You can characterize summertime in Rockbridge County by the natural features all around you—forested trails teeming with wildlife, hidden swimming holes in the mountains, and a landscape filled with every shade of green imaginable. What better way to end a summer’s day of exploring than sipping on a craft beverage made by the people who call this slice of Virginia home?
As I traveled around the county, exploring various must-see destinations, I made time to see what the locals were brewing up. Some of my favorite stops combined bold flavors with stunning views of the area. Next time you’re in the Shenandoah Valley, check out a few of my favorites.
A Peaceful Retreat
As I drove along the winding path to Ecco Adesso Vineyards, I couldn’t help but marvel at how natural the farm winery felt on the landscape. From the stone tasting room that looks like it’s been standing in that spot for centuries to the new wine pavilion, this space invites you to relax in the shadows of the mountains. I chose to sit in the gorgeous library with its warm hues and towering bookshelves while sipping on my tasting flight. I don’t think I’ve ever felt as sophisticated as I did at that moment, lounging in my chair, looking out the floor-to-ceiling windows in front of me. Yet nothing about the experience felt forced or pretentious. In fact, I think I’d like to live in that library.
Between the panoramic views of the Blue Ridge Mountains and the jumbo pretzel sitting in front of me, there’s no other place I’d want to be sipping a crisp Vienna Lager than the deck at Devils Backbone Brewing Company Tap Room & Kitchen. An extensive beer list and menu made it hard to choose, but I didn’t think you could go wrong with the fried chicken sandwich. From the deck, I watched the sky begin to change colors as the sun set before heading out to Hull’s Drive-In for an evening flick. I left with some of the tension from the work week easing off my shoulders and a six-pack of Smashes to enjoy back at home.
Sweet Notes of Apple
I enjoyed every single pour of my tasting at Halcyon Days Cider Company. A variation of sweet and dry ciders felt refreshing going down on a warm day. With a band playing in the background, I was in no rush to leave. I did, however, finally muster the energy to walk through the apple orchard labyrinth behind the renovated milking barn. Walking along the winding path, featuring over 2,000 apple trees made up of 50 varieties, I could imagine those flowering buds growing every day until ready for harvest. Seeing the beginning of those apples, some of which will make their way into the cider, made me feel a little closer to what I was drinking.
Atop the hill, I felt as though I could see all of Rockbridge County from the tasting room at Great Valley Farm Brewery & Winery, even see the rainstorm making its way over the mountains. Plenty of outdoor seating, eight beers on tap, and numerous red, rosé, and white wines make this 27-acre farm a glorious gathering spot for friends—no matter the season. I brought along the Lunch Special from Natty B’s Café—a pork loin sandwich stacked high on a grilled Kaiser roll, mac & cheese, and delicious slice of homemade cherry pie—to pair with my ales. Check the brewery’s calendar for live music and a rotating lineup of food trucks on the weekends.
The trail features 19 breweries within an hour’s drive—four in Rockbridge County—including Heliotrope Brewery and Rockbridge Vineyard & Brewery. Or find a restaurant in Lexington serving innovative hand-crafted cocktails. Take this as your invitation to experience summertime in Rockbridge County yourself.