Residents and weekend visitors alike gathered at Virginia Distillery Company on Saturday to enjoy a taste of what the county’s newest craft beverage trail has to offer.
Officially called “Nelson 29 Craft Beverage Trail,” the trail is a collaboration of beverage companies including a distillery, wineries, and breweries aimed at attracting people to establishments along U.S 29. The new trail parallels the 10-year-old craft beverage trail called Nelson 151, which includes six wineries, four breweries, two cideries and one distillery located on the other side of the county.
Virginia Distillery Company hosted a “Spirited Soiree” on Saturday afternoon to show the public everything the new trail has to offer.
“We started the idea last fall and we wanted to do an event to celebrate the kick off,” Jessica Bullard, brand manager for Virginia Distillery Company, said.
The Nelson 29 micro-trail includes Blue Mountain Barrel House, Brent Manor Vineyards, DelFosse Vineyards and Winery, Lovingston Winery, Mountain Cove Winery and Virginia Distillery Company. Bullard said the Nelson County Tourism Department also helped make this possible.
“We called it a Spirited Soiree so we could cover different types of producers,” Bullard said.
Along with the Nelson 29 establishments, other producers attending the first festival at Virginia Distillery Company included Trager Brothers Coffee and Blackwater Bitters from Lynchburg. Bullard said visiting the venues along Nelson 29 makes for a nice day trip because of the array of venues and beautiful locations and said in the future they hope to lure even more beverage companies to the trail.
“All of us are unique from each other and we are all kind of hidden gems,” Bullard said restating a comment she said she heard from someone else.
Music by Rob Cheatham and Company, from the Charlottesville/Crozet area, kicked off the festival on the grounds behind the whiskey distillery in Lovingston. Folks from the area as well as other parts of Virginia swarmed in to get samplings of the wines, whiskey, and beers offered.
“We have been to the distillery before and learned about this event. We are big wine aficionados,” Steve Eiserman said.
Steve and Terry Eiserman, of Harrisonburg, were trying wines from Mountain Cove Vineyards and were among the first to arrive at the festival on Saturday.
Close by, Lynchburg locals were enjoying the beverages, good weather, and good music.
“We’ve been here before. We love going to different festivals where we can try all different wines,” Denise Jones, of Lynchburg, said.
Although the main portion of the four hour event focused on alcohol beverage tastings, there was still something for all ages. Little Planets, a Charlottesville based company, was also underneath the big white tent with the other vendors entertaining kids while adults enjoyed the drinks.
Little Planets, according to its website, provides “nature-inspired, eco-friendly, multi-sensory, and open-ended outdoor and indoor pop-up young children’s play areas and baby care spaces” at festivals and events. The company also has a nature-inspired, open-ended play space for families IX Art Park near downtown Charlottesville. On Saturday, Brinley Despres, 6, and Steven Polk, 6, stood at the table, focused on filling light bulbs with colorful sand creating unique displays to take home.
A food trucks like Good Waffles and Company kept attendees’ stomachs full and weather stayed nice for everyone out to enjoy a Saturday taste-testing.
“We hope to do this annually and grow it,” Bullard said.
Erin Conway covers Nelson County for The News & Advance. Reach her at (434) 385-5524.