Grape and Grain tours bestow imbibers with a whirlwind six hours to sip and savor a kaleidoscope of diverse beverages. A chauffeur from Prime Transportation begins the day by whisking patrons to a brewery, distillery, and winery, each of which grants samples of their unique brews and vintages while instilling educational tidbits about their creation. At the Mediterranean-style Potomac Point Winery, patrons explore the wine cave and tour the cellar, dining on a bistro lunch and stopping at the olive oil bar to tend jaws creaky from chewing. At Blue and Gray Brewing Company, samples of seasonal beers emerge straight from the tanks to wash down a complimentary dessert, and the tour of family-owned A. Smith Bowman Distillery—a Fredericksburg mainstay since 1934—imparts tricks of the brewing trade that toe the line between tradition and innovation. Discounts on return visits and gift-shop merchandise urge tours to return, and patrons depart with souvenir glasses from each venue that will always remind them not to drink out of the brewer's tank.
Recently opened in 2009, the tasting and hospitality center at Sweely Estate Winery boasts scenic vineyard views from the attached open-air terrace. As guests take in the sights of the nearby Blue Ridge Mountains, Sweely’s winesperts pour a medley of fine French-style wines, including reds aged in French oak barrels and whites enhanced by premium grapes in gravity flow. Compare and contrast the fermented flavors with the accompanying cheeses, then apply the included $10 credit toward a bottle of memories such as the refreshing Sweely Estate pinot gris ($16), graced with palate-tickling notes of green apple and citrus, or the Sweely Estate merlot ($20.95), swirled with mixed berry and minty overtones.
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.
Originally from Greece, the Papadopoulos family has millennia 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, pinot grigio?Molon Lave crafts Kokineli, a traditional Greek ros? 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.
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.
If there's anything that matches The Winery at Bull Run's owners' passion for wine, it might be their passion for American history. Knowing the land’s proximity to historic battles, before breaking ground on their new winery the owners teamed up with Civil War excavators to salvage hundreds of bullets, buttons, and breastplates that laid dormant underneath the winery’s Centreville soil since the 1860s.
While sipping on award-winning red and white wines in the tasting room, guests can look over display cases full of artifacts and listen to stories of the farmland's historic past. During warmer months, guests are welcome to relax on the outdoor stone ruins, whose waist-high walls and stone fireplace are all that remain from the original 19th-century estate house.