How to condense eight fantastic days into a brief summary…..hmmm. Suffice it to say that a trip to the East Coast was immensely enjoyed! To begin my fly/drive vacation the fall of 2011, I landed at Reagan National Airport in D.C., rented a car and drove to Richmond, Va. Easy enough, straight down I 95. Being a bit hungry, I found a familiar restaurant, TGI Fridays and enjoyed a bit of respite. Although it took me a few u-turns to find the hotel, my history and flavorful laden trip had begun. In the next few days, I would add over 500mi. to the rental car (van) odometer. Day trips to the Chesapeake Bay Wine Region, Colonial Williamsburg (a must see), a day tour of three historic buildings in Richmond (including St. John’s Church, site of Patrick Henry’s famous speech), and lastly to Monticello, helped accumulate those miles and add to my appreciation of our rich history.
On the first day trip, I headed east, looking for a little wine country. Virginia has a wealth of wineries. After an hour of driving and a few wrong turns (which seem to be par for the course), I located Vault Field Vineyards and fell in love with their Chambourcin and Petite Verdot. Following that delightful experience (I was the first customer of the day and received undivided attention,) I moved on to three other wineries in the vicinity: The Hague, where a rosé of Cab Franc and Touriga was enjoyed; at General’s Ridge Vineyard and Winery, where a Viognier was relished; and lastly, at Ingleside Vineyards where a white blend of Viognier, Albarino and Petit Manseng was favored. It was an enchanting experience – lunch at Angelo’s in Montcross (lasagna) definitely added to my delight.
Colonial Williamsburg was my destination the following day. With ticket in hand, I headed back east. The weather wasn’t that friendly; it began to rain and was a bit chilly. Still, the day was wonderful. I ended up purchasing an umbrella at the gift store and simply enjoyed the experience. I toured the Governor’s Palace, the Printing shop, the Magazine, the Randolph House, the Capitol Building and various shops. Lunch at the King’s Arm Tavern was most charming and delicious. After leaving Colonial Williamsburg, I made my way over to Williamsburg Winery. This was a huge establishment – 30 acres on site. After tasting seven of their twenty-six wines, I headed back to Richmond. (These were less than one ounce pours, and I had had a nice lunch.) The next day began a bit slowly. After my leisurely beginning, I visited Ashcroft House – a manor house once in England, disassembled, then rebuilt in Richmond. Wilton House was next – a home built in 1750 by William Randolph III. Visiting St. John’s church, downtown Richmond, finished off this historic tour.
After doing a few errands, I decided to have lunch at a recommended restaurant on the west side of Richmond, Baker’s Crust in Short Pump. More wrong turns, but the place was finally located. Then, I began my traverse to Monticello. The drive was lovely over a tree canopied divided highway and I arrived in Charlottesville. Before my ticketed function at Monticello, I visited Blenheim Winery – a two lane winding road took me past beautiful Virginia scenery. This was a charming location overlooking their hilly terrain of 10 acres in vines. The next stop was Jefferson Winery – not connected to Monticello. With twenty-five acres planted in grapes, they offered 26 wines – their reds were most lovely. From Jefferson Winery, I headed toward Monticello. My ticket was for a tour and a wine tasting. And so, I was utterly enthralled with Monticello. So much history, so much innovation, so much charm in one building! Following this bewitching tour, we tasted wines on the deck (which was actually over the old kitchen and servant’s quarters) made by Barboursville Winery. The pours were small, but the wine was excellent.
Leaving Richmond the next day, I returned to Washington D.C. Its bustling charm re-emphasized what a vibrant and interesting place our national capital is. This is a city of legislation, diplomacy, rich culture and lots of splendid memorials. D.C is easily navigated via foot, rail or gasoline powered vehicle (preferably via a trolley.) Since I only had a day and a half, I carefully selected time spent in two of the Smithsonian Museums, the Old Post Office/bell tower, Union Station, walks around the mall, a trolley ride to the main sites including the Lincoln Memorial and Arlington National Cemetery (the home on the premises once belonged to the Lee family). Although I did not get to visit the Library of Congress, I had visited one famous library: Jefferson’s at Monticello (this was his second library, his first library was donated to Congress after the fire of 1814 had demolished the Congressional library). The weather was great for the majority of the trip cool and rainy the first few days, then clear and pleasantly warm for the remainder. To add to the enjoyment, the accommodations were comfortable and not one bad meal was consumed. The wine was glorious. Yes, the trip was definitely a beguiling experience.