(Part 2 in a Series)
As you read in Part 1, Wintergreen Resort offers much more than snow skiing (though it’s absolutely a fabulous spot for that favorite wintertime activity). We found the resort had a host of activities for every season. See the lineup at WinterGreenResort.com/Activities.
We discovered during our early fall visit that surrounding Nelson County is blessed with so much to see and do, all an easy drive from the historic 10,800-acre resort. We started our day trip with a fascinating visit with the folks at Dickie Brothers Orchard (2685 Dickie Rd., Roseland). This family farm operation dates back to when England’s King George II granted three tracts of land to the present owners’ great, great, great, great grandfather, James Dickie, in 1752, 1758 and 1760.
It’s now managed by two brothers, John and Tommy Bruguiere. Theirs is a popular pick-your-own destination, and October is their busiest season. Those reading this now are in luck: The pick-your-own Pink Lady season starts on Halloween (visit DickieBrothers.com and see the video for more.)
At Veritas Winery (151 Veritas Lane, Afton), General Manager George Hodson and his sister, Winemaker Emily Pelton, also are continuing the family business started by their parents, Andrew and Patricia. We peeped in on the crushing process as men and machines destemmed grapes on property and sent the fruit to be crushed into juice. We got to taste the raw result and found it incredibly sweet. In the tasting room, we got to taste the actual wines.
The Veritas tasting room is cavernous at two levels with five tasting stations downstairs, room upstairs for groups plus with a large special events ballroom for 250. The locale has been popular for weddings and its live summer concert series. The company also runs a bed and breakfast, The Farmhouse at Veritas.
Veritas is growing 11 varietals and producing 14 wines. Among their several award winners are Viognier and Petit Verdot products.
Many know the slogan Virginia is for Lovers. It was the Virginia Tourism office that provided an installation just above winery tasting bar that spells out LOVE using 3,200 corks (see the slideshow). The $7 tasting fee includes a take-home glass etched “In Vino Veritas” (in wine, there is truth). We tasted the following:
- Scintilla, a brut sparkling wine made with 100% Chardonnay grapes
- 2014 Saddleback Chardonnay 2014 modeled after “old world” style from the Chablis region
- White Star, an off-dry blend, which are pourer described as a “popular, crowd pleaser” and a blend of Traminette, Vidal Blanc and Viognier
- Rose 2014, very dry and made from Cabernet Franc and Merlot
- Cabernet Franc 2014, medium bodied with “all the niceties of a good Virginia Cabernet Franc”
- Red Star, one of the winery’s most “palate-friendly, popular” wines.
We’d never really tried ciders before, so we especially enjoyed the introduction we got at Bold Rock Hard Cider (1020 Rockfish Valley Hwy, Rt. 151, Nellysford) also called the Cider Barn. We recommend trying a flight of ciders, then choosing your favorite and then having lunch by the fireplace. The building barn and tasting room are lovely, and just opened in Fall 2014. Note the 150-year-old, 6,000-pound beam bearing the slogan “Be Bold. Tread Lightly. Make It Happen” that stretches 50-feet long by 3-feet high positioned above the glass windows showing the cidery machinations at work. Take the stairs upstairs and view the operation from overhead and visit their Cider Museum.
The cidery’s story is fascinating: A Virginia native, John Washburn, partnered with a New Zealander, Brian Shanks, after finding the perfect piece of land in Blue Ridge country — 50 acres on the Rockfish River. They were bold and made it happen.
We recommend trying the cider flight, if, like us, you’re new to hard cider. We learned on our brief tour that many of the apples are coming from Henderson, NC. Go, home team! And, we must say, we are now cider fans, at least of Bold Rock.
Other Nelson County “spirits” stops include:
- Pollak Vineyards: Virginians declared this their favorite Central Virginia winery in the 2014 Virginia Wine Lover Readers’ Choice Awards. Sample French varietals in the tasting room or from the patio. Both settings offer scenic views of some of their 27 acres of French vinifera vineyards, a peaceful pond and the Blue Ridge Mountains.
- Silverback Spirits: Producers of premium vodka, gin, whiskey and bourbon using the “perfect mix of Virginia grains, pure water and American craftsmanship.” Opened in August 2014, the distillery offers tastings, tours, and merchandise.
- Flying Fox Vineyard: Hidden gem with an intimate tasting room for sampling Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot from grapes grown on site as well as wines from the Viognier and Pinot Gris grown across the Blue Ridge.
- Hilltop Berry Farm & Winery: Making “true to the fruit” wines from handpicked blackberries, blueberries, peaches, strawberries and other local fruits, ranging from a luscious sweetness to semi-dry. Plus historic, honey-based fermented meads .
- Devils Backbone Basecamp Brewpub: I’ve spent many hours relaxing in the Devils Backbone brewpub, usually after an invigorating hike, refueling with food and fresh brews. Devils Backbone’s accolades include top awards as small brewpub and small brewing company of the year at the prestigious Great American Beer Festival. When the weather is right, partaking of a meal on their patio while taking in the mountain ridges in the distance is a tasty sample of Virginia’s allure. DBBrewingCompany.com
- Blue Mountain Barrel House Brewery: This production brewery with tasting room is a sister to the better-known Blue Mountain Brewpub, which has been in Nelson County since 2007. The Barrel House focuses on Blue Mountain’s higher-end beers, those that require special processes and special ingredients, including one of my favorite Virginia beers, Dark Hollow, their imperial stout aged in oak bourbon barrels.
- Wild Wolf Brewing Company, one of a few such mother and son operations in the country, is one of Virginia’s fastest growing breweries. Located in Nellysford under shady elm trees, Mary and Danny Wolf offer their wide selection of hand crafted beers such as Alpha Ale, Blonde Hunny and seasonal favorites Howling Pumpkin and Folktoberfest, plus Central Virginia’s freshest local foods in a century old, revitalized Nelson County school house. Canine companions are always welcome in the outdoor Biergarten, weather permitting.
If You’re Going: Coming up at Wintergreen Resort, there’s Thanksgiving Weekend festivities Nov. 26-29 including a traditional dinner; projected ski season opening Dec. 12; Blue Ridge Mountain Christmas and New Year’s Celebration, Dec. 19-31. December will also see the publication of the book “For Love of the Land: The History of Wintergreen.” The prologue begins: “The legacy of Wintergreen belongs to those who dreamed it, those who sold the dream, and those who turned it into reality. Its natural beauty existed long before its inception, setting the stage for the dream and thankfully is still largely intact today…”
For more, visit WintergreenResort.com or call 855-839-2263 for reservations.
If you enjoyed this story, you might also enjoy:
• Other stories by Newbern and Fletcher
• Other Stories by JS Fletcher,
• Stories by Kathy M. Newbern, Luxury Travel Examiner
International and Luxury Travel Examiners J.S. Fletcher and spouse, Kathy M. Newbern, report on luxury destinations, spas and cruising around the globe. They are award-winning members of the Society of American Travel Writers and created YourNovel.com, their personalized romance novel business. Kathy M. Newbern and J.S. Fletcher ©2015