by Mike Tucker, Jr.
There is something about the crisp air, the leaves turning and the road calling. Locally nothing says fall more to me than a zip down Route 66 to Sky Line Drive in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. This time I added a few twists to the plot.
At the Vintage Virginia Wine Festival in September I met Eric Heidig, an owner of the Lake Anna Winery, who informed me a visit to his vineyard was a must. So one fine fall weekend in November the new Mazda6s Touring Plus was dropped outside my door and my first date with it was set in motion.
The cruise was sweet; the Mazda6 is a comfortable ride with vigor and nice fuel economy for the 2 hour road trip. Beyond the extremely useful Bluetooth phone with voice recognition, the vehicle detects when a car is in your blind spot so you know when it’s safe to switch lanes.
Once in Virginia, the small family-owned vineyard was the first stop. After a brief tour of cedar barrels, steel drums and Wine Making 2.0, it was time to have a taste; only enough to make an informed drinking decision for later. I came with a predetermined lust for the lovely sweet palate-pleasing Lake Side Sunset wine but left with the clean semi-sweet Total White.
Eric recommended visiting the lake. He spoke of the over 20,000 tourists descending on the area every fall to check out Lake Anna. It was serene and beautiful. Next, hunger was an issue. It was solved by the pizza joint Angela’s Italian Restaurant that surprised and astounded with creamy homemade Alfredo pasta that was killer.
The final stop was a bed at Stevenson Ridge, a gated estate of restored vintage cottages in Spotsylvania, Va. I chose to put us in the Servant Quarters. I know, right? But don’t let the tag close your mind. The quaint log cabin was rustic, historic and uber-romantic. I have two words, “outdoor shower.” The loft style set up whispered intimacy unlike normal bed and breakfasts with a shared house. Fireplace crackling and board games set the mood to get to know your guest, which is a must with a bath tub and toilet enclosed by only a curtain steps away from the couch. No more detail needed *smile*.
The final day included the gorgeous foliage of Shenandoah National Park’s Sky Line Drive where the Mazda6 handled the mountainous curves with ease. The trip was rounded out with a stop at the apple orchard to pick apple.
Note: Even in winter there are special events and things to do in and around Lake Anna. Sky Line Drive is amazing when it snows.
Lake Anna Winery www.lakeannawinery.com
Stevenson Ridge www.stevensonridge.com
Skyline Drive http://www.nps.gov/shen/planyourvisit/driving-skyline-drive.htm
Mazda6s Touring Plus
Price Tag: $26,450 base ($27,730 tested)
Power: 3.7L direct V6 engine 272 horsepower.
Transmission: Six-speed automatic transmission with manual shift
Drivetrain: Front-wheel drive
Fuel Economy (mpg): 17-city/25-hwy