South­ern sip­pin’

Canadian Geographic - - GATEWAY -

“VIR­GINIA IS FOR LOVERS,” tes­ti­fies the mid-at­lantic state’s tourism slo­gan, but for­get ro­mance. With its long grow­ing sea­son and mild cli­mate, Vir­ginia is for devo­tees of another in­tox­i­cant: high-qual­ity booze. Wine, hard cider, craft beer and small­batch spir­its stream through the state, par­tic­u­larly in the north, cen­tral and Shenan­doah Val­ley re­gions. Vir­ginia has the sixth high­est num­ber of winer­ies in the United States, and its ar­ti­sanal al­co­hol pro­duc­ers put on a num­ber of fall and win­ter fes­ti­vals and spe­cial events across the state (see on­line ex­tra, be­low). Here’s a taste of the many li­ba­tions Vir­ginia can tempt you with. —Michela Rosano

Wine . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Green­hill Win­ery and Vine­yards Mid­dle­burg This wine­maker is one of many in Loudoun County, but its award-win­ning French-style wines are top shelf. Sip the Blanc de Blancs 2013, a vel­vety smooth sparkling white given to 2016 Os­car nom­i­nees, or savour the crisp Sey­val Blanc — re­port­edly good enough for Michelle Obama to have kept on hand at the White House. green­hillvine­yards.com

Pip­pin Hill Farm and Vine­yards North Gar­den Amer­i­can found­ing fa­ther Thomas Jef­fer­son brought Euro­pean wine grape vines to Vir­ginia just 24 kilo­me­tres east of this bu­colic farm and vine­yard. Al­though Jef­fer­son’s vines failed, Pip­pin Hill is now one of more than 40 winer­ies in the Mon­ti­cello Amer­i­can Viti­cul­tural Area. Sam­ple the viog­nier, the of­fi­cial state grape, for an au­then­tic Vir­ginian ex­pe­ri­ence. pip­pin­hill­farm.com

Cider . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Albe­marle Cider­works North Gar­den Albe­marle Pip­pin and Old Vir­ginia Wi­ne­sap sound like names Tolkien might have cre­ated while writ­ing The Hob­bit, but these rare and heir­loom ap­ple va­ri­eties are no fic­tion. Get a taste of their com­plex and var­ied flavours in sparkling ciders made with ap­ples grown in Albe­marle’s own or­chard. And don’t miss try­ing the hard-to-come-by 1817, a rich, smooth and com­plex bev­er­age based on a recipe found in a text about or­chards and cider-mak­ing pub­lished the same year. albe­mar­lecider­works.com

Spir­its . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Murlarkey Dis­tilled Spir­its Bris­tow Ir­ish whisky in Vir­ginia? Not quite — but Murlarkey’s Bru­tal­ity, a lim­ited re­serve, bar­rel-aged “bat­tle strength” dark whiskey in­spired by the own­ers’ Ir­ish her­itage, is a for­mi­da­ble take on the spirit. Its com­plex­ity, smooth fin­ish and aro­mas of vanilla, co­coa, cin­na­mon, cloves and smoky oak make it easy to see why the first cask of the stuff sold out in three weeks in 2016. Thank God, then, that the sec­ond cask is avail­able in Novem­ber. murlarkey.com

Beer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Port City Brew­ing Com­pany Alexan­dria Port City has earned a slew of ac­co­lades for the well-bal­anced brews it pro­duces in the his­toric city of Alexan­dria, not far from Ge­orge Wash­ing­ton’s plan­ta­tion in Mount Ver­non. Their most pop­u­lar beer, Op­ti­mal Wit, is a cit­rusy Bel­gian-style white ale that can be sam­pled along with their four other flag­ship beers and a se­lec­tion of sea­son­als at the brew­ery. portc­i­ty­brew­ing.com

Pale Fire Brew­ing Com­pany Har­rison­burg Grab a beer and a book at Pale Fire’s tap room, housed in a ren­o­vated ice house fea­tur­ing a lit­tle free li­brary and lo­cal snacks such as Route 11 Potato Chips. Dry and hoppy brews are what Pale Fire does best, so lift a pint of their award­win­ning Salad Days Amer­i­can Sai­son, which has notes of grape­fruit, peach and bub­blegum, or the or­ange-and-lemon-tinged Ar­rant IPA. pale­fire­brew­ing.com

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