Follow Your Nose

Wednesday, June 27, 2012 | Category: Travel Stories, Travel Writing


Thanks to the Interstate Highway System, it is now possible to travel from coast to coast without seeing anything. — Charles Kuralt

Sometimes, you’ve just got to get off the road.

The LIly B., sans rigging

Last Sunday, Tim and I took a road trip with some friends. Actually, with Tim’s sister and his new friend Verlon, the very talented carpenter who built Tim’s new boat, a nifty 20-foot Sharpie named the Lily B. We were headed down from Richmond to Deltaville — once the wooden boatbuilding capital of the Chesapeake Bay — where Lily had spent a lot of time, scouting out locations for a future sail.

It was such a gorgeous day, so we took the “slow” road. And after a while, we found ourselves in New Kent County and saw the sign for the New Kent Winery and, well, you know . . .

We’re now the proud owners of six commemorative JEB glasses, which were created to celebrate

One of our "JEB" glasses

JEB Stuart’s ride through the area some 150 years ago. And we spent time sampling some of the winery’s offerings. We have not always been pleased with Virginia wines, but I have to tell you — they’re getting much better. And the New Kent Winery is one of the best.

The setting for the winery is magnificent. The first thing you notice (after the vineyards) is the building, made almost entirely of recycled materials, like pre-Civil War bricks and heart-pine beams and floor timbers that were saved from structures more than 100 years old. It claims to be one of the most eco-friendly buildings on the East Coast.

New Kent Winery

The winery is actually part of a Master Planned Community called Viniterra, which features a Rees Jones Signature Golf Course, The Club at Viniterra and, of course, special events at the winery.

Our wine taster was Peggy Nickles, who ably guided us through the New Kent selections. The winery was first planted in 2001 and served up its first selections in 2005. The vineyard grows five kinds of grapes: CabFranc, Merlot, Chardonnay, Norton and Vidal, from which they currently produce nine selections:

  • Chardonnay
  • Chardonnay Reserve
  • J.E.B.’s Red (a Meritage)
  • Merlot
  • 2005 Reserve Merlot
  • Vidal Blanc
  • White Norton
  • Sweet Virginia
  • Patriot

The Patriot selection was interesting (but too sweet for me). It is poured only on Sundays and $1.00 of every bottle sold goes to help the families of fallen solders via the Patriot Foundation. Peggy also says that, with 5% residual sugars, this wine could be consumed in Baptist churches!

While pouring the Chardonnay Reserve, Peggy said, “The best thing to go with this wine is more

Peggy with the award-winning wines

of it.” The tasting was like that. We had a blast. Go and take the tour; you won’t regret it.

After more water and wine crackers and a few purchases (we bought the Merlot and the Vidal Blanc) we found our way down to Deltaville. First stop? The Galley, for lunch. Three soft shell crab sandwiches and one crab cake sandwich, please. Yum. Then on to NaughtiNells for a look in the back room for some helpful used nautical books and charts. Then to the old ball field for a look. Finally, to the huge West Marine store for some necessities for Lily. She’s going to have a great time down here.

Governor's Cup Award Winner

And on the way home, we pulled off the road so that Verlon could climb up a tall fire tower. Tim followed, of course, but it had been a dream of Verlon’s to do that for years. They saw all the way to Richmond and came down safe.

So we got where we need to get to, but we had an even better time by turning off the road. I highly recommend it.


Buon viaggio!




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