When it comes to popular destinations for food lovers, Bath County is a surprising choice.
The rural county in the mountains of Virginia, west of the Shenandoah Valley, is known for unspoiled scenery and natural mineral springs.
As more people discover the caliber of the restaurants and the burgeoning craft beverage scene, it is becoming one of Virginia’s hottest destinations for foodies.
Here are three reasons why Bath County is becoming such a hotspot for dining.
1. Local agriculture and the farm-to-table scene.
Although there is a long heritage of agriculture in Bath County, there has been a resurgence in organic family farming recently. Farms in Bath and neighboring counties grow vegetables and fruits and raise livestock for meats, sausages and more, apparently much to the delight of local chefs and innkeepers.
Local chefs love having high-quality fresh products to work with. It offers an opportunity to develop creative additions to their menus. The result is delicious and healthy food and a genuine farm-to-table experience for customers.
“It’s beautiful area up here in the mountains. We are lucky -- we get stuff locally and we are able to have stuff flown in, too, so we get the best of both worlds,” said Chef Kyle Krieger, owner of Les Cochons D’Or. ”(That includes) fresh fish from Baja, California, to trout from up the road (to) truffles from Italy. We just really look for the best and freshest foods we can find.”
2. Creative chefs and unforgettable meals.
Locally owned restaurants with talented chefs are abundant in Bath County. In large cities, many of these establishments might even stand out as “special-occasion” restaurants.
At many restaurants in Bath County, visitors have been known to discover a new favorite chef, then return regularly to try new dishes.
The dining options within Bath County include The Omni Homestead Resort, the Waterwheel Restaurant at the Inn at Gristmill Square, Tavern at the Inn at Warm Springs, Sneads 1912, Fort Lewis Lodge and Farm and Les Cochons D’Or.
Ginger Avis, guest host for “Daytime Blue Ridge,” described Les Cochons D’Or as having a quaint atmosphere.
“It’s cozy, as far as its setup, with the open kitchen,” she said.
Food lovers who enjoy variety might be pleased to learn that the food scene in Bath County is well-rounded. In addition to the acclaimed fine dining restaurants, visitors will find country cooking, wood-fired pizzas, sandwiches, salads and much more.
3. Craft beverages and unique events.
When it’s not meal time, visitors can enjoy tours and tastings at a local winery and cidery, or a cold beer at a local craft brewery.
“The first thing that brought us here was the Bath County people,” said Bob Donze, owner of Rock Roadhouse. “It’s a great place to build a winery because it goes with our style of wine making.”
Donze said Cole Mountain, where the grapes are grown, provides a perfect setting for the European-style grapes because during the spring, the vines are positioned on a 15% slope, with more than a 500-foot elevation drop, allowing cold snaps to slough off and maintain the integrity of the grape buds.
A collection of local farms team up each summer and fall to present a unique series called Foodlore Fridays. Every Friday, on the grounds of Oakley Farm in Warm Springs, residents and visitors gather for a pop-up market, wine or cider tasting, and delicious food from a visiting chef. Only in its second year, Foodlore Fridays is growing in popularity as a celebration of food, farmers and community.
For more information or to plan a trip, visit discoverbath.com.