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A Moveable Feast in VA Wine Country

Virginia winery Stinson Vineyards

Picture yourself here! At Stinson Vineyards in Crozet, just west of Charlottesville, the Stinson family invites you to bring your own picnic, or you can shop right at the farm market in their tasting room. Photo by MA Dancisin.

You love to go winery hopping, picking and choosing to fill your mixed case to take home. But sometimes, it’s nice to spend the whole day just relaxing in the country. And if you’re like me, that includes a mid-day nosh, most preferably prepared by others. But every once in a while, I get inspired to create my own picnic to share with friends and family.

Here’s a report on some wineries that excel: either in terms of yummy food available right in the tasting room, and/or with exquisite settings to bring your own picnic. There are quite a variety of options, from haute wine and food pairings to tailgating at the edge of a vineyard, and everything in between.

Monticello and C’ville

Kelly Knox of Pippin Hill Farm and Vineyards tells us, “Our Tasting Room is open Tuesday through Sunday, 11 to 5, and our kitchen is open during those times as well.  Café-style dining is available inside and on our covered terrace.  Picnic food is available on the lawn each weekend.”

“A few favorite dishes on our menu at the moment are:

Spring Pea and Strawberry Salad
Shelled peas, local strawberries, pea tendrils
Shaved manchego, olive oil croutons
Herb vinaigrette

Grilled Carolina Prawns
Local Chorizo
White bean and citrus salad

Local Beef Sliders
Pippin’s smokey sauce
Caramelized onions, melted cheddar
House-made Parmesan fries

Pippin Hill’s menu changes seasonally. See our related story for lots more info!

Virginia winery Keswick

Keswick Vineyards features deli sandwiches and more on the weekend.

Brian Shornberg of Keswick Vineyards shares, “Every weekend we have locally made deli sandwiches as well as a variety of Gootessa cheese and crackers.

We also encourage customers to enjoy any of our five different Gunther’s Gourmet salsas with stone-ground corn tortilla chips.”

He says, “Patrons are always welcome to bring picnics and dine out in our large picnic area with a glass or bottle of wine, especially Sundays: we invite people to picnic with their dogs and donate to local shelters for every bottle opened here!” It’s a great spot, just east of Charlottesville.

And just down the road, “Castle Hill Cider has some wonderful local offerings for tastings and picnics,” writes Paxson MacDonald. “We currently sell a variety of picnic baskets and cheese plates. All our picnic baskets are handmade of wild honeysuckle by Anne Scarpa McCauley, and our customers have the opportunity to buy them if they fall in love with Anne’s artwork.  We offer four varieties of baskets, and all products are either Virginia-made or European.”

Some selections include:

The Ashmead
Fresh chevre from Caromont Farm, Cyndi’s Raspberry Pepper Jelly, Edward’s Surryano Ham, and a fresh baguette.

The Pippin
Dolmas, Fromage frais with garlic and chive from Caromont Farm, Red Pepper Hummus from The Farm at Red Hill, and a fresh baguette.

The Black Twig
A medley of Country pate, cornichons, Bloomsbury cheese from Caromont Farm, and Little Ragghi’s Baked Parmesan Crackers.

The Spitzenberg
Olli Napoli salami, fresh chevre, Dijon mustard, and a fresh baguette.

There is also an American cheese plate and European cheese plate. Everything in the picnic baskets and cheese plates is also available a la carte.

Virginia winery Whitehall Vineyards

White Hall Vineyards boasts seven picnic tables under four huge oak trees. Bring your basket and enjoy the day.

 

Winemaker Rachel Stinson reports, “We started Tailgate Thursdays at Stinson Vineyards as a way for the neighbors to get together, but of course, everyone is invited!” The Stinsons fire up a grill, and you provide the rest.

But you should know that Stinson Vineyards also carries a variety of local, farm-fresh products in their tasting room. Call ahead if you’ll be needing any grass-farmed beef, pork or free range chicken.

