With eighty events completed and another season of travel under their belts, it was high time for the Live Outside and Play Road Team to relax. What better way than the Cheers Trail in Virginia’s Blue Ridge, a collection of 30 breweries, wineries and craft spirit producers based in and around Roanoke, Virginia. We only just learned about the Cheers Trail and wanted to experience everything it had to offer. The Cheers Trail has a mobile passport associated with the physical locations, so we picked a few of our favorites from each category of alcohol (craft brewery, craft spirit, winery) and set off. Find below some highlights, do’s and dont’s, and a mini-peek into everything the Cheers Trail has to offer!

Craft Brewery

Starr Hill Brewery

We started in the heart of Roanoke. One of the great things about Roanoke is the bike and walking accessibility. We ditched the van and headed out on foot from Roanoke Go Fest, where we had been working the past few days. A few minutes later and we were at the first of our Cheer Trail locations.

DO: Check the schedule and beer available to plan the perfect evening. Starr Hill has everything from movie nights to Beer and Candy pairings.

DON’T: Forget to plan dinner. There is usually a food truck parked behind the patio, and Mexican right next door. But keep in mind there is no food served at Starr Hill itself.

Pro tip: If you’re super interested in the craft beer scene. Check out Virginia’s Blue Ridge Hop On Hop Off Brewery Tour for a chance to experience three breweries in one evening, no driving involved.

Craft Spirit

The Hive: Black Snake Meadery

Welcome to Southwest Virginia’s only meadery! Mead is diluted honey that’s been fermented and then turned into a delicious drink. Think of the beverage that was passed around the long tables during Medieval celebrations. Or at least, that’s what we think of. These days, mead is an awesome way to get some variety while imbibing. Black Snake approaches things a little differently, offering mead, cider, and wine by the glass or bottle.

DO: Check those events again! They have a different feel than Starr Hill Brewery, focusing on knitting nights and lifestyle talks. Learn a new skill while you sip your mead.

DON’T: Forget to check the hours before you plan a visit. Black Snake is an afternoon/weekend kind of establishment. They are closed Monday through Wednesday and don’t open until the afternoon on the weekends.

Pro tip: Plan to stick around the area for a bit once you arrive. There’s plenty of places to eat, a beautiful park by the river, and some real character in this part of Roanoke.

Winery

Peaks of Otter Winery

This winery is not to be missed. The self-proclaimed “Baskin Robbins” of wineries specializes in wines made with anything but grapes. While we were making our leisurely trip visiting stops along the Cheer Trail, we learned (with a little chagrin) that many wineries close their tasting rooms on weekdays in the fall. But not Peaks of Otter! We were accompanied by plenty of others during our tasting.

DO: Make sure to give yourself plenty of time at this winery. They have an orchard on premises as well, complete with animals to say hello to (hello peacock). It’s just far enough off the beaten path to instantly relax you, as well as having great views.

DON’T: Plan this as a romantic getaway. Peaks of Otter is very kid friendly! There are plenty of wineries in the area that may be better for a secluded date.

Pro Tip: We highly recommend doing the full tasting, getting tiny sips of 20+ wines, culminating in a wine made with only peppers. Spicy and delicious! We walked away with a bottle to enjoy later. You get a sticker after you successfully sip!

Why Virginia’s Blue Ridge Cheers Trail?

Before visiting Roanoke and exploring the locations on the Cheers Trail, we had no idea there were so many breweries, wineries, and craft spirit producers in such close vicinity to the city. It gave us an opportunity to go outside our comfort zone and take the back roads we wouldn’t normally. We do a LOT of hiking in the area, and knowing there is a winery close by to finish off the afternoon makes the experience that much better. Take a look at all the options on Virginia’s Blue Ridge Cheers Trail and try something new!

Thank you to Virginia’s Blue Ridge for hosting us while in Roanoke, Virginia.