I was in the Norfolk/Portsmouth area on business and decided to extend my stay after I was done working. I drove about a half hour east and settled into Virginia Beach for a few days. Of course (as I do wherever I go) I did a little research to see if there were any wineries in the area I wanted to visit. With the weather being sunny and absolutely beautiful, I decided to drive out to the Eastern Shore of Virginia for a day trip. The Eastern Shore is a sliver of a peninsula with the Chesapeake Bay on one side and the Atlantic Ocean on the other. Part of the fun in getting there is driving through the 23-mile long Chesapeake Bay Bridge tunnel. Be sure to get out and take a few pictures before driving through the tunnel. I also took some photos while driving through (yes, I was the passenger).
On the drive there, we stopped to have lunch at Aqua Restaurant in Cape Charles. The restaurant is part of the Kings Creek Marina & Resort complex and offers a wide variety of seafood. We sat outside on the patio surrounded by water. The views were stunning and I could have sat there all day…but there was Virginia wine to taste.
After lunch, the first stop was to Chatham Vineyards. The land on which the winery sits overlooks Church Creek, after which some of the wines are named. The family produces wine from a variety of grapes (mostly reds), but my favorite was the Cabernet Franc, which had a bit of Merlot and Petit Verdot blended in. I also really enjoyed the Church Creek Vintner’s blend, which was a Bordeaux-style wine with a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc. I couldn’t wait to get these home to pair with a nice juicy steak, though they certainly could be drank on their own.
Holly Grove Vineyards (Since my visit, this winery has closed)
The next stop was Holly Grove. We really had a great visit with the owner here. He was so enthusiastic and provided a great overview of his winemaking process. We tasted the slate of wines, which included some sweet wines, but the Merlot is what shined for me.
This was the other winery in this particular AVA and we’d planned to visit but ran out of time. If you’re in the area, give it a go. If it’s as fun and charming as the other two wineries we visited, it will be time well spent.