I admit; there are days I wish I had a hobby where my destinations are closer. But when I arrive, everything seems magically better. Such was my experience at Abingdon Vineyards.
Abingdon is located in the southwest corner of Virginia, not far from the border of Tennessee. This is definitely Blue Ridge Mountains country, right here. Abington opened in 2001 but was purchased by the current owners Loren and Elizabeth Gardner a few years back, who proceeded to revamp the vineyard and wine menu.
I chatted with Elizabeth a bit and she told me the story of how they were visiting this area with some friends, not expecting to stay – until they accidentally passed a vineyard with a ‘for sale’ sign. Given her background in education and marketing and Justin’s experience in winemaking, the jump doesn’t seem as crazy as it seems.
The tasting room has a log-cabin feel to it, which goes well with the surrounding woodland scenery. They also recently cleared out a lot of space near the stream, with tables to sit outside. Abingdon even rents out kayaks for the more adventurous (note – kayak first and drink later).
Even more exciting were their plans for a distillery and farm-to-table café. I can definitely see the appeal of a distillery here, not just to reach a new demographic but because this is moonshine country.
They currently have 13 acres of vines planted (both here and elsewhere), including hybrids including Chardonel, Chambourcin, Traminette and Norton plus vinifera like Cabernet Franc and Riesling. The Riesling particularly excited me, as this grape is tough to find in Virginia.
I tried the entire wine lineup, but my favorite by far was the “Game Changer”, a well-balanced blend of Cab Sauv, Cab Franc, Chambourcin and Norton with good complexity. I also really liked the Pioneer port-style, and the lightly oaked White Oak Chardonnay.
I give Loren a lot of credit on his blending of hybrids with vinifera. Too many places either give up on vinifera because it’s too difficult, or ignore hybrids because they aren’t as commercially popular. But Loren seems to have a knack of how to blend the two, and the results were excellent.
Abingdon is out of the way, but hey – this was my 2nd visit, and I’m pretty sure I’ll visit again. If you do, let me know what you thought of it.