Whether it’s bitterly cold or just damp and dreary, one of the best places to wait out winter is beside a roaring fire (preferably with a glass of wine). Luckily, plenty of area wineries fit the bill, with cozy couches and toasty fireplaces to sit beside while you sip.
“We go for a living-room kind of feel in our tasting room,” says Paul Summers, owner of Knight’s Gambit Vineyard. “It’s homey and comfortable, and the fireplace no doubt adds to that.” So does the resident hound, Fig, who often lounges on a sofa near the fire.
The tasting room at Septenary Winery also feels like a living room, with four chairs by the hearth. A two-sided fireplace warms up the cavernous public room at Barboursville Vineyards, cranking out heat for visitors seated at tables on one side and patrons at the tasting bar on the other. At Veritas Vineyard & Winery, the most coveted tasting room seats are the overstuffed leather sofa and chairs near the fireplace.
At King Family Vineyards, a big fieldstone hearth anchors the winery’s Pavilion—and draws a crowd. When the oak logs are crackling, fragrant smoke fills the air and a beer-hall vibe prevails, with patrons engaged in animated conversation at the Pavilion’s long wood tables. “It’s very relaxing and warm, like sitting in someone’s great room,” says King Family’s events coordinator, Kelly Bauer. —J.B.
More kudos for BBQ Exchange
Recently recognized by the Food Network for one of the best BBQ pork sandwiches in America, The Barbeque Exchange, in Gordonsville, has been nominated by the USA Today 10Best for Best Brunswick Stew in Virginia. An expert panel selected the nominees, and readers will choose a winner (to be announced March 8) by voting on the 10Best website. —Simon Davidson
Greens (and more) cook-off
Calling all cooks and fans of good home cooking: The African American Heritage Center’s fifth annual Greens Cook Off takes place from 3-5pm February 9 at the Jefferson School. Greens, macaroni and cheese, and pound cake will be judged; visitors can graze on the entries and vote for their favorites. Learn more at jeffschoolheritagecenter.org. —S.D.
Cheese, chocolate, and champagne for lovers
On Valentine’s Day, the holy trinity of cheese, chocolate, and champagne will converge at Oakhart Social. Righteous Cheese’s Carolyn Stromberg Leasure and cheesemonger Sara Adduci, formerly of Feast!, will open four rare-producer champagnes and give instruction on pairing bubbly with cheese. A spread of local chocolates will also be available, because…Valentine’s Day! For tickets and info search Chocolate, Cheese & Baller Bubbly at eventbrite.com —S.D.
Ladies get their Galentine’s on
It started with Leslie Knope, Amy Pohler’s character on the TV sitcom “Parks and Recreation,” but craft distiller Vitae Spirits is carrying on the tradition of Galentine’s Day with its second annual party, at 5pm February 7. As Leslie said, it’s all about “ladies celebrating ladies.” Vitae’s version will feature a pop-up shop—along with booze, of course—with products from women-owned businesses. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Sexual Assault Resource Agency. —Jenny Gardiner
Potter’s Craft Cider—with a little help from Virginia’s taxpayers—is growing. Potter’s will invest $1.68 million to quadruple its production and refurbish Neve Hall, a former church built in 1924, as a tasting room. The project gets a boost from a $50,000 grant from the commonwealth’s Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development Fund, and matching funds from Albemarle County. —J.B.
Duner’s chef to become owner
Duner’s executive chef Laura Fonner has announced she’ll be acquiring the upscale Ivy restaurant from current owner Bob Caldwell after his retirement next year. “It’s a natural move for me,” says Fonner, who has worked at Duner’s for 15 years. —J.G.