On our way home from the Outer Banks on Monday, Tom and I decided to make a pit stop at a new to us Virginia winery with one of the best names ever, The Dog and Oyster, on the Chesapeake Bay Wine Trail.I love dogs and I love oysters, so this was a must visit for me. After a long first leg of our drive, we arrived at the winery in Irvington, Virginia ready for a chance to stretch our legs and sip wine.
The winery is part of the Hope and Glory Inn, a converted schoolhouse owned by the winemakers parents. It is unmistakable from the road, as its entrance is marked by two 40-foot corkscrews. While the initial impression is one of grandeur, the experience at the “wine stand” tasting room is an intimate and laid-back experience from start to finish.
We arrived and were greeted by the self-proclaimed “Oyster Guy” and one of the winemakers sons (sorry, no name, I am the worst with names and they’re not on the website). Oyster Guy was helping out another couple, but invited us to sit down anywhere we wanted.
The young man took care of us in the meantime, providing a cup of water for Ashton and showing us his collection of ornaments made from oyster shells, which we purchased due to his excellent sales skills. He has a bright future, that one.
In a few minutes, we were given our glasses and our first taste of wine – the 2013 Chardonel, a crisp wine perfect for pairing with oysters, which happens to be a mission of the winery.
We moved on to the Vidal Blanc and then the Merlot (my favorite of the three), enjoying each taste. After the tasting, we decided to stick around and enjoy the grounds over a glass of Chardonel and a half dozen local oysters on the half shell.
As we were enjoying our oysters the winemaker, Mark Hollingsworth, pulled into the winery and we were able to chat with him. His wines have won a very large number of impressive awards, despite the modest vine acreage, but he was still eager to talk to us about the wine industry and our experience working at Maggie Malick’s Wine Caves in Loudon County.
For me, the atmosphere and conversation at a winery is just as important as the wine – and both were great here. I definitely recommend checking this winery out if you are in the area, or making a weekend getaway out of it by staying at the inn.
Eventually, we had to mosey on down the road, but we hope to return to check out more the Chesapeake Bay Wine Trail.