Or as I like to call it ‘Graduation at JMU in the rain….dear god is it over yet when can we go home I think I can literally feel myself catching pneumonia?’ Remember our trip down to graduation? If not, see ‘Headed West for a Special Weekend’ for part 1 of this saga. The weather for the University graduation on Friday was beautiful; low 70’s and sunny with a light breeze. Perfect for sitting in the football stadium and listening to a bunch of people who like to hear themselves talk. Saturday for the College graduation, aka the important one where all the good stuff happens, was not so beautiful. We woke up to mid 50’s and rain, rain, rain. Made our way from Staunton to Harrisonburg to pick up the graduate and parents in the rain. Drove over to the field where the graduation was to be held in the rain. But there was a light at the end of the tunnel! The weather app informed us that the rain would be ending by about 8:30am, and the graduation was to start at 9:00am, so yay us! Except….the weather app LIED. Not just a little lie but a HUGE BOLD FACED LIE! It rained until about a half hour after the ceremony ended. We sat in the rain for two and a half hours. When the graduate rejoined us I asked if he wanted to go to the reception they were having and he said ‘I want to take a hot shower and head for home.’ You and me both buddy. Was it all worth it though? Hell yeah, I wouldn’t have missed it for the world! Still proud as I can be and excited for his future. And as a bonus we now have something to hold over his head forever and ever and ever…
So pack up and head for home is exactly what we did! Our first stop on the way home was for a super fancy post-graduation lunch…at Bojangles in Winchester. Hey, don’t judge, we were hungry and they have great chicken. And besides, that was a quick place to eat before we set out on the next part of our journey. We knew the time to hit the road had come when one of our classier ladies accidentally blurted out a certain word that is, shall we say, not appropriate for public. Getting thrown out of Bojangles would have made an awesome story, but before that could happen we decided to remove ourselves. You see there are wineries along the way, and we’d be remiss if we were in the area and didn’t stop to do some research for our loyal fan base (you), so of course we did.
We arrived at Veramar Vineyard in Berryville, right off of route 7 just west of the Loudoun/Clarke County line, a little before 2pm. Owned by the Bogaty family, Veramar is set on a beautiful property tucked back about a mile off the highway, but once there you’d think you were a million miles away from stress. The tasting room is warm and inviting with two separate tasting bars, ample seating and features a lovely fireplace. The grounds are simply beautiful with sweeping views of the countryside, even on the rainy afternoon when we visited (yes, it was STILL raining). The outside has tons of seating and tucked off in a corner is the ‘Habana Terrace Outdoor Cigar and Wine Lounge.’ Very much looking forward to coming back and enjoying the outside space on a beautiful summer afternoon!
Once inside we were quickly and warmly greeted by Diana, who we had a lot of fun spending time and talking with. Diana took her time and walked us through our tasting of four whites: Petit Manseng, Chardonnay (88 points – Wine Advocate), Seyval Blanc (87 points – Wine Enthusiast), and a Reisling-Vidal Blanc blend; their “Pink Chicken” Rose; and three reds: Cabernet Franc (87 points – Wine Enthusiast), “Rooster Red” blend, and Cabernet Sauvignon. Great wines all around. After our tasting we settled on a bottle of Cabernet Franc and found ourselves a nice little area to sit and relax. We spent about an hour talking and enjoying each others company.
While at Veramar, we learned that the winemaker, Justin Bogaty, has earned more 85+ ratings from Wine Spectator than any other winemaker in Virginia. Pretty impressive. We also learned that Veramar has two sister wineries also owned by the Bogaty family; James Charles Winery just south of Winchester, and Bogati Winery in Round Hill. Wait, Round Hill??? That’s on our way home! We’d found our next stop and off we went…
We arrived at Bogati, which is housed in the old Hill High Orchard building right on Route 7 West, at about 3:30pm. The LoCo Wine Squad was finally back in Loudoun County, it felt good to be home. And it felt even better to be at this beautiful winery! The Bogaty family did an amazing job turning an old apple warehouse into a warm, welcoming tasting room. There is plenty of seating, way more than you’d expect from the outside, and a beautiful outdoor terrace where you could sit and watch the world go by…if it wasn’t still raining of course.
Sherry led us through a tasting which includes four whites: Seyval Blanc, “B-Thin” (their low-calorie wine), Viognier (87 points – Wine Advocate), and “Tango Blue”; and three reds: “Collection I”, “Fat Ass Red”, and Malbec (88 points – Wine Enthusiast). The wines were all very good, but I’m a fan of reds, so I’d have to say the Fat Ass Red and Malbec were my favorites on the tasting. I was honestly super excited to see that they not only had Malbec but to find out that the grapes are grown right here in Northern Virginia. Malbec is one of my favorite wines and it’s not often that you find it at a Virginia winery. We had an amazing time hanging out with Sherry. She was a ton of fun to joke around with. But alas, we have dogs and it was getting on time to head home. So we bought a bottle of Malbec and we hit the road.
It was interesting to visit two wineries owned by the same family and with the same winemaker in one day. There were definitely some similarities, but overall a totally different experience at each. They both feature excellent wines and a warm and inviting tasting room staff. But where Veramar is set in the country seemingly a million miles away, Bogati is right on the highway. Veramar’s tasting room is quaint and cozy. Bogati has more of a modern, chic vibe.
Don’t just take my word for it though, I highly recommend you visit both Veramar and Bogati to see for yourself, and tell them the LoCo Wine Squad sent you!
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