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Weekend Wine Getaway: Urbanna, VA and the Chesapeake Bay Wine Trail

I recently attended the wedding of a dear friend who’s been a part of my life since before either of us were a twinkle in our parents’ eyes. It was a lovely affair. The Bride was stunning, the Groom was beaming, and, everyone felt the love of this exciting and endearing couple.  Congratulations, you guys!!!!

Plus, there were Surrey Bikes!

The tiny hamlet of Urbanna, VA, set the scene for the weekend invasion of wedding guests.Urbanna is one of those towns that is strangely reminiscent of Gilmore Girls’ Stars Hollow. Driving through, you really got the sense that if you were to pop into any diner, a smart-talking, backwards ball-cap wearing man in a plaid shirt would be standing by the counter, and if you blinked, you would miss the whole thing. There’s a world-famous Oyster Festival the first weekend of November each year, but at other times of the year, it’s one of those beautiful towns that recommends itself to folks who are simply looking to lose themselves to the simple life for the weekend.

As a bonus, Urbanna is located along the Chesapeake Bay Wine Trail (not to be confused with Maryland's Chesapeake Wine Trail on the Eastern Shore). As a result, it’s a fantastic staging point for a weekend wine adventure. The trail starts just off the Nice Bridge in King George County and stretches to New Kent County, near Richmond, running parallel to rt. 17 as it goes. If you take 301, you won’t get much of the DC traffic as you make your way down, which should make for an enjoyable trip outside of the Mixing Bowl.

Though nine wineries make up the trail, we only managed to make it to four this time around. There’s a passport program, though, and if you make it to six of the nine by the end of the year, you’ll enjoy a 10% discount on wine though the end of the year. If you make it there by Labor Day, you’ll also be entered in a drawing for an overnight stay of one of several B&Bs along the trail, including Stratford Hall, the birthplace of Civil War General Robert E. Lee. As a Civil War buff, that one immediately struck me.

Speaking of things that struck me…each of the wineries truly made an effort to set themselves apart. Whether through their tasting rooms to their specialty wines, all four of them were not only worth the trip, I also can’t wait to get back!

If you go, try:
• Lighthouse Rouge at Belle Mount Vineyards. A Vidal-Chambourcin blend, it’s friendly enough for a White Zin fan while still tasting great. As a bonus, their current bottle features Maryland’s very own St. Michael’s lighthouse and would be perfect for a bottle collection.

New Kent Winery’s Vidal Blanc. We made the mistake of only buying three bottles of this beforewe all decided to throw an impromptu post-Rehearsal Dinner party. Two bottles went within minutes, and the third was polished off during the post-Reception party the next night. Obviously, a crowd favorite!

• The Blue Crab series at Ingleside Vineyards. These potluck-friendly wines go with everything and are perfect for a grab-and-go as you’re walking out the door. I fell in love with the blush in particular. Still, I encourage you to be adventurous…Ingleside is currently running a deal featuring a box set of all three Blue Crab wines for $30. One note about Ingleside, though, check out their website BEFORE you go. There seems to be some disagreement between them and the US Geological Service about the location. The coordinates are on the website, though, so look them up and follow those before you head out. If you end up at a red house, don’t go charging through the door…it’s not the winery.  Though the homeowner knows the situation, it doesn't mean he enjoys people walking through his door unannounced and uninvited.

• Both the Summer Medley and Hot Jazz at Oak Crest Vineyard & Winery. The first is made with real strawberries; the second with real jalapenos. Both are an explosion in the mouth that has to be experienced to be believed.

The wineries on the Chesapeake Bay Wine Trail have a variety of opening hours during the week, but if you go on the weekend, you should be okay for all of them. Not to mention the fact that Urbanna is a great staging point for all but the very tip-top of the trail (hit those Sunday on your way home). If you’re planning to stay, I highly recommend the Chesapeake Inn for all your accommodation needs (ask for the Map Room!!!).


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