Over the last couple of years, I have grown to appreciate wine. It is a beverage that helps me unwind from a busy day of work, that accompanies my love for cheese and is great to have with almost every meal. Because of this love, I am always in the look out for opportunities to visit vineyards whether they are in Napa, Sonoma, Columbia Valley to the Appalachian mountains in Virginia.
If you didn't know, Virginia is a "Commonwealth of Wine" - with more than 200 wineries that stretch across every region of the state, from the waters of the Chesapeake Bay to the Appalachian Mountains.
October Virginia Wine Month is a month-long celebration of local wine with special events, tastings, festivals and more at Virginia's 200+ wineries statewide. Since the first October Virginia Wine Month in 1988, the Virginia wine industry has grown tremendously, now ranking fifth in the nation for wine production, and including more than 200 wineries and dozens of wine trails. Just this year, Wine Enthusiast magazine named Virginia one of the 10 best wine travel destinations for 2012, noting the state's picturesque pastoral landscapes and affable winemakers set Virginia apart as an excellent wine destination on the East Coast.
From biking between wineries along the Chesapeake Bay to sipping wine at a National Historic Landmark, each wine region provides travelers with one-of-a-kind wine experiences. Visit www.Virginia.org/wine for information on events and packages taking place throughout the state in October. The following is a sampling of special events and packages offered during October Virginia Wine Month.
Fall Wine Festival & Sunset Tour at Mount Vernon Estate & Gardens - Oct. 5, 2012 Enjoy live blues and spectacular views of the Potomac River while sampling wine from 16 Virginia wineries during Mount Vernon's Fall Wine Festival & Sunset Tour. Visitors learn about the successes and failures of our Founding Father's wine endeavors, enjoy live blues music, meet "George and Martha Washington" on the Mansion's piazza and experience an evening tour of George Washington's home and wine cellar. Tickets are $35 per person. For more information, call (703) 780-2000 or visit www.mountvernon.org.
The 12th Annual Norton Wine and Bluegrass Festival - Chrysalis Vineyards - Middleburg - Oct. 6-7, 2012 This year's Norton Wine & Bluegrass Festival invites wine travelers to Chrysalis Vineyards, home to the world's largest grower of Norton, The Real American Grape!®, to experience one of Northern Virginia's top wineries during the harvest season. The area's best bluegrass music, food from the local "BBQ King," hayrides and vineyard tours and a special nine-wine tasting, are among the weekend's highlights. Admission is $15 in advance and $20 at the door. For more information, call 540-687-8222 or visit www.chrysaliswine.com.
Fredericksburg Area Wine Festival - Fredericksburg - Oct. 6-7, 2012 The 22nd annual Fredericksburg Area Wine Festival features award-winning wines from eight Virginia wineries as well as local cuisine and beer from Blue and Gray Micro Brewery set against the scenic beauty of Rappahannock River. The family-friendly festival offers rides on Aubrey Treakle's Barrel Train and balloon art and face painting. Admission fee is $15 in advance at $20 at the gates. For more information, call 540-972-2749 or visit www.fredericksburgwine.com.
Taste of Culpeper - Culpeper - Oct. 7, 2012 Culpeper Renaissance's eighth annual "Taste of Culpeper - a wine, food and arts festival" showcases the best in Virginia wines, microbreweries and local cuisine. Fun and festivities are available for the entire family including take-home treasures from local artisans and crafters, live music, a moonbounce and an outdoor football lounge with two large-screen TVs. Tickets are $10 in advance and $15 at the gate with free admission for those 12 and under. For more information, visitwww.culpeperdowntown.com.
Blackdog Wine & Classic Rock Festival - Chateau Môrrisette - Floyd - Oct. 13, 2012 Each October, the Chateau Morrisette Winery, located just off the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway, brings in wine and music lovers from all over the country for the Black Dog Wine & Music festival. The rock event features new bands, the winery's famous sangria and local cuisine and crafts. Admission is $25 and includes music, winery tour, tastings and a souvenir wine glass. For more information, call 540-593-2865 or visit www.thedogs.com.
Virginia Wine and Garlic Festival - Rebec Vineyards, Amherst - Oct. 13-14, 2012 The Virginia Wine and Garlic Festival embraces food, wine, live entertainment, arts, crafts and most importantly, garlic. The festival offers five stages filled with music and live entertainment, garlic contests, wine tastings from six different wineries, and a kid's zone with a petting zoo. Wine tasting tickets are $18 in advance and $25 at the gates. General admission is $14 in advance and $25 at the gates; children under 12 are free. For more information, call 434-946-5168 or visit www.rebecwinery.com.
AT&T Town Point Virginia Wine Festival - Norfolk - Oct. 20-21, 212 The 25th Annual AT&T Town Point Virginia Wine Festival showcases more than 200 of Virginia's finest wine varieties and captures the elegant flavor and flair of the region. The festival offers wine tastings and live musical performances as well as gourmet foods and special wares for purchase. With all wine selections available for purchase by the glass or case, visitors are able to take home their favorite local crush. Guests can choose from a variety of ticket and package options with varying prices. For more information, visit www.festevents.org/mini-site/25th-annual-atandt-town-point-virginia-wine-festival.
Powhatan's Festival of the Grape - Powhatan - Oct. 27, 2012 Travelers will indulge the best of 25 Virginia wineries at the annual Festival of the Grape at Powhatan's Historic Courthouse Square, just a short drive from the cities of Richmond, Lynchburg, Charlottesville and Williamsburg. The family-friendly festival features tastings of Virginia's finest wines, delicious food, live music and entertainment and arts and crafts. Admission fee is $20 and includes a souvenir wine glass. For more information, call 804-598-2636 or visitwww.powhatanwinefestival.com.
Louisa County Wine Festival - Mineral - Oct. 13, 2012 The second annual Louisa County Wine Festival, from White Walnut Vineyards, is the perfect way to spend a fall afternoon sampling vintages from new and long-established wineries, local food and enjoying live music and all-around fun! Taking place in downtown Mineral, home to Lake Anna, the second largest lake located entirely in the in the state of Virginia, the Louisa County Wine Festival allows guests to take a sample glass as they visit each winery and taste various vintages. There will also be a variety of crafters and artisans, as well as a dedicated children's activity area. General admission fee is $15 in advance and $20 at gate. For more information, call 540-967-9044 www.louisawinefestival.com