The Spirited Foodie – Making the Most of your Grapes & Grains ticket
The Grapes & Grains Trail is a great way to see some of the Fredericksburg, VA, region’s finest producers of craft beverages. The trail includes four wineries, three breweries and a distillery. Tour tickets, which can be purchased at any of the eight tour stops, are $15 and include a collectible stemless tasting glass, VIP tours of each facility and discounts in the gift shops of each trail stop. Grapes & Grains Trail tickets never expire, so you can spread out your tastings over as many trips as you wish. Remember to always bring a designated driver, or check out options like the Wine Trolley Tour if you’d rather not drive at all.
Duck out of work early and get to town before 4 p.m., to catch the last free hourly tour of the A. Smith Bowman Distillery. The late afternoon light will enhance your views of the warehouse full of aging barrels and the shiny new copper still that the distillery is using to experiment with new expressions in its spirits. Plus, there’s nothing like a bourbon tasting to kick off a weekend.
From here, head into downtown Fredericksburg and check in to a room at the Kenmore Inn. This charming bed and breakfast is in the heart of Fredericksburg’s residential district, and the pub and restaurant downstairs are a favorite among locals.
Are you visiting on the first Friday of the month? Galleries and other businesses celebrate First Fridays by opening with new exhibits, entertainment, refreshments and lively crowds. But any evening is a great time to stop by downtown galleries, including LibertyTown Arts Workshop, Ponshop Studio, Artful Dimensions and many more.
For dinner, stroll over to Spencer Devon Brewing, one of the newest additions the the Grapes & Grains lineup. This craft brewery and restaurant opened in 2015, and the menu is a gourmet upgrade from your typical pub fare. Look for local ingredients and specialties such as Rappahannock rockfish. Share a flight of beers to determine which is your favorite.
The next morning, get in line early, (as in, 9:30 a.m. or before) to get one of the first seats at Foode’s weekend brunch, which starts at 10 a.m. The ever-changing menu here highlights fresh, local ingredients with the artistry of chef Joy Crump, a contestant on Bravo’s Top Chef.
Head over to Blue and Gray Brewing Co., which is open for tours and tastings every Saturday from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. (see further hours here). If you’re hungry already, stop in to their brew pub for lunch, or take a drive out to the Spotsylvania Farmers Market to stock up on bread, cheese, fruit and other provisions to take with you on an afternoon drive through scenic rural Spotsylvania.
First it’s out to Lake Anna Winery, where you can picnic amid the scenic surroundings of this former dairy farm and taste award-winning wines. On your way back to town, stop at Mattaponi Winery, whose new “Tasting Post” provides a comfortable and relaxing place to sip and take in the Native American history that inspires these wine-makers.
When you start to get hungry, head to The Village at Spotsylvania Towne Centre for a hearty meal at Firebirds Wood Fired Grill.
Next, it’s time to explore Stafford County. Brunch at Cornbread and Caviar starts at 11 a.m. on Sundays, and you won’t want to miss the moist, slightly sweet cornbread, shrimp and grits and other Southern specialties here.
Keep heading north on U.S. 17 to get to Hartwood Winery, tucked into one of the most scenic rural areas of Stafford. After a tasting at this family-owned winery, head back to the U.S. 1 corridor to visit Adventure Brewing Co. The bright orange walls and tailgate toss setup out front are indicative of the fun and energy the folks at Adventure bring to their craft. You might find a food truck here to tamp down any hunger pangs, but if not, consider stopping for light appetizers at Zibibbo 73, which has won accolades as one of the best restaurants in Northern Virginia.
Round out your weekend by taking in the scenic views at Potomac Point Vineyard and Winery. Sundays are fun days at Potomac Point. Check their events calendar and, depending on the date, sign up for one of their Uncork’d art classes, where you’ll taste the wines and be guided through the creation of your own masterpiece. Or opt for their Vino Rows kayak tours, where you and your group can enjoy a kayak tour on the Potomac River, followed by a private wine and cheese social.
Don’t forget: All of these wineries, breweries and the A. Smith Bowman Distillery are happy to accommodate groups of all sizes. Include them in your next group meeting in the Fredericksburg region.
Did you know? One of the Fredericksburg region’s newest wineries is Wilderness Run Vineyards, located on the same farm where Confederate Lt. Gen. Stonewall Jackson’s arm was amputated in 1863 after he fell victim to friendly fire during fighting at Chancellorsville. The winery, which also features wines from all over Virginia, is a great pairing with a visit to the Chancellorsville Battlefield.
Have an extra day? Explore the history of imbibing in downtown Fredericksburg with a visit to Rising Sun Tavern. The circa-1760 home was built as a residence by George Washington’s brother Charles. It became a tavern in the 1790s and was a popular stop for travelers through what was then the bustling port city of Fredericksburg. Today you can take a lively tour with a costumed “tavern wench” and take a peek at tavern life in the eighteenth century.