Staunton’s 10 Best Fall Flavors

 

Pumpkin Spice Muffins from Paradise Donuts

The official first day of fall was September 22, but we’ve been salivating—for weeks—at the thought of apples, pumpkins, and anything with a hint of spice and cinnamon. If your palate enjoys these flavors, too, come to Staunton this fall for a full-fledged dine-and-drink-around of epic proportions. Our 10 best fall flavors are waiting …

  1. Chef Said Rhafiri’s pan-seared maple leaf duck breast at Aioli is served with butternut squash parmesan risotto, vegetable tempura, and blackberry reduction. It’s one of the finer meals you can enjoy in downtown Staunton this fall.
  2. We’ve come to know that many travelers make their way to Staunton just to eat. Yes, our meals are THAT good. One of their destinations is The Shack, where Chef Ian Boden is inspired to create daily menus based on what the growers are delivering. Watch for delightful treats like Rappahannock oysters, pumpkin pierogi, and apple fry pie!
  3. A name like “Harvest Rigatoni” says it all. At Byers Street Bistro, you can order up this savory dish that includes sweet Italian sausage, roasted Brussels sprouts, butternut squash, fried sage, parmesan cheese, and a garlic white wine sauce. 
  4. Cast iron cornbread is a southern staple and Zynodoa pairs it with house-made Gala apple butter. That’s just one of the special entries you’ll find on their ever-changing menu. You may also want to try the mixed green salad topped with Malcolm’s Market radishes, cucumbers, butternut squash, toasted almonds, Wayside Farm ginger, and herb vinaigrette.
  5. We’re always amazed at the ingenuity and think-outside-the-boxedness of Chef Mike Lund of Mike Lund Food & LunDch. You never know what incredible dish he will whip up, like maybe giant fennel-spiced garbanzo balls with spaghetti squash covered in herb marinara and shaved parmesan? It’s a veggie, gluten-free option that capitalizes on the season. And it’s delicious!
  6. If you love donuts, Paradise Donuts has to be on your list. Apple spice and caramel apple flavors are already rolling out, and maple is one of the all-time best sellers. New for this year are pumpkin spice muffins. You’ll want to arrive early to ensure you score one of these tasty seasonal treats!
  7. Moriarty Day is one for your calendar. It’s the day Redbeard Brewing Company releases their latest edition of Moriarty, a barrel-aged Imperial Stout. This year’s Moriarty Day is October 18, and this year’s pour has been settling in Bourbon barrels from John J. Bowman, Eagle Rare, and Buffalo Trace. 
  8. It’s no surprise that Staunton pulls off a flawless transformation to become the quaint wizarding hamlet of Hogsmeade in September. What may be a surprise is that Shenandoah Valley Brewing Company is tapping their Mischief Butterscotch Ale to coincide with the Queen City Mischief and Magic weekend (previously known as Queen City Potter Party … as in Harry Potter).
  9. Queen City Brewing has two delicious beverages that are perfect for the fall season. Try the hard-pressed Apple Ale or Cranberry Ale, both 7% ABV, and both quite refreshing.
  10. Fall flavored coffee and pastries are likely found in several of our favorite morning hot spots, but we like The By & By for their surprises like pumpkin rolls, peanut butter pie, and of course, their Oktoberfest celebration of craft beer and brats. Prost!

Eat well and enjoy the autumn season in Staunton and the Shenandoah Valley!

Exclusive Guide to Queen City Mischief and Magic

Calling all muggles and wizards! The second annual Queen City Potter Party (now Queen City Mischief and Magic) is September 22-24, and unless you attended the 2016 party, you’ve never seen Staunton like this. Three days of mischief and magic await!

As Staunton is transformed to Hogsmeade (the only wizards-only village in Britain, per the Harry Potter series), business names change, the culture changes, and food and drinks change. It’s as if our city is charmed for the weekend! To find your way around, you’ll use a Marauder’s Map, much like Harry did during his first visit to Hogsmeade. Fortunately, you won’t need your invisibility cloak.

