I need to remember: my husband is not a good co-pilot. The number of times I have handed him my phone with the navigation app open asking him to simply tell me when I need to make a turn…
We were driving to a family event the other day, and I handed him my phone so he could relay the directions to me. We were not going far, and there weren’t many turns. However, he still missed the main turn into the neighborhood the event was taking place in. Naturally, I am on a back road with few driveways and side roads, and in need of a turn-around. I went about a mile past our turn, and the first drive I pull in to flip a U-Turn has fields of grape vines lining it. I got really excited and started to look around, and then I spotted it… The beautiful Sassafras Shade Vineyard sign and the words “Open.” I knew where we would be venturing back to after the event!
Following the driveway past the vines and into the woods, we came across a quaint tasting room. On entering through the rocking chair-lined front porch, we were warmly greeted by the wine-makers wife. A unique gem, Sassafras Shade is the first and only winery in Caroline County – an easy drive just off 95. Tastings were only $5, featured nine wines at the time we visited, and included a stemless glass (our new favorites) with a unique bubble design in the glass.
Learning more about the winery itself, the tasting room was built with timbers from the property and opened in fall 2014. It had a farm-winery feel, which really fit their wines. Something I loved learning: all of their grapes are grown on property. They have about five acres under vine. A few highlights from their tasting:
- Cayuga White – this grape is a hybrid from New York that is cold-hardy. I don’t recall ever having a wine made with this grape before! They are one of few Virginia wineries to grow this grape and produce this light and crisp, floral wine.
- White Chambourcin – one of our favorites, this wine had a light earthiness (like a Chambourcin should!) with a plum-like pucker left on the tongue and lips.
- Granny Smith Apple – while they don’t grow the apples on site, they do support the local Virginia apple industry and produce this wine with apples from Nelson County, Virginia. This is a great wine for the river this summer – lightly sweet and a subtle apple taste. We purchased a bottle of this to enjoy at home.
- Caroline White and Red – their two blends on the menu. The white is 50-50 Vidal Blanc and Niagara with the honey taste coming through. The red is 50-50 Cabernet Franc and Chambourcin. We were told this is the top seller at the winery.
Other wines on their menu: Chardonnay (they do not oak their wines so this has a lighter taste for those who prefer a crisp, not-so-buttery Chardonnay), Vidal Blanc, Cabernet Franc, and Chambourcin. Another thing I loved about this winery: their wine bottles were $15 or less. They were very affordable — a great pit stop off 95 between Fredericksburg and Richmond! I recommend a visit the next time you need a break from traffic (or when you miss a turn, or are on your way to the river, or just because you want an escape!)
I guess I should let my husband keep his co-pilot responsibility if it leads us to new Virginia wineries.
Cheers to #vawine! (And as always, please drink responsibly!)