The Blue Ridge Mountains are a breath-taking sight and provide limitless opportunities for group travel experiences. For groups curious to sample some of Virginia’s own wine and beer, you’ll be hard-pressed for a more convenient route than the Nelson 151 Trail outside of Charlottesville, VA. Nestled along the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the trail is also known as the Main Street for the Rockfish Valley.
The Nelson 151 Trail will take you through the quaint town of Nellysford, through forests and farms at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and provides easy access to 7 Wineries, 3 breweries, 1 cidery, and 1 distillery. If you plan to visit all 12 of these attractions, plan for overnight lodging at area hotels.
Take a whiff of the malts and hops that make up the inventive craft brews at three breweries along the trail. A great spot for groups is Blue Mountain Brewery, which has an expansive outdoor seating area with beautiful views of the mountains in the distance. Toss beanbags outside between brews and save room for their delicious bratwurst with apples and caramelized onions pizza.
Next head over to Wild Wolf Brewing Company, the newest brewery on the trail, for some live music and entertainment in the evening. There’s plenty of room for even the largest groups.
Nearly a neighbor, Devil’s Backbone Brewpub features a luxurious hunting lodge ambiance with bucks, goats, and bears adorning the restaurant’s walls. Don’t miss their smokehouse burger, which packs a 1/2lb. patty with house-smoked pulled pork, house-cured bacon, onion rings, Muenster cheese and brewery BBQ sauce.
If you’re looking to relax for a bit, grab a glass at Afton Mountain Vineyards and enjoy the beautiful patio views of the mountains that surround the tasting room. A large covered picnic area is onsite for bigger groups, rain or shine.
Veritas Vineyard & Winery features a fabulous, large area perfect for group outings, and is itself one of the larger wineries along the Nelson 151 Trail. Also, keep an eye on their schedule for their “Starry Nights” summer concert series.
Cardinal Point Vineyard & Winery is another great spot to visit for smaller groups, with comfortable patio seating and intimate tasting sessions. Be sure to say “Hi” to the winery dog, Gracie, who is no stranger to tasting groups and might join your side at the bar.
For fans of wine that like to cross boundaries, make sure to stop at Hill Top Berry Farm & Winery for a collection of fruit wines, and find your inner knight with their authentic honey meads. Blackberry picking is also a fun activity when in season here.
The Blue Mountain Ridge may be the last place you’d expect to find a gorilla, but at Silverback Distillery you’ll find a great photo op with the distillery’s mascot (in statue form, of course!). The newest addition to the Nelson 151 Trail, Silverback Distillery opened Summer of 2014 and produces gin and tonic. They also just introduced their first “white lightning” whiskey to patrons of the tasting room. This clear spirit will also be barrel-aged, which will be available in later years.
Finally, the Bold Rock Hard Cidery provides tastings of its ciders and tours of the tradition and technology involved in making Bold Rock’s cider.
If any of these destinations has you thirsty, start by planning for safe group transportation. Find the perfect vehicle for your group outing by searching our charter bus directory.