Beyond Exit 245 and a 42-minute drive through the Shenandoah Valley lies Route 151 in Nelson County. Located at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains and nicknamed Nelson 151, five wineries, three breweries, one distillery and one cidery sit along this small stretch of the highway. Each location offers its own unique atmosphere and libations, making it one of the most popular drinking tours in Central Virginia for craft beer and wine lovers. Here are a few of the top spots to visit on Route 151.
Devils Backbone Brewing Company
Adorned with overhead string lights and an arrangement of Adirondack chairs and picnic tables, Devils Backbone Brewing Company’s Basecamp Brewpub & Meadows location offers customers a rustic outdoor atmosphere. Devils Backbone instantly presents brewery visitors with a “make-yourself-at-home” impression upon entering the 100-acre property. An open, cabin-style tasting bar, smells of barbecue, and laughter erupting from friends and families are just a few of the striking aspects that can be found here on any given day.
The atmosphere at Devils Backbone draws customers into the laid back establishment, but its brews make them stay. The brewing company takes the most pride in the beverage creations it concocts at Basecamp.
“Here we are beer-positive,” Keith Sutton, general manager of Basecamp, says.
Their philosophy on creating an enjoyable product is simple: “Good beer is good beer.”
Bold Rock Hard Cider
Crisp, refreshing beverages paired with views of the towering Blue Ridge Mountains are just a few of the features that make Bold Rock the unique destination it is. Its beverages are made with local ingredients: the apples are sourced only 30 miles from the Nellysford location. Apples are pressed and bottled on-site, keeping with the familiar message on the brewery’s bottles: “Crushed and crafted in the Blue Ridge Mountains.”
Sourcing local apples creates the fresh taste of Bold Rock’s beverages, which Lindsay Dorrier III, Director of Retail Operations, describes as “cider with more kinship to craft beer.”
The taste of Bold Rock Hard Cider isn’t the only aspect of the cidery that attracts customers. The friendly atmosphere guests can find at this Nelson 151 hotspot is fostered by the constant involvement of owners John Washburn and Brian Shanks. Both can often be seen making the rounds at tables full of customers to make sure they’re getting the best experience Bold Rock has to offer.
Cardinal Point Vineyard & Winery
Winding country roads trailing off Route 151 take visitors past quaint country homes and scenic landscapes leading to Cardinal Point Winery. Now run by JMU alumnus (‘86) Tim Gorman, this vineyard was established by his parents in 1986.
One wine that sets Cardinal Point apart from the rest is the Hopped Chardonnay. Compared to Cardinal Point’s traditional Chardonnay, which is much sweeter in taste, the hopped version first greets the nose with a mix of herbal and tropical aromas. Wine tasters will find this creative beverage fresh and light with a crisp finish, followed by a slight bitterness and tang. These unique characteristics are due to the addition of hops.
Gorman and his family pride themselves on the distinct aspects of Cardinal Point, which set the vineyard apart from the rest of the wineries in the area.
“Growing our own grapes and making them into wine is what we are most proud of,” Gorman says. “We grow it, we make it, we sell it.”
Photos & Artwork by Maddy Williams