Queen City Potter Party

14 Hogsmeade MUST-DOs:

  1. Get the weekend started with the Hogwarts Homecoming Quidditch Games on Friday. The first match will be between Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw at 6 p.m. Late arrival? You’ll have Gryffindor vs. Slytherin at 7 p.m. The championship game begins at 8 p.m.
  2. See Harry and Hagrid arrive via the Hogwarts Express at Platform 9 3/4 at 9 a.m. Saturday! Visit the conductor and get a hat just like his while supplies last.
  3. Choose your wand. Rather, let a wand choose you! Purchase wooden wands at Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes (Pufferbellies Toys & Books) or glass wands at Ollivanders Wands & Orbs (Sunspots Studios). Want to eat your wand? Head over to ye Olde Curiosity Shoppe (Staunton Antique Center & The Artisans Loft).
  4. Craft a potion at Borgin & Burkes (Redwood & Co.), but sign up fast as we are certain the classes will fill quickly. Is Amortentia on the list of potions to be made? That would be lovely, wouldn’t it?
  5. While no one wants to be a “prisoner of Azkaban,” you should head over there anytime between noon and 6 p.m. Saturday (Cocoa Mill Chocolate Co.). Beware Dementors. Just sayin’.
  6. The Ministry of Magic Tours are limited, but must-see! Secure your time slot to take a special family-friendly tour through Crack the Code Escape Room before they’re gone.
  7. Madam Puddifoot’s (The Pampered Palate Cafe) is not only a Hogsmeade destination for delicious eats and drinks, there are classes to create your own Magic Twirling Tea Cup upstairs! Text 434-826-0832 to reserve your time slot.
  8. Professor Gilderoy Lockhart will be available for a meet-and-greet at Flourish & Blotts (Black Swan Books and Music). Do purchase a Queen City Mischief and Magic tote to carry all of those potions and tea cups!
  9. Visit the Restricted Room at Hogwarts Library (Barrister Books), but head’s up! There are flying books! Be sure to add a quill or bookmark to your QCMM tote.
  10. Try your hand at taming beasts (some of them are indeed fantastical!) at Magickal Menagerie (Harmony Moon).
  11. Wizards beyond a certain age will want to seek out the butterbeer at The Three Broomsticks (Baja Bean). Cheers!
  12. Find your way to The Flaming Arena behind Gringotts (Suntrust Bank) Friday and Saturday night. The Queen City Fire Circus will be performing a free show.
  13. Tarot card readings with a deck created of iconic Staunton images, Rune readings, and dragon visitations at Hagrid’s Hut (Artful Gifts LLC.)
  14. Channel your inner Hermione with a visit to Beauxbatons Academy (Mary Baldwin University) for a magical lesson on a variety of Potter-related topics, from owls to Nicholas Flamel. Taught by Mary Baldwin professors and other community experts.

… and that’s just the beginning!

A Few Finer Details:

The Marauder’s Map is LOADED with fun in Hogsmeade. Check often for its availability and updates. You won’t want to miss a thing!

There is limited parking available downtown: side streets, public lots, two parking garages (on Johnson Street and New Street).  Please view this map that shows all public parking: Map of downtown Staunton.

There will also be a FREE shuttle running a constant circuit from the Federated Auto Parts Warehouse lot (on Statler Blvd) to the Mill Street Grill parking lot. For a map click link.

Download Traipse, an app, to participate in Horcrux Hunting.

Keep an eye on the schedule for late additions.

You are encouraged to dress as your favorite Harry Potter series character. See the photos from 2016 for inspiration.

Queen City Mischief and Magic is a FREE event with a few pay-as-you-go opportunities (like crafting your own Thinking Putty at Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes!).

Five Ways to Holiday Prep in Staunton

We love fall. The colors, the flavors … the shopping! It’s the perfect time to get away, and you can make a weekend whatever you want it to be: wine and food, shopping, the arts, outdoor adventure … we have all of that and more in Staunton.

The Shenandoah Valley offers one of the best displays of fall colors in the country. m01229
The Shenandoah Valley offers one of the best displays of fall colors in the country. m01229

Here are five ways to prep for the perfect Thanksgiving and Christmas when you take a mid-autumn break and head our way.

