Nelson County, Va., is jam-packed with excitement this month celebrating “Virginia is for Lovers” 50 years of love.
A new craft beverage trail, Nelson 29, launches in Lovingston at the Virginia Distillery Sept. 7 with a Spirited Soiree, a creative event featuring seven area craft beverage producers, live music and food. Tastings will include whisky, beer and wine with music performed by Rob Cheatham and Chamomile and Whiskey from noon to 4 p.m. Nelson’s celebrations continue at the traditional apple harvest festival hosted by Drumheller’s Orchard Sept. 28 and at the beloved Hoopla event, held at Devils Backbone Sept. 27-29.
The host of the Spirited Soiree, Virginia Distillery, is the largest distillery in the state and the nation’s biggest producer of single malt whisky. Next year its owner, Gareth Moore, will introduce a malt whisky called Courage & Conviction named for inspiration he drew from his father, who envisioned the distillery. Moore uses a combination of traditional Scottish techniques and melds them with local and regional Virginia traditions.
In addition to producing some of the nation’s (and the world’s) best single malt whisky, Virginia Distillery enhances the visitor’s tasting experience with an interesting museum that includes an old stove-top still that once operated illegally in Eades Hollow. In 2015, Moore put up his first batch of single malt whisky and has been earning gold medals at renowned competitive spirits events since.
Partners in the new Nelson 29 trail include: Blue Mountain Barrel House, Brent Manor Vineyards, Delfosse Vineyards & Winery, Lovingston Winery, Mountain Cove Vineyards, Wood Ridge Farm Brewery, Virginia Distillery and the Nelson County Convention and Visitors Bureau.
The last weekend of the month, Devils Backbone Brewing Company Basecamp Brewpub & Meadows will host its popular three-day festival of live music, camping, outdoor adventure and family fun. Located at the intersection of Route 151 and Route 664, Devils Backbone has become a huge gathering place for collegiate and pro sports lovers, music lovers, outdoor recreation lovers, and, of course, beer lovers. Danielle Buckley, who handles hospitality for Devils Backbone, says the huge musical lineup features mainly bluegrass, Americana and jam bands as well as other experimental groups.
The Hoopla event, which also offers lodging options in luxury houses on the property, promotes camping in both tents and recreational vehicles. Premium RV slips offer on-site services. Everyone who attends Hoopla must have a Music & Adventure Pass which includes general admission areas in the Meadows and access to live music; access to ‘Pop Up’ beer tastings, the outdoor bar, Brewpub, The Summit and The Shanty. Children under age 12 will be admitted free. Two and three-day passes are available for the weekend’s events. Live music includes: Caamp Ripe Ona Larry Keel Explosion featuring Robert Walter on keys; Robert Walter’s 20th Congress, Kat Wright, Aaron Lee Tasjan Dangermuffin, Jon Stickley Trio, The Brook and the Bluff, The Fritz, Los Colognes, Arlo Mckinley & The Lonesome Sound, The Wooks, Indecision, John R. Miller & The Engine Lights, Jonah Tolchin, Gold Top County Ramblers, The Judy Chops, the Rad Trads, Sarah White and late night campfire jams with Dharma Bombs and a Sunday gospel hour.
Rounding out the month’s excitement in Nelson County is the traditional apple festival hosted by Drumheller’s Orchard in Lovingston on Sept. 28. Replete with bouncy houses, apple slingshots, corn mazes and local arts and crafts, this family business has been attracting visitors for more than 50 years.
On festival day, the apple is king. Drumheller’s makes it easy to cart home fresh apples, drink up apple cider, slurp apple butter and feast on apple pie. Paired with smoked meats, the products of this festival celebrate nature’s bounty with a dose of good old Virginia family fun on the farm.