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Monday, August 10, 2015

Lexington Valley Vineyard

The Blue Ridge Mountains are just minutes from downtown Lexington, Virginia, but the rural nature of the landscape feels like miles from the nearest urban center. This is where you will find Lexington Valley Vineyard. It feels remote, but is really minutes from Interstates 64 and 81.

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The sixty-seven acre Lexington Valley property is home to a small family farm winery, where both hybrids and vinifera have been grown for the last fifteen years. Since the first vintage was bottled in 2007, production has remained rather low. The five acres of fruit are used to produce between 400 and 500 cases annually, but there are plans to expand that total to 1000 cases. Even at that level of production, this is a small boutique winery. Emphasis is really on quality.

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I tasted eight wines during my visit. It is an interesting lineup of well-made wines. The white hybrids include Vignoles, Traminette and Vidal Blanc. An oaked Chardonnay was among the white vinifera, but the Gruner Veltliner was a real standout.  crisp, balanced wine, with distinct lime and herb notes. This Austrian varietal is sourced from elsewhere in Rockbridge County, but Lexington Valley is working some magic with that grape. 

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The reds being poured included a young Cabernet Sauvignon, a Foch and a Norton. I will say that the Norton was one of the best examples of that hybrid I have ever tasted and that is saying a lot. It had wonderful Port aromas, lacked the typical mid-palate astringency and was fruit forward without being overly fruity. I’m not always a Norton fan, but I can recognize a good example and the Lexington Valley offering is one of the best in the state.

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Lexington Valley is a lovely venue with room to sit outdoors and admire the countryside. The tasting experience is also well constructed, informal and relaxed. There is every reason to visit. They are open most days. It is recommended that you call ahead, but this seems to be a formality. For those intent on lingering with a glass of wine, snack baskets can be purchased in the tasting room. There is also room outside for couples with children. So don’t hesitate. Make the drive and after you do, please let me know what you think.

Cheers!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Ten Family-Friendly Virginia Wineries

I have been asked many times for the names of wineries where young couples can go and feel comfortable taking their children. I think there is more to being a family-friendly winery than just tolerating children in the tasting room. There needs to be some element of entertainment or some activity that will appeal to a young guest. Generally speaking, those activities should be outside the tasting room and offer some space to play or a specific child-appropriate activity.

Afton Mountain Vineyards - Central Virginia

The tasting room is small and less than ideal for children, but the deck and area around the farm pond offer plenty of space. This beautiful mountain setting has a lot of room to run around.

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Barrel Oak Winery - Northern Virginia

If ever there was a place that screamed “family friendly,” it is Barrel Oak. It is a place that welcomes nearly every type of visitor and offers a large area for children to run around. 

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Cobbler Mountain Cellars - Northern Virginia

This rural location at the base of Cobbler Mountain is an ideal space for a picnic and there is ample room for children to play.

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DuCard Vineyards - Central Virginia

In good weather this is an excellent family venue. There is often live music on the weekend and you will find guests dancing in the grass. There are plenty of picnic tables for families to spread out and tons of open space.

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Good Luck Cellars - Chesapeake Bay

This winery has tons of room inside and out. There are also yard games to entertain young guest. 

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Hunts Vineyard - Shenandoah Valley

This is a small winery, but they made a point of telling me how welcoming they are of families. There is space outside that includes a play area and fenced in goats for the kids to marvel at. There is also a large yard.

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King Family Vineyards - Central Virginia

This winery contains ample space times two and the Sunday polo matches (in season) are a source of entertainment for the entire family. Take a picnic and spend the day.

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Knight’s Gambit Vineyard - Central Virginia

This is a new winery in a gorgeous mountain setting and they are most definitely fans of visitors with children. There are a few games to entertain the young ones, horses corralled across the street and room to roam around.

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Three Fox Vineyards - Northern Virginia

This winery has room to spare with picnic opportunities on the many hillsides. There is also a creek on the lower property that is perfect for wading. There are yard games up closer to the tasting room a huge above the tasting room that also screams to be explored.

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Veritas Vineyard & Winery - Central Virginia

This winery makes my list for nearly everything. Families are welcome and there is room on the deck or in the wooded area across from the tasting room for picnics and rambunctiousness. The Starry Nights Concert Series is a huge local draw and it is a perfect family event. 

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This is hardly a comprehensive list and I am sure to be contacted by wineries wondering why they didn’t make the list. These are the ones that came immediately to mind and I think you and your family will enjoy all of them.

Cheers!