  1.  Our sweet boutiques are overflowing with beautiful seasonal decor and gifts. A handcrafted keepsake from Sunspots Studios makes a great gift. Will you choose to blow your own glass pumpkin or an ornament? Here are a few other suggestions to find that perfect Holiday trimming…

2.  Taste before you serve at Ox Eye Vineyards Tasting Room in downtown Staunton. Find the perfect wine for your Thanksgiving and Christmas meals, and don’t forget a dessert pairing.

3.  Some of the best bread you will ever get your hands on comes from Newtown Baking. Grab a sandwich while you’re in town and take a few loaves or rolls to go. They’re the perfect addition to your meal, and they freeze well. Newtown suggests popping it into a 350 degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes “to revive some of the crispiness of the crust.”

4.  The American Shakespeare Center Blackfriars Playhouse offers performances every weekend and most weeknights. Treat yourself to a showing of Twelfth Night, King Lear, or The Rise of Queen Margaret (Henry VI, Part 2) and then swing by the gift shop to buy a gift certificate for someone special. 

Insider’s Tip – ASC’s Christmas performances of A Christmas Carol, The Santaland Diaries, and The Twelve Dates of Christmas sell out quickly, so get your tickets ASAP!

Good morning from the beautiful #BlackfriarsPlayhouse. #americanshakespearecenter #theatre #shakespeare #staunton

A photo posted by American Shakespeare Center (@americanshakespearecenter) on

5.  Finally, you’ll need sleep and the gift of a night away is much appreciated to overworked friends, parents of small children, and those with a love of travel. Choose a bed and breakfast, hotel, or cabin for yourself. If you approve, inquire about a gift certificate to give.

Cheers to your holiday prep weekend! We hope you #LOVEStaunton!

 

Fall Flavors: Four Field-to-Fork Gourmet Markets

Seasons are exciting! We love the changes in temperature, the visible transitions in our landscape, and the fall flavors of our field-to-fork gourmet markets. If you’re looking for something awesomely autumn, this is for you. Fill up, take something great to go, and don’t forget your craft beer, wine, specialty oils, or other gourmet sundries.

1. Farmhouse Kitchen & Wares | 101 W. Beverley Street

Truly farm to table!

A photo posted by Farmhouse Kitchen & Wares (@farmhousekitchenandwares) on

This sweet cafe and kitchen shop offers breakfast and lunch, and always has an eye on the fields for inspiration. “Healthy and hearty” salads include locally grown veggies. Choose one and then add on a seasonal vegetable soup for a fantastic taste of the Shenandoah Valley. A filling breakfast option is the European yogurt featuring local granola and honey.

Local providers include Geezer Farm, Edwards Sausage, Caramont Cheeses, and Wade’s Mill.

2. Lewis Creek Market | 300 Church Street

lewis-creek-market

Hot plates, cold plates, salads, and soups are daily options at Lewis Creek Market, but the flavors change all the time depending on what’s seasonally available. Vegan and gluten-free diners will find something tasty and healthy, as will hearty meat-eaters and vegetarians. With chilly fall days ahead, keep this warming soup in mind: A chowder of cauliflower, carrots, celery, onion, and Lima beans. Mmmm.

Local providers include Grazelen Farm, Shenandoah Peaks, Five Maple Farms, and MeadowCroft Farm.

3. George Bowers Grocery | 219 W. Beverley Street

Four Cheese Grilled Cheese.

A photo posted by Ken Cox (@shenvalleyhoo) on

The burgers and hot dogs are the way to go at George Bowers. Load ’em up with fresh fixin’s and know they’re not only the best tasting, but the best for you. From nearby Polyface Farms, the pork even finds its way into soft tacos topped with housemade pico de gallo. 

Additional providers include Newtown Bakery and the Community Garden at the Virginia School for the Deaf and Blind.

4. Pennywhistle Provisions | 10 S. New Street

Healthy, happy chickens. #eggmobile #polyface #internlife #livethelifeyoulove

A photo posted by deeprootsfarmRI (@hippytendencies) on

Sure, you can “grab and go” at Pennywhistle, but know that it’s not fast food in the traditional sense of the phrase. The bread is homemade, the meats and vegetables are farm fresh, and it’s all prepared honestly by hardworking hands. “Food & Drink Post Haste” is the way they roll at Pennywhistle Provisions.

