A Winter Wine Festival Weekend in Staunton

For six years the Winter Wine Festival has drawn couples seeking a reprieve from the doldrums of the season to Staunton. This year is no different, but the offerings may be. One dozen wineries, a cidery, and four artisan food makers will make February 25 a tasty and memorable day in the Queen City.  

About the Tastes

Of the 12 wineries bringing their best bottles to the Winter Wine Festival, half are recent medal winners in the 2017 Virginia Governor’s Cup Competition.

Thanks so much to Eric Parker for sharing with us this beautiful photo he took at the vineyard on Saturday! We're…

Posted by Barren Ridge Vineyards on Monday, March 10, 2014

  • Barren Ridge Vineyards (Fishersville): Six silvers and two bronze medals
  • Chateau Morrisette Winery (Floyd): Two silvers and one bronze medal
  • Horton Vineyards (Gordonsville): One gold, five silvers, and seven bronze medals
  • Rockbridge Vineyards (Raphine): Seven silvers and three bronze medals
  • Stanburn Winery (Stuart): Four silver medals
  • Whitebarrel Winery (Christiansburg): Two bronze medals

While the wineries are impressive, the foodies of the festival are no slackers. Wait until you taste these delights.

  • Staunton Olive Oil Company is almost two years old and folks have been flocking to score some of the finest oils and vinegars available in the Shenandoah Valley. 
  • Cocoa Mill Chocolatier‘s flagship store is in Lexington, but Staunton is elated to have a shop of its own. Cocoa Mill has been crafting wonderful delights for nearly 25 years, and their truffles are what dreams are made of. Just ask The Wall Street Journal, which ranked Cocoa Mill head and shoulders above national names you know (cough cough, Godiva, cough cough).
  • Near Charlottesville, Caromont Farms’ cheeses are handcrafted from goat’s milk. Chef and cheesemaker Gail Hobbs Page was one of Virginia’s “Women in Food” for the Southern Foodways Alliance in 2013. Caromont has received national attention from The Washington Post and CBS Evening News, among others, and their Esmontonian cheese came in second place in the 2013 American Cheese Society’s American Made/International Style Goat’s Milk category.

Where to Stay

The Winter Wine Festival is hosted at the Stonewall Jackson Hotel, therefore, a package is available to you. It includes two tickets for the festival, breakfast for two, and your room, of course. The rates start at $229. Book Now

– Other Lodging Options

Buy Tickets

Tickets for Winter Wine Festival are available for online purchase through February 17. After that, please plan to purchase at the door or in person at the following retailers. Those who book the Stonewall Jackson Hotel package will have their tickets included. Tickets are non-refundable.

Think You Could Bike the Entire Shenandoah Valley Wine Trail?

OxEye Vineyard Tasting Room in Downtown Staunton
Ox-Eye Vineyards Tasting Room in Downtown Staunton

Imagine riding your bike on quiet country roads with views of forested hills on one side and rolling, pastoral fields on the other. Add refined vineyards and quaint B&Bs. Sound like an expensive trip to Bordeaux, Tuscany, or even the Napa Valley? Nope, it’s right here in the eastern United States. That’s right, two-wheeled adventure at its best can be found locally along the Shenandoah Valley Wine Trail. Riding the SVWT—like any great bike tour—doesn’t require a particular agenda or pace. Instead, savor the small things and soak up the experiences along the way.

The trail travels approximately 200 miles (though that varies, depending on how many detours you take), through 19 different vineyards. The Veramar Vineyard in Berryville, Va., forms the northern end while Blue Ridge Vineyard in Eagle Rock, Va., anchors the southern end. Although this tour could easily be done in a long weekend, it is best to give yourself some time to truly take in all of what the Shenandoah Valley has to offer. The SVWT lends itself to a casual 5-7 day ride at a leisurely pace.

