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Winter Wineries

The vineyard nearest to Sharp Rock, which sits on 25 acres on the Hughes River, happens to be Sharp Rock. Since opening in 1998, the winery has been producing chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, cabernet franc and cabernet sauvignon.

Sip, then skedaddle. Or hang around and play with the property's "wine dogs" before settling in for a long winter's nap, as we did. Sharp Rock has two accommodations, the romantic little Carriage House next to the river and the Cottage -- though calling it a "cottage" is like calling the White House a bungalow.


Winter finds relaxed staff and off-season specials at many wineries: A recent tasting at First Colony Winery, above. (Jay Paul For The Washington Post)

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Dating from around 1790, the bi-level cottage has a living room with a pull-out sofa, deck and eat-in kitchen with cabinets and drawers overflowing with cookware and dishes. Two bedrooms (one on each floor) are piled high with comforters, pillows and extra blankets to ward off the winter chill.

A shared bath on the second floor is the only drawback. But, hey, we were with friends.

So who let the dogs in? We did, and incurred a reprimand from the former innkeeper, but new owners Kathy and Jimm East don't mind at all if their pets share your space. The Easts lay in a supply of oatmeal, baked goods, coffee, tea and fruit for a make-it-yourself continental breakfast -- which, no doubt, the canines would love to share.

Sharp Rock Farm is at 5 Sharp Rock Rd., about nine miles from downtown Sperryville. The Cottage is $175 a night double, $250 for two couples. Details: 540-987-8020, www.sharprockvineyards.com.

The B&B cabin at the Smokehouse, Jenkins Hollow, Va.

Here's another spot where the wine is plentiful, though you'd better have a hankering for mead. The Smokehouse specializes in the intoxicant, made from honey produced by hard-working local bees.

We arrived at the Smokehouse cabin, across a stream from the winery, about 14 minutes before last winter's first snow. And what a place to ride out a storm: The log cabin, built in the mid-19th century, gives off a pioneer vibe with its low ceilings, large stone fireplace and communal sleeping area on the second floor. (Not to worry -- there's a curtain and steps separating the two spacious hibernation zones, though there's only one bathroom.)

The first (and only) chore during our stay was prepping a spaghetti dinner in the tiny galley kitchen before settling in by the fire. Innkeeper John Hallberg keeps a CD player next to the fireplace, so don't forget to pack your tunes.

So we had to dig out ourselves the next morning and missed the promised continental breakfast because we had to get back early. You just can't beat the sight of snow falling on meaders.

The Smokehouse is at 10 Ashby Rd., about three miles from Sperryville. The cabin is $150 a night double, $25 per person extra. Details: 540-987-3194, www.smokehousewinery.com.

For information on Virginia's wine country, including winery hours (which vary widely, particularly in winter), contact the Virginia Wine Marketing Office, 800-828-4637, www.virginiawines.org. General info on Virginia tourism: 800-847-4882, www.virginia.org.


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