The Historic Staunton Foundation will host its 6th Annual Winter Wine Festival on Saturday, February 20, 2016. Nine Wineries are currently participating in this weekend sampling of fine wines that Virginia has become known for. The tasting will take place at the Stonewall Jackson Hotel and Conference Center located in downtown Staunton and just a 20 minute drive from Steeles Tavern Manor & Alpine Cottages. Advance tickets are just $20 ($25 at the door) and can be purchased online.
Each of the nine participating wineries is family owned and operated. Each family has a great story or two about how they named their winery and how the business was founded. For example, the Mattaponi Winery is a Native American name originating from the four rivers that flow through Spotsylvania County, VA: Mat, Ta, Po, and Ni. The four rivers join to form the Mattaponi River.
At Bluestone Winery, you can help to pick the grapes during harvest season. When the grapes are at just the right ripeness, it’s important to pick them immediately so they have just the correct sweetness for the wine they will become. Grapes are picked by hand so volunteer harvesters are utilized to ensure all the grapes are picked at just the right moment!
Fincastle Winery, a gravity-fed operation, can actually be seen from the Blue Ridge Parkway. Sit on the porch and view the mountains while enjoying a sip of their wines.
The land for The Homeplace Winery has been in the family for four generations. Originally a tobacco farm, the Williams family changed with the times and started planted grape vines in 2005. Logs from the tobacco barns has been re-purposed to build the log cabin tasting room. You can feel the history here as you enjoy the fruit of the vine.
Nelson and Elsie Stanley, owners of Stanburn Winery, are just down-home, unpretentious folks. To make a point about that, they named one of their wines after a stream that runs through their county: Poorhouse Creek. Their Poorhouse wine contains 100% Chambourcin grapes fermented in stainless steel and aged in neutral barrels. Tis wine pairs well with cheesecake or chocolate desserts.
Westin Farm Vineyard & Winery is another family operation. When you visit the tasting room, you will be greeted by a family members or close friend – and the family members may be the four-legged kind! Don’t be surprised to find Charlie and Suzie (canine family members) greeting you. Stroll around the farm with your wine glasses to see the horses and miniature donkeys too. In addition to the Pinot Frigio or Petit Manseng, you can taste various fruit wines too.
The founders of Democracy Vineyards, Jim Turpin and Susan Prokop, have quite a collection of political memorabilia and a passion for wine. They decorated the tasting room with campaign paraphernalia and red, white and blue. All their wines have politically-styled names such as Declaration 2014, Emancipation 2012, Parliament 2011, or Constitution 2013.
Barren Ridge Winery (our personal favorite local winery) sits on the ridge overlooking the vineyards where there was once an apple orchard. The patio is the perfect spot to view the sunset over the Blue Ridge Mountains while enjoying some award-winning wines. There are fourteen wines to choose from so take your time and relax.
Patio, picnic spots, and play areas are all available for your visit to the newest of the participating wineries – Hunt’s Vineyard. The first vines were planted in 2009 and these new owners are learning more about growing grapes everyday. While the vines are growing, so is their population farm animals. Bring the kids and your pet to share a day on the farm and taste some Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chambourcin “Red” or Sangria.
Come for the Winter Wine Festival, purchase some wonderful wines. Come back in the spring, summer, or fall to enjoy the vistas, the farm life, or the sunsets at one or more of these family owned Virginia wineries.