Experience Greater Williamsburg
Through your Palate

Written by Rebekah Conley and Arielle Patterson
There’s a new way to experience Greater Williamsburg, but one could say that it’s as old as this historic region. While early settlers were building forts and establishing their presence in the area, they also brewed their first beers and planted their first vines. They believed that alcohol had many beneficial purposes. Besides being a clean source of water, they believed it had healing properties and provided energy to the body. One could say that the Williamsburg area is not only the birthplace of America, it’s where we first learned to drink.

In the last year, many new producers of fine alcoholic beverages have been opening their doors and welcoming patrons to imbibe. This has allowed visitors and locals a chance to experience high quality, handcrafted beverages produced by pioneers in their field. The enjoyment of these beverages is both a social and flavorful experience. Enter the Williamsburg Tasting Trail™. This one-of-a-kind experience is a way to explore the best alcoholic beverages in the Greater Williamsburg area.

The beauty of the Tasting Trail is that award-winning wine, excellent brews and more are all centrally located in the Greater Williamsburg area. Newbies and connoisseurs alike create their own Tasting Trail experience. Explore the deep history of Virginia wines stretching back more than 350 years. Discover Williamsburg’s growing craft beer industry. Or if you want it all, take in a sampling of everything—wines, beers, meads and spirits. Visit one or visit them all, it’s up to you! And because each location has been carefully selected, you know that you are sampling the best of the best.

Visitors to Greater Williamsburg are raving about the Tasting Trail. This is the perfect opportunity to try something new or indulge in a decadent extravagance. Plan a romantic getaway with your spouse. Or make it a relaxing weekend with friends. This is also your chance to pick up a few bottles of excellent wines, brews and spirts to take home as gifts (or keep for yourself).

Establishments of the Williamsburg Tasting Trail™
The venues chosen to be a part of the Williamsburg Tasting Trail™ were carefully selected. Each winery, brewery, distillery and meadery chosen had to display a dedication to their craft, constantly perfecting and improving their methods. They also had to meet the highest standards in their ingredient selection. Not only have these establishments perfected the art of making these amazing spirts, they’ve also shown a desire to expand their repertoire through creative new processes and flavors.

Let’s start with the wines…
Wine lovers are making Virginia a go-to destination. Since the days of the founding fathers, Virginia has been known for its excellent vintages. Four of the best wineries in the state are included in the Williamsburg Tasting Trail™. These wineries make up the Colonial Wine Trail and are all located within one hour of Williamsburg.

Start your journey at Williamsburg Winery, the largest winery in Virginia. Serving classic, European-style wines, the Williamsburg Winery is known for its award-wining vintages. A tasting experience here will also include beautiful views, a delicious meal at one of the winery’s dining venues and possibly an overnight stay at Wedmore Place, a charming hotel with a European feel. This past fall, Williamsburg Winery opened a 1,300-square-foot tasting room and wine bar in Colonial Williamsburg’s Merchants Square. Visit the new location and enjoy a tasting flight on the picturesque outdoor patio.

Heading north will take you to Saudé Creek Vineyards next. Enjoy live music every weekend. Saudé is the perfect place for a mellow, relaxing experience with your closest friends. Take in awe inspiring views of the scenic Pamunkey River from their wrap around porch. Incredible varietals and
a warm and welcoming atmosphere are always found here.

The opulent feel of New Kent Winery will give you a taste for the good life. Drink a dusky merlot while taking in the historical buildings, constructed with century-old reclaimed materials. The last stop for wines is James River Cellars Winery, just north of Richmond. With a distinctive Virginian flavor, this family-owned winery has a wide selection of wines that you won’t want to miss.

Next, the beers…
Although microbreweries are a newer phenomenon, this craze has been sweeping the nation. Both locals and visitors alike are enjoying the variety of flavors that this industry produces. Breweries in Greater Williamsburg have appeared as strong contenders in this field. Their beverages range from dark, thick stouts to light and fruity saisons. They stand alone or pair perfectly with some of our favorite foods, combining for a mouth-watering experience.

With 16 beers on tap daily, visitors are sure to find something they love at Alewerks Brewing Company. Be sure to grab a delectable half-pound soft pretzel with your lager. The Virginia Beer Company knows that nothing goes better with an ice-cold brew than local food and corn hole.

Then there’s the experimental Brass Cannon Brewing Co. Brass Cannon has come a long way since its humble beginnings using a four-barrel brewing rig built by hand. Today, in their Williamsburg location, Brass Cannon uses a 20-barrel brewing system to craft the unique beverages you will come to love, but on a much larger scale in less time. Take a trip to their tasting room and try their popular Langrage Line—small batch brews with unconventional yet delectable combinations. Brass Cannon also offers year-round traditional ales, seasonal selections and special releases.

In the last year, the Williamsburg Tasting Trail™ added two new breweries. Billsburg Brewery opened this past fall as a destination brewery and event venue in Jamestown, dedicated to the artisan craft of small-batch brewing. Williamsburg’s newest brewpub, Amber Ox, pairs creative cuisine with craft beer, that is brewed on site, while providing a casual setting to sip and savor.

The great thing about these breweries is the ability to sample. You don’t have to settle for just one beer choice. Most locations offer a flight of beers so that you can taste the diversity of flavors and find something you love.

Various and sundry spirits…
Whisky, bourbon, gin, rum and mead—the final locations on the Williamsburg Tasting Trail™ offer high quality spirits. Pay homage to the past at Eight Shires Distillery, formerly known as Williamsburg Distillery. This venue uses 18th century techniques and recipes to produce spirits with historical significance. While there, be sure to sample the only bourbon in the world made with Indian corn.

