Rule # 24 – Practice all types of writing
It’s only a short, 15-minute drive down a 2-lane country road. You drive past farms where the corn is looking high and sweet for a hot August day. You drive past pastures of dairy cattle lazing in the fields in the hot sun. You turn off this country road onto a smaller one that rolls further into the valley. On the top of one of the swells of hills sits your destination for a wonderful adult afternoon – Cross Keys Vineyard in Mt. Crawford, Virginia.
As you turn into the vineyard’s long drive, you see the main house sitting high on another hill, a vision reminiscent of Tuscany. Drive past the ripening grapes, to the main lot, and prepare for an adventure to satisfy any wine palate. Stand on one of the outdoor patios, and look off into the distance, into the Virginia hillside. This vineyard is nestled between two ridges of the Shenandoah. On a clear day, you can see the Shenandoah Park forest to the east and the start of the Blue Ridge Mountains to the west. The vista includes a patchwork of fields, farms and forests as far as the eye can see.
Cross Keys Vineyards run winery tours daily. Step into their Tasting Room and store, and relax. Tours run regularly throughout the afternoons. Take the “Grapes to Glass” tour and you’ll find a winery that will still age wine in barrels, not just in stainless steel casks. The busy season is almost upon them too. Harvest time tours will show you how the grape sorting happens and how that delicious beverage gets its start. Visit at harvest time and watch the grape presses in action.
After your tour, enjoy a wine tasting. Sample the fruits of the vineyard to suit yourself. Go for a sampling of either just reds or just whites for $5. Sample them all for $8. Treat yourself to lunch in the Tasting Room or on the patio. Make a full day of your visit. Don’t forget to bring home a “souvenir” bottle or two.
Now, I’m no sommelier, by any stretch. But I know what wines I like and will return to those wines over and over. At Cross Keys, of the few white wines they produce, I found their Joy White to be outstanding. This time, however, I could taste the oak barrel ageing in the Chardonnay. The red wines from this vineyard are spectacular. Four varieties – Pinot Noir, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Meritage – all got the highest personal rating during the taste test. The Meritage is a blend of the other reds and is so smooth in the mouth… like buttah! The vineyard offers one port wine, Tavern. For those who enjoy a red wine with incredible body, this one is for you. Devout chocoholics can pair this wine with their favorite food for the ultimate epicureal experience.
Visiting this winery is an excellent way to begin a vacation… or to end a vacation. Visiting is also not just a summertime thing. While the hours of operation change with the colder weather, they do not close. Cross Keys Vineyards continue to host wine tasting events, and is available for private events, like weddings. It’s a wonderful, picturesque backdrop to any event in your life.
Mt. Crawford is outside of Harrisonburg, Virginia, just off Interstate 81. The winery is only 3 hours south of Washington DC. Now, folks in the DC metro area, that’s a day trip for us. You have no excuse to get out and enjoy Cross Keys Vineyards. If you are looking for more information on the winery events and hours, check out the website http://www.crosskeysvineyards.com. This gem is off the beaten path, but well worth the trip.