The Ox-Eye Vineyards tasting room sits in the historic Wharf District of downtown Staunton, a well preserved neighborhood of curlicued Victorians and stately brick mansions that sit high off the streets. Just a few blocks away is the Blackfriar's Playhouse, which we're told brings in hordes of visitors, and about which Frommer's travel guide says: "This stunning re-creation of the first indoor theatre in the English-speaking world, which William Shakespeare and his colleagues built on part of London's Blackfriars Monastery...is, in itself, a reason to visit Staunton."
Unsure of whether the people would be willing to trek out to their well-established 20-acre vineyard, in 2011, owners Susan and John Kiers chose to bring their wine to the people. The 1904 winery building has loads of charm, with its polished wood floors and wavy glass windows looking out over downtown. The covered patio adjacent, just down the hill from the old railroad tracks, used to be a coal weigh station.
Wines are all estate grown, including Chardonnay, Traminette, Riesling, White Ox (a blend of Chard and Riesling), as well as the fragile Pinot Noir (also hard to find in Virginia), Cab Franc, and another unusual find: Lemberger, an Austrian grape that is typically grown in cooler climates.
The tasting room is small, so groups should call in advance. (There's plenty of street parking for buses and RVs.) Original art is displayed both upstairs and downstairs, and changes frequently.
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