Nelson County Launches Nelson 29 Craft Beverage Trail

by Jessica Lawrence for the Nelson County Dept. of Tourism

Nelson County has become a popular destination for those who take pleasure in Virginia craft beverages, local food, and outdoor recreation.  For over a decade, Route 151 in has been known as “Virginia’s Weekend Address,” showcasing a peaceful drive with views of rolling mountains and beautiful skies. In total, Route 151 boasts five wineries, five breweries, three cideries, and two distilleries. Soon, tourists and locals alike will be enjoying Nelson 29, a second craft beverage trail and sister trail to Nelson 151.

The Nelson 29 trail stretches 20 miles between Arrington’s Blue Mountain Barrel House and DelFosse Vineyards and Winery in Faber. Those traveling Nelson 29 can also experience Lovingston Winery, Virginia Distillery Company, Brent Manor Vineyards, Mountain Cove Vineyards and Wood Ridge Farm Brewery. For those venturing off of the 29 corridor, there is even more to see and do.

Members of the new craft beverage trail provide diverse visitor experiences. DelFosse Winery offers award-winning estate wines in a pet-friendly atmosphere. Brent Manor Vineyards is the southernmost member of the Monticello Wine Trail; visitors will delight in wines from the vineyards and are encouraged to bring their own picnic or peruse the menu for artisanal breads, meats and cheeses. Blue Mountain Barrel House, sister brewery to Afton’s Blue Mountain Brewery, serves local food from its own food truck and beverages from the Afton location, as well as specialty and organic brews. Wood Bridge Farm Brewery is a Virginia farm brewery with a unique venue that bestows guests with gorgeous farm views and “dirt to glass” brews. Those interested in unusual architecture and award-winning wine will appreciate Lovingston Winery, where the winery itself is built into the side of a hill on the family farm, Josie’s Knoll.

While the group has been planning the trail since early 2019 with Nelson County Tourism, the official launch of the Nelson 29 craft beverage trail will take place on September 7, 2019 from 12:00 pm noon to 4:00 pm during Virginia Distillery Company’s “Spirited Soiree.” The event will officially introduce Nelson 29 and is part of Virginia Tourism Corporation’s “50 Years of Love” celebration, in which special events, offers and programs will be taking place all over the state throughout the year. The well-known slogan, “Virginia is for Lovers” was created by Martin and Woltz, Inc. of Richmond, Virginia in 1969.

Those visiting hospitality-related businesses along the corridor can also enjoy attractions in and around the historic village of Lovingston. Virginia’s oldest winery, Mountain Cove Vineyards, is located near Fortune’s Cove Preserve, one of Nelson County’s 11 watchable wildlife loops and favorite hiking trails. The Apple Shed, located north of Lovingston on Route 29, is a little building with a big selection of jams, jellies, apple butter and local honey, as well as grass-fed beef. Drumheller’s Orchard can be found south of Lovingston near the local high school. Visitors to Drumheller’s can enjoy fresh peaches, apples and baked goods or enjoy fall festivals; the family farm also offers school and group tours. It is worth a trip to wander off of Route 29 onto scenic Route 56 to visit Saunders Brothers Farm Market for locally-grown produce and in-season nursery plants. Intrepid explorers can make a day of it and hike or bike the Virginia Blue Ridge Railway Trail in Piney River. Fourth generation family farm, Seaman’s Orchard is also located off of Route 56 and grows strawberries, apples, pumpkins, cherries and blueberries. Dickie Brothers Orchard, a Virginia Century Farm, and Silver Creek and Seamans’ Orchard’s packing shed are also located off of Route 56, heading toward Crabtree Falls, the highest cascading waterfall east of the Mississippi River.

History buffs will want to stop at The Oakland Museum, home of the Nelson County Historical Society.  The museum is housed in an 1830’s tavern with an exhibit detailing the story of Hurricane Camille and an exhibit on rural electrification. Walton’s Mountain Museum, another historic site off of Route 29, is the boyhood home of the creator of “The Walton’s” 1960’s television series. Earl Hamner, Jr. based many of the show’s scripts on his experiences as a young man growing up in Schuyler. The museum includes replicas of sets utilized on the shows as well as photos and other memorabilia.

