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Relaxing for the Weekend in the Mountains with Wine and Friends

What can you do for the weekend that is both a lot of fun and relaxing? I suggest that you do what I did last weekend. Go enjoy the mountains of Virginia with a few friends at a nice place with great food and sample a bunch of wine.

My wife Ellen and I took off for a weekend with our wine lovers group. We get together around here monthly to blind taste test various wines with the host family providing the food. Traveling with a group of good friends with similar interests is a fine start. But where do you go and what do you do?

Well, did you know that Virginia is the fifth largest wine producing state in the country with close to 200 wineries. Please do not judge all Virginia wine selections by one large winery in Williamsburg that you might have visited. It is the largest producer in the state and the one closest to Hampton Roads. But it is a poor one by which to judge the rest of the state. Take my word for it. Or don’t and go try others on your own.

Where did we go? We went to Front Royal (12 of us) and stayed with Bob and Joan Kaye at the Woodward House B&B. Ellen and I have stayed with Bob and Joan several times. They are warm and wonderful people. Bob, who loudly announces himself at breakfast as “Bob the Breakfast Guy” is a riot to be around. And for all of his boisterousness, you also get Joan’s quiet and calm demeanor.

What you also get is perhaps the best B&B breakfast you will find anywhere. And of course, it is included with the nightly price of the room. The breakfast typically consists of several courses. If you don’t want the main course (we had french toast Sunday morning that was to die for) they will be happy to serve you an omelet or eggs to order. That is highly unusual for any B&B and we have stayed in a bunch of them from here to California. And the daily freshly baked muffins were some of the best any of us had ever eaten.

They also have a great front porch equipped with a row of rocking chairs that Bob calls his “Rock and Roll Porch” where you can sit and rock and watch the traffic roll by – all while sipping on a cold beer or glass of wine.

Within walking distance is Apartment 2G, a great place to have a fine dinner. The dinner is by reservations only and usually takes calling in advance. Monitors are mounted on the walls of the dining area and cameras are trained on the chef. You can watch your four or five course meal preparation. Everyone left happy and full. Nearby Рjust a few  blocks drive Рis The Mill restaurant. Two of our group had excellent steaks Friday night. Some of the others, including me, had great burgers on Sunday before we left for home.

But what about the wineries? There are 30-some wineries within 30 to 45 minutes or so of Front Royal. I hate to say it, but Ellen and I came home with three cases from our stops. They were Byrd Cellars, King Family, Barell Oak, Three Fox. Fox Meadow, Delaplane, Vintage Ridge, Glenn Manor, and Linden. All of them have different selections of both red and white wines. Some do better than others in each category. If you are driving along I64 and want to stop around Afton Mountain, take the Crozet exit and visit King Family. It is one of the best wineries in Virginia and is quite close to I64. The day we were there they were hosting a wedding. Unfortunately it was 95% at 5:00, but the bride’s mother had the good sense to call everyone and tell them to dress down a bit, and told the men that they could forget their coats. We talked to a very happy couple in the tasting room.

Happy Traveling

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  • Rick F · August 25, 2011 at 3:20 pm

    Are you sure you want to disparage Billy’s winery? Only positive comments please!

  • Author comment by Chandler · August 25, 2011 at 3:48 pm

    Yes. It is simply not that good. I hear people all the time say that they do not like Virginia wines. When I ask them what experiences they have had, I get one of several answers. Each of them show that they have little experience with Virginia wines.

    The first comment I get is that the only ones they have had are those from Williamsburg. Overall, their selections are average at best.

    Last year, a Virginia Viognier won top prize at a very large California judging. It was from Jefferson Vineyards in Charlottesville. We were in Lodi, California at the time and talking to a winemaker who had just returned from the competition. Of course, that is the home for Red Zinfandel – the best in the country. We cannot grow that grape anywhere in Virginia. We do better with white wine than red due to the climate, especially rainfall and humidity. The red wines that have been found to do well here, producing really good wines, are Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. Unfortunately, both grapes are physically small and have more seeds than average, making them more difficult to deal with.

    How’s that for an answer.

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