Tuesday, May 05, 2009
My other garden is a vineyard
In my dreams I am a rich landowner, living in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, and I spend my days tending to my vines and making world famous wines. To feed this fantasy, it is occasionally necessary to visit the vineyards of the real rich snobs and sip their wine imagining it to be my own. Our plans this weekend changed at the last moment and presented an ideal opportunity to visit Shenandoah National Park and fit in a couple wine tours.
We left with a picnic lunch packed an no particular plan in mind. We figured on reaching Skyline Drive and seeing what hiking spots presented themselves. There are so many trails it can be a bit overwhelming, but we picked one that looked like it went somewhere, and did a short loop that took us to a rocky outcrop with a breathtaking view. To the West of the ridge the weather was fine and sunny, but as we carried on up Skyline drive we crossed over to the Eastern side of the mountains and became enveloped in low misty cloud. Another glance at the map revealed an obvious path home along Rt 33, which would fortuitously take us past the Barboursville and Horton Wineries.
Barboursville was bustling with students who had recently completed their semester at UVA, so we stayed long enough only to decide that the recent crop of wines there was nothing special. We did take the opportunity to visit the ruins of a house designed by Thomas Jeffeson for the local governor, which had unfortunately burned down one Christmas Day. Moving down the road to Horton, we arrived just ahead of a Coach-load of wine-tourers, but had time to enjoy our tasting in peace before they burst into the main hall. The wines at Horton were much more to our liking, and we enjoyed the Stonecastle White (a blend of Viognier and Chardonnay) so much that we bought a case for the wedding. They also have a selection of fruit wines that are very sweet but like nothing else you'll ever taste. I tried the cranberry variety, and will remember it for next Thanksgiving.