Along the Blue Ridge Parkway: highlights of Boutetourt County

Along the Blue Ridge Parkway: highlights of Boutetourt County
By Pamela O’Meara


Boutetourt County, VA Is where English Lord Boutetourt once owned the land as far west as the Mississippi River, including all or parts of seven present-day states. It borders the Blue Ridge Parkway, includes part of the Appalachian Trail and is home to the headwaters of the James River just north of Roanoke. ­The mighty river, which is known for good canoeing and kayaking, begins in the area and winds its way through the Allegheny and Blue Ridge Mountains to Chesapeake Bay. A 14-mile stretch has been designated a Virginia Scenic River.
The scenic countryside includes miles of hiking trails, including the Appalachian Trail, and the small, historic towns of Fincastle, Troutville and Buchanan. Established in 1772, Fincastle was one of the first settlements west of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Lewis and Clark set out on their famous expedition west from here, and after returning, Clark married a local resident. The red brick courthouse was designed by Thomas Jefferson. Other historic sites and restored homes are fun to drive past.
Near Fincastle, Ikenberry Apple Orchards, have been­ family-operated for 112 years. The limestone in the soil helps make

Wine is available for sampling.

the apples sweet, said Gwen Ikenberry. The 21 varieties of apples were beautifully displayed and I discovered a new variety grown only in that area – the Mutsu. As I ate one, savoring every bite, the sweet juice ran down my fingers. It might be even better than my favorite Honeycrisp apples back on Minnesota. The orchard sold 20,000 bushels of apples last year. Gwen suggested coring an apple, adding butter and cinnamon, and baking it in the microwave for a good, healthy treat.
Pomegranate Restaurant in Troutville is the fulfillment of former school teacher Diana Dixon¹s dream, as described in the Wall Street Journal. She started it in an abandoned wine warehouse and put her personal stamp on it with delicious, unique food, and she invites jazz and bluegrass bands to perform.

In these hills, the Wine Trail of Botetourt County features the Blue Ridge Winery, Fincastle Vineyard and Winery and Virginia Mountain Winery. All three welcome visitors and offer tastings but have different characters and different wines. Fincastle Winery is small, and its old farmhouse is now a small but comfortable bed and breakfast. It used to be a cattle farm until mad cow disease ended that. A state official suggested wine. Grapes are harvested at night there when the bees go home. We sampled several wines.


The Virginia Mountain Vineyards in Fincastle are on a hill with a view from the patio of rows of grapes. Specialty wines are gewurtraminer, riesling, traminette from grapes developed especially for the area, cabernet franc and pinot noir.
At Blue Ridge Vineyard in Eagle Rock, co-owner Barbara has been growing grapes for about 29 years but making wine for just six years and winning gold medals. She said they are close to organic as possible – nearly chemical-free. Weddings and other special events are held on her large patio complete with chandeliers and overlooking the mountains.

Wine bottles are set up for sampling.

Visitors are invited to picnic on the grounds and enjoy summer Sunday concerts.

Virginia is the fifth largest wine-producing state in the nation after New York, California, Washington and Oregon. In addition, the state was named one of the top 10 wine travel destinations for 2012 by Wine Enthusiast magazine.
Shared recipes from Blue Ridge Vineyard:


Blue Ridge Vineyard’s Mulled Wine Recipe
1 Bottle of Blue Ridge Vineyard Sweet Shiloh
4 cups Apple Cider
1 16 oz can of Peach Pieces, add the juice as wellThe spice bag:
1 Cinnamon stick, Break the sticks into pieces
5 Whole Cloves
6 Candied Ginger
5 Allspice, ¼ teaspoon of ground, or to taste1 Nutmeg, ½ to ¾ teaspoon ground, or to tasteMethod:
1. In a large pan, over medium heat, warm the wine, cider and peaches.
2. Add the bag of spices right away.
3. Bring the heat up, do not boil.
4. Test it for sweet and spice. If it is not sweet enough add sugar to taste and stir to dissolve. Not enough spice, add more, a little at a time.
5. Serve in a heatproof glass. Makes around 8 servings
Blue Ridge Vineyard’s Famous Sangria
1 Lemon
1 Lime
1 Orange
1 Bottle Blue Ridge Vineyard Sweet Shiloh
6 Oz Crushed Pineapple
1 Wedge Mango, Minced.
2 Cups real Gingerale (No Cheap Stuff)
Several Fresh Strawberries
1. Cut Lemon, Lime, and Orange into small wedges.
2. Squeeze into Sweet Shiloh
3. Add Crushed Pineapple
4. Add Mango
5. Chill. Let sit overnight.
Just before serving:
6. Cut Stawberries
7. Add Strawberries and Gingerale
8. Enjoy!
Blue Ridge Mountain Burgers
2 cups of Blue Ridge Vineyard Big Bear Red Wine
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 lb lean ground beef
Worcestershire sauce
1 medium slicing tomato, cut into 1/2 inch slices
Olive oil
3 Burger buns (“everything” buns pictured)
3 slices of your favorite cheese
1. Preheat your grill to medium-high.
2. In a medium sauce pan over high heat, combine the
wine and brown sugar, stirring until dissolved.
3. Let boil and reduce to 6 Tbsp (3/8 cup).
This will take about ~25 minutes. Let cool to
room temp, ~10 minutes.
4. In a medium bowl, crumble ground beef and season
with salt, pepper, and a couple dashes of
Worcestershire sauce.
5. Add 1/4 cup of red wine reduction and lightly toss to mix.
6. Form 3 burger patties, handling as little as possible
(they’ll feel really loose and fragile).
7. Drizzle tomato slices with olive oil and season
with salt and pepper.
8. Place burgers and tomatoes on the grill. Grill the
burgers to desired doneness (I typically cook both
the tomatoes and burgers ~4 minutes on each side).
9. Top with a slice of cheese and remove from the grill.
10. Place on a burger bun, drizzle the remaining red wine
reduction over the burgers, and top with a grilled tomato
slice and the top bun.
Re-printed with permission.

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About Pam O'Meara 47 Articles
About Me Staff writer, Lillie Suburban newspapers Free-lance writer Member, Midwest Travel Writers Association I’ve been a writer for over 20 years at Lillie Suburban Newspapers in St. Paul. I’ve also done free-lance writing – for 3M business and health publications and for a running club and a speech therapy group. My special interest and focus for over a decade has been travel writing – about my trips and those of others in the United States and abroad, and I am a 10-year member of Midwest Travel Writers Association. I have a bachelor’s degree in English from Northwestern University and a master’s degree in comparative literature from the University of Michigan. I was an English teacher for almost three years before having kids. Life is good! Writing awards for Pam O’Meara 2015 Minnesota Newspaper Association -- Second place for columns on Selfridge’s in London, Missouri prison, mother’s death 2014 Midwest Travel writers Mark Twain – honorable mention for story on Hemingway in Pamplona, Spain 2013 MTWA – first place – recent travel sites – Fort Bragg and father 2008 MTWA – third place – newspaper story on Hawaii: the Big Island 2006—MTWA – second place – recent sites – South Korea – DMZ