For the savvy shopper, there are many options available along the route for buying souvenirs and gifts. Rapunzel’s Coffee and Books offers local beverages and monthly open mic nights in an eclectic atmosphere. Home Remedies Mercantile and Exchange caters to those who enjoy farm-to-table cooking and sustainable living. Trager Brother’s Coffee boasts fine organic coffee that is roasted on-site. Further down 29 South, book lovers may want to stop by Blue Moon Antique Mall and Bookstore, a veritable warehouse containing thousands of new, rare, and used books. Other gift shops include Blossom’s Florist, Ebb and Flow, and Olde Southern Country Charm. Pickers and flippers can look for gently-used treasures at The Almost Home SPCA Thrift Store.

Restaurants serving up delicious local food along Nelson 29 in Lovingston include the Lovingston Café, El Mariachi, Chen’s, Vito’s Pizza and Italian Grill, Mountain Mama’s Café and the Chicken Coop. Further south on Route 29 is the famous Colleen Deli, well-known for its milkshakes and iconic ice cream sign, as well as Ann’s Family Restaurant, serving local fare with award-winning service.

While Nelson 29 offers plenty of attractions for day trips, travelers may find that there are too many options to spend just one day in Nelson County. For overnight accommodations, tourists can choose to stay at a local hotel or bed and breakfasts. The elegant Orchard House Bed and Breakfast offers an outdoor pool, garden, library, and meeting room, along with a complimentary full breakfast, free parking, and free WiFi access. Guests can board their own horses at the historic Edgehill Inn and enjoy cool breezes while relaxing on the inn’s stately porches. Lovingston’s Village Inn is conveniently located off of Route 29 and treats guests to daily housekeeping, free parking, free WiFi, and cable TV.  Additionally, Harmony Hill Bed and Breakfast is located in the nearby village of Arrington; amenities include a golf course, lobby fireplace, common area for coffee and tea, and complimentary WiFi and parking. In addition, there are other locally-owned cabins and cottages that dot the landscape along Route 29 that welcome visitors.

Tourists and locals alike are encouraged to stop by the Nelson County Visitor’s Center located 8519 Thomas Nelson Highway, Lovingston.  The center is open 7 days a week from 9:00 am until 5:00 pm. Those interested in learning more about the Nelson 29 craft beverage trail can contact the visitor’s center at 434-263-7015.


News & Notes

New Insurance Agent in Lovingston

A mother of six children took over the State Farm Insurance office in Lovingston in Nov. 2018 after Mac Harvey retired.

Angela McKinney whom, as the daughter of a Marine, traveled around the country while growing up, has 10 years of experience, and chose State Farm because “they are all about protecting people and their families and building relationships in the community”, she said. “We’ve been excited about serving the Nelson County community!”

Angela and her husband Mel will be moving to Roseland soon. Five of their six children are “mostly grown” now, but they have a child that will be entering kindergarten at Tye River Elementary.

For more information, please see the ad on page 5.

North Branch School Announces New Head of School

North Branch School recently announced a new head of school for the 2019-20 school year. Smith Coleman has been selected to succeed founder and head teacher Charlotte Zinsser Booth. Mr. Coleman’s new role will begin July 1.

Ms. Booth founded the school in September 1983. With her guidance, North Branch School has grown from a handful of students to more than 110 students enrolled this year. Ms. Booth will retire at the end of this school year.

Mr. Coleman earned a Bachelor’s degree from Mary Washington in Economic History, a Master’s degree from Eastern Mennonite University, and a Certificate in Educational Leadership from James Madison University. Mr. Coleman has administrative experience in a variety of educational settings and worked with the Orange County public school system for seven years teaching an experiential and place-based program for various grade levels.

Union Bank & Trust Is Now Atlantic Union Bank

If you hadn’t heard, Union Bank & Trust changed their name on May 20, 2019. The name change brings consistency to customers throughout the Mid-Atlantic where the bank has become a growing provider of financial services.

“We are excited to officially launch our new brand with the same commitment to service and relentless focus on our customers throughout the Mid-Atlantic region,” says Duane Smith, Chief Marketing Officer of Atlantic Union Bank.

