Heart of Virginia Wine Trail honors its home state by guiding guests through six wineries—James River Cellars, Cooper Vineyards, Lake Anna Winery, Weston Vineyards, Mattaponi Winery, and Grayhaven Winery. Although not included with this Groupon, the wine ambassadors proffer passports that award patrons tastings at each of the wineries and encourage them to enjoy the scenic countryside while navigating the path in between. Both regular tastings and special events typically include food pairings and a chance to talk to knowledgeable enophiles.
With names like Voyager, Rendezvous, Trekker, and Sojourn, the wines at Grayhaven Winery evoke a sense of getting away from it all. But their small-batch vintages aren't the only escape route from the everyday Grayhaven opens up. Visitors on estate tours will find Virginia-made goat cheese and baguettes in the tasting room, a child-friendly playground and nature trail, four resident horses, and three dogs with noses for fine wines. The vineyard also hosts three large events every year: the South African Food & Wine Festival, Blues in the Vineyard, and the Harvest Bluegrass Festival.
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.
Barrel Thief satisfies taste buds with a menu dominated by upscale salads and sandwiches that also includes a few heartier entree suggestions. In the arugula salad ($8), salty prosciutto and pickled strawberries lie on a bed of spicy greens, and nine bruschetta options ($5–$10)—including roasted garlic and white bean—are great for distracting most of the destructive hands of the goddess Kali. Fare from the briny deep includes the crab sandwich ($12)—shellfish drizzled in pimento aioli escorted by grilled green tomatoes—and grilled yellowfin tuna ($18). For dessert, tempt teeth with a sweet sonata composed of mixed berries and fresh cream ($6) whipped by Beethoven's ghost.
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