Keepin’ it Cool in the Mountains
The expression “Use a picture. It’s worth a thousand words” appeared in a 1911 newspaper article quoting newspaper editor Tess Flanders discussing journalism and publicity. I think that I will apply that principle to this month’s Road Trip. I will limit my words and let you enjoy the scenery.
With the warm summer months upon us I thought that I would take a drive down I- 66 through Northern Fauquier County wine country, into Front Royal and across the mountain to Rappahannock County. The drive begins west on I-66 to Marshall, VA and Route 55 to Barrel Oak Winery in Delaplane. This winery is a very popular destination with mountain views, a wide selection of wines and, for beer lovers, the Farm Taproom that opened this spring. A couple of miles down Route 55 to Route 17 and across Crooked Run Creek you will discover Three Fox Vineyards. The winery has out door seating on the mountain as well as down by the creek with a few hammocks by the stream.
Heading back down Leeds Manor Road, across Route 55 and 3 miles down the road you will come to Philip Carter Winery. For three centuries the families have made a way of life in the rolling landscapes of Fauquier County and on July 22nd the founding family of American wine joins with the founding families of Fauquier County’s craft brewing and cider making to host an event celebrating the local craft libations of the region. Known as the Founders Festival, this event is open to the public and only costs $10 in advance or $15 at the door. Be sure to check out events at the other wineries as well as there is something going on all the time.
Retracing your path back to Route 55 make a left and head to Linden, VA. At the base of Freezeland Road make a right and climb the mountain to Fox Meadow Winery at the top. A recent Governor’s Cup winner, this winery has arguably the best and most panoramic view of the Blue Ridge…and it is blue. You can see as many as five different mountain ranges in the distance.
Coming down from Fox Meadow cross the road and check out The Giving Tree, a locally owned store. The store features vegetables to plant in the spring, fresh vegetables and meats from their farm as well as sourcing from other farmers in the area. They also have a nice selection of cool stuff…something for everyone. About two miles down Route 55 you will come to the Apple House, which has been run by the same family for 63 years. It is a great place for good country dining…not fancy, just good food. You have to check out their Apple Butter Cinnamon donuts.
Leaving town, drive back to Route 211 and turn right in the direction of Skyline Drive. If you haven’t satisfied your taste for wine by now, there are two great wineries to visit…Gadino Cellars and Little Washington Winery. They both make wonderful award winning wines. The nice thing about this road trip is that you can do it in reverse. Drive to Sperryville first and hit the other spots on your way home.
Just before you begin the climb to Thornton Gap you will come to the town of Sperryville. This is truly one of my favorite places to be. Passing the 9-hole golf course (they rent clubs) turn left and cross over the beautiful Thornton River. This is indeed a very small town with big ideas. Stop in Before & After, a coffee and wine shop, for a cup of joe or a glass of wine in the afternoon. The Thornton River Grill is a favorite gathering place for lunch or dinner and the Corner Store has all of the essential snacks to fortify you on any road trip. Grab a pizza at the wood-burning pizza shop or a drink at the newly opened Francis bar.
If beer is your fancy, the Pen Druid Brewery is across the lot. Have a brew and meet the locals as well as other travelers. Be sure to stop at Heritage Hollow and stock up on their farm fresh products…the bacon is to die for! A jewelry store, Copper Fox Antiques and Flourish Root, a boutique florist make this a great place to just hang out and enjoy the people and the countryside. If you are looking for a cup of coffee for the road or something to take home with you, be sure to check out Central Coffee Roasters and Blue Ridge Artisans.
This is a very long road trip with a wide range of things to do and adventures to enjoy. Near Sperryville you will find the hiking trails of the iconic Old Rag Mountain and White Oak Canyon with its six waterfalls. To extend your stay, spend the night in Sperryville. There are a few wonderful B&Bs and cottages to rent. On this trip, the scenery and the people are the best attraction. Enjoy!