Carafe's micro-wineries brew and bottle their own grape blood on-site, harvested from the fruit of the world's many vine varieties. Tapping into the thrills of kiddie chemistry experiments, the wine-masters at Carafe custom-mix each bottle of inebriation-fuel at their creation station, imbuing brews with the extra love and care that enables them to mature into responsible citizens of stomachs everywhere.
Moonrise Bay Vineyard grows several award-winning varietals and serves them in a handsome green-roofed building flanked by rolling fields of vines. You and a friend will sip and savor four of Moonrise's palate-pleasing grapen goodnesses. The current roster includes the crisp and elegant fumé blanc, a chardonnay with light notes of citrus, pear, and eternity; the Boathouse Red Blend (an ambrosial amalgamation of merlot and cabernet sauvignon); and the First Flight White Muscadine Blend. After sampling the wares, choose a bottle of vino to take home.
Nestled in America's Historic Triangle in an area that was first colonized in 1633, The Williamsburg Winery stretches across 320 acres of picturesque farmland known as the Wessex Hundred. The vineyard's first grape-crushing dances took place in 1987, and they've since developed to produce 25 sip-ready varietals along with a lengthy list of vintage library wines ideal for tucking in a cellar or serving to a homesick time traveler from 1993.
In a setting styled to evoke the mood of an 18th-century European winery, tours meander along a pebbled walkway alongside simple stucco structures before ducking inside a quaint wine museum. Inside the tasting room, private wine cellar, or the Gabriel Archer Tavern that overlooks the grounds, oenophiles can swirl, sip, and throw their heads back to gurgle aged libations from a large roster of wines.
James River Cellars' picturesque vineyard welcomes guests to seasonal events throughout the year and yields 15 varieties of wines, including the Winner of the Governor’s Cup for the best Virginia wine of 2005. The 6th annual Harvest Wine Festival turns wine keys on Saturday, September 3, from noon to 5 p.m., come rain, shine, or eclipses that make the sun look like a dilated trout eye. Imbibers can sip flights from four wineries, tour the grounds, or expand their knowledge of fermented grape potables during wine 101 seminars. Live music dances in the air, as oenophiles examine wares from local craftspeople and check out treats from food vendors. Alternatively, festival-goers can pack picnics for groups and discerning family pets ($2 admission fee) for an afternoon on the vineyard grounds. To maintain an open festival ambiance, there is no seating, but visitors can tote picnic blankets or sectional sofas.
Neatly packaged in a converted Victorian house, Press626 offsets its shell of Dickensian charm with a cream filling of locally sourced noshables. A small yet diverse menu perks up even the most jaded palates with appetizers such as rosemary sun-dried tomato shrimp ($11.95) and baked chèvre goat cheese ($10.50) before insulating stomachs against stray cannonballs with duck confit in a tart-cherry-cabernet reduction ($19.95) or pumpkin risotto ($13.95 vegetarian, $17.95 shrimp). Those who prefer their meals bookended by bread will gravitate toward the monster steak sandwich, accented with caramelized onions, pepper-jack cheese, cilantro, and chipotle aioli on sourdough ($8.95). For dessert, relive childhood without the early bedtime and constant bogeyman ambushes when you order homemade jumbo cupcakes served with a glass of chilled milk ($5.99).
The Boot sources its fresh, seasonal ingredients from local farms to ensure that customers are never faced with a plate of summer squash with frostbite or snow peas with suntans. The restaurant's evolving menu is infused with French and Italian influences, but it maintains its true footing in Virginia virtues. This summer's savory starters ($6–$15) include summer tomato salad with basil, aged balsamic, and mozzarella; the grilled calamari packed with shrimp, orange, black olives, basil, and zucchini; and the Eastern-shore middleneck clams steamed in tomato-pepper broth with grilled bread. For dinner ($17–$26), anchor your mouth bones into the crispy fried chicken leg with a stuffed tomato of fregola, corn, garlic, and basil, or get a meatless mouthful of local veggies as served on the chef's vegetable sampler. For a comforting punch of protein, opt for the grilled rib-eye steak with sweet-potato fries and Boot's special sauce.