Far from the colonial trappings of Colonial Williamsburg we found a long driveway leading through row upon row of grapevine to the Williamsburg Winery.
I knew we were going to have some fun here. With an extensive tasting room, tours of the wine cellar with tastings of a half dozen or so of their vintages, and beautiful grounds, it sure promised a good time. When we arrived, tours were in full swing and the shop was filled with people waiting for their tour or buying bottles of wine.
The Williamsburg Winery is the largest winery in Virginia, producing some 46,000 cases of wine a year. The state boasts 225 wineries. Now that’s small compared to major wine producing areas such as Napa and Sonoma — but you know, we had some darn good wine here.
Merlot, malbec and viognier are among the grape varieties grown on the estate. Besides the varietals, Williamsburg produces wines reflecting the local history: a Sir Christopher Wren white and a Lord Botetort Virginia red, for instance. And then there are the wines that are just fun. We fell in love with the Settlers’ Spiced Wine — at our tour guide’s suggestion we heated it with some fresh apple cider for a heart-warming vin chaud perfect for a cold winter’s evening. (We liked it so much we ended up with a case of the stuff. Hope our friends and family like it too!)
Tastings follow the tour of the wine cellar offered just about every day of the year. Hours change according to the season. I always like to hear the stories about how the weather affected the grapes. There always seems to be a lot of worrying going on — so much, I’m amazed any good wine is every produced. But there they are in the cool cellar, row after row of kegs of French and Hungarian oak filled with the wines we’ll be drinking in a year or two.
Now if all this wine makes you hungry, you’re in luck. In addition to the winery, there are two restaurants. The Gabriel Archer Tavern is a casual lunch and snack place. Cafe Provencal is open for dinner every night but Monday with a menu of meat and seafood napped in delightful sauces and accompanied by vegetables you would gladly have eaten when your mother told you to. Williamsburg Winery wines are on the wine list along with plenty of others from around the globe.
A mere 230 steps from the winery is a lovely country inn — you just might like it so much you want to move in for a day or two and with Wedmore Place, you can! We took a peek and found a wide variety of rooms, some with fireplaces and all with a European accent.
We visited the winery as part of a trip to Williamsburg and found it a nice diversion from the Revolutionary City (which I always think is great fun). It’s only a few miles from Duke of Gloucester Street — and of course, centuries away.
© Text and photos Mary K. Tilghman
The newly-recreated public armoury in Williamsburg was featured in recent post:
Something new/old in Colonial Williamsburg.
And Tipsy Tourist went to Gambols at Chowning’s Tavern in Williamsburg, too.