Like a lot of outdoor-oriented businesses, Abingdon Vineyards has benefited from people’s desire to get away from crowds and out to the country.
Vineyard manager Adam Bolt said that in 2020 the winery saw an increase in visitation -- both from outside the area and locals discovering the oenophile’s oasas in their midst. "Our secret is out — our location is beautiful and people have kind of figured that out,” he said. “We have seen a lot more people who haven’t been here before.”
When the governor of Virginia ordered businesses closed last spring, Bolt said AV’s employees didn’t just hunker down in the cellar or hide amongst the vines.
They sold spirit-lifting gift packages for pick-up and delivery -- both to give their customers a pick-me-up, and ensure that when the economy reopened Abingdon Vineyards wouldn’t be forgotten and left behind. “It was wine and some cheeky kinds of items - like we put in a roll of toilet paper in with some of them,” said Bolt. “Those were a big help for us.”
Furthermore, they also used their onsite gathering venue’s downtime to expand their lounging-around grounds. As a result, when they opened back up to the public later in the year, there was more room for visitors to relax and roam while maintaining the safe personal-space distances many had come to demand.
“That worked out pretty well for us, too. It allowed people to be able to spread out more,” he said. “We were able to spread out and follow the regulations. We were definitely more fortunate than other industries, that’s for sure.”
Not so surprisingly, even from a grape-growing standpoint 2020 will be remembered as a vexing vintage. “We actually had a terrible year in the vineyard,” said Bolt. “We lost 90 percent of our crop due to a late Mothers Day frost.”
But when life presses out lemons, Abingdon Vineyards makes -- in a manner of speaking -- lemonade wine.
“Our grapes did so poorly that we couldn't do the varietal wines that we wanted to,” Bolt said.
Instead, the versatile vintners mixed up “a kind of a hodgepodge wine” that ended up, he said, “like nothing I’ve ever had before.”
“I don’t know how people will approach that. I really like it, and I hope they like it -- but we’ll see,” said Bolt.
The soon-to-be-released “Hindsight 2020” is an experimental concoction containing an array of “very standout flavors that you wouldn't normally put together,” he said.
“But together they have made something interesting. It’s kind of a rosé, with seven different varietals all fermented together,” said Bolt. He predicts that dry white drinkers and diehard fans of a dry red might come together to appreciate the peculiar potion.
“It was a fun experiment,” Bolt said. “And I hope that people can appreciate that -- as much as they can appreciate anything else that happened last year.”
Tucked in along the bending bed of the South Holston River, just across the water from the Virginia Creeper Trail near Alvarado Station, Abingdon Vineyards is a tasting terminal no oenophile will want to miss.
This winery has been around for years, and it's just gotten better with age.
Located just over the Tennessee state line east of Bristol, where rolling farmland meets rising mountain foothills, Abingdon Vineyards has earned a reputation as an exquisite destination for vino-swilling visitors.
But the grounds and sipping room have also ripened into first rate local meet-up venue for live music and neighborly merrymaking since California vintners Loren and Elizabeth Gardner purchased the Southwest Virginia viticultural villa in 2018.
Abingdon Vineyards isn't for adults only -- and not just for cork dorks either. There's plenty of room to explore and wander on the winery grounds -- and a gurgling creek where kids and dogs can romp and play together.
And fruits of the vine aren't the only treats on the menu. You'll be hard-pressed to pass up a scrumptious platter of locally crafted artisan meats and cheeses.
If you're in a mood to drink in some pleasing local flavors against a peaceful backdrop of mountains, woods, rivers and farmsteads, then make a point to visit Abingdon Vineyards.
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