Tuesday, November 12, 2019

A Day Trip Along the Shenandoah Spirits Trail

The Shenandoah Spirits Trail consists of 49 breweries, cider houses, distilleries, and wineries within the Shenandoah Valley and located between Harrisonburg and Winchester. These destinations are an easy day trip from the DC Metro area and are worth leveraging when visiting the Valley's Civil War sites, scenic roads, and outdoor activities. And try to stay for the sunsets. Here are a few we visited recently.

Old Hill Cider - Timberville
The is an outgrowth of Showalters Orchard where the Showalter family has been growing apples for over 50 years on a century-old orchard. Cidermaker Shannon Showalter established the first cider house in the Shenandoah Valley by fermenting various heirloom apples such as Pippen, Winesap, and Stayman. These are the blend for the refreshing Yesteryear dry cider. Full a fuller cider, try the Cidermaker's Barrel where the juice is fermented using wild yeast then racked into barrels -- developing texture and depth. And walk out back to sip and enjoy the scenic valley.

Swover Creek Farms and Kitchen - Edinburg
Swover Creek Farms was established just over a decade ago by Lynn and Dave St.Clair, diversifying their 100+-year-old family farm into berries and about 6 years ago 14 hop varieties. In 2014 they opened a small brewery operation using a 3.5 barrel brew system with 2 fermenters and 4 bright tanks. These are located in a renovated barn with a former cow loafing shed used for outdoor covered seating. Inside enjoy house-made pizza, Swover Creek smoked sausages and several styles of beer. Our favorites were the Saison and Lager.

Wolf Gap Vineyard - Edinburg
Willard and Diane Elledge founded Wolf Gap Vineyard and Winery 15 years ago on a 48-acre estate. The views of Wolf Gap and the Great North Mountains from their deck is worth a visit in itself, but an added bonus is the well-crafted wines offered. The 50-50 2017 Viognier-Traminette blend is refreshingly unique while the 2016 Chardonnay is textured and crisp. Nut the dry reds are their strong suit starting with the 2015 Chambourcin Reserve. Smokey and spicy but not jammy. The 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve proves that this grape can excel in pockets in the Commonwealth and the 2013 Mariage Reserve (Chambourcin and Cabernet Franc) is delicious.

Reminder: theCompass Craft Beverage Finder will guide you to these destinations. 

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