My partner loves visiting wineries, while I enjoy exploring new places, walking paths through parks and preserves, and following both urban and rural trails. In Fredericksburg, Va., and surrounding Stafford and Spotsylvania Counties, the wineries can be “paired” with hiking trails, making the region ideal for both wines and walking.
Begin at Lake Anna Winery, in southern Spotsylvania County. Located on a working family farm, Lake Anna “…strive[s] to create a wide palette of diverse wines to accommodate an equally wide range of diverse palates and settings”. The 17 acres under cultivation primarily yields Seval Blanc, Merlot and Chardonnay. Lake Anna is definitely a “destination winery,” with a large tasting room and frequent events.
Before or after tasting Lake Anna’s signature wines, enjoy a walk along some of nearby Lake Anna State Park’s 15 miles of trails. The park has something for most everyone, including a well-maintained beach area, naturalist programs, geocaching, equestrian trails, camping facilities and an interesting visitor’s center.
Moving north, the Mattaponi Winery is a family owned Native American winery, with a large selection of fruit and dessert wines as well as some more familiar varietals. The 3,000 square foot “Tasting Post” celebrates Native American culture and history along with wine tastings and sales. Be sure to try their award-winning Odeimin strawberry wine and the unique Wabamin, a semi-dry white made with Niagara grapes.
After enjoying some of Mattaponi’s berry wines, head into Fredericksburg to stroll the Canal Path, a 1.8-mile paved trail in downtown Fredericksburg that follows a 19th century canal as it skirts around the falls on the Rappahannock River. Initially intended for navigation and later used as a raceway to power mills, the canal is a vestige of region’s industrial past.
Downtown expedition headquarters
Using Downtown Fredericksburg as an “expedition headquarters” enables visitors to take advantage of the numerous historic district accommodations such as Marriott’s Courtyard Fredericksburg. For a unique dining experience, try the newly opened Dark Star Saloon & Cafe, a culinary homage to thoughtfully prepared foods and classic rock and roll. Chef and owner Krystopher Scott scratch-builds many of his own ingredients and sources the rest from the region’s best farmers and bakers. Dark Star does not make a breakfast, but the pastries and baked goods at Eileen's Bakery and Cafe are fantastic.
West of Fredericksburg, the historic Plank Road passes through the Wilderness Battlefield. Wilderness Run Vineyards, north of the battlefield, is a working farm, complete with horses, ducks, chickens and some very impressive turkeys, along with 12 acres of grape vines. Truly, a destination for most everyone, Wilderness Run shares quarters with a brewery featuring Belgian and farmhouse ales.
Be sure to try the winery’s hard cider and Madeira, before leaving to walk the Wilderness Battlefield. A part of the Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park, the battlefield has more than 8 miles of trails leading to significant points in the May 1864 combat. The 3.6-mile Federal Line Trail stretches the length of the Union line, past earthworks and artillery emplacements.
Onward into Stafford
Stafford County’s first commercial farm winery, Hartwood Winery, offers a “kid friendly, pet friendly, picnic friendly” ambiance that is ideal for tasting a chilled glass of their Rappahannock Rose or semi-sweet Deweese White. At Hartwood, it is all about the wines, many of which showcase the Seval Blanc, Vidal, and Chambourcin grapes, grown on the seven acres of vines onsite.
After visiting Hartwood, return to Fredericksburg for a leisurely walk along the Rappahannock Heritage Trail. The multi-use path follows the scenic Rappahannock River and joins the two parts of the Canal Path, making a 3.1-mile loop. Portions of the trail transit residential neighborhoods, while other sections have the feel of a wilderness passage along a free-flowing river.
Potomac Point Winery, also in Stafford County, has the feel of a Mediterranean vineyard and the amenities of a destination winery. Taste the wines; enjoy the views from Humidor Hill; have a snack or bistro meal in the D’Vine Lounge; and simply relax in the inviting Courtyard and Verandah. Although modeled after a Tuscan estate, Potomac Point still honors its origins with its Coyote Cave red. Ask to see the animal’s tracks!
Finish the Fredericksburg regional wine and walk “pairing” at Government Island, a natural preserve and archaeological site. A 1.5-mile trail circuits the island, passing a historic 18th century quarry that provided Aquia sandstone for building the White House and U.S. Capitol. The trail cuts across wetlands and eventually leads to the open river.
Regardless of the wineries you choose or the trails you walk, the Fredericksburg region has much to offer. For more information, go to VisitFred.com, the official source for travel information to the Fredericksburg area.