Go camping and wine tasting for Valentine's

Friday, February 4, 2011; 1:56 AM

This Valentine's Day, get closer to your special someone. Much, much closer, because, let's face it, camping in mid-February can get a bit chilly. But if there's a better way to stoke the romance than snuggled up with your sweetheart before a roaring campfire while eating delicious food and quaffing cabernet sauvignon, we'd like to hear it.

Before you make your getaway, rummage up some long johns and fleece blankets, toss some camping gear - a tent, sleeping bags and a campfire basket grill, for starters - into the car, pack a picnic dinner and head for Shenandoah River State Park, about 80 miles west of Washington.

We don't advocate this date unless you're adequately prepared for the conditions, and two things you'll most certainly want to stock up on: wine and chocolate. Swing past Gray Ghost Vineyards in Amissville, Va., en route for their Irresistible Chocolates and Cabernet event, Feb. 12 and 13 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sample and stock up on a few bottles of the vineyard's more full-bodied (read: more warming) estate-grown varietals to enjoy with dinner under the stars.

You'll want to arrive at the campsite early enough to pitch your tent and gather plenty of firewood before the sun sets. Once the sparks are flying inside the provided fire pit, such grillables as boneless lamb chops, baked potatoes and veggie skewers are all easily prepared over an open flame.

When morning comes, you'll be greeted by sweeping views of the Shenandoah Valley's rolling hills, allowing the two of you to gaze into the endless horizon together.

- Alex Baldinger

Gray Ghost Vineyards, 14706 Lee Hwy., Amissville, Va. 540-937-4869. www.grayghostvineyards.com. $15; Shenandoah River State Park, 350 Daughter of Stars Dr., Bentonville, Va. 540-622-6840. www.dcr.virginia.gov/state_parks. Campsite rental, $20 per night.

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