Former tobacco fields now yield wine-making grapes

Sue Bland

Rosemont Estate Winery is on farmland worked by the Rose family since 1858.

From the Lake Gaston area in Mecklenburg County to Charlotte County and Chatham, near Danville, a dozen wineries now make up the Southern Virginia Wine Trail. The 12 wineries in the south central part of the state make everything from blackberry wine to cabernet and vidal blanc. Here’s where you’ll find families who still cultivate the land their ancestors farmed during the Civil War. Close to North Carolina, small towns host great heritage and food and wine events filling the month of October. Sophisticated lodging, great food, and quality arts and entertainment make an escape to the region known as Virginia’s Retreat worth the trip.

Rosemont Estate Winery is on farmland worked by the Rose family since 1858.
Rosemont Estate Winery is on farmland worked by the Rose family since 1858.

Begin your tasting adventure at Rosemont, near Lake Gaston in LaCrosse. The Rose family bought the farmland in 1858 and has worked the land ever since. Now, grapes are included in the agricultural mix. The Rosemont estate winery is a family affair, managed by Stephen and Chandra Rose, with Gray Rose serving as vineyard manager and Justin Rose, who studied viticulture and oenology in the Napa Valley, the winemaker. They showcase local artists in a gallery here, too. Tastings cost $5.

Allow time for savoring your tasting experience — you’ll want to check out the fabulous bed-and-breakfast, country inn, and resort lodging options in the region.

Finding your way

According to Cameron Ancil, who promotes the Southern Virginia Wine Trail, the group has launched a new application for smart phones that helps you get to and from each of the dozen wineries. At sova.com, a map pinpoints the wineries and links to the individual websites. South Boston is a pivotal point around which to begin your excursion. Check out Halifax and the counties that neighbor South Boston, and you’ll find many of the wineries are within an easy drive of one another.

Entertainment options in the area supplement the wine experience. A converted tobacco warehouse called the Prizery is now an art center and hosts performing arts events in a concert hall with great acoustics.

A permanent exhibit about a little-known event that changed Revolutionary War history is here, too. The SoVA Fall Wine Fest at Berry Hill Resort features all 12 wineries for $20 in advance and $25 at the gate.

Molliver Vineyards produces wines recognized as “Best Buys” by Wine Spectator.
Molliver Vineyards produces wines recognized as “Best Buys” by Wine Spectator.

Berry Hill lodging packages combine tastings for $149 and up, according to Ancil.

Nearby, the no-pesticides Bright Meadows Farm Vineyard and Winery, located in Nathalie, makes several fruit wines and a special “Rebellion” red from the historic Virginia Norton grape. The Rebellion is named in honor of the little-known event described at the Prizery: The Revolutionary War “Crossing of the Dan” military campaign of Gen. Daniel Greene, who helped turn the tide of the American Revolution before the decisive Battle of Yorktown. Proceeds from the sale of the wine benefit the Halifax Historical Society.

Also located in Nathalie, Molliver Vineyards produces sweet and dry red and white wines. The chambourcin and vidal blanc have been recognized as “Best Buys” in Wine Spectator magazine. In this same area, you’ll find Annefield Vineyards in Saxe and Hunting Creek Vineyards in Clover.

The dozen counties that make up the Virginia’s Retreat region combine adventure and agricultural tourism with award-winning state parks and Colonial, Civil War, and civil rights historical sites.

At the western edge of the region, in Charlotte County, is Red Hill, the final resting place of Revolutionary firebrand Patrick Henry. His will included this message about the Stamp Act Resolutions and split from Great Britain: “Whether America’s independence will prove a Blessing or a Curse will depend on the Use our people make of the Blessings which a gracious God hath bestowed on us.”

Discover your independent spirit along Virginia’s newest wine trail or in the other Virginia’s Retreat experiences.

 

For more information

Virginia’s Retreat Tourism:  varetreat.org

Southern Virginia Wine Trail: sova.com

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