Talk about a pairing. When you combine visiting a Virginia winery with a hike in Virginia’s bountiful natural glory, the sensory delights extend far beyond the palette! Furthermore, touring a winery can be a scenic experience in its own right – viewing the rows of grape arbors, walking wonderfully landscaped grounds on cobblestone paths and soaking in views of the rolling countryside. And let’s not forget the tastings, whether they are indoors or out. The tastings are the raison d’etre as far as winery tours are concerned.
However, just because we love wine tastings and touring wineries doesn’t mean we can’t add a walk or hike to the adventure. Hiking to a nearby waterfall, overlook or historic site just might build up an appreciation for the great outdoors and perhaps a thirst for the harvest of the grape -- wine produced in Virginia.
Here are 10 Virginia hikes paired with nearby wineries. Cheers!
THE HIKE: Virginia Creeper Trail
The Winery: Abingdon Vineyard & Winery
GPS Hike Location: 36.65158, -81.88726
GPS Winery Location: 36.65787, -81.88827
Nearest Town: Abingdon
photo credit: Sam Dean, @sdeanphotos
The Pairing: This winery is located on a 50-acre tract astride the South Fork Holston River. Moreover, just across the river lies the famed Virginia Creeper Trail, the railroad grade turned hiking, bicycling and equestrian path stretching 34 miles between the town of Abingdon through Damascus and high into the mountains, to end at Whitetop Station and the North Carolina state line. You can access the Creeper Trail at the South Holston bridge in Alvarado, very near the winery. Or pick your own trail segment. The section of the Creeper near Abingdon is pastoral, whereas, if you start at Damascus, you can follow crashing Whitetop Laurel Creek through montane scenery. Alternatively, you might want to rent a bicycle in Damascus to pedal the gravel track.
– THE HIKE: BOTTOM CREEK GORGE –
The Winery: AmRhein's Wine Cellars
GPS Hike Location: 37.13183, -80.18059
GPS Winery Location: 37.11996, -80.152
Nearest Town: Bent Mountain
The Pairing: This estate covers over 40 acres and features 20 varieties of grapes and 15 styles of red and white wine. The family has a two-decade tradition of wine making and nearly a century in the jewelry business. In addition to touring the ground of AmRhein's, take a hike to one of Virginia’s tallest waterfalls and special swaths of nature – Bottom Creek Gorge.
Make a 4.6-mile loop using a network of old settler roads and newer foot trails to explore the Bottom Creek valley. First, climb to a ridgetop plateau and enter a formerly settled area with evidence of the past from chimneys to fence posts and more. Next, enjoy natural features such as 200-foot Bent Mountain Falls, then finally visit Bottom Creek, where pools and cascades form an area known as The Kettles.
– THE HIKE: DANVILLE RIVERWALK –
The Winery: Two Witches Winery and Brewery
GPS Hike Location: 36.59086, -79.38858
GPS Winery Location: 36.58564, -79.42101
Nearest Town: Danville
photo credit: Dave Hungate
The Pairing: Two Witches lays claim to being the only combination winery and brewery in Virginia. While grapes are grown on site they also use grapes grown on their other farm. Their tasting room is generally open in the evenings, giving you the afternoon to get in your hike. An immediate choice is the Danville Riverwalk. This 9-mile greenway travels along the north bank of the Dan River, and has been ingeniously incorporated into the existing infrastructure. On its journey, the Riverwalk passes through hub parks such as Dan Daniel Park and Anglers Park. The trail is paved and is popular with joggers, bicyclers and walkers. Along the way, it tells the story of Danville from its industrial and Civil War past to today, where we see natural beauty integrated into this linear trail system.
If you are looking for something a little more rustic, try Fairy Stone State Park, about an hour’s drive west. Explore Stuarts Knob and early 1700 mining industry. Follow Civilian Conservation Corps built trails, all encapsulated in hilly wooded terrain enhanced with natural beauty, including a cleared view from the shoulder of Stuarts Knob.
– THE HIKE: DUTCH GAP LOOP –
The Winery: Upper Shirley Vineyards
GPS Hike Location: 37.37537, -77.36122
GPS Winery Location: 37.34592, -77.2573
Nearest Town: Hopewell
Photo Credit: Bill Crabtree, Jr.
The Pairing: This winery is run by native Virginians who returned home after careers elsewhere. Love of home led them to a historic house and farm to cultivate their passion for winemaking. With 16 acres under cultivation and more to come, the winery is open for tastings Wednesday through Monday. A restaurant on site adds dining to the mix.
Just a few miles to the west lays the equally historic Henricus Village, where you can hike in preserved wildland near the famous recreated Henricus Village of the 1600s. Long ago, English colonists settled in the area, forming Henricus, a community around which a defensive ditch was built. The moat became known as the Dutch Gap. Fast forward, as commercial traffic increased on the James River, a canal was cut across a loop in the James, forming a big oxbow lake. Now Dutch Gap is preserved and you can make a 4.7-loop hike amid these wetlands starting behind the Henricus Village visitor center.