To really do the trail right, embrace the many worthwhile stops and cultural experiences found within the Shenandoah Valley. On the northern end, riders will probably want to follow roads paralleling the North Fork Shenandoah River. There you’ll find the North Mountain Vineyard and Winery in Maurertown, Muse Vineyards in Woodstock, and the second oldest winery in the state, Shenandoah Vineyards, in Edinburg. Moving further south along the SVWT, you might want to spend some time checking out the spectacular large chamber rooms and unworldly stalactite and stalagmite collection found at Luray Caverns before sampling some of the offerings from Wisteria Farm and Vineyards in Stanley, Va.

Barren Ridge Vineyard
Barren Ridge Vineyard

The northern border of the Shenandoah National Park is found just outside of Luray and following Skyline Drive through the park is a good option as you make your way south toward the college town of Harrisonburg, home of James Madison University. On this leg of the trip you can take in all the splendor of a national park from the saddle of your bike. Harrisonburg would be a good option for a lunch stop. If you need to replenish any supplies or tune up your ride, the Shenandoah Bicycle Company and Rocktown Bikes are located right downtown. Restaurants such as Local Chop and Grill House, Clementine, The Joshua Wilton House, and the Little Grill Collective serve a wide variety of quality food throughout the price spectrum. Just outside of Harrisonburg, you’ll find the beautiful CrossKeys Vineyards and Bluestone Vineyard.

About 25 miles south of Harrisonburg is the town of Staunton, which is one of the most bike-friendly towns in the Shenandoah and one of “America’s Favorite Mountain Towns,” according to Travel + Leisure. Staunton is another great stop on the trail, and perhaps the best place to stay overnight. The town hosts festivals like the Shenandoah Fall Foliage Bike Festival, which is one of America’s best fall bike rides.

Staunton is close to many outdoor attractions, including the 1,200-foot Crabtree Falls, the highest vertical cascading waterfall east of the Mississippi. Another must-do side trip is Humpback Rock, a massive rocky summit with panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. With both St. Mary’s Wilderness and the Blue Ridge Parkway nearby, Staunton is ideal for an active rest day filled with excursions.

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It’s also home to an attractive lineup of downtown restaurants and three breweries, should you want to switch things up. If you want to stick to wine, choose from two vineyards, one of which is located right in downtown, Ox-Eye Vineyards. Restaurants such as Aioli Mediterranean Tapas, Byers Street Bistro, The Shack, and Zynodoa have become destinations for foodies. Queen City Brewing, Redbeard Brewing, and Shenandoah Valley Brewing serve up a wide variety of local craft beer.

Walking throughout downtown, browsing the artisan shops, and taking in the historic architecture provides a nice break from time in the saddle. When you’re finally ready to settle in for the night, there is no shortage of accommodations with many hotels, motels, campgrounds, and over a dozen B&B’s such as the Frederick House to choose from.

As you continue to work your way south down the SVWT you’ll be surrounded on both sides by vast stretches of wilderness in the George Washington Forest. Depending on your level of comfort, you might want to explore some of the nearly endless miles of forest service roads found here. A pure road bike with racing skinnies would be outmatched on most of these roads, but with a fatter tire more suited for touring you’ll be fine.

The last big town that you’ll pass near is Lexington, and in that vicinity you have Jump Mountain Vineyard and Lexington Valley Vineyard. Like Harrisonburg and Staunton, Lexington would make a fine stopping spot with all kinds of amenities available and loads of nearby attractions. Restaurants like the Red Hen and Haywood’s serve farm-to-table style meals with most ingredients sourced locally in the Shenandoah Valley. Prime outdoor attractions like Natural Bridge, Chimney Rock Overlook, and the Blue Ridge Parkway are close by.

Originally written by RootsRated for Staunton VA.

A Staunton Beer and Wine Tour

queen-city-beer-flight
Queen City Brewing

Did you know that Staunton is centrally located to eight Shenandoah Valley craft breweries and wineries? It’s true. Within a 16-mile radius, you can sip and taste wonderful fruits of the vines and bines. Come take a Staunton beer and wine tour with us!

