Shenandoah Valley

Shenandoah Valley

The mid-winter escape to a mountain cabin is a longstanding Shenandoah Valley getaway, one that’s hard to improve upon. But savvy travelers who do a bit of research are finding new package deals—centering around a fine Virginia wine—that are upgrading the whole experience. Here are a few wine packages and vineyard tours to consider this winter. (Contact each to confirm current prices.)

Several different wine packages are available at Shadow Mountain Escape, where you can stay in a timber frame cabin with Shenandoah National Park literally in the back yard. The secluded, 15-acre property is minutes from Main Street in Luray. Owners Ralph and Karen Riddle are so passionate about good wine they started the Blue Ridge Whisky-Wine Loop,
a self-guided tour of 15 vineyards, distilleries and breweries in the Valley. Among Shadow Mountain’s wine packages is what owner Karen Riddle called “Winter’s Sparkle.” “Our winter wine selection is “Sparkling wine,” Riddle said, “Prosecco imported directly from Italy. This select package is $30 and has an option to include Luray Caverns tickets.” Prosecco is considered one of the most popular sparkling wines in the world, delicately light and either fully or lightly sparkling.  See more packages here. 

U.S. News and World Report called L’Auberge Provencale one of its ten top romantic getaways, on par with hideaways in San Francisco, Jamaica, New York and Dublin. Located in White Post, about 75 west of Washington, DC, L’Auberge Provencale has the definite look, feel and charm of a French country inn. Their Virginia Wine Excursion starts with café au lait and croissants. You are then driven on a four-hour Virginia Wine Tour with one of their Wine Directors, Sommelier or Chef to top wineries in the Virginia wine country. You keep the custom L’Auberge Provencale cooler.

At Barren Ridge Vineyards, located in Fishersville, in Augusta County, the owners turned an old apple packing barn into a state-of-the-art winery, tasting room, and event facility. They used reclaimed wood and preserved the charm and character of the original structure. The tasting room features wines that are available daily for complimentary tastings, or sample rotating varieties for just $8. On January 26, startng at 6:30 they will host their annual Swedish Fire Festival.

“The Swedish Fire Festival is an event that we host every year,” Barren Ridge’s Shelby Higgs said, “during the winter (generally in late January) to celebrate an otherwise dark time of the year. Inspired by the traditional midwinter festivals of Europe, the Swedish Fire Festival features Nordic cuisine paired with Barren Ridge wines, live music, a Swiss alphorn performance, melted Raclette cheese, warm and spicy mulled Red Barren, and the lighting of Swedish fire torches along the vineyard’s driveway.”

South Court Street in Luray is a quiet residential avenue with historic homes and direct views of the mountains in Shenandoah National Park. The South Court Inn B&B is a two-acre hideaway on this street, with Victorian décor and surrounded by lush gardens. A unique treat they offer is the Caverns and Wine Package— one bottle of either red or white Virginia wine plus admission to nearby Luray Caverns for two. The wine is the innkeeper’s discretion but currently is Rappahannock Cellars Cabernet Franc 2012 or Gadino Cellars Pinot Gregio 2012 white.

The Blue Ridge Romance Package at Peaks of Otter Lodge near Bedford combines the Room accommodations, a welcome amenity, a bottle of Virginia wine, cheese platter, breakfast each morning of your stay, and a late checkout option. Until March 15, 2019, the lodge also offers a Winter Friday Night Special dinner. The entrée choices include: Crab Imperial Stuffed Lake Trout; Chicken Breast Dijon, Mushroom, Red Onion; Sautéed Center Cut Pork Chop, Apples and Flat Iron Steak, Whiskey Glaze. See the full menu here.

February 23rd from noon to 5:00, don’t miss the Winter Wine Festival at the Stonewall Jackson Hotel and Conference Center in Downtown Staunton. Tickets will be available for purchase in mid-January. Advance tickets ($25) are available through the Historic Staunton Foundation Office or online here, as well as in downtown stores. Tickets may also be purchased for $30 in the lobby of the Stonewall Jackson Hotel during the festival. All ticket purchases include tastings, a souvenir glass, and a snack bag. Many Virginia wineries, cideries and food vendors will be on hand. The Stonewall Jackson Hotel features an indoor heated pool, fitness center and a business center and showcases 8,500 square feet of meeting space with accommodations of up to 400.

Shenandoah Tours provides escorted travel services to many locations and attractions throughout the Shenandoah Valley. A Wine Tour is in the planning stages.

Besides the snowy-cabin-wine-by-the-fire getaway, there is no reason you can’t visit a vineyard and take part in a tasting or a tour at this time of year. A few options where this is possible even in January:

Crosskeys Vineyards in Mt. Crawford, near Harrisonburg. Daily Hours: 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Tours: 12:00 p.m., 2:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. Coming up: They will be hosting an annual Bridal Vendor Show and Tasting on Saturday January 12, 2019.

Wisteria Farm and Vineyard, in Stanley, just south of Luray. Open daily from 12 noon until 6 p.m., including holiday Mondays. Closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays. A working farm and vineyard. Warm up by the fireplace in the tasting room or one of the outdoor heaters or fire pits. Free wi-fi while you enjoying your wine on the deck or in the tasting room.

Peaks of Otter Winery and Orchards  has 30 varieties of wine made primarily from the fruits grown on the (sixth generation) family’s farm. Open weekends January – March, 12:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. Watch for many events on Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Mother’s Day, etc., plus the Horse and Hound Wine Festival in July.

Photo courtesy Shadow Mountain Escape