25. Markham and Boyce, Virginia

One of these days for a TBT post, I’ll tell you guys about the time I lived in South Africa. While the best-known wine region in the country is Stellenbosch, the Constantia Valley–a gorgous suburb of Cape Town–is much closer to where I lived and made for a destination more than once.

One morning this May, a friend of mine from my internship there posted a picture from Constantia, overlooking a mountain with a glass of wine and a cheese plate. And it being a Friday–when my mornings are basically consumed by wanderlust anyway–I immediately set to finding a place where I could recreate it.

Luckily for me, there are plenty of vineyards nearby, and if you drive just over an hour through Virginia from DC, you can throw in some Blue Ridge Mountain foothills, too. The following week, my friend Emily and I did just that, heading out to Naked Mountain Winery & Vineyards in Markham, VA.

It definitely lived up to my Constantia fantasy. It was a beautiful day, and we did a wine tasting before hanging out on the deck outside and admiring the views. Before we left, I picked up a bottle of the Cabernet Franc, which we decided was the best of the wines we tried.

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The trip didn’t end there, though; in my researching, I had discovered a broader wine trail article that alerted me to the vineyards’ proximity to L’Auberge Provencale, a French Provincial-style inn with an award-winning restaurant, La Table Provencale. And once we saw the vegetarian tasting menu, we had to go.

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I’m not going to get too wrapped up in the specifics, but I will say it was probably the defining culinary experience of my existence. The menu was supplemented with several surprises that came out from the kitchen, and every single thing we tried was incredible. On top of that, the inn and the setting couldn’t have been more quaint or beautiful. Best friend date ever.

(About that setting: L’Auberge Provencale’s photos are much nicer than mine are. Here’s one of the dining room from their gallery, which I encourage you to view here. Food pics taken by yours truly. I’m working on it!)

L'Auberge Provencale

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