DAY One in downtown

Plan out your day based on which craft attraction opens first. Enjoy a great downtown breakfast and visit Sunspots Studios to watch glass-blowing or to blow your own ornament. Walk across the street to try a wine flight at Ox-Eye Vineyards Tasting Room (open 10 am Saturdays; noon Sunday-Friday). Their patio is a great place to take in the views of the Wharf District while sipping Shy Ox, a summery citrus rosé with a strawberry nose.Beer & Wine

Within walking distance is Byers Street Bistro, a fantastic place for lunch with a great patio for enjoying the fresh air. For an incredible view of the downtown area, travel up to Sears Hill Bridge right behind the Bistro and bask the beautiful sights. 

Shenandoah Valley Brewing Company, now located at 103 W Beverley St, opens at noon Friday and Saturday; 2 pm Sunday, and 4 pm Tuesday-Thursday. SVBC is the place to fill any growler you may have with you. Create your own flight from their 10 taps to mix and match however you choose. 

Redbeard Brewing (open 1 pm Friday-Sunday; 4 pm Tuesday-Thursday) is a small batch craft brewery offering six to eight of their beers at a time on tap. Redbeard is not yet distributed, so your only chance to sip what they’re concocting is on the premises. That’s a very cool “drink local” opportunity.

Bedlam Brewing (open 11 am Friday-Sunday; 4 pm Monday, Wednesday, Thursday) is a newer brewery located on 2303 N Augusta St. Stop in on Wednesday nights for Trivia starting at 7:00 pm, or visit on Fridays and Sundays for live music. Don’t miss out on their delicious wood-fired pizza and happy hour specials starting at 4 pm daily. 

Staunton’s first brewery since Prohibition is Queen City Brewing, which opens at 4 pm daily; noon on Saturdays. Their patio is calling you to enjoy a pint and live music Wednesdays and Fridays. Also try your hand at crafting your very own beer with their Becoming the Brewmaster program.

Stable Craft Beer

Day Two in the country

Fill up on something hearty before hitting the road for more craft adventures. 

Barren Ridge Vineyards (Fishersville) opens at 11 am daily; 1 pm Sunday. Their expansive patio boasts incredible pastoral and mountain views. Try a flight, then ask about their sausages, cheeses, crackers, and jams that pair beautifully with your favorite wine.

Seven Arrows Brewing Company (Waynesboro) opens at noon Saturday and Sunday and 11 am Monday, Wednesday-Friday. Select Saturdays feature an event called Om Brew, a yoga class rewarded with a beer afterward. Seven Arrows recently added Nobos kitchen to their facility, serving food from when the brewery opens until it closes. Nobos’ menu is often changing, and updates can be found on their Facebook page. 

Stable Craft Brewing (Waynesboro) opens at noon Saturday-Monday, and 4 pm Wednesday-Friday. Nestled into a working horse farm, Stable Craft is a cool place to experience a little of the outdoors while tipping back a beer and scarfing down a burger in the Draft Room.

Basic City Beer Co. (Waynesboro) opens at noon Friday-Sunday, 5 pm on Mondays, and 3 pm Tuesday-Thursday. This relatively new brewery is located on 1010 E Main St. Basic City Beer Co. offers live music often, so make sure to check their Facebook page and website to keep up to date on upcoming performances! Don’t miss out on Hops Kitchen, either. Located on the back patio of Basic City, this small kitchen serves chef specials and shareables during the week, and a full menu Fridays-Sundays. 

Close out your day with a great downtown dinner, a show at American Shakespeare Center’s Blackfriars Playhouse or a classical concert by Heifitz International Music Institute.

>> PLACES TO STAY

All of the breweries mentioned in this article are members of the Shenandoah Beerwerks Trail.

 

 

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.

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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.