For Denise and John Wilkerson, owning a vineyard had always been a shared dream, but not one they thought would ever be realized. Wandering through the French regions of Dijon and Bordeaux on their honeymoon, the two sampled myriad wines and mustards, refining their palates and developing an appreciation for wine-dipped mustard sandwiches. Back in the states, the two tried their hand at cattle farming before making a dramatic decision: they'd sell the cattle, work on beautifying their 20 acres of land, and find a sunny patch of earth to plant those first few rows of wine grapes.
Today, the two curate tastings of their award-winning wines in a renovated barn, where barrels have been re-purposed into tables, and grapes have been re-purposed as alcohol. Through open doors, the rustic tasting room looks out over the Wilkersons' 20 acres, which are populated by rows of grapes and the lush undergrowth of native plants.
Housed in a grand townhouse, the Mount Vernon microbrewery offers patrons a carefully curated menu of imported sips, scotches, and brewed-on-site beers. For food, Chef Dave Newman keeps diners guessing with a menu that rotates with the four seasons practiced in the United States. For starters, try the house-made artichoke ravioli, glazed with Meyer lemon-infused butter and pistachio-mint pesto ($10). When you're ready to move on to more filling adventures, entrees include the inventive, crispy Utz-crusted cod with baby clams and smoky mountain bacon ($24), grilled shrimp with spring pea and mint risotto ($16), and grilled lamb loin ($28).
In 1983, "Beefalo" Bob DiMartino began a small-scale catering operation built around no-frills, classic recipes of pit-roasted barbecue, growing his business to include a carry-out joint, sports bar, and even an upscale banquet hall. Bob's process is simple: slow cooking beef, ham, turkey, slabs of ribs and morsels of pork and chicken over smoking hickory fires and not cutting corners with gas jets or heat vision. The sports bar garnishes these backyard-style feasts with plates of oysters, lump crab cakes, and strip steak, as well as sports games on 20 big-screen TVs and rivers of cold beer.
True to its roots as a catering outfit, Beefalo Bob's supplies parties of up to 10,000 with bull roasts, crab feasts, and roasted pigs, as well as rentals of tents, tables, and moon bounces. Fancy occasions find a home in the 250-person Reflections Hall, decked out with chandeliers, DJs, a fireplace, hints of sparkly gold, and a wide-open hardwood dance floor.
Wielding ingredients culled from the fields, stockyards, and vineyards of local producers, chefs craft inventive dishes such as osso buco anointed with smoked-pork au jus and pan-roasted rockfish drifting in crawfish cream. The most recent addition to the Vintage team is brewmaster Kristi Griner, who channels her 24 years of experience to helm the efforts of Vintage 50's 10-barrel brew house. Additionally, Vintage 50's caterers conjure fare for weddings and the food-fight receptions that follow and whip up dishes for offsite corporate events and holiday parties.
The chefs at The V Eatery & Brew House transform a bounty of ingredients sourced from Virginia’s rich soils and seas to a menu of fine eats paired with craft beers. They batter freshly-netted cod with Catoctin Kolsch beer and spice up risotto with diced butternut squash and parmesan cream. To pair with their flavorful dishes, they select an elite array of 14 craft beers, 6 of which are brewed in-house to flow from their taps. And to keep things fresh, they rotate these brews regularly, with headliners such as Fat Tire amber ale and Avery’s White Rascal.
To occupy diners’ eyes and ears while their tastebuds are enjoying the food, The V Eatery host live musical performers every Tuesday through Saturday. They also plan to round out their selection of meals by adding a Sunday brunch once they get their license from the National Brunch Association, otherwise known as the NBA.
Jerry Bailey began homebrewing with friends in 1989, hopeful that the craft would bring fulfillment that his 9-to-5 failed to provide. Fulfillment it brought, along with numerous batches of tasty brew. Bailey couldn’t keep his inventions to himself; he quickly decided to open his own brewhouse as well as distribute his goods to other local establishments.
Today, Bailey proudly stands at the helm of both Old Dominion Brewhouse and Old Dominion Brewing Company. In the pub, chefs add variety to liquid meals with food such as burgers, crab cakes, and thin-crust pizzas while 30 flat-screen televisions keep patrons entertained with sports. The chefs also exhibit flair for Asian cuisine, slicing and rolling sushi and offering create-your-own mongolian stir-fries. At the bar, eight handles remain perpetually reserved for Old Dominion's craft beers, such as the award-winning Baltic porter and the Oak Barrel stout, which is loaded with flavors of vanilla and the color brown.
Each Capitol City Brewing Company location comes equipped with an in-house brewing system. It allows brewmaster Kristi Mathews Griner to monitor every step of her process and start serving her latest handcrafted batches within hours of completion. The system is a point of pride for Capitol City, whose Arlington eatery prominently displays its brewing technology for visitors.
Capitol City's set-up yields four signature beers year-round, including Amber Waves Ale, winner of the Great American Beer Festival's bronze, silver, and gold medals on three separate occasions. Inspired by English-, Belgian-, and German-style brews, Kristi also creates a rotating selection of seasonal beer such as golden ale made with real fruit, rather than the tempting fruit snacks she found in her lunchbox.
Beer not only fills up at least seven or eight Capitol City taps year-round, but also finds its way into the kitchen. Chefs marinate grilled breasts of organic chicken in Amber Waves Ale and flavor juicy bratwursts with Prohibition Porter. Though beer-free, other regional dishes—such as crab cake sandwiches served with house-made Old Bay tartar sauce—are specifically made to complement the bar's pours.