In a proper tasting, wine must be held up to the light to gauge its color, tossed on a cat's back to judge its acidity, and sipped through a crazy straw to annoy the host. Become the toast of any tasting with today's Groupon: for $7, you get one admission to the Harvest Wine Festival on September 3 at James River Cellars in Glen Allen (a $15 value).
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.
James River Cellars
From 17 rolling acres, 10 varieties of wine grapes are harvested at James River Cellars each year. Those grapes are transformed by resident winemakers into red and white varietals, ranging from the jammy chambourcin to the citrus-forward and floral gewürztraminer. Visitors can cozy up in the homey tasting room, where they can sip samples of wine at one of the communal table. During warmer months, they can head out to the sun-dappled patio to enjoy the breeze with their drink or, if you're under 21, to hang out and smell the vines.