Ripening pumpkins, juicy crisp Pippin apples, grapes, cornstalks, hot cider- all are heady aromas welcoming Autumn in Virginia. October is fully under way with Maple and Bradford Pear trees changing like chameleons from green to orange and red hues. Sprinkle in brilliant cobalt blue skies and puffs of cottony white clouds and you have the recipe for a brilliant Fall afternoon. Armed with that inspiration, where should you go on a weekend full of apple butter festivals, University of Virginia football, tailgate parties and haunted houses? I would like to suggest a little country drive towards Afton Mountain passing historic Virginia horse farms, more wineries, breweries and quaint little country stores like Greenwood Grocery on 250 west.
Living here has offered my husband and me a multitude of opportunities to visit local vineyards. This year, the winery we’ve visited the most appears to be Afton Mountain Vineyards. While attending the Wine Bloggers Conference in July, enduring hotter than Hades weather, we visited three different Nelson County wineries. Sited just at the foot of Afton Mountain, a whisper of cool air slightly diminished the heat while we sipped the acclaimed Festa Di Bacco on the tasting room deck. Note to self- must return in the Fall, if it’s this good in 100 plus temperatures it should be awesome in October. It is!
Approaching the tasting room from the road just past the vineyards, a new structure and much-needed venue arose in front of us. Tony and Elizabeth Smith, owners of Afton Mountain Vineyards, have been quite industrious in expanding their event space. We discovered a beautiful covered pavilion outfitted with ceiling fans, outdoor restroom facilities and a backdrop of the mountains and more vines. This is a superb addition and I had visions of my daughter and her future husband dancing at a reception here with glasses clinking toasts to their future, (this is my dream and not necessarily the desires of the betrothed, by the way). For more details regarding specifics of events and weddings contact Becca Yeamans, the tasting room manager at Afton Mountain and see their web page.
Future Mother of the Bride went a little crazy that day taking photos of the site, but finally managed to join my family on the deck for a bottle of wine I that I had anticipated earlier in the summer.
Our son did the honors and selected a Gewürztraminer to try and it was excellent. I can’t describe it any better than it is presented on the web site: As the German word “Gewurz” suggests, this is an aromatic wine that is excellent with spicy dishes and seafood. The 2009 vintage is a crisp, dry white wine with a nose of orange peel and spiciness typical of this grape with just a touch of residual sugar.
Last little bit of fun, for those who like to pick up a little souvenir from a winery visit, the T-shirts are so cool! The Grapes Don’t Grow in Ugly Places is trademarked and the Festa Di Baccus looks great on the guys. They also provide Wine Away at the tasting bar, the Smiths are so-so smart and thoughtful! A real life saver after a bump with a Cabernet Sauvignon. Cheers to Autumn in Virginia, we’re off to enjoy another winery and the Apple Butter Festival at Flippin Seaman in Nelson County.