Set among the scenic Blue Ridge Mountains of central Virginia, the area around Lynchburg is booming with distinctive wine. There are 17 wineries surrounding the city, many of which offer interesting products and visitor opportunities.
“Rio Grande is a beautiful winery with upscale experiences,” said Courtney Hunter, sales manager for Discover Lynchburg. “It has incredible views of the Blue Ridge Mountains and live music at night. We also have DeVault Family Vineyards, which is an entire family experience. There are eight siblings onsite that make the wine, do the tastings, and plan and promote festivals.”
One of the most popular group events at DeVault is the Watermelon Festival, a summertime celebration of the company’s supersweet watermelon wine.
Another winery, Rebec Vineyards, hosts the Virginia Wine and Garlic Festival. This two-day event attracts more than 25,000 people, who come to participate in garlic-eating contests; visit craft, arts and food vendors; and sample wines from 15 Virginia wineries.
Many groups enjoy combining wine with fresh fruit at Johnson’s Apple Orchard and Peaks of Otter Winery.
“It’s an apple orchard where you can pick your own apples, but they also have a whole winery that does fruit wines based on the fruits that they grow,” Hunter said. “They also make homemade preserves, jams and jellies, and you can do tastings of those, too.”
— www.discoverlynchburg.org —
A small, friendly town with a big German heritage, Fredericksburg sits in the center of Texas Hill Country, which is becoming the state’s foremost wine region.
“Our climate is really conducive to growing grapes,” said Amanda Koone, communications manager for the Fredericksburg Convention and Visitors Bureau. “They’ve been making wine here since Fredericksburg was settled. It went out with Prohibition and then came back in the 1970s, and has been increasing in popularity ever since.”
That popularity has increased dramatically in the past 10 years. Today, Fredericksburg and Gillespie County have 17 wineries, seven tasting rooms and two wine bars, and visitors will find both California-style varieties and local specialty wines.
The area has several wine associations that make it easy for groups to have a progressive wine experience. Wine Road 290 comprises 10 wineries within the Fredericksburg area that are open for tours and tastings. The organization also puts on several free annual events, such as a Mardi Gras celebration, that pair wines with themed foods.
A bit farther outside of Fredericksburg, the Texas Hill Country Wine Trail has 33 sites and stretches all the way to Austin. The members of this trail do special events four times a year, giving a different treat to visitors at each winery.
“There are quite a few wine tour companies here,” Koone said. “They have party buses, limos — you name it. There’s a brand-new business in town called the Hill Country Bike and Wine Tour that takes you on a vintage bike to tour our local wineries.”
— www.visitfredericksburgtx.com —