WINE TRAVEL GUIDE
Wine Country Weekends
In wine country, everything from the food to the spa treatments screams, "Indulge yourself!" Here are six U.S. wine regions where you can uncork the fun.
Home to only six vineyards and wineries in 1979, Virginia now boasts more than 100. A third of them are in the northern Virginia wine region (tourism info: virginiawines.org), which begins just over an hour's drive west of Washington, D.C., and stretches to the foothills of the Blue Ridge.
Favorite Vineyard: Near the town of Amissville, Gray Ghost Vineyards makes a dozen wines on a 25-acre plot, including cabernet francs and chardonnays. The tasting room has three mahogany bars where you can sample various vintages at no charge. Out back, in the Victorian garden, there are café tables and chairs for picnicking, a shady gazebo, and flower beds that burst with dahlias, azaleas, and crape myrtles. 14706 Lee Hwy., 540/937-4869, grayghostvineyards.com.
Picnic Supplies: The Epicurious Cow, about five miles northwest of Gray Ghost, is stocked with things you'd expect from a gourmet grocery (produce, meats, cheeses, and crackers) as well as more unusual treats, such as pistachio-and-Grand-Marnier pâté and caramels in flavors like espresso and chipotle. 13830 Lee Hwy., 540/675-2269, epicuriouscow.com.
Fresh Air: Guides at Marriott Ranch, near the town of Hume, lead 90-minute Western rides on 4,200 acres that are dotted with cattle. 877/278-4574, marriottranch.com, from $32.
Spa Time: Along with the requisite massages, facials, and manicures, the Inn Spa at Poplar Springs in Casanova sells a Vinotherapy body treatment for $155. Many of the products used in the treatment are made with grapes from area vineyards. 800/490-7747, poplarspringsinn.com.
Fancy Dinner: Frank Maragos, formerly a chef at the highly regarded Inn at Little Washington, opened Foti's Restaurant in Culpeper in 2005. His Mediterranean-inspired dishes may include vanilla-roasted lobster with johnnycakes in a chardonnay-butter sauce and a rich seafood paella. 540/829-8400, fotisrestaurant.com, entrées from $18.
Where to Stay: Hopkins Ordinary in Sperryville is on the National Register of Historic Places. Its name dates to 1820, when John Hopkins built an inn and tavern of the kind then called an "ordinary." There are five rooms, each with a private bath, and a cottage that sleeps four. Guests receive a glass of wine upon check-in, and frittatas and scones for breakfast on the two-story wraparound porch. 540/987-3383, hopkinsordinary.com, from $108, cottage from $285.
LONG ISLAND, N.Y.
For many, the east end of Long Island, N.Y., conjures up images of beachfront mansions and polo matches, but there's a refreshingly relaxed atmosphere on the island's North Fork, where potato farms have traditionally outnumbered country clubs. A two-hour drive from New York City, the North Fork is home to more than two dozen wineries and vineyards (tourism info: liwines.com).
Favorite Vineyard: The new tasting room at Osprey's Dominion Vineyards in Peconic is bright and airy, with four skylights and three walls made of glass. For $5, you can sample five wines, from fruity Rieslings to full-bodied Meritage blends. On Friday nights in summer, people picnic on the lawn while listening to local bands play jazz and classic rock. 888/295-6188, ospreysdominion.com.
Picnic Supplies: The Village Cheese Shop in Mattituck sells a staggering selection of imported and domestic cheeses, as well as platters that include three or four different cheeses, crostini, grapes, and olives. 631/298-8556, thevillagecheeseshop.com.
Fresh Air: The 101-year-old clipper schooner Mary E sets out several times daily on two-and-a-half-hour cruises from Greenport. On hot days, Captain Ted Charles may anchor the boat so passengers can cool off with a swim. 631/369-0468, schoonermarye.com, $40.
Spa Time: Services at the Luna Mesa Day Spa East in Aquebogue include Swedish massages, reflexology, wraps, manicures, and pedicures. 631/722-5215, lunamesadayspaeast.com, 30-minute massage from $40.
Fancy Dinner: In the dining room at The Frisky Oyster in Greenport, walls are upholstered in a red Japanese floral pattern, and contemporary rice-paper lanterns hang from the ceiling. The owners--two Manhattan caterers--print a new menu daily depending on what's available locally (striped bass, Long Island duck, sweet corn). Customers are allowed to bring their own wine. There's no corkage fee for the first bottle, and $5 per person for each bottle after that. 631/477-4265, thefriskyoyster.com, entrées from $24.