Visiting the Blue Ridge and A Virginia Winery

Scenic overlook on Skyline Drive Shenandoah National Park South of RT 33

I love this country!  There are so many beautiful, beautiful places rich in culture, in heritage, and steep in traditions that sometimes go unnoticed.

This past weekend I had the chance to visit the Charlottesville area of Virginia where my cousin, Allison, has made herself a home as the Director of the ESL program at the presigious Blue Ridge School, a mere 20 miles north of downtown Charlottesville.

The kids are out of school now.  Summer break has begun.  Allison can actually sleep in each morning, relax, and enjoy her days exploring the area around campus as well as the surrounding areas of Greene, Albermarle, and Orange Counties, just absolutely beautiful land up there filled with rollings hills and valleys, scenic routes, history.

The mountains that surround the Blue Ridge School

To get there from Raleigh, Google Maps took me through the countryside via RT 15.  However, being not so familiar with that particular route, I stuck to the Interstates and headed up via RT 1N to RT I-85N to RT 288 (just outside of Richmond) to I-64 West.  It’s when I got off I-64 that I became absolutely mesmerized by the area.  I think I drove with my mouth wide open the 37 miles or so the rest of the way.  It’s a good thing the window wasn’t also open or I surely would’ve eaten a fly or two.

Virginia RT 15 South of Gordonsville

I arrived Friday evening to a potluck supper end-of-school celebration being put on by some of the faculty and staff that were still at the school.  Those folks can cook!  Every single dish I had was absolutely delicious.  From a vegetarian lasagna (& no that wasn’t made just for me) to a vegetarian chili (that was kinda made for me – thanks Allison!) to a Mexican dip that had just the right amount of kick, man, I left there stuffed like a tick!

How inviting is this?

One of the things we did that evening and the evening after was spend our time sitting on the Adirondack Chairs on the dock at the lake on the campus grounds.  Yeah, the gnats were swarming about, but the evenings were so peaceful that we couldn’t resist.  Besides, give me a cold beverage along with that chair and I’m quite content!

There were only two things on my list of “must-dos” while in town – I wanted to hit a local winery and to go shopping at some quaint little shops in town.  We did both.

There are literally a dozen (or so) wineries within an hour’s drive or less from the school but the one we chose was only a few miles away and had a view like none other I have ever seen.

The view from Stone Mountain Vineyards in VA

Stone Mountain Vineyards is located literally on a mountain.  After driving roughly 2 miles up hill on windy gravel roads, we enjoyed a picnic lunch on the deck overlooking the vines.  The views (as you can tell from above) were spectacular.  Of course, you can’t visit a winery without actually tasting the wine.  We did…and I bought a bottle of the Cabernet to take home as my one and only souvenir from my trip.

The Downtown Mall in Charlottesville VA

Downtown Charlottesville had it’s own little flair.  The historic Downtown Mall is a GREAT place to walk, dine, and even listen to some local music (or the national acts that come to town).  Allison and I spent a couple of hours there Saturday afternoon.  By the time we had walked the length & back, my feet were tired but I sure as sugar enjoyed going into the quaint little shops that I was looking for.

The morning I left we got up early and actually took a short hike on one of the many trails behind the school.  The hike was fairly easy and I stopped to take a few pictures along the way.

The creek behind Blue Ridge School

While my trip was short, it was well worth it.  I had an opportunity to see a part of the Virginia countryside I’ve never seen before and spend some quality time with my cousin too.

Can’t wait to make the trip up again in the fall when the leaves change colors.  I’ll bet the view from Stone Mountain Vineyards takes on a whole new dimension.  Might need another glass of wine.

Or a bottle.  🙂

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