I did one of the weirder things I've ever done in Virginia over the weekend: I went to a Civil War reenactment at a vineyard. This is a thing you can do too.
"Reenactment" is probably a bit of an overstatement, but there were reenactors from Stonewall Jackson's 2nd Corps brigade at DuCard Vineyards in Eltan, Virginia, and they marched through the vineyard, discussed the historical movements of troops through the area, performed a few drills and then stood around and drank a lot of wine and let my friend Samantha fire a weapon. This happens every year, to commemorate the 25,000- to 40,000-strong 2nd Corps, who marched over the mountains on their way to the Battle of Fredericksburg in '62. (Christ, I sound just like my nerdy Civil War buff friends, referring to it as '62' instead of '1862.' I stand by it, though.)
The event is in part to celebrate the release of DuCard's 2014 limited edition 2nd Corps, but Sam's and my money was on the 2012 cab sav—not heavy at all, pleasantly drinkable even at 2 PM on a hot afternoon. We also enjoyed the 2012 Norton, a native Virginia grape that is trying to make a comeback. Almost inky in color, this was an intense wine that worked much better when paired with the little niblets of dark chocolate on the bar.
Beyond the wine, I would recommend a Saturday getaway to DuCard solely on the back of the scenery. There's no cell service out here, thank God, and the Blue Ridge curls its arms around you on every side. Old clapboard farmhouses, ancient creeks and quiet two-lanes give this whole region an almost untouched feel. Time, somehow, has stopped and across the ridge, you can nearly see Jackson's army marching north.
More importantly, here are some Confederate soldiers drinking wine:
To visit Ducard, which is between Madison and Sperryville off of 231: Print off your directions or buy one of those "map" things. There is zero service out here, your iPhone will not help you. 40 Gibson Hollow Lane, Etlan VA 22719.