“Now that we have unified our brand under a distinctive name and logo, customers can easily identify with their bank from Virginia, to Maryland and North Carolina,” Smith said.

In addition to the added convenience and expanded geography, customers can still expect that local touch supported by the products and services of a much larger institution.

Historic Attractions

Oak Ridge is a 200-year-old estate formerly owned by a number of businessmen prominent in Virginia history. Wall Street financier and Nelson County native Thomas Fortune Ryan purchased the estate in 1901 and transformed the small, Federal-style dwelling into a 50-room Colonial Revival mansion. Much of Ryan’s American Empire furniture remains in the home.

The Holland family acquired the 4,800 acre estate (with 50 outbuildings) in 1989 for the purpose of restoration.

Leisurely tours can be scheduled throughout the year by advance appointment for groups of ten or more guests.

Visitors will see selected rooms in the Mansion as well as certain Grounds features. For more information about tours or scheduling events call 434-263-8676  visit

Oakland-The Nelson County Museum of History was established to educate and expose the public to the rural history of Nelson County. The house was originally built in 1838 as an “ordinary”, or tavern, to accommodate passengers traveling the stage road from the Federal City (Washington, D.C.) to Lynchburg. The story of Hurricane Camille, that devastated Nelson County in August 1969, is one of the major exhibits. For more information, visit call 434-263-8400

After building Pharsalia in 1814, Revolutionary War veteran Major Thomas Massie deeded it to his son William as a wedding present. The current owners, Foxie and Richard Morgan, are dedicated to preserving, protecting and sharing this unique property.

Located off Crabtree Falls Hwy. (on the way to Montebello for most Nelson County residents), Pharsalia was accessible only to the family and friends of its owners for decades. Now it is on the Virginia Historic Registry. For more information, call 434-277-5231 or visit

Walton’s Mountain Museum is located in Schuyler (Sky-ler). Opened on October 16, 1992, this building was Schuyler’s ca.1924 high and elementary school until 1955, grade school until 1991, and it is now the community center. “The Waltons” creator and John-Boy’s alterego, Earl Hamner, grew up in the home across the street. WMM attracts thousands from all over the world. The Museum offers replicas of John-Boy’s Bedroom, Ike Godsey’s Store, “The Waltons” kitchen and “The Waltons” living room. Hundreds of photographs and pieces of memorbilia are on display. For more information, visit or call (434) 831-2000.

Another notable historic property in Nelson County is Swannanoa Palace, located in Afton. This 52-room, $2 million marble palace was built in 1912 as a token of love. More than 300 artisans were hired to create the palace as a replica of the Villa de Medici in Rome. Small group tours of the palace may be arranged and on selected weekends the palace is open for tours to the public. Contact 540-885-5653 for more information


Nelson County Trails Offer Great Hiking For Everyone!

Use caution during hunting season on all trails.

Photo courtesy of Nelson County Parks & Recreation

Appalachian Trail 45 miles of the Appalachian Trail lie in Nelson County with moderately challenging to rugged terrain. It is accessible from Route 56 in Tyro and at trail crossings along the Blue Ridge Parkway: Reeds Gap/Route 664, and Rockfish Gap/Afton Mountain (exit 99 off Interstate 64).

Appalachian Trail from State Route 56 (Swinging Bridge) to Harpers Creek A 2.6-mile hike along the Appalachian Trail to Harpers Creek, where the water gurgles through the large rocks. Directions from SR 56 at Crabtree Falls: Take SR 56 east for approximately 3-4 miles. The Appalachian Trail crosses SR 56 and a parking lot is available to the left of SR 56.

Appalachian Trail to Spy Rock An approximate 2 mile moderately strenuous hike from the Montebello Fish Hatchery up to the Appalachian Trail and to Spy Rock, probably the best viewpoint In the central Blue Ridge. The rock outcrop, at 3,980 feet elevation, provides a 360 degree panoramic view of numerous mountain summits. Directions from State Route 56 at Crabtree Falls: Take 56 west towards Montebello. Turn left onto 690 to Montebello Fish Hatchery. A small parking lot for hikers is available beyond the hatchery buildings to the right (follow the sign). Follow the trail for approximately .9 miles until it intersects the Appalachian Trail (white blazed). Turn left (north) on the AT and follow it about .7 miles to the small side trail to Spy Rock. A rock scramble will lead to the top of Spy Rock.

