The Road Trip Of A Lifetime For Wine Lovers Is In This Breathtaking Mountainous State

Is it possible to call yourself a true connoisseur of wine without having experienced Virginia's picturesque Skyline Wine Trail? Located 30 miles west of Washington D.C., this enamoring route guides travelers along the scenic Route 211 and winds through Shenandoah National Park. The Blue Ridge Mountains frame the bucolic vineyards sprawled on nearly 200,000 acres. Virginia's Skyline Wine Trail connects over 25 vineyards, wineries, and breweries. Pastoral farms dot the highlands while the occasional produce stand and roadside café dapple the highway.

The journey picks up near the small countryside town of Warrenton, which directs drivers down the scenic Route 211 through Shenandoah National Park. Turning onto the beautiful Skyline Drive (running north to south), the highway weaves past some of Virginia's most picturesque estates and wineries. Passing by the northern Front Royal entrance to the park, the endeavor ends near Little Washington, the quaint epitome of an American small town.

As the birthplace of one of America's favored cash crops, viticulture in the Commonwealth stretches back to 1609. Virginia now holds 6th place for the state with the most wineries. Despite its reputation as a distinguished wine country, it's taken decades of trial and error to perfect the art of winemaking using Virginia's unique soil composition. It wasn't until the manager of an Italian vineyard, Gabrielle Rausse, was sent to Virginia where he successfully cultivated a hybrid grape made from native and Italian grape varieties. Today, Rausse is referred to as "The Father of the Modern Virginia Wine Industry." 

A land of exceptional viticulture

The 59-mile journey includes four entrances to Shenandoah National Park — the gateway into Virginia's exclusive wine country estates. Nestled in the foothills of Shenandoah Valley, RDV Vineyards is the epitome of a traditional Napa Valley wine estate in Virginia. The white barn and silo, surrounded by acres of manicured grapevines, present a grand and opulent appearance. Its signature Lost Mountain wine is marketed on-site, through its premier wine club, and to upscale local restaurants. The 16-acre property supports a flourishing harvest of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot. 

A family-owned and operated winery, Gray Ghost Vineyards has made its mark on America's wine country scene, as it has been awarded several nominations and titles. Vineyard and Winery Management Magazine has recognized Gray Ghost Vineyards as the "Best of the East." It's not just the wine that makes this picture-perfect winery stand out. Community is the focal point at Gray Ghost, complementing their slogan "Exceptional Wines, Southern Hospitality." Chardonnay, Seyval Blanc, and Victorian White are a few of the specialty wines produced on this local farm. 

Few wineries can compete with the alluring hillsides dappled with grape vines found on Barboursville Vineyard's multi-acre estate. Once a simple pastoral farm founded in the 18th century, its heritage has been preserved through the years, growing into one of Virginia's finest winemaking establishments. Its wine shop, majestic cottages, signature restaurant, and wine-tasting tours make Barboursville Vineyards more than just a run-of-the-mill vineyard — an experience tinged with luxury.

Blue Ridge Whiskey Wine Trail

When personalizing this iconic road trip route to suit your palate, you might as well hop on the Blue Ridge Whiskey Wine Trail, which overlaps with Route 211 and Route 522. Journey through the exquisite flavors of Virginia's countryside on this indulgent-tasting trail that extends the Skyline Wine Trail. The mountainous terrain on this whiskey wine loop offers the peace and quiet of untouched wilderness, while small scattered hamlets provide a semblance of rustic civilization.

Is there anything better than the cozy smell of a campfire in the abundance of nature? Rick Wasmund, owner and founder of Copper Fox Distillery, couldn't agree more. A passion for the aromatic properties of wood burning led to a humbling internship at a Scottish distillery, where he learned the art of malting barley. He later opened Copper Fox Distillery, an innovative and family-operated distillery. It's the only distillery in the world to produce whiskey using toasted applewood, adding a unique flavor profile to its products. 

We're not sure which is better at Chester Gap Cellars — the products passed around in their tasting room or the mountainous view overlooking the treetops from nearly every angle on the property. This estate winery produces small batches of red and white wine varieties, but its simple stash more than makes up for quantity with quality. Located in the Northern region of Virginia in Front Royal, it's the perfect end to a decadent and relaxing road trip through some of Virginia's most picturesque regions.