Wine tours in Virginia

Cheers! (Fotolia)

Cheers! (Fotolia)

ILONA KAUREMSZKY, Special to QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:41 PM ET

Q: We're interested in wine tours in Virginia. Do you know of any good wine routes there?

-- B. Terrance, Pickering

A: With more than 190 wineries, Virginia is America's fifth-largest wine producing state behind California, Washington, Oregon and New York.

One wine route you'll want to explore is the Loudoun Wine Trail. Located minutes from Dulles International Airport, and within an hour's drive of the White House, this county boasts the largest number of wineries (more than 20) where visitors can stop drop in for tastings.

Also be sure to visit Chrysalis Vineyards in Middleburg. Run by dot-com millionaire-turned-vintner Jennifer McCloud, Chrysalis is the largest grower of the Norton grape, the first cultivated in Virginia.

For travel information on Loudoun County, visit visitloudoun.org. For more on Virginia's wine regions, see virginiawine.org.

Q: Are there any fall walking tours in Collingwood?

-- S. Gray, Etobicoke

A: Lined with 19th-century buildings, downtown Collingwood is a designated Heritage District. The Collingwood and District Historical Society has a free brochure -- A Walking Tour of Collingwood -- that is available at Collingwood Station Museum and Georgian Triangle Tourist Centre (1-888-227-8667) both at 45 St. Paul St. The self-guided tours highlight two routes around town.

In addition, a local group will lead unique Gaslight tour from Nov. 1-4. Participants walk to four homes to see five different 20-minute performances.

Bill Barclay -- proprietor of Beild House Country Inn and Spa -- wrote one of the plays with a theme of hearth and home.

"We are performing in four grand old homes, and the playwright had to come up with a story based on the people who lived in these homes. We were given some historical information from the genealogist at our library that is a fantastic resource for historical stuff," Barclay said.

"I have also been selected to perform in my play. There are so many amazing people who are involved. The costume lady has a house full of vintage clothing. Last year she did not have a vest for me to wear that satisfied her so she made me one and a cravat to match. It's the same attention to detail as Holt's," he added with a chuckle.

For more details, see gaslighttour.com.

Q: I seem to recall a column you wrote about retracing ancestral roots. Do you happen to have any tips for someone with an Irish background? My computer skills are limited but thankfully I have some nieces in town who have offered to help.

-- T. O'Hearne, Toronto

A: Tourism Ireland says more than 70 million people worldwide claim Irish ancestry. This is a pretty fascinating statistic when you consider Ireland boasts only a wee bit over 6 million residents.

Next year the country will host a year-long celebration known as The Gathering Ireland. While the celebrations will appeal to Irish descendents, other visitors will find an array of events celebrating culture and traditions. For details, see thegatheringireland.com.

People can also start checking into their Irish roots at Ancestry.ca, Canada's leading family history website.

Q: What airlines fly to Nicaragua?

-- J. Go, Scarborough

A: According to the Nicaragua Tourism Board, international flights land at Sandino International Airport in Managua, the country's capital. Currently four U.S. cities have direct flights to Nicaragua. In Miami, American Airlines operates three daily flights and TACA Airlines has one daily flight. In Atlanta, Delta has daily flights to Nicaragua. Continental Airlines offers a daily flight from Houston, and Spirit Airlines provides three flights a week from Fort Lauderdale. Nicaragua is a short, two to three-hour non-stop flight from these hubs.

ilona@mycompass.ca


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