Cold Harbor Battlefield

One of the most engrossing battlefields I’ve been to, hands down. It’s right around the corner from Gaines’ Mill battlefield, so you can do a double header.

Cold Harbor was one of the last battles of General Grant’s 1864 “Overland” campaign. Lee constantly anticipated Grant’s moves, who time and time again found the Confederate army entrenched between him and Richmond.

Grant once again tried to maneuver around Lee, this time at an intersection known as Cold Harbor. Unfortunately, confused orders and bad maps caused a critical delay, which Lee took advantage of by building his hasty defensive position into a strong fortification. Even worse, the Union army failed to detect the extent of this trench line. So when Grant’s attack kicked off on June 3rd, his army plummeted into one of the most lopsided engagements of the war.

Today, the trench lines of both sides are easily visible, and surprisingly close together. The Confederate line is placed on a low ridge and passes through the woods, not far from the parking lot near the visitors center. You can either take a walking or driving path; I chose to walk.

My trek was rewarded with a series of plaques detailing various small engagements and a close up look at the trenches of both sides. It was especially sad to see a plaque which explained how during a temporary truce, one recovery party discovered a trench with 244 Union dead and only 3 survivors.

The loop takes you through to the Union side and ultimately back to the visitors center. It was a sobering walk. The diary entry of one mortally wounded Union soldier still haunts me: “June 3. Cold Harbor. I was killed”.

Cunningham Creek Winery & Farm Store

Great visit to a winery that’s off the beaten trail. They are a good 20 minutes from the nearest wine cluster, and GPS guidance wasn’t much assistance because of a lack of phone signal. Still, I found it, and was quite impressed.

They’ve been open as a winery only a year, although I think the vines have been producing for several years. 12 acres under vine, plus they get some grapes from other VA vineyards (although they are moving to 100% estate). I don’t know the production; they are on the new side, so they likely haven’t hit their stride.

Although I describe them as ‘off the beaten path’, you’d never know it by the tasting room. Cozy and well appointed, they have 3 x mini tasting bars instead of a single long bar, so you get a more personalized experience. My server (who was also the wine maker) was fun too; he talked us through all their wines, and was happy to trade his own wine-visiting stories.

They had a large variety, although only a portion were on the tasting menu. On trust alone I bought their Petit Verdot (especially since it was aged 21 months in French Oak). The reds I had were on the lighter, less tannic side, although I deeply appreciate the 18 month (minimum) aging they do.

What I tried:

15 Chardonnay: Made in new French Oak; exceptionally good (although I’m biased towards Chards in new French Oak).

15 Viognier: Citrus notes; after the Chard this didn’t blow me away, although it was nice in it’s own right.

15 “Cycle 76” (Pinot Gris): Very light.

15 Cabernet Franc: For reds, on the light side.

14 Merlot: Nice cherry nose and light body.

14 Meritage: I liked it…but it needs time. Leave it alone for a year or two.

Don’t let the dogs mooch you! They may act hungry, but both were pretty spoiled.