Hazy Mountain Vineyards & Brewery Levels Up the Local Wine Experience
Driving up a meandering mountain slope just off of the Nelson 151, you’re not quite sure what you’ll find when you reach the top. But then, three-quarters of the way up, you pass through an imposing iron gate and the first glimpse of stucco, stone, and terracotta come into view and you wonder if you’ve somehow been transported from the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains to a remote French oasis.
That feeling of tranquility continues as you crest the mountaintop, with 180-degree sweeping views of the valley below.
If first impressions are any indication (spoiler: they are), you know your time at Hazy Mountain Vineyards & Brewery will be one for the memory books—and one you’ll want to repeat again and again.
Hazy Mountain Vineyards & Brewery opened in June of 2021—quietly at first, to allow the team to ease into their space. Perhaps what they didn’t realize though is that the “if you build it, they will come” adage would be true.
The Hazy Mountain estate is sprawling, with 35-acres under vine, an expansive tasting room, and an adjacent event space for events and weddings. The tasting room interior mirrors its rustic yet elegant exterior. Stone archways give way to sweeping pine ceilings and two bars run parallel to one another so there’s plenty of room to sample their classic varietals before committing to a bottle and some food, which can be enjoyed on one of the two floors inside of the tasting room, or out on their stone veranda.
On any given day, the Hazy Mountain grounds are full of locals and tourists alike who either chose Hazy Mountain as their one-stop destination, or who have added it as a stop along their 151 tour. Regardless of their intention, they tend to happily stay a little longer than planned as they soak up the surroundings and dive into Hazy Mountain’s unparalleled wine.
When choosing a wine to enjoy, no choice is the wrong one. While their chardonnay—fermented in French oak with a strong, toasted edge and creamy center—is their bread and butter, they aim to stick to classic varietals that everyone can rely on and enjoy.
“Where some wineries are more experimental with their varietals, we aim to stick to the classics and level up a next generation of Virginia wine,” said Michael Gagliardi, Wine Club and Events Coordinator for Hazy Mountain.
Hazy Mountain has eight white and eight red wines currently on rotation in their tasting room, ranging from familiar classics like chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon to varietals you don’t typically find at Virginia wineries, like chenin blanc.
“We planted six acres of nebbiolo in 2021,” said Luke Trainum, one of the two Hazy Mountain wine makers on staff. “It has a long growing season and can be a challenge to grow in this area, but it’s a wine we are looking forward to introducing.”
While the varietals themselves aren’t experimental, what you’ll find at Hazy Mountain is experimentation with the classics. The terrain is unique in that the south facing slopes range in elevation from 800 feet to 1,140 feet at the mountain’s crest, with the soil type varying just as much as the elevation.
“The site is unique for the area because of the rocky slopes, air flow, and temperature oscillations,” said Trainum. “It’s totally different compared to a vineyard that’s just 30 minutes away.”
It’s that unique terrain and the seven different subsoils that are found on the property that allow the Hazy Mountain team to grow classic Bordeaux-style wines and other unique varietals, like their blaufränkisch rosé, which is vibrantly colored, floral, and dry.
“No one else is growing varietals like that,” said Trainum, speaking of the blaufränkisch grape, which is traditionally grown in Central Europe and can be demanding in terms of where it will grow.
In addition to the 35-acres under vine at the Hazy Mountain estate, the team also manages a secondary production vineyard in Swoope, Virginia, which brings their growing capacity up to 90 total acres.
Their production vineyard in Swoope is just under an hour away from the tasting room and boasts a completely different climate and terrain, allowing them to grow varietals that wouldn’t otherwise survive on the rocky surface of Hazy Mountain.
“You don’t know your site that well unless you know fruit from other sites,” said Trainum.
It’s this level of intentionality—of truly understanding terroir, or regional, wine—that makes Hazy Mountain’s offering stand out.
“It’s wine that truly expresses itself,” summarized Trainum.
Wine isn’t all there is to the Hazy Mountain story—though the story could certainly end there and it would be a happy one, full of warm days on the veranda sipping chilled rosé. In addition to their 16 varietals, Hazy Mountain also offers six classic beers that are brewed on-site. Rather than overly hoppy IPAs or heavy beers with high ABV percentages, you’ll find classic pilsners, ales, and lagers that will feel refreshing at the end (or at the start) of your day.
All beers on tap are European-style, which are all about balance. There’s a hefeweizen, a Bavarian-style wheat beer that is slightly malty but unbelievably refreshing. There’s also a pilsner that’s brewed with German and Czech hops that’s easy to drink and pairs well with just about anything, especially a slice of pizza, which Hazy Mountain also serves.
The tasting room offers a full menu of expertly crafted pizzas, from a classic cheese to a mouthwatering prosciutto and fig. If you’re in the mood for a quick snack while you take in the view,
Bavarian pretzels, charcuterie boards, and beloved regional favorite Nightingale ice cream sandwiches also line their “Light Bites” menu.
Hazy Mountain Vineyards & Brewery, unassuming at first as you make your way toward the estate, is an experience unlike any other in our area. You’re carried away, even if just for a brief moment, to the French countryside, where decades-old vines line rocky mountainsides and a history of bold and balanced wine beckons you to pull up a chair, wine glass in-hand, and simply sit and enjoy the peaceful view for a while.