Virginia: True to Our Roots Wine and Dine

For a few weeks, I’ve been trying to focus on writing my story about a recent trip to Williamsburg, Virginia, finding a focal point. First, Virginia is core to our American History, over 400 years since the landing of the first English colony, Jamestown, and of course historic Colonial Williamsburg, where one steps back in time to what life was like in the days of yore. Virginia is steeped in the roots of America’s history.

Virginia boasts an ever growing aquaculture, the largest producer of oysters on the East Coast. Oyster lovers can indulge by following the Virginia Oyster Trail to 8 distinct locations throughout the state. As aquaculture grows, so does the health of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries.

The rolling, lush landscape from the waterways to the Appalachian Trail in Virginia is the fodder for farmers and livestock producers who supply both restaurants and family tables.

An adult playground, Virginia will keep oenophiles busy for more than just a weekend or week with over 280 wineries. The state is peppered from top to bottom with vineyards, wine tours and wine events from the Blue Ridge Mountains to Hampton Roads and more.

Virginia’s wine production has a history as old as the English settlers in Jamestown, who in 1609 planted vines in the New World soil. Success was not readily at hand, there were many failures from Thomas Jefferson’s endeavors at Monticello working with European Vitis vinifera vines and the effects of the Civil War, Prohibition and the Great Depression, numerous vines had died. For a more in depth look at the history of Virginia wine, check out The Birthplace of American Wine: The Untold Story behind Virginia’s Vines by Patricia Keppel.

Instead of driving to Williamsburg, I opted for Amtrak’s 67 Northeast Regional which allowed me to work. Ideal for folks who like to cycle, you can reserve space for your bikes and definitely enjoy the Virginia Capital Trail, a paved 52 mile pedestrian and bicycle trail that connects Richmond to Jamestown along the scenic route 5 corridor.

An invite to learn more about the “roots” to Virginia Wine with a reception and a six course dinner at the Williamsburg Winery couldn’t be turned down, especially with an overnight stay at their hotel, Wedmore Place, both located at the 300 acre farm known as the Wessex Hundred. Before settling in, some bites to eat at DoG (Duke of Gloucester)Street Pub in Colonial Williamsburg and on to Copper Fox Distillery, uniquely situated at an old motel. Copper Fox has a nicely appointed tasting room where one can grab a table or shimmy up to the bar for multiple options for tasting; malt whiskey, rye whiskey, vir gin and bourbon mash.

Wedmore Place’s lobby has a Swiss Chalet ambiance with the lobby’s vaulted and beamed ceiling, but then again a richer feel in the common spaces which are filled with antiques. Guests can choose from 28 rooms inclusive of suites, each with their own fireplace. My room was warm and luxurious; wooden desk, dresser and side tables, lace covered pillows, wood floors, rod iron headboard and even a chandelier. Guests wrap themselves in the thick robe that hangs on the bathroom door, top-notch bath and hair products for grooming and well-lit mirrors.

Refreshed and revitalized after my day’s journey, I put on my evening wear and walked over to the Williamsburg Winery’s Westbury Hall, where a reception was being held. The festivities centered on shining the light on Virginia fare with Border Spring Farm’s lamb, Big Island Aquaculutre Oysters, Edwards Smokehouse ham and wines from Virginia; Thibaut-Janisson, Veritas Vineyard, Chatham Vineyards on Church Creek and Barboursville Vineyards– also featured at the dinner.

Founder of the Williamsburg Winery and Wedmore Place, Patrick Duffeler, a Belgium native; his son, Patrick Duffeler II and wine authority and historian, Frank Morgan, took time to discuss the evolution of wine in Virginia and continued the stories throughout the six course dinner. The Williamsburg Winery Executive Chef Ian Robbins created a sumptuous meal that was Virginia on the plate. In fact, Chef Robbins recently prepared a dinner at the James Beard House, featuring a number of the same culinary offerings. There are two restaurants at the Williamsburg Winery / Wedmore Place where you too can enjoy Chef Robbins cuisine, the Gabriel Archer Tavern and Café Provençal.

There is always an event going on at Wedmore Place and the Williamsburg Winery from their cycling club, tasting room to live music at Uncorked and Unplugged.

Today is officially summer and a great time to plan an adult road trip to Virginia;- enjoy the food from their farms, the seafood from the waters and the wines from the many vineyards. You’ll love Virginia.