Mountain Cove Vineyards is the oldest continually active winery in Virginia -- and possibly the most hidden.
As we were driving to find this modest yet perfectly situated vineyard, we kept wondering if the gravel road that sweeps through the Shenandoah mountain valley would ever end. That wasn't a bad thing, considering we were driving through the best views that Virginia has to offer.
But the trip is most likely why there are no tasting fees at the vineyard: "If you're willing to make your way here, you deserve a free tasting," said owner Al Weed.
He started Mountain Cove Vineyards (1362 Fortunes Cove Lane Lovingston, Va.) in 1976. His first batch was a dry apple wine made from local fruit.
To this day, Weed still uses local fruit for his wines from growers like the Saunders Brothers, where he gets his peaches for the Harvest Peach wine.
He still has the same tasting room made from local red oak and yellow pine beams that came from his neighbors' hillside. You'll immediately get a feel of this matured and long-established winery. They literally put down their (wine) roots and have stayed the same since.
That feeling is present even for the wine tastings, where they use good ol' DOF (double old fashioned) cocktail glasses for the wine. That's a first! When asked if we could buy a souvenir wine glass, Weed said, "Oh, you mean the fancy stemmed glasses we sell. Sure."
If the spectacular views and low-key atmosphere don't get you in the mood to relax, then the wine should. They offer eight varieties of wine, and their Villard blanc grapes are a standout. This is the grape they use for their Skyline White, and Mountain Cove may be the only winery in Virginia still using the Villard Blanc variety.
Hours are Wednesday to Sunday, noon to 6 p.m. Mountain Cove is located about three hours southwest of downtown D.C.
Tip: Three generations of the Weed family have served in combat. Because of this, they offer a 10 percent discount to members of the military.