Beer and wine trails in the Shenandoah Valley combine scenic beauty and award-winning spirits.
With 290 craft breweries in in the commonwealth, making it 12th in the nation, and an economic impact of $1.8 billion, Virginia is obviously doing its part to encourage the growth of this industry.
Vineyards and wineries have risen dramatically as well; in 1979 there were only six wineries in the whole state. Today there are more than 300.
Drink It In
With the multitude of choices beer and wine lovers have, many owners have combined into networks of trails that capitalize on the local scenery or attractions. There are three such trails in the Shenandoah Valley, all of which take advantage of remarkable views, vibrant cities and scenic drives in between stops.
The Shenandoah Spirits Trail is a network of wineries, craft breweries, cideries and distilleries, from Harrisonburg through Shenandoah County to Winchester/Frederick County. Launched in 2016 with 26 members, the trail has now grown to 22 breweries, 23 wineries, three cideries and two distilleries*– all connected by classic Valley views, historic sites, and charming Main Street communities.
The Shenandoah Beerwerks Trail is 19 craft breweries from Harrisonburg to Natural Bridge—incorporating some of the most scenic areas in the Valley to hike, bike, paddle, horseback ride, or just tool along with the top down. Sitting down with a cold, local craft beer after a vigorous day in the mountains is a treat that’s easy to find along this trail.
Shenandoah Beerwerks is also a great opportunity to realize that breweries are no longer just a place to have a beer. Breweries are offering events, tastings, festivals, tours, live music, brewing classes, yoga and Native American blessings. Some breweries are pet-friendly and some have reading rooms.
Blue Ridge Whisky-Wine Loop
Sit on a deck, overlooking acres of lush grapevines, with the peaks of Shenandoah National Park in the distance. If this sounds like your idea of good living, head for the Blue Ridge Whisky-Wine Loop (BRWWL). The oldest of these three trails, the BRWWL includes 14 establishments that flank both sides of Shenandoah National Park, from Front Royal to Sperryville. A tour of these businesses will take you to or near Shenandoah National Park, Luray Caverns, Shenandoah River State Park, as well as numerous inns, cafes, shops and museums. Speaking of the BRWWL, Wine Enthusiast magazine said, “If you only have two days for a wine drive, hop in the car and head to Virginia’s northern Blue Ridge Mountains.”
Of course, the question on everyone’s mind is, “Is it safe to visit a brewery or vineyard considering all the restrictions we are living under right now?” All these business are working within state guidelines for the safety of customers and staff. Outside seating, limited group sizes, curbside pickup, touchless transactions, throwaway menus, plexiglass shields, and face masks (unless you are actually drinking) are some of the measures they are taking to prevent the spread of COVID.
Banner photo of Hawksbill Brewing Company courtesy Blue Ridge Whisky-Wine Loop