Hill Top started life as a blackberry farm, and began its expansion into a fun fruit winery and meadery in the late 1990's. You can still pick blackberries - and bring your kids, too - but most of us will probably prefer to get our USDA-recommended servings of fruit by hanging out at the big tasting bar.
Wines are made in a "true to the fruit" style, which means Hill Top doesn't use a "base" of fruit concentrate when making their wines. Some favorites included the mouth-puckering cranberry, straight-from-the-tree peach, and the sweet cherry, which we hear is awesome to use when cooking pork tenderloin.
Authentic honey meads come in lots of flavors as well, including a pear mead, an apple/honey mead, Concord grape/honey, and more. Meads sell out quickly, and are not easy to find these days of dwindling honey bees, so be sure to pick up all you'll need while you're there.
The winery has a large, simple tasting room; the ooh's and ahhh's are reserved for the Rockfish River Valley views from the covered front patio, where the picnic tables sit mere feet from the vineyards - although in this case, the vines carry blackberries instead of grapes.
Hill Top is the home of the Annual Blackberry Harvest and Music Festival, which is always the first Saturday in August.
Groups are warmly welcomed here. No reservations are needed, but a heads-up to the winery in advance will ensure excellent service.
About the winery: Children and pets welcome (no doggies in the berry patch, though); open and covered picnic areas; snacks available; private parties and weddings; plenty of parking for RVs and buses; group tours welcome (please call ahead).
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