There’s live music, and dogs and children are always welcome. The fun happens every Thursday til Labor Day, 6-9pm.

Virginia winery Glass House Winery

Glass House Winery is in the heart of the Monticello Wine Trail. Picnics are encouraged, but no outside alcohol, please. They also sell cheeses, meats, and crackers, along with handmade chocolates and even a chocolate wine.

 

Along Route 211

Virginia Winery Gray Ghost

The lovely gazebo surrounded by lush gardens at Gray Ghost provides an enchanting venue for a special picnic.

Gadino Cellars in Rappahannock is, according to owner Bill Gadino, “…pretty rustic in our available food choices.  We do offer pre-packaged sausage and cheese baskets with some wonderful cheeses made by an Amish farm in Pennsylvania.

We also tell folks they can bring their own picnics along with them – we do emphasize that VA ABC prohibits the use of any alcoholic beverages other than Gadino Cellars wines.”

A few miles down Rt. 211 going east, Amy Payette of Gray Ghost Winery reports, “Gray Ghost has a gorgeous garden for picnicing.

We have a cute gazebo that sits in the center of a beautiful Victorian garden.  We also have an outdoor deck as well as a covered patio.  We do encourage guests to bring food!”

Indoor space is also available if the weather turns.

Virginia Winery Narmada

Exotic Indian fare at Narmada Winery in Amissville, truly a find in the middle of rural Rappahannock County.

At Narmada Winery, across the highway from Gray Ghost, you’ll find “…wonderful Indian food, tapas style,” writes Katie Clatterbuck. “Our Butter Chicken served with basmati rice is decadant.”

We allow picnics outside as well, overlooking our beautiful vineyard, and have a small playground for children to play.”

Narmada Manager Lori Corcoran adds, “Indian fare includes Vegetable Samosas which are lightly spiced vegetable filing filled pastry accompanied with chutney; Aloo Tikki are handmade spicy potato and vegetable cakes with Indian yogurt  and chutney.

Vegetable Biryani (offered seasonally) is a spiced saffron basmati rice served with mixed vegetables.”

Additionally, you can get pita or kulcha (sliced Indian bread) served with hummus, or an assorted cheese or antipasto platter, both served with a baguette.

Virginia winery Corcoran

You can try mouth-watering pulled pork from Monks BBQ at Corcoran on the weekends.

Lori also has food on the weekends at her own winery, Corcoran Vineyards and Brewery in Waterford:

“We offer Monks BBQ at our place. He cooks it all right on the spot and makes his BBQ sauces from our wine & beer.

His main menu is brisket, pulled pork, pulled chicken, ribs and a handful of sides like fried pickles, homemade potato chips, slaw & beans and hush puppies.

All delicious and sells out fast!”

 

 

Halfway between Richmond and C’ville / Along I-64

Grayhaven Winery goes local in the tasting room with VA made cheeses and old fashioned dry salamis by Olli’s Salumeria located in Manakin, VA,” writes Bunni Laigaie. “We also offer artisan breads and baguettes from The Flour Garden Bakery located in Richmond.”

She continues, “Picnickers  are always welcome, and there is lots of room to spread out a feast and enjoy the view and the peacefulness of the winery grounds which include a pond and gazebo as well as miles of hiking trails where you can sit by the water and enjoy a nice break from the rat race of city life.”

“Now that the local farmers markets are open and local fresh produce is available, we here at Grayhaven are always making up some surprises for our guests that can vary from homemade flavored butters and dipping sauces to strawberry paté or mouthwatering fresh desserts like chocolate chocolate brownies and fresh strawberry shortcake made with fresh whipped cream, yummy!” Grayhaven lies about halfway between Richmond and Charlottesville off I64.

Virginia winery Cooper Vineyards

Picnic at Cooper Vineyards!

Cooper Vineyards is also nestled conveniently between Richmond and Charlottesville making it the ideal local getaway no matter which city you call home,” writes Events Manager Kate Kirby.

