We’ve lived part time in Abingdon for several years now and decided it was time to do a little exploring. We’re about 20 miles north of Tennessee and we’ve been to Bristol plenty of times. But there’s a lot to the west of us before we hit Kentucky and West Virginia.
So we thought we would play it smart and start out in Wise County. Formed in 1856 and named for the sitting Governor (that must have been an ego boost!), Wise County was an important player in the coal industry for many years. We thought we would visit two towns and check out a couple of places there.
We started in the County Seat, Wise. It’s claim to fame is: 1. Home to University of Virginia’s College at Wise, and 2. The birthplace of George C. Scott (!). There is also a lovely inn there.
Wise is on the Crooked Road, the trail that denotes Virginia’s Heritage Music (old time country and Bluegrass), so we stopped at the interesting display.
These displays are scattered along the road and include an FM station that plays the music of the area. You need to hang around to listed to it, though, as the radio station fades out pretty quickly as you move away.
We drove through Main Street and headed to our main destination, the MountainRose Vineyard and Winery.
We didn’t really know what to expect, with a vineyard over a reclaimed coal field, but we were really taken with it. The tasting room is lovely, and so were the wines. We’re not much on sweet wines, but they have a nice selection of drier wines, including some grapes we had never heard of. It was near lunch time so we indulged in a nice glass of wine along with cheese and crackers while sitting out and looking over the vineyards.
It’s definitely worth the drive for a vineyard in an unexpected place with really delicious wines.
Next up we drove down to Big Stone Gap. If the name sounds familiar, it may be because it’s the title of a popular book (and soon to be movie) by Adriana Trigiani. I guess a lot of small town Main Streets look similar, as the picture shows.
We wanted to know a little history of the area, and the perfect place for that was the Southwest Virginia Historical State Park. It tells the story of the area and the people who settled in what was the frontier in the 1700’s and 1800’s.
So now we’ve seen Wise County. It’s only about an hour from Abingdon and well worth the visit. It makes for a good day trip; the roads are great as are the views. There are still plenty more counties for us to visit – this was just the start.