Local providers include Newtown Bakery, Polyface Farms, and the Community Garden at the Virginia School for the Deaf and Blind.

Looking for more farm-fresh favorites? Check out Downtown Staunton’s 10 Best Places to Dine.

How to Tack Three More Breweries on to Your Next Brew Ridge Trail Tour

Downtown Staunton
Downtown Staunton

While Virginia has rightfully emerged as one of the country’s premier wine producers, the Old Dominion State is no slouch when it comes to craft beer. Virginia’s Blue Ridge region is peppered with craft breweries, linked by bucolic beer trails just begging to be explored. In Albemarle and Nelson counties, the Brew Ridge Trail winds past six different breweries, spread from Crozet south to Arrington. But the Brew Ridge Trail is just the beginning. Why stop after just a half-dozen pint savoring pit stops? Just a short hop from the trail, another beer trail awaits. The Shenandoah Beerwerks Trail is centered in the historic Shenandoah Valley town of Staunton, which boasts a highly concentrated collection of craft breweries pouring an eclectic array of ales. So the next time you’re savoring inspired local brews with a Blue Ridge backdrop, why not stop and see what’s on tap at Staunton’s three breweries?

Redbeard Brewing Co.
Redbeard Brewing Co.

Start your tasting tour of Staunton at the Redbeard Brewing Company. Grab a seat in the bright and roomy taproom and sample from the brewery’s selection of meticulously crafted microbrews. Redbeard usually has just over half-dozen beers on tap, running the gamut of styles, from choices like the subtly fruity Blueberry Wheat Ale (5.5%), to the refreshing Citra Grisette Saison (3.8%), or the 221B Baker Brown (6.3%), a beer that just medaled at the Virginia Craft Brewers Cup. The tap list changes about every two months, and Redbeard regularly showcases newly concocted seasonal beers with release parties, like the upcoming celebration of autumn-inspired offerings like the Harvest Ale and the Sweet Potato Pie Porter, slated for late September.

Shenandoah Valley Brewing Co.
Shenandoah Valley Brewing Co.

Next, make your way over to Staunton’s Wharf Area Historic District and stop by the cozy taproom at the Shenandoah Valley Brewing Company. The four-year-old brewery has a well-rounded tap list, including rich, full-bodied brews like the Glenhaven Scottish Ale (5.2%) or the Buck and Ball Brown Ale (5.6%), along with European-inspired options like the Three Rivers Belgian (5.3%) and lighter, golden ales like the Long Meadow Kolsch (5.2%) and the ShenVal Lager (4.9%). Beyond the beers, with a laid-back, affable vibe, the homey taproom is also a place worth lingering—there are board games out for patrons to play, and pretzels on the bar to snack on.

The taproom also regularly turns into an intimate musical venue, showcasing regional artists. Home-brewers can also load up on essentials in the supply store attached to the tasting room—and the Shenandoah Valley Brewing Company even has a handful of beer recipes to peruse, from IPAs to porters.

Queen City Brewing
Queen City Brewing

Finish up just a few minutes from the heart of downtown Staunton at Queen City Brewing, touted as the town’s first post-Prohibition brewery. Sit at the bar or grab one of the umbrella-shaded outdoor tables and try not to be awestruck by the selection. With more than two dozen beers on tap, Queen City Brewing pours everything from the crisply drinkable Gypsy Gold (4.7% alcohol) lager, to fruity, seasonal brews like the Grapefruit Shandy (4.5%), to heavier selections like the Black Rabbit Stout (5.3%), a nod to Ireland’s most iconic dark stout.

But it’s not just beer on tap. The place also has options like the Ale-tail Mimosa (7%), Ginger Beer (6.2%), Blackberry Sangria (7%), and even serves a number of non-alcoholic, homemade soft drinks, including birch beer and cherry cream soda. At Queen City Brewing, aspiring brewers also can try their hand at crafting a batch of flavorful beer to take home—with more than 80 different taste-tested recipes to pore over for inspiration. The brewery also regularly showcases live music with Open Mike Nights on Wednesday and Friday night Picks n’ Pints sessions.

