With more than 20 established wine trails, some with more than two dozen participating wineries, you're sure to find something pleasing to your palate. Tasting trails run through every region, so you can enjoy the beauty of the state along the way, from the energetic Atlantic coast and Chesapeake Bay to the tree-covered, ascending peaks of the Blue Ridge and Allegheny mountains.
All Virginia wineries must grow grapes on the premises, so you'll be visiting vineyards, as well. Pearmund says looking at the vines is a good way to judge the winery; vines that are well tended and healthy are reliable indicators of the quality of the wine.
The character of each winery is unique. Most are family-owned, small-acreage vineyards; for example, Flying Fox Vineyard on the Explore Nelson Wine Trial is only 6 acres. Tastings tend to be relaxed, playful and, if you like, educational, and tour guides are eager to answer questions and share knowledge about how wine is made.
Virginia wine country has much more to offer than wine tasting, though. There are plenty of fun things to see, do and learn. You can visit historical landmarks along the wine trails, but in some cases, history is served along with your wine. The pre-Revolutionary War manor house at Piedmont Vineyards and Winery is a registered historic landmark. The tasting room at The Winery at La Grange is in a fully restored, circa 1790 manor house with cozy parlor rooms and ghost with his own special cabernet franc, Benoni's Dead But Still Red.
Many wineries offer one-hour to full-day classes in cooking with wine, pruning vines, winemaking and food and wine pairings. There are plenty of outdoor sports to enjoy, too. Pearmund Cellars has a hitching post for their horseback riding customers. DelFosse Vineyards and Winery boasts 5 miles of hiking trails. You can also learn to play polo, venture down rivers in canoes, or spend a day antiquing. And for the true oenophiles, there are wine festivals all year long. Learn more on the next page.