Just off 95 between Richmond and Washington, DC lies an area rich in history, from the colonial days through the Civil War. Stafford and Spotsylvania counties are peppered with battlefields and museums, presidential birthplaces and leaders’ homes, historic sites and monuments. In this region of Virginia, the “most ‘spirited’ region,” is the Grapes and Grains Trail.
The Grapes and Grains Trail is made up of four wineries, three breweries and a distillery. While we have sampled many of the wines and brews from places along the trail, we have only been to a couple, including Blue and Gray Brewing Co., and Potomac Point Winery. On Martin Luther King, Jr. Day we decided to spread our wings and stop by Hartwood Winery (another place along my 10 I hope to visit in 2016 list!) What a pleasant stop!
Hartwood Winery is located along the backroads of the Stafford-Fredericksburg area. The winery is open Wednesday through Sunday and on Monday holidays (when we chose to stop.) I have known about Hartwood Winery for some time and recently read more about the winery in W. Scott Richards’ book, Wines, Vines and Things. Hartwood Winery is one of the older wineries in the state, and their wines hold strong in a tasting, making the winery stand out compared to others.
The name Hartwood comes from “Hart,” an old English word for deer. The winery owners have really embraced this in their branding, with the deer incorporated into their logo and throughout the winery. The vineyard was planted around 1980-81 and was the first commercial vineyard established in Stafford County. The tasting room opened in 1989. A neat story we learned prior to tasting was that much of the wood pieces throughout the tasting room came from trees on the property. Some of these unique wood features included the deer logo on the floor, the unique tasting bar, and the cellar walls.
Now to the wine… There was a unique assortment of wines to sample with a variety of grapes, from Chardonel, Rkatsiteli, and Vidal Blanc to Chambourcin, Niagara, and Petit Verdot, amongst others. We sampled eight wines with a nice variety of dry, sweet, and robust, with our favorites including:
- Deweese White – An essence of honey and apricot on the nose, this wine was sweet and tropical.
- Blushing Hart – More of a syrup-y sweet taste thanks to the Niagara blended with Seyval Blanc and Chambourcin. This wine made me think of red berries and would make a great summer time wine.
- Rappahannock Red – We were told this wine would make a really good Sangria, and I can totally see that. It was fruity and tart. Delicious served chilled (and with chocolate!)
- 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon – This wine is still young, but bold. Usually I lean towards the peppery Cabernet Franc, but this Cab Sav caught me by surprise.
For those who like dry roses, their Rappahannock Rose was light, dry and had an initial taste of cherry. For the Cab Franc lover, theirs was a different, lighter Cab Franc. It was spicy, with a hit of green pepper. I would pair with a red meat and potatoes dinner, either a grilled steak or burger.
A few other notes on their tasting room: it was spacious, and picnics are allowed. They are also pet-friendly. We are already planning on our next visit bringing our picnic basket and the dogs (they will love it here!) There are picnic tables outside for nicer days. (There was still a hint of snow on the ground from the day before and a sharp nip in the air, so this was out of the question for us.)
We had a very pleasant experience at the winery, between the tasting and our conversation with Beverly. This Winery is well worth the stop off 95! If you want to pair with another adventure, there are other stops along the Grapes and Grains Trail, or you can get lost in the streets of downtown Fredericksburg.