Vines in The Valley

The Shenandoah Valley is known for many things: it’s natural beauty, it’s bounty, it’s history and it’s wine. The Shenandoah Valley was the first AVA (American Viticultural Area) in Virginia, which is very fitting for a place known for historical significance.

Whether you’ve started your day by waking up in town, or even on the Muse property in their historic farmhouse, (which happens to be an Air BnB), or taken a short 90 minute drive west from D.C., you’ll want to stop at the Woodstock Cafe for a hearty breakfast. It’s a delicious, bright start to prepare for a day of wine tasting and exploring. While in town, stop by The Virginia Farmhouse, because you’ll want to bring a little bit of the Valley home at the end of the day. And, it is always a good idea to stock up on snacks, (especially if they are local)!

With a full stomach, and the whole day ahead, sneak in a nice hike at Seven Bends State Park. It’s quite literally right next to Muse Vineyards. Seven Bends is the newest Virginia State park and it is spectacular and accessible! There’s a wide variety of options, but given the delicious meals in town and the wine ahead us, we tackle a moderate trail that winds along the river, goes through some farm land, and ends with a little elevation gain so we can look over the valley and the vineyards below.

Off to Muse we go, flanked by the Shenandoah on one side, the Massanutten Mountains on another, and rows of vines as far as the eye can see. This is the perfect spot to unwind. If it’s your first time at the vineyard, you’ve got to try a flight–it gives you a fantastic appreciation for the variety or wines on offer and helps put into perspective just how geographical diverse the property is. With some vineyards at the river and some several hundred feet up, the micro climates and soil variety on the property are truly noticeable in each and every glass.

It’s too nice of a day to sit still and we’ve still got some energy left from breakfast, so let’s venture onto the Muse Wine trail: it’s the perfect way to get to know the vines that make wine. The trail winds through the vines, down along the river, past the winery, past a farmhouse from the 1800’s, and eventually brings us back to the tasting room. It’s a modern structure filled with gorgeous walnut furniture, much of it milled from trees that once stood here on the property. Local art is showcased on the walls and rotates through each month. Having chosen a favorite wine from our earlier flight, we’ll grab a bottle of the Pichet. It will be perfect for any fan of red who wants something a little lighter and chilled for the warm weather. The offering of charcuterie and everything from pulled pork to pate certainly has all taste buds covered.

The connection is not missed: the landscape seen on the trails has led to food from local farms, which we’ve paired with a bottle from the local vineyard. It feels calming and indulgent. It’s especially meaningful, after the past year, to take a deep breath and appreciate this moment.

Reconnecting , by Jessie Herman

Woodstock VA, a tucked away town in the Shenandoah Valley, was once unfamiliar to me as a Northern Virginia native. News of Woodstock came by way of a close friend, who suggested venturing down for a relaxing weekend. The age of COVID has greatly limited my ability to travel and explore new places, but my friend’s proposal was too enticing to pass up; I packed a weekend back, hopped in my car, and off we went. 

Sometimes, the most unfamiliar things can appear in the most familiar places. On the 90 minute journey south, we noticed the Blue Ridge Mountains peeking over the horizon. I’d caught a glimpse of these peaks back home, but never with such clarity. The state I’d grown up in was starting to appear new and uncharted, and I couldn’t wait to discover more. 

The town of Woodstock is a welcoming sight, with small shops and corner cafes lining the main street. With stiff legs and an overwhelming appetite, we stopped into Woodstock Cafe for a quick lunch. Without reservation, we tucked into a hot reuben sandwich and washed it all down with an iced coffee. 

We decided to walk off our meal with a stroll through Seven Bends State Park, located just minutes outside of the downtown stretch. Virginia’s natural beauty shines here, with the North Fork of The Shenandoah river winding around paths of blooming, wild Virginia flowers. We kicked ourselves for not bringing an inner tube, as the water current was perfect for dropping in and floating the day away. 

We soon set our sights on the Woodstock Brewhouse for a beer. After enjoying a couple of pints out on the patio (and a pretzel or two) we decided to check into our hotel and recharge before dinner.

After some rest and relaxation (and, I’ll admit, a quick nap) we ventured to Muse Vineyards for a delicious dinner. After starting with a wine flight, we settled on a bottle of Clio to share. The food offerings were everything we hoped for (and what goes better with an amazing meal than wine?) Our evening ended at The Hampton Inn, where we savored the events of the day and dreamt about the adventures to come. 

The morning came too soon and, knowing I couldn’t leave without taking some of Woodstock home with me, stopped into the Virginia Farmhouse for a souvenir (or two). There, I discovered handmade ceramic mugs with “Woodstock, Virginia” imprinted on the front. Knowing they’d be a reminder of my wonderful getaway, I couldn’t resist. With my purchases in tow, we loaded up the car and bid farewell to our little town in the valley. 

On the drive back home, I couldn’t help but reminisce on the once foreign town of Woodstock. As the Blue Ridge Mountains began to fade away in my rearview mirror, I thought about my weekend and how I just had to return. At Woodstock, I discovered a place to love, a town to cherish, and somewhere to be discovered again.  

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