I’ve heard some call Virginia “Napa East” because of the abundance of vineyards throughout the state. If you had a year, you could probably visit all of them, and if you think about Virginia wine you probably associate the central and northern regions with the most bountiful harvests. I can’t argue with you there – over the last five years we have visited a number of wineries in Shenandoah and beyond, and have been disappointed at the paucity of such places along the coast. Lately, however, times have changed.
Some may believe you don’t see as many wineries in Southeastern Virginia because the land isn’t as conducive to grape-growing as other parts of the country. In truth, there are wineries that obtain grapes from other parts of the state, and some along the Carolina coasts that do just fine. Recently, however, the Hampton Roads region of Virginia is showing more on the winery map thanks to two recent openings and an older favorite wine lovers can visit along the way.
Next time you plan a vacation in the Seven Cities – Virginia Beach, Norfolk, and on north to Williamsburg – why not broaden your palate with tastings at these wineries:
Williamsburg Winery: While the land on which the winery sits has been settled since 1607, it wasn’t until about thirty years ago that vines were planted. The Williamsburg Winery is a popular attraction on the Upper Peninsula, with enthusiasts enjoying the regular tours and tastings. Chardonnay, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon are some of the vintages sold here. There’s also a restaurant on-site that offers gourmet delights and pairings, and musical events throughout the summer. Tours and tastings come with a fee, and the winery is open daily except for select holidays.
Pungo Ridge Winery: Pungo is a sparsely developed area close to Virginia Beach and the North Carolina border, best known as a great place to pick strawberries and other produce in season. More recently, the Pungo Ridge Winery has opened it doors to sell a variety of wines and meads made with fruit grown on the property. From tart blackberry, sweet pear, and of course strawberry wine, one can find a bottle or two for porch sipping.
Mermaid Winery: Norfolk, Virginia’s first winery is quite unusual in that no grapes are grown on the premises. That’s because Mermaid Winery is strictly urban, located the in heart of the trendy Ghent neighborhood. All wines produced here are made with Virginia grapes, however, and you can taste and pair with a fine selection of cheeses, meats, and chocolate desserts.
No trip to Hampton Roads for the wine enthusiast is complete without a stop at any or all of these wineries. Bring home a bottle or two to remember your stay.