Nestled into the heart of the Shenandoah Valley, CrossKeys Vineyards' flourishing grapevines and Tuscan-style winery lie surrounded by panoramic views of the Blue Mountains. The staff painstakingly tends to these fields, harvesting grapes at the peak of ripeness and stowing away their nectars in oak or stainless steel barrels to coax out the varietals' vibrant flavors. CrossKey’s experts use new and used French or American oak barrels to add extra depth and richness to their wines, mellowing the chardonnay's pear-tinged acidity with hints of vanilla, and softening the petit verdot's tannins for a silken, yet robust mouthfeel. In the tasting room, visitors can sample an array of wines while noshing on a menu of sandwiches and local cheeses, or head out onto the outdoor patio to enjoy sips amid cool breezes and birds chirping “Red, Red Wine.”
Yarn Mountain instructs apprentice needle-workers in the essential skills necessary to use its plethora of knitting tools and fine yarns made out of natural fibers such as wool, bamboo, or cotton. The kind and supportive staff enlightens aspiring afghan and dog-sweater weavers in looping basics during three two-hour sessions that are kept small to create an intimate, laid-back atmosphere. Lessons address yarn varieties, needle sizes, and how to read patterns for deciphering hidden messages stitched into the American flag.
A lake reflects the sky and nearby trees while a moderate climate and 330 acres of rolling foothills nurture the rows of grapevines growing there. Curled up against the Blue Ridge Mountains, this is the picturesque scene that DelFosse Vineyards and Winery calls home. It's there that a team of viticulturists and winemakers tames the green, terraced landscape to draw out 11 wines, including a 100% merlot and hybrids such as the 2009 Reserve d'Oriane—an amalgam of chardonnay, petit manseng, and viognier grapes. With trails and walkways cut throughout the grounds, the DelFosse family makes the vineyards accessible for tours, hiking, biking, and picnicking with Bigfoot sommeliers. And with lofty, sprawling views to be enjoyed, their estate is also available for special occasions such as weddings at the pavilion on the lakeside lawn and family reunions on the vineyard deck. Their onsite chestnut log cabin also provides a rustic escape with overnight or weeklong stays and packages that include VIP wine tastings and private gourmet dinners.
After receiving a doctorate in horticulture from the University of Maryland, Dan Eltzroth founded Eltzroth & Thompson Greenhouses with his wife, Carol. Over the course of more than 40 years, their plant emporium has expanded to include two sites, five growing acres, 11 warmed greenhouses, and one magical beanstalk. Today, the next generation of Eltzroths outfit gardeners with eye-catching plants ranging from rhododendrons and azaleas to fig trees and blueberry bushes. In addition to supplying plants, the Eltzroths also hand out gardening tips, assemble floral arrangements for special events, and offer landscape design on a limited basis.
Autumn Hill Vineyards owners Ed and Avra Schwab have made a lot of wine in the past 30 years, from their gold medal blend of petit verdot and merlot to their vintner’s reserve chardonnay that takes on the flavors of the French oak barrel it ferments in. The one thing you won’t find in their cellars, however, is a sweet wine. That’s because the pair strives to craft Virginia wines with a European influence, resulting in dry, full-bodied vintages brimming with character. This specialization has led them to cultivate seven types of wine grapes, including some of the oldest cabernet sauvignon and chardonnay vines in Virginia.
Though the duo spends most of the year tending to their vines in private, they invite guests in four times a year to see in the inner workings of their operation. Visitors to the vineyard are privy to tours through the barrel-aging cellar, helpful advice on how to pair wines with food, and vertical tastings of the same vintage to highlight the flavor differences among the grape crop every year. For guests who can’t make it out, the vineyard offers a wine club that delivers select vintages to clients' doorsteps or sommeliers' giant beanstalks in the spring, fall, and holiday season.
Ragged Mountain Running has helped foot-soldiers chase their dreams for nearly 30 years, offering running shoes, windbreakers, and other get-fit goods, as well as info on local races and running clubs. Owned by Michigan State University track star Cynthia Lorenzoni and her running-coach husband Mark, the outlet outfits runners and other athletes with a wide variety of running shoes, including Asics 1160 ($80.99) and Nike Pegasus ($85.99).