Blue Ridge Parkway Humpback Rocks encompasses 800 acres along the Blue Ridge Parkway between MP 5 and 9.3. This area is perhaps the best representation of the varied combination of natural and cultural resources anywhere along the Parkway corridor. The prominent rock outcrop was a landmark guiding wagon trains over the Howardsville Turnpike in the 1840s. A portion of the historic trace still exists. Stop by the Visitor Center and mountain farm exhibit at MP 5.8. The farm includes a single-room log cabin and a series of outbuildings that represent elements of regional architecture of the late 19th century. Costume interpreters provide demonstrations of weaving, basket making and gardening. A picnic area and comfort station are nearby at MP 8.4.

Milepost 18.5 White Rock Falls at Slacks Overlook A 2.5-mile moderate hike, the highlights is the impressive gorge, which has a water fall and a natural wading pool. The name White Rock came from the abundant quartz rock found in the area. From Crabtree Falls in Nelson County, Route 56 west to the Blue Ridge Parkway to the Slacks Overlook (north of milepost 20). Park at the Slacks Overlook and the trail starts about 60 yards ahead on the east side of the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Crabtree Falls is the highest vertical-drop cascading waterfall east of the Mississippi River. Crabtree Falls features a series of five major cascades and a number of smaller ones that fall a total distance of 1,200 feet. The first overlook is just 700 feet from the new lower parking lot. The more adventurous hiker may continue to other overlooks, to the top at Crabtree Meadows, where the trail ends, or to the Appalachian Trail, just one half mile beyond Crabtree Meadows. From US Route 29, take Route 56 West at Colleen, follow Route 56 West for approximately 20 miles to 11581 Crabtree Falls Highway, Montebello VA. From the Blue Ridge Parkway (milepost 27) , take Route 56 East for 6.3 miles to Crabtree Falls

Fortune’s Cove Nature Preserve The Preserve contains a 5.3 mile hiking trail within the mountainous property. Other features are 7 viewpoints and a stream. The preserve is situated within some 29,000 acres of relatively intact forest habitat and hosts rare plant communities on a series of rocky glades. The 5.5-mile loop trail climbs steeply from the parking area, gaining some 1,500 feet in elevation before reaching its highest point. From Route 29 north at Lovingston, take Route 718 (Mountain Cove Road) to Route 651 (Fortune’s Cove Lane).A parking area and informational kiosk at the base of the cove will help orient visitors. From Route 29, Route 718 to Route 651.

Henry Lanum Memorial Trail and the Mt. Pleasant Spur A 4.8 mile circuit hike through the Mt. Pleasant National Scenic Area that encompasses two 4,000 foot mountains: Mt. Pleasant and Pompey Mountain. Take a short spur trail (.3 miles) to see the spectacular views from Mt. Pleasant. Directions from SR 56 at Crabtree Falls: Take SR west to the Blue Ridge Parkway. Follow the BRPW south to US Rt 60. Take RT 60 east to SR 634 (Davis Mill Creek Road). Continue on SR 634 to intersection with SR 755 (Wiggins Springs Road). Follow SR 755 to the end of state maintenance and continue on forest Development Road 48. Moderate + hike – last mile is Moderate

Kids in Parks TRACK Trail at the Rockfish River Trailhead The Rockfish Valley Kids in Parks Track Trail in Nellysford at the Rockfish Valley Foundation’s beautiful Rockfish River Trailhead on Route 151, 1.5 miles south of Nellysford. The Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation’s Kids in Parks Track Trail program has created a network of self-guided outdoor opportunities for kids and families to get unplugged, active and connected with nature. The Rockfish Valley TRACK Trail is a flat, 1mile loop that follows the South Fork of the Rockfish River and Reids Creek. The trail features riparian, field and bog habitats and offers excellent opportunities for wildlife viewing. The trail was made possible with grant support provided by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation and the Virginia Museum of Natural History. Rockfish Valley Highway, Nellysford, Virginia, 22958. For more information visit , , email or call 434-226-0446.

