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.
After founding small bistros and cafés throughout Nice, Paris, and St. Tropez, Frederick Boukaïa decided to bring his passion for rustic French cooking to Virginia's Shenandoah Valley. The result is La Niçoise Café. "I want people to be comfortable in my place," Boukaïa recently explained to the Northern Virginia Daily. "Nothing fancy. Nothing pretentious.”
Indeed, it's hard to feel alienated by the café's cozy, homespun ambiance and approachable menu of French comfort foods. It helps that you can't go wrong with any order, whether it's the grilled duck breast with crispy polenta or the mussels steamed in white wine with parsley, garlic, and shallots. To complement this cuisine, the café offers a curated selection of wines from regions throughout France, although the list also includes bottles from Australian, Italian, Californian, Algerian, and Virginian producers.
The flavors of the Southwest add a spicy touch to all the dishes at Poblanos Southwest Grill. Guests stroll up to the counter to order jalapeño poppers, chile rellenos, steak fajitas topped with peppers and onions. With the build-your-own option, they can customize tacos, burritos, and taco salads to their personal tastes using a choice of three marinated Mexican-style meats, shrimp, or vegetables. For a slightly fancier meal, guests can opt to order the pan-seared cod atop a bed of cilantro lime rice, hand cut flank steak with chimichurri, or a half peruvian chicken in a casero sauce, paired with a hot cup of coffee.
An experienced wedding planner, Blue Jay Events owner Jessica Leatch helps set clients at ease with a laid-back approach and a suitcase full of stress balls. She also has an attention to detail that infuses weddings with vivacity, from multihued floral arrangements to live entertainment in the form of DJs and local bands.
In early September, just as the first signs of fall nip at the landscape around the quiet pond and the rolling vineyard—that's when the time is right for Miracle Valley Vineyard to harvest the grapes that will become its estate-grown cabernet franc. But as is so often the case with wine, patience in consuming it is rewarded. The cabernet franc's enticing bouquet of raspberries and violets gives way to a rounded mouthfeel, which balances the ripe fruit flavors with its restrained tannins. During the rest of the year, customers could stick to one of the vineyard's half-dozen other wines, including an off-dry rosé with a lingering sweetness to match its pink hue.
The wine is the main attraction at Miracle Valley, but the grounds are just as enticing. The winery frequently hosts graduations, rehearsal dinners, and other gatherings for up to 50 people, not to mention group tastings in a tasting room that overlooks the lush scenery. While guests are there, they can stroll the territory, perhaps stumbling across bullets from the Civil War raids that took place in the area.
On a stroll through Cobbler Mountain Cellars' winery, one might come across owners Jeff and Laura McCarthy Louden guiding visitors to the cozy tasting room. There, the married vintners describe taste-size samples from their reserve, such as an oak-and-stainless-aged Chardonnay or a Cabernet Sauvignon with notes of dark cherry and tobacco. The winery's 2011 Meritage won the gold medal award at the Virginia Wine 2014 Governor's Cup Awards while their Hard Apple Cider took home the silver medal at the Finger Lakes International Wine Competition in 2014. The Loudens pair their estate wines with samples of local artisanal cheeses and croissants that can be purchased on site.