If you’re planning to hit some Virginia wineries this summer, you may want to take them along in your pocket.
Virginia Wine in My Pocket, that is, a new app for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch that provides information about most of the Old Dominion’s wineries. It’s the brainchild of Virginia travel writers Rick Collier and Nancy Bauer, who indulged in a marathon tour last year, visiting 150 wineries in 150 days. The app costs $3.99 through iTunes and could be an invaluable resource for planning your explorations of local wine country. (The pair has produced a similar app called Rehoboth in My Pocket. An Android version of the Virginia app is in the works.)
The app offers individual listings of wineries, ciderworks and some winery-affiliated restaurants; it includes professional-quality photographs (Collier snapped more than 10,000 during the tour), maps, directions and glowing writeups. The list can be sorted alphabetically or by a winery’s proximity to Charlottesville or Washington D.C. It can even be sorted by a winery’s proximity to Interstate 81, for an impulse stop.
Looking to dine or lodge at a winery? Or for a kid-, pet- or RV-friendly winery? Picnics, group tours or weddings? It’s all here, including hours, cost of a tasting and whether your AT&T phone will be able to pick up a signal. (Note to the editors: Verizon has issues in the mountains, too.)
This app is cool. Tap on the map page, and you can zoom in on any Virginia wine region and then click on a winery’s icon to go directly to its entry. This app is great for planning a trip or even a spontaneous winery visit while driving through the Virginia countryside.
There are some minor problems. Allow the phone to use your location, and each listing tells you how many miles lie between you and that particular winery. But tap through to get directions from the iPhone’s Map app, and the distances are considerably longer.
And don’t expect wine reviews — at least not obvious ones. Every winery here gets glowing praise, whether for its tasting room, its view or its suitability as a wedding venue. You may need to read between the lines to figure out whether the authors think the wine is worth drinking. At Linden Vineyards, for example, they urge us to “buy a case” to gain entry to the winery’s patio (open only to case-club members on weekends). Down the highway at Barrel Oak Winery, the entry is all about the stylish tasting room, TGIF-friendly happy hours and an extensive quote from the winery’s Web site. One winery for good wine, the other for fun. This app has them all. (And in these instances, at least, the authors’ palates are spot-on.)
The Colliers have planted themselves firmly atop the mountain when it comes to travel apps for Virginia wine country, and it will be tough to knock them off their perch. It’s a niche, to be sure, but I can see this app expanding to include more wineries as Virginia’s industry continues to grow, plus craft breweries, distilleries and wine-country eateries, from barbecue to haute cuisine. Just thumbing through the app makes me want to get in my car and explore.
(This post originally appeared on The Washington Post's All We Can Eat blog.)