Kids in Parks TRACK Trail at the Virginia Blue Ridge Railway Trail This Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation program helps get kids and families “un-plugged”, outdoors and actively engaged in nature, for their health and the health of our parks. Each TRACK Trail provides a series of self-guided, brochure led adventures designed to turn an ordinary hike into a fun-filled adventure. Kids who register their TRACK Trail adventures on the Kids in Parks website become members of the program’s Trail TRACKer Team and earn prizes designed to make their next adventure more fun. The Kids in Parks TRACK Trail is a kid friendly adventure along 1.8 miles of the generally level Virginia Blue Ridge Railway Trail. Walk along the rushing mountain waters of the Piney River and observe wildlife in their natural habitat. The trail is available for hiking, bicycling, and horseback riding from dawn to dusk. Free. 3124 Patrick Henry Highway, Piney River.. 434-263-7130 or 434-263-7015

Mau-Har Trail – Blue Ridge Parkway Milepost 13.7 The blue blazed Mau-Har trail provides an excellent circuit hike in conjunction with the Appalachian Trail through the Three Ridges Wilderness area in Nelson County. The trail begins on the AT 1.8 miles from Reeds Gap/route 664. It continues for 3.3 miles through steep terrain passing near the 50 foot Campbell’s Creek waterfall. The trail ends on the AT, 1.5 miles from the junction of the AT and Route 56.

Montebello Nature Trail A short trail (.5) follows a small stream that was once part of the Montebello Fish Hatchery. The path is lined with a wide diversity of ferns as well as native shrubs and wildflowers. Relax on one of the benches and listen for the Louisiana water thrush or watch dragonflies skimming the stream. Entrance just above the dam. The trail is always open.  Follow Route 56 to Montebello. 359 Fish Hatchery Lane, Montebello

Montreal Park Located on Route 56 east (James River Road) from Lovingston beside the VDOT office and across from the Collection Site at Shipman.  The Park has a pavilion, picnic tables, and restrooms.  It is great for parties, reunions, etc.  To reserve, please call NCPRD 434-263-7130.

Nelson County Wayside 7 miles north of Lovingston on Route 29.  The short hiking trail has views of the Rockfish River and includes a Hurricane Camille memorial marker.

Rockfish Valley Loop Trails Experience the Rockfish River and Reid’s Creek on approximately 4 miles of trails on a farm surrounding the confluence. Part of the VA Birding and Wildlife Trail, these paths offer recreation and integration with nature and history.

Currently open for hiking only, these are mowed grass and dirt trails, and have a nearly flat grade throughout, although surrounded by spectacular mountain views. Parking is located at Spruce Creek Park at old Wintergreen, and on the southwest side of the Route 151 bridge over the Rockfish River. Open sunrise to sunset.

Rockfish Gap Hawk Watch Seasonal hawk watching in the parking area at The Inn at Afton on top of the Blue Ridge Mountains. 185 Afton Circle, Afton 540-942-5201

Rockfish Ruritan Park 74 Rockfish School Lane, Afton 434-361-9349

Lower Rockfish Valley Watchable Wildlife Loop Route 617 (Rockfish River Road) to the Rockfish Depot

Nelson County Wilderness Area The Wilderness designation provides permanent protection for the two areas in their natural state. The Priest (nearly 6,000 acres) rises from an elevation of about 1,000 feet at the Tye River to 4,063 feet. Three Ridges (4,608 acres) is one of the wildest and most rugged areas in the Virginia Blue Ridge. One of the accesses to the area is the Appalachian Trail that runs through this scenic wilderness.

