It is often said that the state of Virginia has a great future when it comes to wine production, and a quick wine jaunt down the scenic Route 211 between the towns of Warrenton and Sperryville will soon introduce you to that future. In some way, the future is already here for some Virginia vintners, as the quality of their wines continues to show a dramatic improvement from what came out of those vines a decade or two ago. In fact, many of these wine ventures did not even exist a decade ago and their presence along Route 211 today represents a new breed of wine entrepreneur that is trying to find some room in the crowded wine world. Along this winding road you will be able to visit five of these wineries: Gray Ghost Vineyards, Unicorn Winery, Narmada Winery, Rappahannock Cellars, and Gadino Cellars. When you visit, though, be prepared to be introduced to some wine names you have never heard of before. Among these you will find names like Imagine, Luminoso, Midnight, Adieu, and Slightly Embarrassed blush. But this shouldn’t scare you, because behind these labels you will find grapes that you will most likely be familiar with: Cabernet Franc, Vidal Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Viognier, Chardonel, and Chardonnay, among others.
Unlike certain wine regions of the world, the Route 211 vintners do seem genuinely happy to welcome you to their facilities, where in some cases you will be able to taste up to nine different wines for a few dollars. These facilities do vary in size and scale, from the impressive Narmada Winery with its grandiose bar and scenic landscape, to the more petite Unicorn Winery at the end of a tree-lined country road in Amissville. All of them have their charm and interesting portfolio of wines, and if you happen to find yourself at Narmada on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon, you will be able to enjoy some live entertainment while sipping a few glasses of Viognier. Our journey, however, started at the far end of Route 211 near Sperryville with a visit to Gadino Cellars, where its friendly owner was kind enough to let us taste his wines before the scheduled opening time. This was a great start to the day, specially after tasting one of the most impressive Cabernet Franc I have had in a long time. We then veered off into the Zachary Taylor Highway for eight miles in search of the Rappahannock Cellars winery and its impressive facilities a few miles from Front Royal. Curiously, though, the old Oasis Winery located just a few miles from Rappahannock Cellars seemed to be a thing of the past. It looks like a winery, but I couldn’t tell whether the place was work in progress or not. Judging by the state of the vines, I’m not sure what’s going on there. Our day ended close to the town of Warrenton with a visit to the Gray Ghost winery in search of one of the great wines in the area: the award-wining, late harvest Vidal Blanc wonder that goes by the name of Adieu. Who would have known that Route 211 would turn out to be the embodiment of a perfect spring day.