– THE HIKE: APPALACHIAN TRAIL ON BROWN MOUNTAIN CREEK –
The Winery: Ankida Ridge Vineyards
GPS Hike Location: 37.72362, -79.25079
GPS Winery Location: 37.7056, -79.17359
Nearest Town: Amherst
Photo Credit: Nate Dennison
The Pairing: This high country winery is perched on the east slope of the Blue Ridge, nestled in at 1,800 feet. There are open Saturdays only for tastings. The smallish winery is on a once-rocky mountainside that the proprietors correctly surmised would grow quality grapes. Now known as Virginia’s “Little Burgundy” the winery strives to be as organic as possible, even down to using sheep to graze the vineyard floor!
The Appalachian Trail is within easy striking distance, just a few miles away. Leave US 60 at Long Mountain Wayside and head south. Take a 4.6-mile there-and-back hike into Appalachian Mountain history, visiting a formerly inhabited hollow along Brown Mountain Creek. Here, a gorgeous wooded valley is centered by a raucous stream, once populated with scores of sharecroppers. While hiking look for evidence of these former residents, whether it is old stone fences, stone spring boxes, even a chimney, all fading into the past, as the forest grows ever tall and lush.
– THE HIKE: SPLIT ROCK FROM HARPERS FERRY –
The Winery: 868 Estate Vineyards
GPS Hike Location: 39.32183, -77.74262
GPS Winery Location: 39.23113, -77.73937
Nearest Town: Purcellville
The Pairing: This northern Virginia winery uses “old world practices and cutting edge technology” in producing their vino on a historic farm. In addition to tastings, visitors can enjoy music at times and a restaurant using locally sourced cuisine. The proprietors describe the 868 Estate Vineyards experience in four words – wine, food, art, nature. The operation is well run and caters to visitors.
Add a little more nature by making the 6-mile there-and-back hike to Split Rock. Pick up the Appalachian Trail in nearby Harpers Ferry, West Virginia (the only place with good parking for this hike). Cross the Shenandoah River, pass a homesite then climb to the state line dividing West Virginia and Virginia. Follow the Virginia boundary to Split Rock, where a fantastic view opens down the Potomac River dividing Maryland and Virginia and upriver to Harpers Ferry.
– THE HIKE: SKY MEADOWS STATE PARK –
The Winery: Arterra Wines
GPS Hike Location: 38.99194, -77.96833
GPS Winery Location: 38.96405, -77.97141
Nearest Town: Delaplane
photo credit: Mike Zorger
The Pairing: Arterra Wines is managed by a husband-wife team with both into the wine making process but the wife having an additional passion for creating art, thus the name Arterra. The winery seeks “to create a fruit driven wine that authentically expresses all Virginia has to offer as a wine region”. They fully embrace the Virginia winery culture. They offer tastings Fridays through Sundays and during the week by appointment. Enjoy artistic creations during your tasting.
Sky Meadows State Park is just a few miles distant from Arterra. Immerse in the countryside where Arterra stands while hiking here. This 5-mile loop hike starts near the ranger station. Take the Piedmont Overlook Trail and enjoys two vistas, then joins the Ambassador Whitehouse Trail, reaching another overlook. Finally, pick up the Appalachian Trail and tread that famous path south for a couple of miles before looping back to the trailhead via the North Ridge Trail.
– THE HIKE: SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE STATE PARK –
The Winery: Altillo Vineyards and Winery
GPS Hike Location: 37.08268, -79.60733
GPS Winery Location: 37.06473, -79.24421
Nearest Town: Altavista
Photo Credit: Chad Williams, @echadwilliams
The Pairing: Altillo Vineyards and Winery is a smaller, family operated business that specializes in finely crafted wines of limited production. They pride themselves on attention to detail. At their tasting facility you can sit at a bar, out on the deck or relax before the fireplace. Open Friday and Saturday from noon to 6, your tasting fee goes toward the purchase of your first bottle of wine.
Smith Mountain Lake State Park, located west of the winery, presents miles of trails skirting the shoreline of the attractive impoundment that is Smith Mountain Lake. You can enjoy aquatic views while traipsing through the sloping shoreline woods. Park along Interpretive Trail Road and head out to Turtle Island, linked by a bridge to the mainland, and also gain many views of the impoundment from vistas complete with benches. Make sure to visit the restored tobacco barn, as well as one left to the elements and time, for a 4 mile loop. Additional trails and numerous trail intersections allow you to shorten or lengthen your trek.
– THE HIKE: SAVAGE NECK DUNES NATURAL AREA PRESERVE –
The Winery: Chatham Vineyards on Church Creek
GPS Hike Location: 37.32751, -76.00413
GPS Winery Location: 37.4566, -75.92689
Nearest Town: Eastville
photo credit: Suzanne Moss, @thenaturebus
The Pairing: Operated by a second generation Virginia winery family on a centuries old working farm, the proprietors feature 20 acres of high density, high quality European-style vines. Their grapes are handpicked and assorted to ensure high quality wines. Open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. for tastings.
A few miles south of Chatham Vineyards stands Savage Neck Dunes Natural Area Preserve, a protected Virginia resource. The preserve is best known for sand dunes rising 50 feet high from Chesapeake Bay. The preserve safeguards a mile of wild shoreline abutting Chesapeake Bay where views will enhance your walk. Visitors accessing the preserve can trace a ¾-mile trail through the dunes to the beach, where you can enjoy walking the sandy shoreline.