Next, head over to Copper Fox. The handcrafted whiskies are like none other in the world—with malted barley smoked in American fruitwood. Williamsburg’s first meadery, Silver Hand Meadery, introduces contemporary spirit enthusiasts to the ancient honey-based fermented drink, mead.

Drink Williamsburg Tours
These amazing locations can all be visited without having to find a designated driver. Drink Williamsburg gives locals and guests a chance to tour these distilleries, breweries and meadery. Transportation, tours and tastings are all included in the $36 ticket price. Their craft alcohol adventures are great for single riders, groups and private parties.

In an effort to promote safety, Drink Williamsburg will pick up and drop off guests in groups of five or more, if they're within three miles of downtown Williamsburg, for free. They also offer themed events each month, singles outings, couples nights and more. If you want to create your own Tasting Trail, the Drink Williamsburg bus can be scheduled for private parties. For more information or to book your tour visit DrinkWilliamsburg.com or call 757-818-9511.

It may be difficult to experience every taste on the trail, so plan ahead and plot your tasting experience. All visitors are encouraged to drink responsibly. It may be wise to include a designated driver in your Tasting Trail adventure, or grab an Uber or Lyft. You can also call locally owned Cardinal Cabs, 757-345-5557, that way everyone in your group can experience the trail fully.

The Williamsburg Tasting Trail™ is an amazing way to taste and experience the remarkable flavors of Williamsburg. Please enjoy yourself safely; do not drink and drive. For more information visit www.WilliamsburgTastingTrail.com

Williamsburg’s Food Revolution
Written by Arielle Patterson
Every day, visitors travel to Williamsburg to see the well-preserved history of our country. What many may not know is that this city is home to another revolution—a food revolution. Williamsburg led—and continues to lead the way—in many traditions and techniques that have created America’s food culture.
“Williamsburg was sort of a test ground for what eventually becomes American cuisine,” says Frank Clark, master of Historic Foodways at Colonial Williamsburg. “This was the place to eat,” Clark says, and it still is today thanks to our thriving food scene.

It’s no secret that the colonists and Native Americans lived off the land. They ate everything they grew, meaning fresh ingredients in every dish. Today, this is called farm-to-table. What was once the typical way to prepare food, has now become a food movement. Local chefs strive to continue this long-established style of cooking. Dining at a local farm-to-table restaurant is a win-win. You know that you’re eating the best ingredients, while supporting area agriculturists.

During the early days of the colonists, the Peninsula was abundant with corn, tomato, pumpkin, peanut and many more crops. You will have no trouble finding restaurants with menu items inspired by local Chesapeake produce. Enjoy regional dishes prepared with local ingredients for breakfast, lunch, dinner
and dessert.

Virginia has taken on the title of “Peanut Capital of the World.” There are lots of ways to sample Virginia’s famous peanuts, especially in Williamsburg where there are no shortage of peanut shops and sellers. For an unparalleled experience, stop by The Jefferson Restaurant—family owned and operated for four generations. Locals and visitors alike go “nuts” over The Jefferson’s thick, creamy peanut soup.
Williamsburg’s tidewater cuisine has been prevalent since the colonial days. Early settlers would spend hours on the James River searching for succulent crabs, fish, mussels, clams and sea scallops. The city still holds a love for seafood that is shown through contemporary recipes in local sea-to-table restaurants. Diners can pay homage to Williamsburg’s coastal culinary heritage without having to put in the labor that our ancestors did.

Commemorate the Chesapeake Bay with a sumptuous meal that tastes fresh off the docks. Food for Thought Restaurant put a twist on a classic grilled cheese with The Coastline. This dish, stuffed with juicy, lump crab meat, fresh asparagus, tomato, bacon, gruyere cheese and Old Bay mayo, serves a bite of the sea through a classic treat.

Local chefs use menus to celebrate the Chesapeake Bay, while offering a modern take on American cuisine. Dive into a creamy crab dip or a cup of she-crab soup. Scallops become a decadent dish when blackened, broiled or sautéed.

Virginia is known as the oyster capital of the East Coast and it shows not only through production, but also through each enticing entrée. Restaurants serve our famous York River oyster fried, steamed or on the half shell. Gabriel Archer Tavern, located on the vineyard of The Williamsburg Winery, has a Wine & Brine Lounge every weekend from March–December. Guests can sample some of the Chesapeake Bay’s finest oysters, along with other fresh seafood, from local oyster farmers.

In the 17th and 18th centuries, southern cooking became more prominent thanks to techniques taught by African Americans and the Native people.

“As Virginia continued to grow, and as the population of enslaved people continued to grow, African influences started to merge into English diet,” says Clark.

Southern restaurants in the area, specializing in these classic techniques, are serving up dishes passed down from generations and offering some good ole’ Southern hospitality on the side. Corey’s Country Kitchen is just one of the many restaurants that is dishing out timeless Southern food. Try staples like fried chicken livers and onions, collard greens seasoned with pork, fried okra, cabbage, catfish and, of course, fried chicken.

To honor Williamsburg’s success in revolutionizing American cuisine, mark your calendar for the Williamsburg Taste Festival, April 20–22, 2018. This festival is a chance to experience our food traditions and celebrate fresh, local food and craft beverages. For more information, visit WilliamsburgTasteFestival.com