Years ago a Virginia vacation might have been centered on several attractions with a winery stop along the way. Today’s getaways, however, are even more focused on the imbibe scene, and for good reason. Virginia is now home to more than 230 wineries, more than 100 breweries, and plenty of distilleries making their marks. The atmospheres and offerings vary throughout the commonwealth, but there are plenty of incredible options for every palate to sip in Mecklenburg County, where agritourism is growing faster than grapes on a vine.
Wine this way
October is Virginia Wine Month and you can start it off right by discovering a little bit about Mecklenburg’s vivacious viticulture. Rosemont of Virginia in Lacrosse sits on 450 gorgeous acres, 22 of which are dedicated to the estate-grown grapes that are used to create Rosemont’s premium wines. There’s a bottle for every imbiber, from the bright Virginia White, to the dry, elegant rosé, to the sophisticated cabernet franc. There are even a few sweet varieties in the mix, including the popular Lake Country Sunset and the jammy Blackridge Red.
Those craving the sweet, nostalgic scuppernong or muscadine varieties will feel right at home during a visit to Three Sisters of Shiney Rock Winery in Clarksville. Owned and operated by three sisters and their families, the winery produces three varieties, scuppernong, muscadine, and blackberry, with the entire process — picking, processing, and bottling, done on the farm.
The folks at American Way Country Wines in Chase City are crafting some fascinating batches of fruit-forward varieties, including apple, blackberry, blueberry, cherry, elderberry, pear, peach, persimmon, plum, pumpkin, raspberry, strawberry, tomato, and watermelon. They take pride in creating products with minimal sulfites and no preservatives — and made with plenty of love and attention.
Get in the spirit
While you’re in Chase City, pay a visit to Bondurant Brothers Distillery, paying homage to Virginia’s history of moonshining one bottle at a time. Last December, Robert Bondurant started production on his first batch of moonshine, and it’s been in stores since April of this year. Retail availability has already doubled.
Even though Bondurant is pleased at how the business is going so far, his mission all along has been to honor the history of making moonshine, and he does this by using the same methods as his grandfather.
“There’s nothing fancy about my distillery,” he says. “Everything is done by hand; I was roasting barley just this morning.” His barley is grown locally in Mecklenburg County, and all the grains come from Virginia.
The Bondurant family is no stranger to ’shine. In fact, the 2012 movie Lawless was loosely based on Robert’s grandfather and great uncles who sold moonshine during Prohibition. “I’m looking forward to letting people know the Virginia history, the Chase City history, the family history,” he says.
Beginning in October, the distillery will offer tastings in different ABC stores to give folks the opportunity to try the product for themselves. Soon Bondurant hopes to have a tasting room and tours open to the public. After that, he plans to offer various flavors of ’shine, including cinnamon, peppermint, peach, and spiced apple, as well as peach and apple brandies, all while maintaining their humble presence and old-school methods. “It’s done like it was done back in the day,” he says. “It’s pretty neat, I think.”
Make a weekend of it by soaking up the Southern charm at The Berry Hill Resort & Conference Center, located in nearby South Boston. Choose from 92 well-appointed guest rooms, each one furnished with Italian handcrafted queen canopy beds or double sleigh beds. It’s an ideal spot for resting, relaxing, and reveling in Southeastern Virginia’s sipping scene.
Before you go:
Mecklenburg Co. Tourism: visitmeckva.com