1st stop: Mediterranean Cellars
There are plenty of Papadopoulos family members to go around at Mediterranean Cellars, the Warrenton winery led by owner-winemaker Louis Papadopoulos since 2003. The native of Athens, Greece, produces 29 different bottlings, many of which are aged for long periods of time, including one aged 11 years before release. His granddaughter, Leah, explains Louis doesn’t like to rush the winemaking process.
Chambourcin is the winery’s top seller, but the estate-grown pinot noir is still a rare bottling in the state, and is Mediterranean Cellars’ most elegant offering. For a unique taste, request to sample the Rechina, an ancient Greek white wine blend that the vineyard says is the only domestic bottling. The exact grapes are kept a secret.
Bring home the bottle
Mediterranean Cellars Chambourcin 2013 ($38)
Notes: “This smooth, full-bodied wine has a spicy flavor with a long, lingering peppery finish.”
Grape: 100% chambourcin
Next stop: 11 minutes; 5.3 miles
2nd stop: Lunch at Cafe Torino
Andrea and Amber Ferrero have run Cafe Torino and Bakery in Warrenton since 2001, with a focus on casual, northern Italian dishes. Lunch is a steal with pasta, fish and meat options for $10, including chicken with spinach, provolone and sundried tomato cream and pennette with prosciutto and sage. The bakery offers Italian cookies, fruit and cream pastries and focaccia, as well as specialty cakes. The atmosphere is cozy; everyone seems to know each other and it’s not uncommon to have Andrea Ferrero come out to your table to check on your meal himself.
Next stop: 17 minutes; 13.3 miles
3rd stop: Gray Ghost Vineyards
Al and Cheryl Kellert can be found nearly every weekend at Gray Ghost Vineyards, where they have overseen every piece of the vineyard operations—from pruning to tasting room hiring—for 25 years. Their daughter, Amy Payette, the director of marketing, says if you book a private tour or Sunday library tasting, Cheryl and Al will likely lead that, too.
The family spirit extends to guests at the Amissville winery, where more than 200 local wine enthusiasts work alongside staff and family during harvest of the estate-grown riesling, gewürztraminer and other grapes. The Kellerts are also fixtures in the Rappahannock community, supporting food drives for the Rappahannock and Culpeper Food Closets and sponsoring Rappahannock Little League Baseball. They are also big proponents of submitting their wines to international competitions, and have yielded 2,500 awards since the winery opened. While other Virginia wineries were hammered by the biblical rains of 2018, Gray Ghost harvested plenty of clean fruit and is offering a number of vintage wines from last year, so don’t shy away from those bottlings.
Bring home the bottle
Gray Ghost Vineyards Ranger Reserve 2016 ($32)
Notes: “A blend of all five red Bordeaux grape varietals produces an intense wine with blackberry, black cherry and dark chocolate notes backed by lingering, velvet tannins.”
Grape: Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Malbec
Next stop: 14 minutes; 10.7 miles
4th stop: Dinner at Tula’s Restaurant and Bar
Tula’s Restaurant and Bar in Washington offers unfussy, Southern-inspired dishes, like pimento cheese melts and pork barbecue and fig chutney sandwiches. Snag a seat outside for an early dinner if it’s still warm—the patio will put you in a great mood as you ready for bed.
Hinson Ford Cider & Mead in Amissville has an on-site apiary and sources local fruit for its dry and sparkling ciders … Williams Orchard opened in Flint Hill in 1921 and offers heirloom apples, apple butter and fresh apple cider in the fall … Mediterranean Cellars’ sister winery, Molon Lave, also in Warrenton, produces kosher wines.