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Virginia Wine Country

Traveling to Virginia Wine Country

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Williamsburg Inn

Virginia's Williamsburg Inn, an Historic Hotel of America.

Photo by Susan Breslow Sardone.

In July 2004, archeologists at the Jamestown settlement in Virginia unearthed the oldest known wine cellar in the country and ten seventeenth-century wine bottles.

With Virginia having celebrated its four-hundredth anniversary in 2007, the serendipitous find not only captivated oenophiles and historians but also put the spotlight on Virginia’s wine heritage and its recent emergence as a world-class wine producer.

While the uncorked bottles, thought to once hold Madeira wine, no longer contain liquid, award-winning vintages are in ample supply throughout Virginia. Since 1979, the number of wineries in Virginia has, like a cork released from a champagne bottle, popped from five to about eighty-eight.

Virginia’s boutique wineries, many family-owned, begin outside of Washington, DC, nestle in the Blue Ridge Mountains, wind past Colonial Williamsburg, and surround the rolling hills of Richmond. In fact, there are few spots in Virginia further than half an hour from a winery.

GRAPE EXPECTATIONS IN VIRGINIA WINE COUNTRY

Handy road markers showing a cluster of grapes inform drivers of the distance to the nearest winery. Visitors planning an overnight stay ought to consider Lansdowne Resort’s Wine Country Tour Package, which includes breakfast and a picnic lunch to go, accommodations, and a wine country tour.

Other wine country tours provide chauffeured sedans and other forms of transportation so passengers can tipple. It's a fun way to learn about wine while having a great time.

A TASTE OF VIRGINIA HISTORY…AND MORE

Virginia’s monumental historic and cultural landmarks entice visitors to explore a variety of interests in addition to wineries.

In the triangle of Williamsburg, Jamesown, and Yorktown, for instance, the nation’s early days are presented in engaging settings.

America’s living-history museum, Colonial Willliamsburg portrays the 18th-century capital of England’s oldest colony as it appeared on the eve of the American Revolution.

The destination combines reenactments of significant historical events, authentic trade demonstrations, and vibrant museums where visitors can view well-preserved treasures of the past.

Colonial Willliamsburg's DeWitt Wallace Museum, one of the few in the country that focuses on the decorative arts, contains furniture, textiles, tools, ceramics, silver, clothing, and other objects from the late 17th-century.

An entrée to history, these artifacts provide insight into how people of the time lived and reveal the origins of American style.

In early America, for example, wine was often used to prepare potent alcoholic punches, and the museum displays beautifully crafted punch bowls, ladles, strainers, and glasses that evoke gatherings and celebrations of the period.

SAVORING WILLIAMSBURG, VIRGINIA

In addition to exploring the 301-acre Historic Area, Williamsburg visitors can golf at two Golden Horseshoe Golf Courses. Shoppers may want to fit in a visit to Williamsburg Pottery, a carnival of kitsch spread over 200 acres.

Wine lovers can tour and taste at the Williamsburg Winery, which is on a 300-acre farm outside of Colonial Williamsburg. With advance reservations, lunch is available at its old-English-style Gabriel Archer Tavern overlooking the vineyards.

In the evening, guests at Williamsburg can choose unique activities: Whether attending a candlelit concert, taking in a dramatic performance such as “Cry Witch” or a theatrical farce, they’ll experience entertainment similar to those colonial Virginians reveled in.

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