Still need an encore? Continue along the Shenandoah Beerwerks Trail.  Just 15 miles east of Staunton in the town of Waynesboro, try a tasting at the Seven Arrows Brewing Company. Sample from golden brews like the Aurora Pils (6%), heavier beers like the seasonal Hermenator Dopplebock (7.2%), or branch out and try Barefoot Bucha, an organic, Fair Trade, craft-brewed kombucha. Swing by on a Saturday morning for the brewery’s weekly Om Brew, a yoga session capped off with a craft beer.

Originally written by RootsRated for Staunton VA.

8 Reasons to Escape DC and Head to Staunton this Fall

8-reasons-1
Explore the fall colors in Shenandoah National Park. Vijay Kalakoti

Just over two hours from the nation’s capital, picturesque Staunton, VA, provides an inviting escape any time of year—but during the fall, the historic Shenandoah Valley town is perhaps even more appealing. Celebrate the colorful seasonal transition on foot, exploring the hundreds of miles of hiking trails lacing the mountains and forests surrounding the Blue Ridge town, savor the autumn harvest at Staunton’s open-air farmers’ market and farm-to-fork restaurants, and spend the evenings soaking up the local arts scene. The town has plenty to offer craft-beer-connoisseurs, adventure-seeking outdoor lovers, and seasonally-inspired foodies—or just about anyone looking for an excellent weekend getaway.

1. Cozy Bed & Breakfasts

Inn at Old Virginia
Inn at Old Virginia

Spend a restorative weekend recharging at one of Staunton’s historic bed & breakfasts. Stay in one of the historically themed rooms at the Berkeley House B&B; or sequester yourself in the barn at the Inn at Old Virginia. Beyond the eclectic collection of bed & breakfasts in Staunton, the charming town also has plenty of elegant inns and boutique hotels—like the intimate Frederick House, a cozy hotel with a bed & breakfast vibe, or the centrally located and amenity-rich Stonewall Jackson Hotel.

2. Timeless Shakespearean Performances

Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson | American Shakespeare Center
Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson | American Shakespeare Center

 

Compensate for the increasingly earlier sunset time with an evening indoors at Staunton’s amazing performing arts venue, the American Shakespeare Center’s Blackfriars Playhouse. The venue is the world’s only recreation of the indoor Renaissance-era theatre graced by William Shakespeare. The Staunton-based playhouse showcases not only Shakespearean productions, but also more contemporary performances. On stage this fall choose from: Emma, As You Like It, Richard III or The Man of Mode

3. The Fall Foliage Bike Festival

The Shenandoah Valley offers one of the best displays of fall colors in the country. m01229
The Shenandoah Valley offers one of the best displays of fall colors in the country. m01229

Explore the Shenandoah Valley’s vibrant seasonal color on two-wheels at Shenandoah Fall Foliage Bike Festival (October 19-21). The two-day cycling celebration draws bikers from all over the East Coast and features routes of varying distance to suit both casual riders and seasoned cyclists— all of course looping through the bucolic Shenandoah Valley. The weekend also includes a vibrant Saturday Night Street Party in downtown Staunton, complete with a free public concert.

4. The Shenandoah Valley’s Harvest

Peruse the fresh, locally grown, Shenandoah Valley produce and seasonal artisanal delicacies at Stauntons Farmerss Market (Saturdays from 7 a.m. to noon, April through November; Wednesdays 7 a.m. to 1 p.m., May through late September). After shopping for your own locally sourced ingredients, see how some of Staunton’s most celebrated chefs prepare the Shenandoah Valley’s seasonal bounty. Sample from the seasonally inspired menus at the town’s farm-to-fork eateries, like Zynodoa, serving elegant southern-inspired cuisine or The Shack, selected as “One of the Best New Restaurants in America” by Esquire magazine. The Store is a down-to-earth grocery store and local café using ingredients sourced directly from their farm, Nu-Beginning.

