At Zynodia (115 East Beverley Street. Tel: 540-885-7775 zynodoa.com), a chic farm-to-table winner in the historic mid-Valley town of Staunton, Executive Chef Matt Hull won top honors in the Hazelnut Marketing Board’s 2020 national contest for his Oregon Hazelnut Cacio de Pepe with Crispy Sage.
To the south, the Virginia Mountains, Blue Ridge, Heart of Appalachia, and Southern Virginia regions are sprinkled with vineyards.
Located in the mountainous Meadows of Dan along the fabled Crooked Road (Route 58, part of Virginia’s Heritage Music Trail), luxurious Primland Resort (2000 Busted Rock Road. Tel: 276-222-3800. primland.com) is a premier regional escape. Channel your inner Tarzan in the Barn Owl, Cooper’s Hawk, and Golden Eagle treehouses, star gaze in the observatory, and savor culinary treats including the Pig Candy (candied bacon) and moonshine cocktails.
Wineries in the nearby artisanal town of Floyd include Chateau Morrisette (287 Winery Rd. SW. Tel: 540-593-2865. thedogs.com) and Villa Appalaccia (752 Rock Castle Gorge. Tel: 540-593-3100. villaappalaccia.com). Plus, moonshine and whiskey at 5 Mile Mountain Distillery (489 Floyd Hwy South. Tel: 540-745-4495. 5milemountain.com).
Shifting from the cliffs to the coast, Hampton Roads’ standouts include the esteemed Williamsburg Winery (5800 Wessex Hundred, Williamsburg. Tel: 757-229-0999. williamsburgwinery.com), also offering boutique accommodations and creative dining at Café Provencal. Mermaid Winery (mermaidwinery.com) is a splash for limited production wines and upscale dining at its Norfolk and Virginia Beach locations.
Set along a scenic James River bend some 30 minutes equidistant from Williamsburg and Richmond, Upper Shirley Vineyards (600 Shirley Plantation Rd., Charles City. Tel: 804-829-9463. uppershirley.com) is for high-quality varieties and fine Southern cuisine from fourth-generation Richmond chef-restaurateur Carlisle Bannister. The estate neighbors the landmark Shirley Plantation (1613), home of the country’s oldest working farm.
For Virginia’s culinary and hospitality operators, the present uncertainty has presented glaring challenges. Undiminished, though, is the power of food and drink to comfort. “Food, you see, is a currency,” wrote Salamander Hotels and Resorts founder Sheila Johnson in a recent blog post. “In a world of isolation and loneliness it can be a currency that spends like few others. What’s more, a lovingly prepared meal has the almost spiritual power to build bridges, mend fences, and open hearts.”
More than ever, Virginia is the place to eat, drink, and love.