Samantha left Friday before last for Smith Mountain Lake, right outside Moneta, VA, leaving me to come back to an empty house after work.Â All weekend as well as Monday and Tuesday I was on my own…and to tell you the truth, other than work at the office and class, not much got done!Â I did mow the lawn, but besides that…
I departed Tuesday evening at 8:30 after class was over, arrived at half past midnight, and fell asleep.Â Wednesday was just a lazy day of doing nothing, although we did go check out the new Mexican Restraurant (excellent Nachos Fajitas and Margaritas) before we went for a neighborhood walk with Roxy and Onyx.
Thursday we took a drive into Roanoke, VA to run some errands, and then checked out the AmRhein Wine Cellars somewhere off the Blue Ridge Parkway.
While there we tasted several different varieties of their wine, made from grapes grown on their property.Â All were wonderful, but their Pinot Grigio was outstanding, as was their Petit Verdot.Â The Melange was quite an eye opener, featuring a blend of one of my favorites, Syrah, along with Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot.Â If you are ever in the area, I highly recommend a visit. (They are also in the 2009 Virginia Wine Map if you have a chance to grab one.)
Friday was the big hike up Sharp Top Mountain, elevation 3875 above sea level.Â It was once believed that Sharp Top was Virginia’s highest peak (an honor now bestowed upon Mount Rogers) and a stone from this mountain is actually in the Washington Monument.
The hike started off pleasantly enough, the temperature was perfect, in the high 60′s, I was in shorts and a thin sweatshirt with a t-shirt underneath.Â After the first 1/3 mile, the sweatshirt had come off and I found myself picking my way through rocks scattering the trail.Â The second 3rd got quite a bit steeper, requiring some rather large steps up to stay on the trail.Â The last 3rd was almost all stairs cut into stone.Â While I’m not sure how I feel about climbing steps complete with guardrails to get to a summit of a mountain (cheapens the thrill a little, aye?) the view from the top was nothing short of amazing.
The hike down went much faster than the hike up (3 miles round trip) and our feet were quite happy to sit down at the end.Â We stopped and got some Mountain Peach Ice Cream for Samantha on the way back to the house (I had a Klondike)Â where we rested for a bit before deciding to venture out and about with just the two of us.Â Turns out to be a good thing we did.
Just down the road, couldn’t have been 10-15 miles from the house, we discovered the Hickory Hills Vineyards.Â Let me tell you, these guys are absolutely amazing.Â Not only do they produce some great wines (Try the HHVW Chardonnay, its amazing!) but they absolutely take the prize home for customer service as well.Â We originially only planned to do a tasting and pick up a few bottles of what we liked, but the trip turned into a hour and fourty five minute tasting, tour, and lecture all rolled into one.Â Being a homebrewer, I was absolutely ecstatic that they were willing to show us the working areas, the fermenters, and even let us taste an upcoming but unfinished wine (2008, still has a year and half left of aging)
Do not pass up a visit to this place if you are within an hour’s drive.Â They’ll make it worth your while if you care more about wine than the end product.Â Show some curiousity and you’ll be richly rewarded by the family that owns this wonderful vineyard.
Saturday came all too quick, and while the guys enjoyed a nice round of golf at The Waterfront, the girls found some lunch somewhere and went shopping.Â We all met back at the house again before dinner at the Blackwater, right down the road, and finished our mini-vacation off with a sunset cruise with the dogs.
Quite a satisfying trip, and it’s always great to see family.