5. Seasonal Craft Brews

Celebrate the flavors of fall with seasonal newcomers to the tap list at Staunton’s four craft breweries— Bedlam BrewingQueen City Brewing, Redbeard Brewing Company, and the Shenandoah Valley Brewing Company. Sample autumn-inspired brews like Redbeard’s barrel aged stout, Moriarty being released on October 8th. Or try crafting your own festive fall brew with the option to “Become the Brewer” at Queen City Brewing and whip up your own batch of ale. The brewery has more than 80 different recipes to peruse for inspiration. Staunton is also a stop along the regional Shenandoah Beerwerks Trail, making the town a strategic jumping off point exploring a whole collection of mountain-fringed, regional breweries scattered throughout the Blue Ridge. You can find even more beer (and wine) options at Shenandoah Hops, an impressive retailer that also has a Friday night tasting event each week.

6. Stunning Scenic Byways

8-reasons-4
The Blue Ridge Parkway is one of the country’s most scenic fall drives. abi.bhattachan

Staunton is not only a portal to Skyline Drive, the iconic 105-mile thoroughfare bisecting Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park, but it also sits at the northern cusp of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Flanked by the 200,000 acres of the Shenandoah National Park, Skyline Drive is laden with 70 different scenic overlooks, while there are a staggering 280 viewpoints along the 469 miles of the national forest shrouded Blue Ridge Parkway—making the roadways arguably some of the best leaf peeping thoroughfares in the east. 

7. Foliage Flanked Hiking Trails and Bountiful Backcountry Backpacking

Hit the trail during fall’s seasonal sweet spot—when the balmy summer weather has disappeared and the bugs have thinned. In Staunton, the options are almost unlimited, for everyone from casual day-hikers to trail-savvy backcountry gurus. Just outside town, the southward-winding Blue Ridge Parkway is a portal to more than 300 miles of trails, while Skyline Drive provides access to more than 500 miles of hiking trails in the Shenandoah National Park.

Staunton is also flanked by several sizable wilderness areas ideal for both extensive backcountry trips and seriously rugged day-hikes. The 19,290-acre Ramsey’s Draft Wilderness, dappled with 4,000-foot peaks and traversed by fishable trout streams, is just 20-miles west of Staunton. You can also explore the massive 27,248-acre Little River Roadless Area, which includes the second highest point in the George Washington National Forest, the 4,400-foot Reddish Knob.

8. Browse-Worthy Boutiques

Get a jump on seasonal shopping and explore the eclectic assortment of uniquely local boutiques lining Staunton’s historic main drag. Pop in and peruse the fashionable styles at clothing stores like Design@Nine and Made; By the People for the People. Shop for socially conscious gifts at Latitudes Fair Trade Store and hunt for forgotten treasures at the Staunton Antiques Center. For a uniquely artsy shopping experience, spend an afternoon watching the glass blowing masters at Sunspots Studios (see live glassblowing daily until 4 p.m.)

Originally written by RootsRated for Staunton VA.

Fall Flavors: Farm-to-Cask Brewers Challenge

The long-awaited flavors of fall are captured in special release beers presented in the Farm-to-Cask Brewers Challenge. The first fall collaboration among the breweries of the Shenandoah Beerwerks Trail, Farm-to-Cask showcases a one-weekend-only beer by each craft brewery. It’s a great day to sample and celebrate the harvest of the Shenandoah Valley.

The charge to incorporate local ingredients with seasonal brews kicked off last weekend in Harrisonburg. Robust flavors were on tap at caskrelease_shareimage1200x1200_sept17Brothers Craft Brewing, Three Notch’d Tap Room, and Pale Fire Brewing. Now see what the brewers of Staunton, Waynesboro, and Augusta County have whipped up for this Saturday’s cask tap.

FARM-TO-CASK FALL FLAVORS

At Queen City Brewing Co. the Blackberry IPA includes local blackberries, of course. The abundant fruit is so readily available that neighboring Shenandoah National Park hosts an annual “all things blackberry” celebration in July.

Redbeard Brewing Co. has infused their Mosaic IPA with locally-grown Carolina Reaper Peppers, proclaimed the “world’s hottest chili” by the Guinness Book of World Records in 2013. The Carolina Reaper’s average SHU (Scoville Heat Units) is 1,569,300. For comparison, a Jalapeňo averages 2,500-5,000 SHU. 

