Take twenty wineries. Mix in more than one hundred vendors, crafters, and artisans. Add a myriad of food offerings, live music, and kids’ activities. Sound like a party?
Set for Saturday, May 18, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., the 33rd Virginia Wine & Craft Festival will fill the streets of Front Royal, Virginia. And this year, some 12,000 visitors are expected to descend on the quaint downtown area, according to Niki Foster, president of the Front Royal/Warren County Chamber of Commerce.
Foster attributed the festival’s success to a number of things. “Of course, people love wine,” she said. And the “small-town historic charm” of Front Royal, located just a few hours from the D.C. area, makes the perfect setting for a day away, she continued. “It’s an opportunity to go back in time.”
General admission to the festival is free. Those wishing to sample Virginia wines, as well as local meads, ciders and sangria, can purchase an identifying bracelet and put the complimentary commemorative wine glass to work.
And for those seeking retail therapy, the opportunities are seemingly endless. Augmenting the in-town shops will be booths with diverse wares, from hand-made jewelry, original artwork and pet products to hand-crafted musical instruments, hand-painted wine glasses and objects made from repurposed wine bottles (hey, it’s a wine festival!).
Strolling and shopping can work up an appetite. Fortunately, vendors and food trucks will provide a gastronomic feast with crab cake sandwiches, grass-fed Black Angus burgers, barbecue and shish kabobs, among other tempting treats. Foster recommends the cream puffs. Downtown restaurants will also be open, offering a place to sit back and enjoy a leisurely meal.
Providing the soundtrack for the day are a mix of country and party musicians, with the band “Back to Zero” capping off the day, she added.
A full day, to be sure, but why not make a weekend of it? The natural beauty of the area beckons: Downriver Canoe Company and Front Royal Canoe (both are located between Front Royal and Luray) and Shenandoah River Outfitters (west of Luray) can supply equipment for your river adventure.
For golfers, the Caverns Country Club Resort in Luray offers a unique way to soak in the spectacular scenery of the area. And don’t forget the beauty that lurks beneath the earth: Plan a visit to Skyline Caverns (at the start of the Skyline Drive in Front Royal) and Luray Caverns (remember, stalagmites rise from the floor and stalactites hang from the ceiling).
When the day is done, take advantage of vintage Southern hospitality, offered at The Mimslyn, a sumptuous historic hotel, conveniently located in Luray. Built in 1931 and recently renovated, this European boutique-style property features two restaurants that offer American fare with a French twist. Virginia wineries are well represented on the wine line; general manager Jim Sims invites guests to imbibe by the bottle or on tap (you read that right!). Stroll into town (Luray’s Festival of Spring is set for May 11), or stay on the hotel’s expansive grounds, where guests can enjoy live music, party on the porch or laze the day away in a hammock. And then retreat to a graciously appointed room.
Or consider Allstar Lodging: From a one-bedroom, one-bath cottage (“quaint and cozy”) to a bunkhouse with ten bedrooms and twelve baths, there is something for every taste. Representing 65 distinct properties, Carlos Ruiz said that Allstar can accommodate outdoorsy hikers seeking rustic lodgings, or offer a weekend hideaway for those who prefer to sip wine while unwinding in a riverview hot tub. Because every location includes a kitchen and living room, and modern amenities that include air conditioning, heat and water, it’s “hardly” roughing it, Ruiz concluded.