Most Wednesdays, the weekend still feels far away. The commute to the office seems longer than ever, two nights of homework has made the kids irritable, and the week’s challenges are already wearing you thin. However, there’s a new opportunity for Wednesdays. It turns out that Wednesday is the perfect time to wind down, rest, and prepare for the final push that gets you through the rest of the week. Instead of letting Wednesday get you down, treat it like a holiday! Use this infamous day of the week to “wine down” with some great wines, good food, and music in Nelson County, Virginia.
Celebrate Holidays with Virginia Wine
Along with its four Wine Down Wednesdays, the month of May is home to National Wine Day, celebrated on May 25th. The best way to enjoy this day is to spend time with family and friends over wine and a tasty meal. Of course, our unprecedented times have altered the way a celebration looks. However, there is still plenty of opportunity to observe National Wine Day and Wine Down Wednesdays, Nelson-style.
The Impressive Skills of Nelson County Winemakers
Concerning the wines themselves, Nelson County winemakers produce despite unpredictable weather. A day in Virginia can represent all four seasons topped off with a thunderstorm on Thanksgiving and a morning frost on the last day of May. Because the climate takes away from overall production, more attention can be given to the fruit and the wine-making. Viognier grapes grow well in Nelson, along with the thick-skinned Petit Manseng. These grapes, along with other varieties, and the soil they are planted in lend something to the crisp, flavorful wines that Nelson has to offer.
One benefit of Nelson’s rocky soil is that it doesn’t allow grapevines to dig deep into the ground. The vines then focus more energy onto the fruit rather than other parts of the plant. This is why Nelson wines taste so unique. It’s telling that Nelson County is located directly between Europe and California, since Nelson County Wines embody both new-world charm and modern taste, with a little southern determination thrown in. It could be said that Nelson County Winemakers are some of the last true pioneers of the industry.
The county is a peaceful, verdant beauty located next to the Blue Ridge Mountains. Its immense skies and sun-dappled forests serve as the perfect backdrop to its fascinating wineries. Those visiting the county will find themselves in the very heart of Virginia Wine Country, and conveniently located directly between the cities of Charlottesville and Lynchburg. A wide variety of locally produced wines is another part of the landscape, and award-winning red and white wines, meads, and fruit wines abound. Nelson offers a variety of experiences, from farm wineries, Virginia’s oldest winery, traditional, terraced vineyards, and tasting rooms that are functional works of art.
Nelson County’s Craft Beverage Trails
Nelson is well-known for its craft beverage production; two of its three craft beverage trails boast several wineries. The famous Nelson 151 is affectionately known as “Virginia’s Weekend Address.” It runs near the northern edge of the county, where you’ll find farms, art galleries, cozy bed & breakfasts, and of course- wineries. Veritas Vineyard & Winery, Cardinal Point Winery, Afton Mountain Vineyards, Flying Fox Vineyard, Valley Road Vineyards, and Hill Top Berry Farm & Winery are part of Nelson 151. 12 Ridges Vineyard & Winery, a cool-climate wine producer, can be found nearby- high atop the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Photo Credit: Justin Eubanks
Nelson 29, the county’s newest craft beverage trail, boasts wineries as well: Mountain Cove Winery, Delfosse Vineyards & Winery, Lovingston Winery, and Brent Manor Vineyards. All the wineries included in Nelson 29 have easy access to the Route 29 corridor, which makes these producers perfect for the traveling wine enthusiast. There are plenty of unique shopping opportunities near Route 29. Drumheller’s Orchard and Saunders Brothers Farm Market are nearby, too, if picking your own fresh fruit or choosing country market staples adds a little something to your winery day!
Delfosse Vineyards & Winery, Photo Credit: Steven Morris
The wineries themselves are so unique that no two are alike. Mountain Cove Vineyards, Virginia’s oldest winery, is nestled in a beautiful cove. Afton Mountain Vineyards has a beautiful veranda with views of the Blue Ridge. At Delfosse Vineyards and Winery, the owners know there’s nothing more refreshing on a cool summer’s day than a soothing picnic with delicious wine. Lovingston Winery grows their grapes in a way that increases both the quality and the beauty of the fruit, since the winery itself is built into a hillside and utilizes a gravity-flow production method.
For those more artistically-inclined, Flying Fox Vineyard & Winery offers more than good vermouth. Art is everywhere. Industrial furniture makes the tasting room one-of-a-kind, and huge murals adorn the building. Even the wallpaper is unique! If you aren’t stunned enough by the artistry at Flying Fox, you’ll be mesmerized at Hill Top Berry Farm & Winery’s indoor beehive, where you can watch busy bees enter and exit the building while you build up a little buzz of your own.
More Than Just Vino: Special Events at Nelson’s Wineries
Usually, many of Nelson’s Wineries host special events on weekends. Music and food are part of the celebrations as well. Tours are offered along with wine tasting, and gifts are often available in on-site shops. Many Nelson County wineries are available for booking; weddings and other special events are welcomed.
Hill Top Berry Farm & Winery holds the annual Hill Top Berry Festival in August. The festival takes place on the first Saturday in August, and customers-turned-blackberry-pickers can purchase bottles of true-to-fruit wines, honey meads, or two different types of Sangria.
Another great Nelson celebration takes place on the second Saturday of every month during the warm-weather season. Veritas Vineyards & Winery offers an outdoor concert series, where you can relax under the stars, then taste the wines made on-site.
Adjusting to COVID-19 When You Visit The Wineries
Of course, during these unique times, changes have needed to be made in the short-term. For those who are at home to help slow the spread of COVID-19, wineries in Nelson County have adapted. Delfosse Vineyards & Winery offer Facebook Live Wine Chats. Over the next few Wine Down Wednesdays, Brent Manor Vineyards will be offering virtual tastings in the evenings. Wine enthusiasts can order the newly-released wines from Brent Manor Vineyards and follow along online. Afton Mountain Vineyards and Valley Road Vineyards are also rising Internet stars with their virtual tasting opportunities. There are still special occasion offerings at Nelson wineries as well. For Mother’s Day, Veritas Vineyards & Winery sold special “Mother’s Day in a Box” brunches for pickup.
You can enjoy Nelson County wines at home, too. Most Nelson wineries, including Hill Top Berry Farm & Winery, offer curbside to go for wine orders. Afton Mountain Vineyards and Cardinal Point Winery offer online orders and pickup as well. Many of the wineries, including Lovingston Winery, are offering free shipping and local delivery.
Wineries Give Back to the Community
Of course, it’s hard to be surrounded by beautiful landscapes and beautiful wines without having a beautiful heart as well. Nelson wineries have found ways to give back to their customers and their community during these difficult times. For example, Veritas Vineyards & Winery has partnered with top wedding vineyards to give away a dream wedding valued at over $50,000. The wedding site, coordinating, flowers, gifts, stationery, cake, makeup, and gifts will be available to one lucky couple whose wedding was cancelled due to these difficult times.
Photo Credit: Tom Daly
There’s more to wine in Nelson County than a day of the week or a certain month of the year, though Wine Down Wednesdays and National Wine Month remind us that there’s a lot of fun and adventure to be had, even though the times have a’changed somewhat right now. Whether you travel to the heart of Virginia’s wine country or celebrate on the front porch at home, Nelson County Wineries have something to offer. For more information about how YOU can start celebrating Wine Down Wednesdays and National Wine Month, visit the Nelson County website or call the Nelson Visitors Center at 434-263-7015.