Four Spotsylvania County, Va., wineries and Trolley Tours of Fredericksburg are now offering a carefree, five-hour wine tasting in the scenic countryside just south of historic Fredericksburg. The $65 ticket includes tastings at four wineries, a delicious boxed lunch-sized snack, and a trip through farmland once known mostly for Civil War battlegrounds.
The tour starts at and returns to the upscale outdoor shopping mall, the Spotsylvania Towne Centre. Nancy Wimmer, owner of Trolley Tours of Fredericksburg, says the Spotsylvania wine tour has been extremely popular since it began in the summer of 2015. General manager Heidi Bass says the wine trolley tour is also available for private groups of at least 15 people with advance reservations.
Between visits to the four wineries you’ll enjoy views of verdant farmland and areas that have long been preserved by history lovers. Around these parts, early settlers came to find gold (and some did). Here, the legendary Confederate Gen. Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson fought his last Civil War battle. The county’s namesake, Gov. Alexander Spotswood, had a thirst for the good life, and the Trolley Tours of Fredericksburg are carrying on the tradition with aplomb.
The wine trolley tour stops first at Eden Try Estate and Winery, owned by Gary Gratopp and Linda Morrison, who created the partnership. Gratopp’s estate has a large tasting room for parties and is adorned with beautiful ornamental trees and flower beds — his attempt at creating a Garden of Eden. The wines here are named for various characters in the biblical story of temptation.
Gratopp says “the winery trolley tour will give visitors the opportunity to drink at each stop without driving” — a real benefit considering how generous the wineries are with pourings.
Itinerary for tastings
Lake Anna Winery has been growing grapes since the 1980s, when founder Bill Heidig gained inspiration from grape growers in France. He and his wife, Ann, believed Virginia growing conditions were similar to those in France, took a chance, and began supplying area wineries with grapes that soon became award-winning wines. They converted an old barn into a contemporary wine tasting room, retail shop, and large entertainment section where they often have live music. A huge fireplace keeps visitors toasty when there’s a chill in the air. It’s a true family affair as sons Eric, Jeff, and Bill all play critical roles.
The trolley rolls on to Mattaponi Winery, the only Native American-owned winery in the region. The wines here are made from 100 percent fruit and offer a surprising variety of tastes. For a small fee, owner Janette Evans offers New York-style cheesecake to complement her wines.
The tasting room is a work of art, with hand-hewn tiger maple for
walls and other local timber such
as knotty white pine. It was created by winemaker and husband, Mike, who grows Christmas trees here,
Wilderness Run Vineyard, situated on private land once part of the famous Wilderness battlefield, affords a beautiful vista from its tasting room, which spills out onto a veranda.
Café tables scattered throughout the tasting area are set with Italian-imported stools that resemble wine-bottle corks. Here, Pagan brothers Harry and Jack are making their mark with good wines from grapes grown in their own Virginia Bordeaux-like terroir.
They’ve also opened a brewery and are hosting regular music events.
Need to know:
Tour information: fredericksburgtrolley.com
Reservations and cost: $65 with $2 convenience fee, ticket service Zerve, 800-979-3370
Included: tastings at four wineries, snack box lunch, and discounts to select Spotsylvania restaurants
Dates: Aug. 14 and 21 with Sunday tours in early fall
Spotsylvania Co. Tourism: visitspotsy.com