With the meandering Appalachian Trail to the west and the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway to the east, there's a lot to explore in Virginia's Blue Ridge region. Go boating on beautiful Smith Mountain Lake. Take in a play at Barter Theater in Abingdon. Maybe a football game at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg (nothing gets the tailgate going like a bottle of local vino). If it's music that moves you, don't miss Floyd Fest in Floyd, or the Old Fiddler's Convention in Galax, a Virginia tradition since 1935.
Interstate 81 bisects the Blue Ridge Wine Region, which runs south of Roanoke to the North Carolina border. The windy and picturesque mountainsides of southwest Virginia are home to a number of well-established wineries thanks to loamy and gravelly soil with good drainage and stunning elevations.
Central Virginia's thriving wine scene only heightens the area's allure as a destination for history, culture and great food. Traverse a two-hour radius and you'll encounter worlds within worlds—from Civil War sites to cutting-edge art; quaint towns, urban excitement and remote mountain escapes. Explore Richmond's explosive food and drink culture, or Charlottesville's famous Downtown Mall. Wintergreen offers breathtaking hikes, skiing and golf courses. Lynchburg is home to four colleges and the launch site for the annual Batteau Festival, where crews dressed in period clothing navigate their flat-bottom boats down the James River to Richmond.
It's no wonder Thomas Jefferson attempted to make wine at his home, Monticello, in the 1770s, and that generations of winemakers have carried his experiments forward centuries later. The eastern slopes of the Blue Ridge and the rolling countryside offer striking topography—fertile granite-based clay soil and a growing season of over 200 days. This combination yields grapes with a rich and multilayered Old-World flavor. You'll find numerous wineries clustered around Charlottesville and to its north, several south of Lynchburg, and a few east and closer to Richmond.
This historic Tidewater region of the Northern Neck and Middle Peninsula falls between the Potomac and York rivers, with the Chesapeake Bay to the east. Here, in 1607, the Powhatans struck a fragile peace with the very first English settlers. Here were born three presidents—George Washington, James Madison and James Monroe—two signers of the Declaration of Independence and Confederate General Robert E. Lee. Here you'll find moments in time that have defined our history, and an endless stretch of shoreline where time stands still.
The verdant land of these peninsulas provide a mix of sandy loam soil and a temperate climate year-round. Many excellent wineries call this area home—and they, too, await your discovery. Explore the Virginia Oyster trail, experience the Urbanna Oyster Festival, or enjoy a relaxing waterfront getaway and "tide to table" dining at Tides Inn Resort in Irvington. And complement it all with wines that reflect the depth and character of this storied soil.
Virginia's scenic Eastern Shore is an enchanting peninsula of family farms, small towns, waterside villages and hundreds of miles of pristine shoreline between the Atlantic Ocean and Chesapeake Bay. The area is famous for its Chincoteague ponies, which run wild by the sea on a barrier island except for one annual roundup. In a 1608 voyage to explore the Eastern Shore, Captain John Smith said that "Heaven and earth never agreed better to frame a place for man's habitation." Today, beach-lovers, eco-tourists, fishing enthusiasts, boaters and local residents still agree with that sentiment.
So do wine lovers, who began visits in the early 1980s soon after the birth of the wine industry here, thanks to the moderate, maritime climate and long growing season. The expressive character and minerality of Eastern Shore wines make a natural pair with the area's abundant local seafood and produce.
Historic Jamestown, Colonial Williamsburg, Yorktown, and the first battle between two ironclads, the Monitor and CSS Virginia—the names alone tell the rich and enduring history of this area that attracts millions of visitors every year. As do the names of some more modern attractions: Busch Gardens, Water Country USA, The Mariners Museum, Newport News Shipbuilding, and the cities of Norfolk and Virginia Beach. Here you'll find the nation's second-oldest institution of higher learning, the College of William and Mary, as well as nearby Christopher Newport and Old Dominion universities.
And among the many interesting things to see and do, be sure to include visits to wineries in the area, where a year-round temperate climate and fertile soil produce excellent vinifera and vintages.
The western tip of Virginia offers a mountainous and rolling countryside with a timeless rural charm. Here you'll find verdant forests broken by fertile farmland and lush orchards. Small towns, antique shops, local eateries and friendly residents characterize this area's appeal. Two National Wilderness Areas, which offer numerous hiking and mountain biking trails, draw outdoor types during the spring and summer.
The temperate year-round climate and rocky slopes provide ideal conditions for ultra-ripe fruit—the hallmark of the region's reds, whites, rosés and fruit wines.
Northern Virginia's wine country sits barely an hour outside the nation's capital, yet somehow feels like exploring a secret world. Winding back roads open into bucolic scenes that seem ripped from an old landscape painting. Between the Skyline Drive and Appalachian Trail, and perfectly preserved sites like George Washington's Mount Vernon, Waterford Village and Harper's Ferry National Historical Park, it's easy to forget what year it is. Yet with the National Air and Space Museum, Wolftrap National Park for the Performing Arts, and of course, Washington, D.C., also nearby, it's just as easy to immerse yourself in some distinctly modern pleasures as well.
And dotted throughout this dynamic landscape are some of Virginia's most respected wineries. The rolling hills, with rich soils from eons of granite and sandstone erosion, gives good air and drainage for wine grapes. Add the moderate winters and a generous growing season and the result is very productive ground for wines that reflect Virginia's position as the midpoint between the Old World and the new.
This breathtaking valley with its rolling landscape of pastures and historic towns, stretches from the Maryland state line to just south of the city of Roanoke. College towns abound, as do wonders both natural (Luray Caverns, Natural Bridge) and man-made (a myriad of small museums, including the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library). You can see Shakespeare plays year-round at the Blackfriars Playhouse in Staunton and take in the early fall Apple Harvest Festival in Winchester.
Visits to wineries here make an especially fun travel destination; and at no time is this truer than during the fall when the leaves turn to dazzling reds, oranges and yellows. You'll find wineries from north of Winchester to south of Roanoke and at points in between. The Valley's rocky, fertile soil and warm, relatively dry growing season lend themselves to nearly every varietal
Running across the middle of Virginia's border with North Carolina like its main east-west highway, Highway 58, this mostly rural and rolling landscape of farms and woodland takes visitors into the south-side Virginia version of small-town America. It's an area rich in Revolutionary War, Civil War and civil rights heritage. You'll find walking tours and small local museums in town after town—and gracious southern hospitality everywhere. Kerr Lake (also known as Buggs Island Lake) is Virginia's largest freshwater lake. Near Clarksville is Prestwould, the 18th century plantation home of Sir Peyton Skipwith. In Danville to the west, you can visit Langhorne House, the home of Lady Astor; and farther west, Martinsville and its historic district and NASCAR speedway.
Southern Virginia has a warm to temperate climate with good soil for winemaking in selected areas where the topography is ideal. In this area of Virginia along the North Carolina border, you'll find excellent wines made from both traditional vinifera and an array of local fruits.
Highland County is known as "Virginia's Switzerland" thanks to its alpine climate; the highest mean elevation of any county east of the Mississippi River. Dramatic mountains, valleys and quaint towns beg to be hiked, biked and otherwise explored, as do the many eclectic, family-run wineries of the area.