I just got back to Virginia after six weeks away. It feels so good to be back home and get back into somewhat of a normal routine. With some free days before school starts back up again, I decided to check some new wineries off my list before the school year gets crazy! Living in Richmond now, I have been wanting to explore wineries that are a little closer.
On the list for the day was:
Elk Island Winery,
Picking sunflowers at Lickinghole Creek Brewery.
All of them are very close to each other making it easy to do all three. Byrd and Elk Island are actually right next to each other, and Lickinghole is about 10 minutes from those two wineries.
First stop! We did a great tasting here and tried about 7 wines plus their homemade sangria and frosé for $7. I would say that their wines were sweeter than I am used to, which definitely pleased my friend who likes her wines sweeter. From the wines I tasted, my favorite was the Velvet wine which uses the Norton grape. I really enjoyed their frosé as it was a hot day and that was very refreshing! It is made from their rosé, which was slightly on the sweeter side. You can enjoy some wine inside where they have a bunch of tables, or sit on their relaxing deck which has a woodsy vibe.
Elk Island Winery
Next up - Elk Island! They have wine tastings for $6 and you can choose which 6 wines you want to taste! I really enjoyed their Sauvignon Blanc and Viognier. I'm already excited to go back and try more wines next visit. They also have an AMAZING sangria! It was a green tea ginger sangria, that I could totally sip all day. I actually decided to get a glass of this because it was so delicious! They actually have the recipe on their website if you want to check it out. I love when wineries have at least part of the vineyard accessible, so I really enjoyed visiting Elk Island. Also harvest is coming up so it was fun seeing all of the grapes on the vines.
Lickinghole Creek Brewery
About ten minutes from the two wineries, you will find Lickinghole Creek. Personally, I am not able to drink beer so I can't attest to the beer here but I have heard that it's good. The scenery is beautiful and you feel like you are in the middle of nowhere. The reason I wanted to visit is because there are sunflower fields on the property, and you can actually pick them! It has always been on my bucket list to pick sunflowers so when I heard about this place I had to check it out. Sunflower season goes from the end of June through August. Bring your own shears and you can pick a bundle for $5 and then enjoy some beer!
A couple of years ago, my mom and I were looking up recipes for sangria. We got really into trying out different recipes to see what we liked best. After trying a couple of red wine sangria recipes, we decided to go for a rosé sangria. The recipe we found looked AMAZING, and it was nothing short of that. Since then, we have tweaked it a little bit and add our own variations based on our mood and audience.
I like to call this my "All Things Pink Sangria." We use all the pink fruit, which just so happen to be my favorite fruits, and the flavor is very fruity and delicious after they soak for a while. It's the perfect drink for long summer days!
We typically use any bottle of French Rosé that we have laying around for this sangria. You really want a dry rosé for this. Some of my favorite local Virginia rosé's that would be perfect are from Thatch Winery, King Family or Early Mountain. The original recipe called for three times as much bourbon, but I found that to really alter the flavor. Play around as you make it to see if you want to make it more boozy.
After pouring the rosé, chambord (raspberry liquor) and the bourbon in, add some honey to sweeten it up. Also add the juice of your choice. I suggest grapefruit or pomegranate. Orange juice is also just as tasty!
The berries are one of my favorite parts. You can use a melon scooper to get round balls of the watermelon in the drink. Otherwise, just cut it up in cubes. The raspberries are best to add fresh to the glasses when you are ready to serve.
And voila! Your drink is made, as easy as that. Cover it up and let the flavors mix together for at least two hours (if possible). Sometimes it can be hard waiting that long!
"All Things Pink Rosé Sangria" Recipe
1 bottle Rosé
1 cup of grapefruit juice or pomegranate juice
1/4 cup bourbon
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup chambord
2 cups watermelon balls
2 cups fresh sliced strawberries
1 1/2 cups fresh raspberries
1. Pour the rosé, juice, bourbon, and chambord into a pitcher.
2. Add the honey and mix in.
3. Use a melon ball scooper to make watermelon balls and slice strawberries. Add to the pitcher.
4. Cover the sangria and place in the fridge for at least two hours to allow the flavors to mix.
5. After about two hours, take the sangria out and add the fresh raspberries. Time to enjoy!
*The original recipe we followed had more bourbon but it was a little too boozy for me. If you want more of a boozy taste, add more bourbon.
*I highly recommend dry Rosé's for this recipe
Enjoy! Let me know how you liked it!
This is such a unique winery as it has a big greenhouse attached to the tasting room. It's a fun place to enjoy relaxing amongst the plants during the winter. However, they also have a nice outdoor area with a beautiful view for the sunnier days when you just want to soak up the sun. Best of both worlds!
5. Barboursville Vineyards
Immediately upon laying eyes on Pippin Hill Farm and Vineyards, I fell in love. I had heard amazing things about Pippin from friends and could not wait to visit. My best friend of 17 years was coming to visit and so I knew it would be a special place to take her.
As you drive up the hill, you can see the beautiful vineyards. Then, as you enter the winery, you walk through a path of hydrangeas. The view of the valley is breathtaking. I felt like I could spend hours here just hanging out. They have a nice area where you can sit outside and eat, however, there can be a long wait to sit out here. There are also hightop tables that are first come first serve and many tables inside. You can also ask any of the staff for a blanket and buy a bottle to sit out on the grass and take in the scenery. At Pippin Hill, you are not able to bring a picnic as they have many food options. They have a reputation for their delicious food, so if you're hungry this is a solid place to go for your food-wine fix.
There are two different wine tastings to choose from, a selections of mainly whites (5 for $10) or mainly reds (4 for $12). This is definitely pricier than other wineries, but so worth it for the views. My personal favorites include the Rosé and the Viognier.
Pro tip: If going on a Saturday, go first thing in the morning when they open. We arrived at 11:10am and there were already a good amount of people there but it was very crowded by 11:45 am. You could also beat the crowds by going on a Friday evening or Sunday instead.
Sarah, wine enthusiastic and globetrotter, currently exploring Virginia one winery at a time.