There is this a stretch on Route 151 in Nelson County Virginia that is lined with beautiful scenery, including vineyards, brewery’s and cidery’s. A few weeks ago when Jessica was here, we decided to do a tour. I live less than 20 minutes from this gorgeous area of Virginia, and often imbibe in the libations and scenery on weekends with my family. But, on our tour we found one little gem that I had never been to before, Hill Top Berry Farm and Winery. It was a little off the beaten path, but was definitely worth the detour.
The tasting room was filled with medieval decorations which was intriguing to us, as it was a winery set in the mountains of Virginia. But, little did we know we were in for a historical tour of flavor. We were lucky to have the owner there, who conducted our tasting and was able to give us a background on the winery, but also the wines themselves. When she handed us the tasting menu, she explained that they primarily make Mead. Mead is a drink made from fermented honey. I had never tried mead before and was a little wary.
As she started the tasting the she explained each mead, including the background on the technique she used to create it. For example, our first taste was one called Voyage. This mead was made in the same style the Celts and Vikings made it. She explained that 5th century Irish monk, St Finnian, paired it with salmon and that many ancient cultures associated mead with love, sex, poetry and health. Next we tried Gladius, which is a combination of honey mead and grape wine, and is the drink of the Romans, called pyment. There are several others, learn about them here. We liked them all, but particularly the one called Lavender Metheglin. The name is derived from the Welsh word Meddyglyn, meaning healing drink, metheglin is spiced mead. Right away we started thinking of ways we could cook with it! So we took a bottle home with us.
Mead is an authentically clean way to drink. It’s quite honestly just fermented honey. As clean eating bloggers, we were excited to stumble across this extraordinary winery, not only because the meads and wines were delicious, but also because we got to learn about the history of mead. I’d love to go back while they are actually fermenting the honey to see the entire process in action. I also love that it’s less than 30 minutes from my house.
So, I tried two different recipes with the lavender mead, a sprouted brown rice risotto, and this lemon sorbet. Both were delicious, but this sorbet in particular was so refreshing. I decided it was too good not to share with all of you! Have you ever been to a fancy restaurant where they bring out a sour sorbet to cleanse your palate? Well, this one could definitely serve as a palate cleanser between courses. I may consider serving it at my Thanksgiving table this year. However, it’s also so much more than that. First, I have to mention – its not for the kids, as the mead is in there in full force. So, this is a “grown up only” recipe. It’s also very simple, but does require an ice cream machine. You simply blend together the ingredients, chill, then put them in the ice cream machine. That’s it.
Back to Hill Top and the other fun places around here, if you are planning a trip to the Shenandoah Valley, definitely hit up the Nelson 151 breweries, vineyards, and cideries. Actually, several of them have created a group called Nelson 151, you can learn more about that here www.nelson151.com/about/. We are planning to visit each one, and create a recipe using our favorite libation. This is our second, our first was the Apple Roasted Chicken where we used Bold Rock Cider. So, when you’re planning your 151 adventure, don’t forget to visit Hill Top Berry Farm and Winery. You won’t be disappointed.