For more than a decade, I’ve been camping at the same spot in George Washington National Forest. We take the Woodstock exit off 81 and usually grab last-minute supplies at the Walmart there then head to our spot for a couple of nights. This past time, I realized Shenandoah Vineyards was only a few miles from the Walmart, so we decided to add an extra stop.
We went between Christmas and New Year’s Day, so we hit a bit of traffic heading along 17 in a few spots. Arriving a little later than planned, and with the dogs in the car (they love camping too), we decided to create our own tasting rather than stay for a tasting at the winery. The sun was starting to go down, and we still had to drive to our spot, hike out, pitch a tent, and gather firewood for the night. So, we made the decision I would run in and buy the wines we were most intrigued to try, then get back on the road.
Pulling up to the winery, it was beautiful! Rolling hills of vines surrounded the big red barn-style tasting room. Walking up to the tasting room, vines covered the stairwell and porch creating a wonderland experience. The interior was spacious, with seating on two levels and an outdoor porch with a perfect wine-country view. Walking up to the counter, the staff was very accommodating. Our purchase included four of the six wines they offered:
- 2014 Founder’s Reserve Chambourcin – an earthy Chambourcin with a fruity after taste. This was the first bottle we opened, and I am so glad we did. It was the perfect camping wine with meat on the fire. The first sip made me pucker, then the wine mellowed out from there and each sip went down smoother than the next. You really need a glass of this to appreciate the experience.
- Rebel Red – we have a dog named Rebel, so of course we had to buy this wine. Their Rebel Red is a more medium-bodied red wine. Smooth and instant pleasure, this wine offered a light sweetness with a fruity, berry nose. This wine was easy to enjoy, and I would buy it again.
- 2015 Medium Sweet Riesling – this may have been my favorite of the wines. A medium-bodied Reisling, this wine is perfect for the mountain setting. A fruity essence of pear and apple lingered on my tongue with holiday spice. This wine was sweet like a Reisling should be, but very smooth and drinkable.
- 2014 Johannisberg Riesling – this was the last wine we sampled (just opening the bottle a couple nights ago as the snow began to fall). There was more acidity – a tartness, semi-sweet taste to this wine with a hint of apples. It was not my preferred wine, but a different take to Riesling I could appreciate.
This time around, we did not buy the 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon or 2014 Nocturne (100% Traminette dessert wine.) We’ll have to try those during our next visit!
It is important to note, Shenandoah Vineyards is one of the oldest wineries in the state. Established in 1976, they claim to be the fifth winery in Virginia to be established in “modern times.” Today, they are one of the oldest wineries in the state and the oldest in the Shenandoah Valley region.
The winery was beautiful and definitely worth an afternoon visit. The great thing about this winery was their accessibility. They are open every day except New Year’s Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas day. Their hours are perfect – 10am to 5pm during the winter, 10am to 6pm during the summer. This accessibility was the reason we were able to stop and enjoy their view and wine on a weekday between Christmas and New Year’s when many others were closed. I loved our experience, though it was brief, and can’t wait to return before our next camping trip.