Travel Off the Beaten Path in Virginia Wine Country

There's more to Virginia wine country than just the vineyards. We'll guide you through the best offbeat adventures, like the oldest edible ham, "skywalking" pygmy goats and more.
Illustration by Alyssa Nassner

Following a wine trail around Old Dominion is an ideal way to sample local offerings while taking in the charming, colonial scenery. But there’s more to this countryside than grapevines and history. Check out these kooky pit stops as you taste your way along the Virginia wine hop.

The Black Dog Salvage
Illustration by Alyssa Nassner

Virginia Mountains/Blue Ridge

Notable Wineries: Chateau Morrisette Winery, Valhalla Vineyards

This region boasts plenty of horizon, but you needn’t crane your neck to see stars: The world’s largest, manufactured, illuminated star, The Roanoke Star—composed of 2,000 feet of neon tubing—sits among these mountains. Follow the spectacle with more man-made wonders found at Black Dog Salvage, the architectural salvage shop featured on the TV show Salvage Dawgs.

World's oldest ham
Illustration by Alyssa Nassner

Hampton Roads

Notable Wineries: Hampton Roads Winery, New Kent Winery, Upper Shirley Vineyards, Williamsburg Winery

Just like fine wine, ham can improve with age. So complement your tasting trip with a visit to the world’s oldest edible ham, on display at the Isle of Wight County Museum in Smithfield. The meat was misplaced soon after being cured in 1902 by Gwaltney Foods. Pembroke D. Gwaltney Jr. discovered it two decades later, dressed it in a collar and called it his pet to promote the company’s ability to preserve without refrigeration.

The Pest House
Illustration by Alyssa Nassner
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Central Virginia

Notable Wineries: Barboursville Vineyards, King Family Vineyards, Lovingston Winery, Stinson Vineyards, Veritas Vineyards and Winery

Looking to really diversify a day of Blue Ridge Mountain views and Viognier? Perhaps you should pay a visit to the local pestilence facility. The Pest House, in Lynchburg, served as a quarantine site during the 1800s. Now a museum, you can examine early hypodermic needles, a “poison chest” and more.

Döner Bistro
Illustration by Alyssa Nassner

Northern Virginia

Notable Wineries: Boxwood Estate Winery, Casanel Vineyards and Winery, Stone Tower Winery, Sunset Hills Vineyard

In historic downtown Leesburg, refuel at Döner Bistro, a small hut built out of pieces from the fuselage of an old B-29 bomber. You can grab authentic German food cooked to order in its 48-square-foot kitchen, touted as the tiniest döner kitchen in America.

Westmoreland Berry Farm
Illustration by Alyssa Nassner

Chesapeake Bay

Notable Wineries: Ingleside Vineyards, Oak Crest Vineyard & Winery, The Dog and Oyster Vineyard, The Hague Winery

Between winery visits, (literally) grab a snack at pick-your-own Westmoreland Berry Farm near Colonial Beach. Just be sure to look up: The homestead’s main draw is the adorable, “skywalking” pygmy goats that roam above visitors on wooden walkways.

Published on July 12, 2018
Topics: Travel
About the Author
Carrie Dykes
Tasting Coordinator

Joining Wine Enthusiast in 2015, Carrie’s love of wine and thirst for knowledge is immediately recognizable, and her superior organizational skills keeps our in-house tastings organized and efficient. When not putting flights together, she’s contributing content to the print magazine and Web site.

Email: cdykes@wineenthusiast.net




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