“The winery opened in 1999 under owners Geoffrey Cooper and Jacque Hogge.  Their love of wine and entertaining is clearly visible all around the vineyard.

The winery boasts a brand new LEED certified tasting room that offers an expansive deck overlooking the vines and always seems to have a perfect breeze even on the hottest of days.

We also offer several large picnic tables with umbrellas and for larger groups, and a fully tented pad is available for rental.

Cooper Vineyards is also now available to book for weddings, corporate outings, birthdays, and more.

So pack the kids, don’t forget the dogs and come sit, sip and stay awhile!

DC’s Wine Country / Loudoun and North

Jeff and Laura McCarthy Louden at Cobber Mountain Cellars in Delaplane position their winery as a sort of fairy glen. Their food offerings are enchanted as well: a special cheese from Upperville made from the milk of brown cows, local honey from an apiary in Farmville, delicious Gouda finished in cocoa powder that they love to pair with their Merlot.

There is a special Picnic Pak to go that includes sample sizes of brie, cheddar and honey as well as the plates, utensils and blanket you need to go with them. Spinach feta bread is on the menu, as well as raspberry cobbler. You are also welcome to bring your own picnic to enjoy in the hillside wine garden. In additional to classic varietals, Cobbler Mountain Cellars also makes a hard apple cider to go with your food selections.

Virginia Winery Boxwood

Guests at Boxwood Winery enjoy courtyard seating with sweeping views of the vineyard. Boxwood wines pair wonderfully with cheese plates for purchase, and picnics are welcome.

Virginia winery Doukenie

A personal artisanal pizza can be yours every Friday at Doukenie.

 

Friday is Bistro Night at Doukenie Winery:

Authentic Italian pizza from Pizzeria Moto’s brick oven is delicious paired with your favorite Doukenie red or white.

There’s also live music, a beautiful view of pond and vineyards, and both deck and patio dining.

At The Extremes 

On the Eastern Shore, Francesca Giardina of Bloxom Winery tells us, “We do offer food at our winery: homemade artisan bread and pizza baked in our wood fired oven on our covered deck, plus cheeses, crackers, cold cuts, olives.”

Virginia winery Rural Retreat

At Rural Retreat Winery, the tasting room IS the local deli!

Wythe County’s Rural Retreat Winery off exit 60 on Interstate 81 in the Blue Ridge offers a full service deli at their tasting room.

“We are not your typical winery,” says Linda Mecimore. “We are casual and serve great hot sandwiches, homemade soups and desserts everyday. Everyone loves our RR Reuben.”

“Our hot turkey sandwich has cranberry chutney made at the winery. We carry Amish style meats and cheese and can make cheese plates and picnic box lunches.”

“And we have been making pumpkin butter for several years – pumpkin pie in a jar!”

She continues, “In addition to our regular menu we provide catering. We are an approved cater for the Wytheville meeting center and provide a full range of menu items for events.” Rural Retreat wines range from a dry chardonnay to a semi-sweet muscat; traminette, chambourcin and more.

Virginia winery Hickory Hill

Grab your spot in the shade at Hickory Hill for a peaceful afternoon repast.

At Hickory Hill Vineyards, Wendy Furrow-Scott reports, “We have a beautiful picnic area under two huge shade trees that overlook our vineyard.

We do not offer food, but folks are welcome to bring their own picnic or have one of our local shops make one for them.”

Hickory Hills is in Moneta, and is part of the Smith Mountain Lake community.

This would be a wonderful weekend vacation spot.

 

So there you have it: a far-from-comprehensive report on your options for a moveable feast this summer. We know you’ll enjoy getting to know these wineries, if you haven’t been yet. And we’d love to hear from you and get to know your personal favorites as well!

Virginia winery Cobbler Mountain

At Cobbler Mountain, you can purchase a Picnic Pak to go that includes sample sizes of brie, cheddar and honey as well as the plates, utensils and blanket you need to go with them.

 

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