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Shenandoah Valley Wine Country: Trip Review

We had an absolutely fabulous time in the Shenandoah Valley wine country last weekend. The wine was good and the views were spectacular. I swore I would take more pictures than I actually did and it was because I was enjoying myself so much. That said, I will give you all the details so you can take this wonderful trip yourself. I know that I will be going back with Pat in the fall when the leaves change!

We left Maryland around 2 pm and drove down 70 out west. Our first vineyard was James Charles that was around 2/3rds of the way to Mt. Jackson, where we were staying. Despite being a Napa Cab/Red Bordeaux Blends girl, I actually found myself enjoying the VA whites quite a bit. We loved the Sauvignon Blanc from this vineyard and a red blend we chose to take back with us to the Airbnb. Along the way from James Charles to the house we found a Food Lion where we picked up stuff to make brunch the next day and there was conveniently a New York style pizza place right next to it. We spent our evening exploring the 18th century home, wine, pizza and a giant jenga set. Fun was had by all.

Pro-tip: one bottle of Starbucks cold brew is not enough for three women with coffee addictions. Especially when one of us gets up and starts drinking it at 6:30 AM. Yes, I was unable to sleep in on this vacation. Fortunately, there was a beautiful covered patio where I listened to my travel podcast and drank almost all of the coffee. Eventually I took a stick and poked my sister and cousin in their beds till they awoke and made me breakfast. I made up for my overconsumption of the coffee with the perfect mimosas to go with the perfect french toast, bacon, and eggs.

We proceeded to get dressed and take some fabulous pictures of the gorgeous Pleasant Valley Farm house we were staying in. Built during the westward colonization of early Virginia, this home survived the American Revolution, the Civil War and the Industrial Revolution. It’s nestled between a working farm and a luscious vineyard. When we arrived we read through the welcome book which alerted us to several vineyards not on our original list, but having discovered how close one of the vineyards was, The Winery at Kindred Pointe, we were able to add one more to our itinerary.

The Winery at Kindred Pointe was the first stop. It was literally across the street so it was just a matter of waiting till it opened at 12 PM. We had a pretty good view of this place from our Airbnb but it was still cool to walk amongst the grapes and really see the operation. The tasting room was large and seating was plentiful, all with beautiful views of the vineyards. We had a few wines we really enjoyed, notably the Petit Verdiot. It would take forever to review all the wine we had so I will tell you my favorites from each vineyard. I found our host to be quite knowledgeable and friendly and he set the bar quite high.

I mentioned earlier that we added a vineyard based on a recommendation from the Airbnb owners, Third Hill Winery at DeMello Vineyards. I will say this place was breathtaking and had a beautiful view of the vineyard with a mountain view backdrop. The winery was nestled up along a hill and has minimal outdoor and indoor seating but both are quaint and cozy. We loved the Cab Franc in this vineyard but were convinced the host accidentally switched the Riesling and Chardonnay. If they didn't I strongly disliked both.

We finished the day off at Wolf Gap and I am ashamed to say that I was so busy enjoying the view that I didn’t take many pictures for you lovely people to see the vista. The winery was perfectly located in the valley with the Blue Ridge Mountains right in front of you. I recommend getting a reservation as both the tasting view and deck are quite small. As a result of this small balcony we met a couple who had been to all the same vineyards we had and teased us about how long it took to get from Third Hill to Wolf Gap (we took a wrong turn). We did the full tasting with this couple, which was quite nice as the host brought each bottle out to the deck and gave us the background of each wine. Most of the wine was mediocre. They had a sweet blueberry wine that was perfect for the heat we were sitting in with the almost direct sunlight but it wasn’t something I’d drink on a regular basis. I did however bring home a Gewurztraminer and Riesling blend that I found quite intriguing.

Here’s a little side story for you. I had been discussing with the host Pat and my upcoming trip to Bordeaux and Champagne and it came up that I had been married for 14 years. When the gentleman from the neighboring couple went inside the woman started asking me questions about being married for so long. I of course said how wonderful it is to have a husband I love and can rely on so many years later. She proceeded to give us a handful of alarming details about her relationship and I had had enough to drink (don’t worry I wasn’t driving) to tell her she could do better. Yes I know that was not cool but I did it all the same. The couple left and when we went in to pay and the host informed us the gentleman had paid our tab! Of course I felt extra embarrassed about the situation and attempted to pay for someone else’s wine but everyone was paid up. That’ll teach me a lesson. Or will it?

For dinner we headed to Edinburgh Mill Restaurant. This restaurant is in the basement of an old mill with the original stone work. The food was quite good and the Virginia beef prime rib was a phenomenal price, although a bit under seasoned. Sarah and Alison tried to stump me with a bordeaux style blend with Virginia red grapes. They did not. It was Petite Syrah based with some Cab Franc and Chambourcin. Go me! As we were leaving the heavens opened up and we got drenched running to the car. I hopped in the shower called Pat and crashed for the night by 10 pm. I have absolutely no idea what my companions did Saturday night.

The following morning I arose early again and drank what was left of our cold brew. Feeling guilty I googled the nearest Starbucks and decided to head over there and get coffee for everyone. Of course there was a road closure and 20 mins later I pulled off the highway onto a gas station Dunkin. I have never seen one of these before. You make your own coffee drinks. I drink my coffee black, most of the time, I may or may not be drinking a PSL right now. For Sarah and Alison, I knew they needed cream and probably some flavor so I put a few pumps of pumpkin spice syrup and what looked like an ounce of cream. Insert shrug emoji here.

Having woken up Sarah and Alison a little on the early side we ended up being ready to leave around 9 AM. Rather than sitting around waiting for the next nearest vineyard to open we chose one along the route home with a 5 star review. Boy was this an excellent decision. The view from Fox Meadow Vineyards was simply breathtaking. It was overcast which limited our view of the mountain range but it kept it cool. We thoroughly enjoyed their whites and came home with a Bordeaux style white blend. We sat in some adirondack chairs surrounded by grapes and the mountains while drinking our wine and enjoying the cheese and charcuterie we brought along with freshly baked french bread from the winery.

The remainder of the drive home was easy, as it was a Sunday afternoon and we were glad to sit in the car and relax after a whirlwind trip. I can not wait to return to the Shenandoah Valley and Pleasant Valley Farm Airbnb with Pat. It’s a big house so we may bring some friends to enjoy this trip and I would hardly change the itinerary at all. Perhaps I would substitute Third Hill and James Charles to experience other vineyards but I would definitely want to experience the others again. I hope this was a helpful review for my readers and inspires you to take a similar trip. Contact me with any questions!

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