RICHMOND (September 27, 2013) -- For many wine lovers, October Virginia Wine month is the best time of year to visit Virginia wine country, when the vineyards and wineries are creating their next great vintage and celebrating with dozens of special events and activities. This year marks the 25th annual Virginia Wine Month celebration, which coincides with the fall harvest and makes October a brilliant time to visit Virginia as 15 million acres of foliage burst into color and wineries are celebrating the harvest. From the coastal serenity of the Eastern Shore to the majestic splendor of the Blue Ridge Mountains, each wine region provides travelers with a one-of-a-kind wine experience. The statewide celebration includes special events at wineries, restaurants, and wine bars, as well as dozens of wine festivals found in each region of Virginia.
The Virginia wine industry has grown tremendously since the first October Virginia Wine Month in 1988, making the state a true Commonwealth of Wine. Today Virginia is home to more than 230 wineries and vineyards, seven American Viticultural Areas (AVAs), nearly two dozen wine trails and rates fifth in the nation for wine grape production. Just last year, Wine Enthusiast magazine named Virginia one of the 10 best wine travel destinations, noting the state's picturesque pastoral landscapes and affable winemakers set Virginia apart as an excellent wine destination on the East Coast. In August, Governor Bob McDonnell announced that the sales of Virginia wine reached an all-time high in 2013, with more than half a million cases sold. October Virginia Wine Month is the perfect opportunity to discover your local crush and celebrate the growing popularity of Virginia as the wine destination of the East Coast.
Virginia is a wine destination unlike any other. The Commonwealth is one of the only wine destinations in the country where visitors can kayak to a winery, enjoy bluegrass music while sipping local wines, sample regional wines at a National Park, or enjoy wine at a National Historic Landmark.
Here are just a few things that make Virginia Wine Country so special: For a full list of October Virginia Wine Month activities around the state, click here.
Kayak for Wine
Southeast Expeditions, a local outfitter on Virginia's Eastern Shore, is leading some of the most creative kayak trips in the country. One of the most popular trips is a paddle across Church Creek to Chatham Vineyards. Visitors dock the kayaks and walk up to the charming tasting room which is on the grounds of a Federal-style mansion.
Dave Matthews' Personal Touches at Blenheim
Dave Matthews is a big name in music and now in wine. He and his family own Blenheim Vineyards just outside Charlottesville. This beautiful vineyard has a tasting room which was inspired by a drawing that Dave Matthews sketched out on a cocktail napkin. That napkin is framed and on display in the tasting room. Blenheim winemaker Kirsty Harmon is a rock star in her own right in the Virginia wine industry. Check out other celebrity-owned wineries like Trump Winery (Donald Trump), Ingleside Vineyards (Sen. Mark Warner), and Early Mountain Vineyards (AOL co-founder Steve Case).
Adorable Wine Dogs
Puppy love: we all experience it, and these days, dogs are a common sight at wineries across Virginia. The loveable pups at The Dog and Oyster Winery in Irvington are especially happy. The winery works with the local shelter to adopt rescue dogs and give them a loving home on the vineyards. Visitors can see the dogs running among the vines and enjoying the beautiful scenery, freedom and loving care. Many Virginia wineries also encourage visitors to bring their own furry friends along, like Chateau Morrisette in Floyd, nicknamed "the winery that dogs built." The winery is about as pet-friendly as they come, and they produce wines with canine-inspired names like "Our Dog Blue," "Blushing Dog," and "Frosty Dog." Visiting wineries like Chateau Morrisette is a great way to experience Virginia wine alongside man's best friend.So bring your pup with you to one of Virginia's 114 pet-friendly wineries! He'll love the road trip just as much as you do-just be sure to check VirginiaWine.org before hitting the road to make sure your favorite vineyard is pet friendly.
History and Wine
Thomas Jefferson was not only a great lover of wine, he was also an accomplished architect. Barboursville Vineyards in Orange County was built around the Barboursville ruins, which was a mansion designed by Thomas Jefferson for Governor James Barbour in the 1800's. It was destroyed in a fire in the late 1880's. The impressive ruins now watch over the picturesque vineyards of one of Virginia's finest wineries. You can also sip through Civil War history at the Winery at Bull Run. The winery has many tales to tell about the way Fairfax County used to be: a rural heaven. The winery also sits on land neighboring the property where spectators picnicked and witnessed the Battle at Bull Run.
Sleep Among the Vines
Barbourville Vineyards is also one of a handful of Virginia wineries where visitors can sleep among the vines in luxurious accommodations. Right next to the historic ruins is The 1804 Inn, which is appointed with antiques and artwork personally chosen by the Zonin family of Italy. At Veritas Vineyards visitors can relax in the new Farmhouse B&B, within walking distance of the winery and the inspiring Blue Ridge mountains. Williamsburg Winery's Wedmore Place provides a European-inspired stay near the heart of Colonial Williamsburg. At the Dog and Oyster Vineyards, "tenting" takes on a whole new meaning, with luxury chalets for rent which overlook the vineyard and tasting room.
Veritas stands for truth and is also the name of a winery which is truthfully one of Virginia's most beautiful. At Veritas Vineyards, a part of the Nelson County 151 Trail, visitors can bring a picnic lunch, buy a bottle of wine, and enjoy a peaceful day at the winery, admiring the vines and the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Visit www.Virginia.org/wine to learn more about wine travel in Virginia or call 1-800-VISITVA to request a free, Virginia is for Lovers travel guide and start planning a trip to Virginia. Love is at the heart of every Virginia vacation.