BOTETOURT, Va. — This county in the Blue Ridge Mountains is home to several wineries and a new brewery. Visiting all or some of them is a nice way to spend an afternoon.
Botetourt County once covered a large part of the south-central United States. Later it was divided into smaller counties in Virginia and some became part of other states. What's left of the original Botetourt County has beautiful, scenic drives through mountains and meadows, all good land to grow grapes for wine.
While it seems like every state has its own wine industry now, Virginia has been working at it for centuries. George Washington tried to grow wine grapes in the 1700s but the grapes he brought over from Europe were destroyed by insects. Now, American grapes grow well in Virginia's climate and are considered some of the best anywhere.
You have to be looking for Blue Ridge Vineyards to find them. Past the intersection of Shiloh and Narrow Passage Roads and up a dirt road lies a big white house and part of a big barn, all on Shiloh Drive in Eagle Rock.
The tasting room is a small room on the side of a barn. It's full of knickknacks, T-shirts and wine but the true selling point is the view when you leave the room. Two sides of the barn are open to the mountains and the rolling pastures, and the scenery is breathtaking.
Blue Ridge makes its wine as naturally as possible, without using pesticides or chemicals on its grapes. The winery bottles its wine using gravity and has some nice varieties. However, even if you don't drink alcohol, it's worth a trip simply to see the views, visit with the proprietors and enjoy the music series scheduled throughout the year.