Mother's Day Weekend consisted of two days visiting relatives in Scottsville, a small town located on the James River, about 20 miles south of Charlottesville. Previous we would look forward to hitting a couple of wineries along Route 20 and perhaps a tubing exhibition on the river. Now our trips to the area have been enhanced by the arrival of the James River Brewing company - who brew several English and German styled beers right on main street. And being in Bud Light country, they brew a wide range of beers to hopefully entice the lager crowd and the craft beer crowd. The "River" series takes care of the lager drinkers from the English bitter River Runner to the lighter River Walker. My father-in-law enjoyed a few of these while I experimented with their more complex creations. The "Green Eyed Lady" is a sweet, but balanced treat brewed with pistachios. The Barbados Brown Ale is aged in used Rum barrels giving a nice bite to the tail. There is also a Baltic Porter (quite nice) and the Midnight Mistress, a Baltic Porter brewed with cacao nibs and paprika. I have a bottle for a future post. And finally, my favorite was the Fluvanna Fluss Wheat Ale - refreshing with an interesting banana flavor.James River Brewing also support local music, so there's another reason to visit the brewery.
One regret from the weekend is that we didn't head east on Route 6 to visit Thistle Gate Vineyard. This winery will be our starting point on future visits and if you want to start your tour from the furthest point southeast, they will be your destination - particularly if you enjoy Chardonnay and Cabernet Franc. From there, head through Scottsville and north on Route 20. Your first two wineries will be on the left with First Colony Winery and Virginia Wineworks on the same road. On previous trips First Colony was our destination, so this time we stopped by the old Mountdomaine facility that Michael Shaps now utilizes for his VW and Michael Shaps brands. We were looking for boxed wine and our post at VirginiaWineTV explains why. Returning to Route 20, you will soon cross over a bridge spanning the Hardware River. Taking a right will lead you to Blenheim Vineyards & Trump Winery; both are popular destinations in their own right and highly recommended. From there, you have two choices, head north to 708 or backtrack to 721. The first will lead to Wisdom Oak Winery, formerly Sugarleaf Vineyards, whereas the second to the Laird & Company apple orchard. Not sure if tours are available at the distiller of Apple Jack brandy - but we will soon attempt to visit. Regardless, both roads intersect Route 27 where you will find Albemarle CiderWorks and Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards. In fact, if you took Rt 721, then just cross over 27 to Pippin Hill, whereas take a right on 27 if traveling on Rt 708. For you, cider will be your next stop - and quite good cider. At Pippin Hill, get ready for solid wines and spectacular views. Once again our VirginiaWineTV post provides more information. Cheers and safe travels.