The working farm brewery in Waynesboro, Stable Craft Brewing, is using home-grown ingredients to add über local flavors to their Harvest Ale. Cascade hops are a foundation of the Stable Craft line-up, but fresh-from-the-farm peaches and blackberries will add a sweet punch for your palate.

It’s apple season in Virginia, and Seven Arrows Brewing Co. is tapping a very Virginia apple lager this weekend. After brewing, the beverage is infused with locally-grown Cascade hops. Venture over and take a sip.

POST SIPPING

Wrap up your Farm-to-Cask day with more tastes of the Valley. Restaurants like The Shack and Zynodoa offer savory farm-fresh entrees to complete your adventure. 

WINE Your Way Through Autumn Splendor in the Shenandoah Valley

ShenValleyScenic_28It’s no secret that October is the best month for leaf peeping in Shenandoah Valley. But did you know that it’s also Virginia Wine Month? Here’s a guide on how to uncork the fun:

Staunton and Harrisonburg are located just off Interstate 81, which runs north south through the Shenandoah Valley. These two vibrant cities – just 25 minutes apart – form the perfect bookends to your next wine getaway.

Downtown Staunton
Downtown Staunton

If you like curvy county roads, skip the highway and try Route 11 or Route 42.  Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park provides a loftier option (and with the higher elevation, an earlier color show.)

Fall’s cooler temperatures bring clear skies with spectacular views of the mountain ranges to the east and west.

Nearby Vineyards

The view from Barrenridge Vineyards
The view from BarrenRidge Vineyards

BarrenRidge Vineyards is located on the grounds of a family-owned apple orchard, and features an 1890′s apple barn that has been converted into a state-of-the-art winery.

In addition to a beautiful landscape, Bluestone Vineyards offers tastings and tours so guests can get a deeper look into the winemaking process. At CrossKeys Vineyards, you can sip al fresco on the patio, and grab a bite from the pairing menu.

Downtown Sips   

It’s always wine-time in downtown Staunton, so if you’re serious about sipping make time to visit Barking Dog Wine Bar, AVA Wine Bar, and the sleek downtown tasting room of Ox-Eye Vineyard.  Need something to carry home or share a favorite wine purchase? Check out the handcrafted, witty (and reusable!) wine bags at Made, conveniently located next to Barking Dog Wine Bar!

In Harrisonburg, Downtown Wine & Gourmet offers free wine tastings every Friday from 5-7pm. If you need to stock up for the ride home, check out Vintage Wines which offers the largest selection of wines in the Shenandoah Valley.

Sera_Petras_Photography_Zynodoa-51
Dinner at Zynodoa

Dine Out in Style

In Staunton, you’ll want to book a table at Zynodoa or Emilio’s. In Harrisonburg, you can’t miss with either Local Chop & Grill House or Joshua Wilton House. All of these fine restaurants proudly offer Virginia wine by the glass, and offer customized wine pairing suggestions for your meal.

Wondering how long to stay?

Plan to spend at least two nights, more if you want to take in museums, theaters, art galleries and other attractions. You can begin your wine-getaway in either Harrisonburg or Staunton – why not spend a night in each city to get the best of both worlds?

Travel tip: visit mid-week and skip the crowds!

Lodging packages

Want to stay in the city? Make plans to stay at The Stonewall Jackson Hotel in Staunton.  Originally built in 1924 and a member of Historic Hotels of America, this 124-room is a Shenandoah Valley landmark. Ask for the “Downtown Wine” package (includes complimentary Virginia wine upon arrival, wine tasting for two at Ox-Eye Tasting room, 50% off bottles of wine in Sorrels Lounge, and more.)

If you prefer a more intimate location, luxurious amenities await you at By the Side of the Road Bed & Breakfast in Harrisonburg. When you book your reservation, ask for the “Shenandoah Wine Trail” package (includes complimentary Virginia wine upon arrival, a light gourmet picnic to carry to one of your vineyard stops, discounts at local vineyards, voucher for a romantic dinner for two, and a hot gourmet breakfast basket delivered to your cottage door.)

In the Shenandoah Valley, local goodness is everywhere. Stop by a local farmer’s market, brewery, or pumpkin patch to bring some of this season’s bounty home with you.