North Fork of the Piney River A scenic driving and short walking trail offers views of  Piney River as it cascading over large rocks. It is stocked for fishing and good swimming holes. Take Route 56 west to Massies Mill, turn on SR 666 (Dickie Road). Follow SR 666 for a total of approximately 4 miles passed Dickie Brothers Orchard where the road becomes a gravel road then winds up and over the mountain offering mountain views of the Blue Ridge.  At the foot of the mountain turn right on to Route 827. Route 827 goes into the George Washington National Forest and parallels the North Fork of the Piney River. Parking along the roadside and walk beside the river (except where private property is posted) that offers scenic views of this mountain stream. The river offers pleasing views of cascading rapids. It is stocked for fishing and there are some good swimming holes. Directions from Crabtree Falls on State Route 56: head East on Route 56 to the village of Massies Mill, then turn right to go West on Route 666. Stay on Route 666 for a total of approximately 4 miles through Dickie Brothers Orchard. Just past the packing shed, the road becomes a gravel road then winds up and over the mountain offering great views along the way. At the bottom of the other side of the mountain, turn right on to Route 827. Route 827 goes into the George Washington National Forest and parallels the North Fork of the Piney River. You may pull over to the side anywhere there is enough space (except where private property is posted) and walk beside the river.

Royal Oaks Watchable Wildlife Loop Blue Ridge Parkway (Milepost 16) at Love, VA  The trail is atop the Blue Ridge Mountains at Royal Oaks Cabins in LOVE, VA. and loops through the National Forest, Wilderness Areas, and the Parkway. 45 Royal Oaks Lane, Love 800-410-0627

Spruce Creek Park The park is located at the trailhead of the Rockfish Valley Loop Trails and at the Rockfish Valley Foundation Natural History Center at the intersection of Route 151(Rockfish Valley Highway) and 617 at Nellysford 434-361-2251

Tye River Park Crabtree Falls Highway (Route 56) just east of Dickie Road, at Massies Mill.  A small park located beside the Tye River with picnic tables and a short walk to the river bank.

Virginia Blue Ridge Rail Trail 3124 Patrick Henry Highway, Piney River. The trail is 7 miles and is opened for hiking, biking and horseback riding year round. The main trailhead is in Piney River on SR 151, Patrick Henry Hwy. It has ample parking for cars and horse trailers. A smaller trailhead (at milepost 1.7) in Roses Mill on SR 674, Roses Mill Rd can accommodate only cars. Restroom facilities (porta-johns) are available at both trailheads. The mainly crushed stone trail follows a scenic route along the Piney and Tye Rivers, where wildflowers bloom from spring through summer and wildlife abounds. The trail dead ends at the 7 mile point, there is no eastern access at Tye River Depot, you must retrace your steps to your vehicle. During the autumn hunting season, trail users should wear blaze orange clothing. The trail is open sunrise to sunset. The trail occupies the rail bed of the former Virginia Blue Ridge Railway, which ran from Tye River Depot (to interchange with the Southern Railway) to Massies Mill. Construction of the railroad started in 1915 and the line was abandoned in 1980. To access the Piney River trailhead from the Lovingston area, take US 29 to State Route 56 west at Colleen; turn right onto SR 56, and travel 5 miles to turn left onto SR 151. After 2 miles you’ll see the trailhead sign on left (3124 Patrick Henry Highway, Piney River). Parking for cars and horse trailers is available. To access the Roses Mill trailhead from the Lovingston area, , take US 29 to SR 56 west at Colleen; turn right onto SR 56 and go about 4 miles to left turn onto Roses Mill Road/SR 674). The trailhead is about 1.4 miles farther (around milepost 1.7 of the trail).

USE CAUTION during hunting season Firearms season.
Blaze orange recommended

The Nature Foundation at Wintergreen The Nature Foundation at Wintergreen has marked and maintains 25 miles of scenic trails in the mountains. Information and trail maps are available through the nature foundation’s office at the Trillium House at Wintergreen.  3421 Wintergreen Drive, Roseland, VA 434-325-8169

White Rock Falls (Milepost 19) Blue Ridge Parkway -The 2 1/5 mile moderate hike highlights an impressive gorge, which has a waterfall and a natural wading pool.  On the climb back up to the Parkway, you will be treated to glimpses of the Blue Ridge Mountains to the Northeast. The trail can easily be combined with other trails to make for a longer hike. To create a 5 mile loop, combine it with the Slacks Overlook Trail. Park at the Slacks Overlook and the trail starts about 60 yards ahead on the right side of the Blue Ridge Parkway

For More Information About Hiking and All Aspects of Nelson County, Visit