace was near the top of our list of ingredients to make a perfect winery and tasting room.

The Notebook has a list of wineries that not only have a real wood fireplace, they actually USE the wood fireplace. Some tasting rooms have resorted to using their fireplace as a piece of furniture, sticking a table or bookcase or vase in the fireplace. Wood fireplaces require maintenance and resources (i.e. wood), and some locations have bigger fish to fry, like perfecting the wine and improving the tasting room experience. But we have a strong bias in favor of those locations that offer fireplaces or fire pits (the latter can be enjoyed in the winter if it's relatively mild outside, as well as all other seasons, exception being a sweltering and humid summer night).

Here's a listing of wineries with active (that is, usually ignited) wood fireplaces. Location names are hyper-linked to their websites:

Philip Carter Winery (near Markham, VA)

Pollak Vineyards (near Waynesboro)

Paradise Springs Winery (Clifton)

Barren Ridge Vineyards (near Staunton)

Naked Mountain Winery (near Markham)

Potomac Point Winery (near Stafford)

Valhalla Vineyards (Roanoke)

Byrd Cellars (near Goochland)

Afton Mountain Vineyards (near Waynesboro)

Twin Oaks Tavern Winery (Bluemont, VA)

Firepits: These can be outside, or on a patio. Firepits are nicely self-contained and work in every season, except those aforementioned sticky summer nights......

Firepits tend to be more popular with wineries as they present less of a potential hazard compared to a wood burning fireplace inside a tasting room. For that reason, most wineries with outdoor areas have firepits. A few of our favorites:

North Mountain Vineyards (south of Winchester)....not only a firepit, but a large brick firepit, perfect for campfires, of which this location has many during the warmer months (and some not so warm nights right into December!)

Hunters Run Wine Barn (near Leesburg)

Fabbioli Cellars (near Leesburg)

Barns at Hamilton Station Vineyards (near Purcellville)

Cooper Vineyards (near Mineral)

"Almost" fireplaces:

A shout-out to some favorite tasting rooms that don't offer a real wood fireplace, but nice alternatives:

Fox Meadow Winery (a real wood burning stove that keeps the tasting room nice and warm in the winter)

North Gate Vineyard (one chimney that houses a gas fireplace for inside, and a wood fireplace for the outdoor patio)

Old House Vineyards (nice warm gas fireplace inside the Old House)


White Hall Vineyards (gas fireplace facing the tasting bar)


Escape the winter blues and visit one of these spots this month!


"Fire is good. Fire is our friend." -Young Frankenstein

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