Culpeper is becoming known region-wide for being a prime destination for wine, beer and spirits. With multiple options for each, it’s the perfect getaway for a large group with diverse tastes or a couple who likes it all.
If you want to sample a little bit of everything, you can’t miss Old House Vineyards, which is the first winery-brewery-distillery trifecta in Virginia. In 1998, Pat Kearney and his family discovered a bit of abandoned land with a beautiful but run-down 1800s-era farmhouse and have turned it into a tasting oasis surrounded by beautiful views. The winery was first, which runs its tasting room out of the now-restored farmhouse and offers a full flight of white and red wines. You can also take a glass or bottle outside to the spacious patio or lawn, or to explore the grounds.
The distillery at Old House opened in 2015 and offers six unique liquors. First up is the vodka made with grapes. This unconventional way of making vodka gives the spirit a smoothness and slight sweetness you don’t find elsewhere. Old House also makes a Blue Nectar Agave made with true agave from Mexico (essentially a tequila even if legally it’s not allowed to be called that), a corn whiskey, and a trio of really interesting rums flavored with lime, spice and coffee. The distillery also pays homage to World War II, with an impressive collection of artifacts and memorabilia filling the small tasting space. Spend a delightful part of your afternoon having the bartender show you around the items while filling your glass.
The latest addition to Old House is the brewery and full Irish pub called Kearney’s, which just opened in 2019. The spacious brewery tasting room, which has eight beers on tap and also serves wine or spirits from the rest of Old House, features a stage for live music set up in front of large windows looking out on a beautiful Virginia vista, including Old House’s small lake and island. The adjoining pub is themed out in full Irish regalia with a long marble bar, couches by the fireplace and plenty of tables. Food trucks set up each weekend, ensuring you can eat and drink to your heart’s content all in one place.
Brew with a View
A bit north of Old House, you’ll find Old Trade Brewery and Cidery, which boasts an indoor tasting area and lounge as well as expansive outdoor options including veranda seating, patios, picnic areas, games and a children’s play area. Old Trade brews mainly traditional American and European farm-centric beers like pale ale, IPAs, saisons, porters and more. You can also try a variety of cider flavors like Sunset Apricot, Black Briar and Windy Pear—Old Trade experiments seasonally with new flavors and cider styles, such as dry-hopped, semi-sweet and barrel fermented. With food available as well through 1610 BakeHouse, Old Trade offers family-friendly fun for all.
If you want to indulge in more from the Hop family, head back to Culpeper and stash your vehicle—thankfully, you can hit the next two stops on foot. First, stop into Beer Hound Brewery, which opened in 2014. This microbrewery serves small-batch ales and lagers named for famous hounds from history (and strives to match the name to the style of beer). With a fresh variety on tap daily, options for outdoor seating, and weekly events like trivia, karaoke or live music, Beer Hound has something going on every night of the week.
Just around the block, you'll find Far Gohn, which calls itself a Tavern Brewery that “celebrates the German immigrant contribution to the American beer tradition.” The brewery is modeled after the small taverns that popped before Prohibition, where brewing and serving are done in the same space, so you feel connected to the entire experience. Far Gohn offers a wide variety of beer styles with 10 or more available at all times and rotates the tap list weekly. The brewery serves pizza but also allows outside food, fitting with its no-pretension, just-good-beer attitude.
If wine is more your thing, you have an abundance of choices around Culpeper. Some standouts include historic Mountain Run Winery, where the tasting room is built in an old corn crib next to a century-old horse barn; Prince Michel Vineyard, one of the oldest and largest wineries in Virginia and a worldwide competition winner; Grey Ghost Vineyards, which hosts the longest-running volunteer harvest program in the state; and elegant Early Mountain Vineyards, with a beautiful tasting room, views and aesthetics throughout.
For an easy way to several local wines and take some home with you, stop into Vinosity in downtown Culpeper, which stocks more than 500 wines from all over the world, along with wine tools and gifts. Tastings are offered on Fridays and Saturdays, with frequent specialty events held frequently.
For those looking to try a bit more from the world of Virginia spirits, head over to Belmont Farms Distillery. Whiskey is produced at Belmont the slow, small batch way, in a copper pot still—a traditional distilling technique that has all but been abandoned in the United States. Along with several types of whiskey, Belmont Farms produces “Virginia Lightning” Moonshine in a pure form as well as flavors like peach, cherry, butterscotch and more. The Kopper Kettle line from the farms also includes a vodka, golden gin and dark chai spice rum. Tours and events are offered in warmer weather months.
Family owned and operated, Belmont grows the corn, wheat and barley for the spirits all on its 195 acres, along with hay for cattle and horses. By sticking to hyperlocal ingredients and classic techniques, Belmont is putting out something unique in the regional spirits market.