Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Heart of Virginia Wine Trail

If there is anyone in the Central Virginia area that likes to tour wineries then they need to get out there and hit the Heart of Virginia Wine Trail!  This last weekend the trail had a special offer.  For $15 dollars you could go to each of the four wineries on the trail and taste the wine at each.  You also got to partake in a chili "cook-off" and you got to keep the souvenir wine glass with the Heart of Virginia logo on it.  The four wineries were Lake Anna, Cooper's, Grayhaven and James River Cellars.  And what would make touring four wineries even better?  Tour those wineries with a bunch of friends!  Tonya was a happy girl needless to say.

Our group met up at the first winery on our list, James River Cellars Winery (JRCW). Located about 45 mins from our house this winery is in Glen Allen, Virginia.  I've passed by it several times....and I did try to stop here once....during a hurricane (long story) but have never gotten to actually tour the winery.  It's a two story building with a bar and tasting area on the bottom level and a large room that can be used for special events up stairs.  The chili tasting qualified for a special event I guess because we were upstairs.  They had tables set up for tasting: table one with whites, table two with reds and table three with the dessert wines.  I think we tasted somewhere around 15 wines all together.  The chili was also in this room and with lots of seating it was more than enough for our large group plus others.  They have a small balcony on the front of the second story and a larger outdoor patio on the ground level.  During the summer they host several outdoor events and wine festivals....that we WILL be taking part in :)

Their wines.

First level bar.

Winery and patio.

This is half of the up stairs room.

A nice spot to sit and sip our wine.

After leaving JRCW we headed off to stop #2 on our tour, Grayhaven.  This winery is located in Gum Spring Virginia and was a little more off the beaten path.  The winery itself might also be described that same way.  The tasting room was small and quaint with one tasting bar and a large table with seating in the main room.  Their is a small bridge and coy pond just in front of the winery that catch your attention with a patio and a few seats/tables if you care to sit outside and have some wine.  Their are 15 wines advertised on their website but at the tasting we only had three.  They also offered a mango sangria made from one of their wines.  Here we had the option of trying two chilies.....one was vegetarian and the other.....honestly I forget.  Mostly because I actually like the vegetarian chili so much.  I was a little disappointed that we only had three wines to taste but I knew we were moving on to other places with plenty more wine to try. 


Crossing over.

The coy pond.

I loved these doors.

Part of the main room.

Before long we were moving on to our 3rd stop of the tour, Cooper Vineyard.  There is a small place in my heart reserved for Cooper Vineyard.  I've been to this place before and always have enjoyed their wines.  In fact their sangria was what we served at our wedding :)  Mark has little memory of the later parts of that night thanks in part to the sangria but it makes for great stories.  Since my last visit here they really have made huge improvements.  They now have a large tasting room, with a long curving tasting bar and plenty of outdoor seating.  It looked like a second story with even more room maybe for private events but we didn't get up there to check it out.  After finding a small opening at the end of the bar we did our tasting of 13 or so wines.  A lot of people go crazy over their Noche wine which is a Norton wine with Chocolate infused into the wine.  Ok....well it IS good.  But my favorite was the Sweet Louisa....that's why we got two bottles of that and only one of the Noche.  We took more time here to sit out on the deck and I walked around with Emma for a bit to let her burn off some energy. 

Cooper Vineyard.

Yea that's a lot of peole around a LONG bar.

The long bar did allow for serveral hosts to be pouring at once.

An outdoor tasting area. 
By the time we left this was full too.

Cozy on up to this baby.

The outdoor deck.  They kept the heat on for us ;)
I think I was trying to get a pic of the ceiling.

After our stay at Cooper it was time to make our way to the last stop on the tour.  The last stop was at Lake Anna Winery.  By the time we got here the chili was gone but never fear they still had plenty of wine ;)  The tasting area is large with a lot of open space for tables.  The tasting bar has two sides and lots of room for several hosts to be pouring at once.   A small deck on the side has a couple tables and then a lower patio on back has picnic tables for when the weather warms up.  With 11 wines to taste, Mark and I were able to find a few Lake Anna wines to add to our collection.  This winery is close to Lake Anna in Spotsylvania County and I'm sure in the summer plenty of people are picking up some wine on their way to play at the lake. 

The front of the bar.

The back of the bar.

See what I mean about open space.

The side deck.

Looking back at the bar.

It was a long day with lots of laughs, lots of wine and great new memories to add to our collection. 

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