Originally from Greece, the Papadopoulos family has generations of winemaking in its history. You could even say that wine is in their blood, and not just as a figure of speech. On their 50-acre grounds at Molon Lave Vineyards, the family combines a traditional European winemaking style with its estate-grown Virginia grapes. In addition to the usual suspects—cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay, riesling—Molon Lave crafts Kokineli, a traditional Greek rosè table wine infused with dry herbal notes. Oenophiles kick back to sample the winery's offerings in two tasting rooms, on a wraparound patio, or on a three-tiered outdoor pavilion dedicated to the Greek god of patio furniture.
Like the tail feathers of its peacock mascot, Narmada Vineyards is best described by the colors on display at the 51-acre winery. Foremost is the verdant green of the vines, contrasted with the purple grapes and clear blue of the neighboring lake. Then there are the wines themselves, ranging in hue from deep burgundy to bright peach. And finally, there's the metallic sheen of the winery's numerous awards, an avalanche of gold from contests such as the San Francisco International Wine Competition.
Of course, a winery can't thrive on looks alone. Combining a background in chemistry with her discerning taste, winemaker Sudha Patil concocts a range of reds, whites, and dessert wines that pair readily with food. The majority of the winery's ingredients are grown on the property, with the remainder sourced from Virginian growers. These handcrafted vintages, producing a modest 3,000 cases per year, are poured inside a rustic tasting room decorated with leather couches, hardwood furniture, and large windows.
Red Hot & Blue draws from many corners of the Southern map to bring together a mix of classic barbecue and traditional southern fare served amid an array of handpicked blues memorabilia. Red Hot & Blue cooks top-quality meats atop a smoky bed of hickory logs where relatively low temperatures and long cooking times infuse eats with succulence. The meaty mélange encompasses three ways to order ribs ($22.99 for a full slab, $15.99 for a half-slab): wet, slathered with mojo mild barbecue sauce; dry, rubbed with a blend of Memphis-style spices; or sweet, dripping with a more-sugary sauce and a never-ending stream of compliments.
Taking time to stop and smell the flowers has never paid off better than it does at Seven Oaks Lavender Farm. Co-owned by the mother-daughters team of Edith, Deborah, and Dianne, the farm occupies more than an acre of land and in the summer season is sprinkled with purple lavender and other flowers. Set back from the rustic and perfumed fields, their Lavender Shop houses myriad floral products, many of which are made by the Seven Oaks ladies themselves. Visitors can pick up soaps, jellies, certified-organic teas, and candles that all bear a fragrant, lavender aroma. In addition to its everyday operations, the farm also hosts events that include fall festivals, wreath-making classes, and lessons on using lavender garlands to ward off possessed grandmothers.
Cheesecake Heaven Richmond’s head chef Jane Eckels first began baking her cheesecakes for local restaurants in 1994, and has since enticed the palates of such prestigious clients as Samuel L. Jackson. Today, she hands out selections by the slice or whole cake from an ever-changing menu with flavors ranging from traditional New York–style cheesecake to innovative espresso chocolate chip or raspberry lemonade. To satisfy as many patrons as possible, the pastry chef can create gluten-free alternatives of her creations upon request. In addition to the main bakery location, two brick drive-thrus allow customers to enjoy cheesecake without leaving the comforts of their car or Pope-mobile.
The vintners at Vint Hill Winery craft nuanced wines out of ripe fruit plucked from California, Washington, and Virginia. Tint your taste buds with two flights of wine per person while lounging on the balcony, which overlooks a barn that was used to intercept messages during WWII and shelter stray cats in 1991. Vint Hill sends sommeliers on their way with a bottle of french-oak barrel-fermented 2008 chardonnay and a 2008 merlot—an herbaceous red with harmonious notes of wild fruit, tobacco, and black pepper. Adopted quaffs may be sipped from the provided, decorative wine glasses or poured down the gullet of a timid schooner before its maiden voyage.